7 Day Bible Reading Challenge

It’s Challenge time my friends! We are going to do a 7 day bible reading challenge on faith! There are so many stories in the bible about God testing people’s faith. He does this still in all of us, he puts challenges, heartache, loss, and failure into our lives, to test our faith in Him. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the negative these days. With everyone’s perfect life being thrown in your face every social media post, to just the horrible things that are happening around the world. We sometimes forget to slow down, and really look at all the good in our lives. So we are going to slow down, and take a minute to read His word, and remember how faithful he truly is when we open our hearts to him.

Day 1: Noah Builds The Ark- Genesis 6:1-7:24:

Let’s start, at the very beginning shall we? Noah and his ark…..so God came to Noah, who by the way was 600 years old, and said “Listen, I do not like the way Earth is turning out, so I am going to just start over, clean slate. I like you though, you are a good guy, so here are some directions to build this giant boat, I know I know, you are old, but trust in me. I want you to put your entire family on this ark, yes, yes, even your son Ham (real name by the way), and oh, um I am going to need you to gather 2 of every animal too. Yeah, and could you make sure there is enough food and stuff for all of them? Yes, even the monkey’s. Sound good?”

Noah was probably just sitting there like, ummmmmm……

But God knew that Noah was faithful, and obedient to his word. He was the only one on the entire face of the Earth God even wanted to save. Can you imagine how everyone else looked at Noah and his family? They faced criticism, ridicule, rejection, mockery, but they had faith in God and did as they were told, and they were spared. They endured watching everything be washed away for 40 days and 40 nights, then it says the flood waters stayed on Earth for 150 days. When all was said and done, they were literally, the last people on Earth.

Natural disasters happen all the time in our world today. But, we never really think of a spiritual disaster, a spiritual storm. Noah prepared his family by having faith in God, and building a home for them around God. They were all spared because Noah built his home on the foundation of God’s word. How are you building your own home on the foundation of God’s word? How are you preparing your home for a storm?

It is very easy when life’s storms hit us, to forget our foundation. It is very easy to turn away from God in hard times, but it is in hard times that we need him the most.

Today I want to challenge you to write up your “Family’s Spiritual Disaster Plan”. A plan put in place by you to help get through those storms. Whether they are a list of certain prayers for life events or scripture. Be as creative as you want, and have fun with it. Because you never know when a storm is going to hit, and sometimes we don’t always have access to an ark.

Day 2: Gideon Defeats the Midianites, Judges 7: 1-25

This is another great story on just the faith in God. Gideon is about to go into battle against the Midianite’s. He is about to free his people from being under the hands of oppression. He has a huge army, he is ready to fight. Then God comes to him and says “Hey, yeah so um, you have to many men to fight. So I am going to need you to send some home” so Gideon obeyed and said to his men “If you are to scared to fight, go home” and 22,000 men left. Yes, that is right, 22,000, and only 10,000 remained. So right there Gideon pretty much just lost over half his army. Then God says to him “Okay, good job, but um yeah about those numbers, going to need less than this, take them down to the water, I will wean them out for you” Out of those 10,000 God allowed 300 to stay. So here is Gideon, about to free the Israelite’s, he had over 22,000 men, ready for battle, and under God’s command, he is now down to 300. God promised him victory, so he had to put all of his faith in God’s power.

Gideon was a brave man, a faithful man, but he knew that his enemy was strong. He won the battle using God’s weapons. He won the battle because he had faith in God’s promises.

We are all fighting our own battles, in this thing called life. Whether it be a health battle, or a marriage/relationship battle. It could be something as simple as fighting for a position at work, or as complex as fighting your own faith. What do you do though when you face these battles? Do you run away? Do you hope it will just go away? Or, do you stand and fight, leaning on God for support? Do you go into battle with God’s weapons?

Today’s challenge is I want you to write down something you are struggling with this week. I want you to imagine yourself as Gideon, with a very small army, going up against one of the largest in it’s time. I want you to pray and ask God to come with you into your own battle. Even though in the moment you may feel small and powerless, it is important to remember God will be mighty and powerful. He will equip you to do what is required of you. Put your faith in him and you will also come out victorious.

Day 3: The Birth of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1: 1-28:

Talk about faith in God on this one. Hannah was a woman of great faith, and all she wanted in life was a son. In those times, men had more than one wife, so she was the second wife. The first wife had son’s but as the bible puts it Hannah’s womb was closed, so she was unable to bare a child. The first wife was not very kind to Hannah about this and would mock her. Hannah would then weep. Hannah finally broke down one night and pleaded with the Lord she said:

“Lord Almighty, if you will only remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head”.

As always, the Lord was faithful, and he blessed Hannah finally with a son. Now, here is where her faith really comes in. She kept her promise to the Lord, and she took her only son, the one who she had prayed and prayed for to the house of the Lord and left him there to be an man of God. I mean as a mother, I just could not imagine.

Sometimes it is hard to surrender to the Lord. I do not mean your heart or your faith, I mean to really listen to what he is telling you. What kind of path he wants you to go down. It is easy to get caught up in the big houses, and the fancy cars. It is a status thing, so many of us want. But, is that really what God wants, or is it something that just you want?

Why does God insist sometimes on us giving up things that we seem to enjoy? What would happen to you if you released those things? What is one thing you are holding back from God?

This weeks challenge, take your kids to a temple and leave them there for the rest of their lives. JUUUUST KIDDING! Even though sometimes it does seem enticing. Today’s challenge is to take a look at your life, sit down and just look around. In your home, are you treating it as God’s temple? Are you putting your house, your marriage, your children, into God’s hands? What are some ways that you could reevaluate what is important to you, and obey God’s will for us?

Day 4: Solomon Asks for Wisdom, 1 Kings 3: 1-15

Solomon had just gotten the throne. If you are not familiar, Solomon is the son of David, one of the most faithful and obedient men of the bible. Solomon was young, and just became king to the largest nation of Jews.

So this kid, just gets the throne, he is feeling a little overwhelmed. But, he was raised by a faithful father, a father who showed him how to worship to the Lord. So one night Solomon is sleeping, and God comes into his dream. He says “Hey, kid, wake up, it’s me God. Ask for anything you want”. So as most young kings do he says “I will take billions and billions of dollars”, okay, just kidding, he was raised right. No, he says “You have shown great kindness to my father David, because he was a faithful man, you have given him a son to sit on his throne, but Lord, I am a child, and honestly I need your help, (in his words) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people, and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” He simply asked for wisdom.

God was obviously very pleased with this, so as our faithful God does he granted him with his wish. He made him one of the most loved rulers of that time. He also tells him that since he did not ask to be rich, or for a long life, he would grant him those things too. In other words, Solomon was not thinking about himself, he was not being selfish, he was thinking about others, and God blessed him accordingly.

It is so easy to loose our faith when we are constantly praying to God for things, but they seem to never be answered the way that we hope. When we take the time to quiet our hearts, and actually worship the Lord though, it seems that it creates context for us to encounter God; it sets our souls in motion towards God’s wisdom. Even though in times it seems like he is not answering our prayers, maybe we just aren’t asking for the right things?

Today’s challenge, reevaluate what you are asking God for. Instead of praying for possessions, or things that are really not needed, ask for God’s wisdom to help you navigate through life better. Think about it, If God offered you anything you wish, what would you ask for in that moment? Would you be obedient and faithful like Solomon was, or would you be selfish? We are all servants to God, no matter what tax bracket you are in. So today, think of ways how you could serve the Lord, or worship the Lord, so he could also be pleased with you, and bless you accordingly.

Day 5: Job Looses Everything, Job 1: 6-22

One of the best-known stories in Scripture is the book of Job. It honestly demonstrates God’s providence in a believers suffering. It also is a great story on pain and suffering but keeping your faith in the Lord.

I read the book of Job after loosing our son Nico. I actually used to play this game where I would close my eyes, open up the bible, and just read wherever it was. One day I was having a very hard day. I was angry at God for taking my son, and I was honestly having a inner battle with my faith. I was doing my morning devotional and felt like I needed to just play the bible game, so I opened up, and it was the Book of Job. It was what I like to call “A God Thing”.

So here is this man Job, he has everything he has ever wanted. He is wealthy, he has the perfect family, he was also a very faithful man to the Lord. So God is hanging out in heaven doing his thing, and some angels come to him. Along with the angels comes Satan. Satan was doing his thing down on Earth, making people hate, do bad things, go against God. God says to him, “What about Job? He is a pretty great guy, he fears God and shuns evil”. Satan says, “Well of course he does, you have given him everything he could ever dream of, why wouldn’t he? But, let’s bet on this, I will take everything away from him, and I bet he curses you, I bet he will come to the dark side”. God says “You’re on”.

So off Satan goes to the happy, God fearing Job. Job is just sitting there, minding his own business when a messenger comes, says the Sabean’s came and killed all of your oxen and donkey’s, killed them all. Then before he even finished talking another messenger comes and says, all your sheep are gone, then another messenger, all your camels are gone, then another, your entire family is dead. Within a short period of time, Job had lost his crops, his animals, and his family. He had nothing. But, Job was faithful, he did not curse God, nope, in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

I mean just imagine it in real time. You are sitting at your desk at work, and your boss comes up and says you have been fired, then before he even finishes his sentence someone comes up and yells that your house is on fire, a total loss, before you can even comprehend that, the phone rings, your entire family has been killed in a freak accident. In a blink of an eye, everything you knew in life, is gone. Would you curse God for your loss, or would you remain faithful knowing that everything comes from God, and you praise him for it?

Job really knew God, he had an intimacy with him that not many people understood back then. He knew that the only real comfort he would have during this dark time, was from God and his promises. How have you responded with bad news in the past? Were you angry? Desperate? Confused? They are all normal responses, I have had them myself, but after reading the book of Job, I also learned to praise the Lord, even when my heart is hurting.

Today’s challenge is to live a little more like Job. Even though you are going through hard times, everyone is, to remember that the one we need to lean on for comfort and understanding is our All Mighty Lord. Talk with him about your grief, or whatever is weighing heavy on your heart. Open up to him, and Praise him. Understand that going through hard times is a fact of life, but experiencing pain, or grief can help you understand and know God a little bit better.

Day 6: Daniel in the Lions Den, Daniel 6:1-28:

Pride. Pride is a very dangerous thing. It says it over and over again in the bible how God hates prideful people. Why do you think that is?

Pride is what got Daniel into trouble. King Darius respected Daniel, he knew he was a man of God and very well respected in the kingdom. He was also going to give Daniel the kingdom, which upset some people. They call them “satraps” in the bible, but they were more like princes or captains, local politicians in this day in age. So these politicians get together and they say “Listen, Daniel is a good guy, we need to find charges against him, but the only thing we will find, is something to do with that God he prays too. Let’s make that illegal, to pray to God” They go to King Darius and he is like “Weeeelllllll, no I do not agree with this, I like Daniel” The problem was the politicians were greedy and prideful, and like most kings Darius was also prideful, so he broke and made the law you can not worship God. Daniel was like okay cool, make that law, but I am still going to worship him. Try to stop me”. So he did his thing, every morning, every night he worshiped and prayed to his God. They found out about this, and they were not to happy. So, what any normal greedy politician would do, they threw him into a lions den. King Darius says to him “May your God whom you continue to serve, rescue you”.

The next morning the King went to the den and calls out to Daniel. As the story goes, Daniel was unharmed by the lions. He was unharmed because he did not do anything wrong in God’s eyes, God had protected Daniel. When the King realized God had saved Daniel, and it was the politicians fault for all of this, he threw them into the den, they, unfortunately did not have the same faith, or love for God as Daniel did, so they were lunch. Daniel was not a prideful man, he was a humble servant to God, and this story shows how true faith, and obedience really does save.

Pride is everywhere in this story, except in the heart of Daniel, the second most powerful leader in the land. He was full of humility, and he gives credit to him being saved to God, and God only. How can you be more like Daniel and less like the prideful satraps in this story?

Today’s challenge, get your pride in check. Pride can be a very dangerous thing, and it can draw others in, destroying everyone’s path around it. Those who are slaves to pride do anything to maintain the illusion that they are better than others. Pride prompts people to do horrible things to those the deem “less” than them. What is the cure to pride? Humility. So today, humble yourself before the Lord.

Day 7: Saul’s Conversion Acts 9: 1-31

Ah, Saul. Saul was not a very good man. Actually, at first, he was not a very good man at all. He persecuted the Jews, held them as prisoners and made murderous threats to anyone who worshiped God. But, as we all know, God chooses the ones we least expect to do his work. Saul was on his way to a town to persecute whoever was worshiping. On his way there God came to him, and shown a bright light. He asked Saul “Why do you persecute me?” Saul’s response “Who are you Lord?” God replies “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, now get up! and go into the city and you will be told what to do next?”

When Saul opened his eyes, he realized he had been blinded. God went to another individual in the town and told him of Saul’s predicament. The person was confused, because they knew of Saul, and what an evil man he was. God comforted this person and says “Go, he is my instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings, and to the people of Israel”. So the man goes and heals Saul, he filled Saul with the Holy Spirit.

Now this story isn’t so much on him having faith, and God testing said faith. It was about God filling him with faith. Using a man who had done terrible things against him, to spread his word. Throughout this story God tells people to “Get up”. I feel this is more of a metaphor. Meaning, arise from the dead of sin, and get up to worship me. They were spiritually asleep and he was telling them to wake up their faith. In what ways do you think “getting up” is a response of faith? What is really keeping you from getting up to do what the Lord is asking you to do?

Today’s challenge, think of someone in your life right now who needs to “get up” or be “spiritually awoken”. Someone who is lacking in the faith and the greatness of our Lord. Do not go beating on their door trying to force the bible down there throat though, no no no. Just, pray for them. Pray for them to be spiritually awoken, pray for maybe an opportunity to just talk to them. Pray for their healing, or troubles they are facing. Use your faith in the Lord, towards them.

When we take a minute to slow down, and see that God’s path for us may not always be what we want, it allows you to humble yourself before God. There are things in life that we will never truly understand, but He is much bigger than us, and it is our faith that gets us through those times. Just like in the stories above, it was their faith that got them through some of the hardest situations. So, when all else fails, today, tomorrow, and in the future, remember to stay faithful, and God will return the favor.

This concludes or 7 day Bible Challenge. We will continue these every so often to really take what the bible was saying then, and applying those things to our lives today. It is a great way to not only read the word of God, but serve the Lord..

As always, Happy Praying!

The Power of a Resolution

Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

It is the week of New Years! We are ending the year 2019, and heading into the roaring 20’s. I don’t know about you guys but the year 2019 flew by. I wish I could say it was MY BEST YEAR YET! But, it definitely had some major bumps, more like giant pot holes, more like Grand Canyon sized gaps, and I am so ready to put this year behind me. I know a lot of people are.

It always seems this time of year everyone is just so excited to start another year. It is like a clean beginning, and then by March everyone kind of just tapers off of that excitement and then the memes start, and the complaining starts, and everyone kind of just shuffle back into their normal routine. I know I am overly guilty of this myself. I always make a resolution, it is usually to live a healthier lifestyle. Which I am proud to say, I did accomplish quitting smoking this year! Yay to me! That was always one of my biggest. My husband and I also really concentrated on our eating habits, we have slowly transitioned to a more plant based diet, and I am really enjoying that. I am going to start sharing some recipes and tips and tricks to a clean eating lifestyle, but that is a different post, I wont bore you with that just yet.

I am a huge news junkie, I watch the news every morning, I read news articles all day, I end my day by watching the news. I follow along with stories, and it seems this year, the world has really just gone mad. Between hate crimes, mass shootings, political issues, climate issues, natural disasters, people hurting each other, people hurting the ones they once loved. I mean it can be a bit overwhelming at times. I came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that maybe instead of making a resolution about working out more, or reading more, or whatever else I never fully commit to, I am going to make a resolution about loving more.

What do you mean Lindsey? Is probably what you are thinking. I know when I write it out, it seems a little weird. Love is such a large term. Love can mean so many different things. But, I really feel what our society is lacking right now is love. I know so many people who just feel lost, that they know they need to do something, but where do you start? So I am going to break down how I plan to love more, in there year 2020.

Listening More:

I am crazy guilty of being a horrible listener, you can ask my husband, it drives him crazy. I tend to get really excited when someone talks and then I cut in and start my own conversation. I also tend to get into my own little world sometimes and just do not hear what the other person is saying. Showing that you care what the other person has to say is a huge form of loving more, even if you do not agree with what they are saying. Let’s repeat that last part, even if you DO NOT AGREE with what they are saying. It is one of our biggest flaws in society these days. You can never agree to disagree. With everyone on social media having a opinion, it seems no one else is allowed to have a differing opinion. Along with that, it seems like people aren’t having actual conversations anymore. I don’t know how many news stories I have seen of neighbors who lived next to mass shooters, or friends of someone who hurt another, who really never listened to that person. I mean truly listen to them. How many tragedies could be avoided if someone took the time to listen to another persons problems?

“More and more I’ve come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another. Whether the other be an adult or a child, our engagement in listening to who that person is can often be our greatest gift. Whether that person is speaking or playing or dancing, building or singing or painting, if we care, we can listen.”-Mr. Rogers

The great Fred Rogers is the epitome of Love. He is a man who devoted his whole life, to simply listening to others, and our world was a better place for it. Listening isn’t just about listening to someone talk, it is about hearing what that person has to say. It is about showing them that you are interested in what they have to say. That you hear them. Listening is one of the biggest forms of spreading love. So, for the year 2020, let’s work on listening to each other more.

Forgiving More:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness, one of the hardest things we humans have to do. Forgiving someone who hurt you is crucial to spreading more love. Also, forgiving yourself for things you have done is crucial in learning to love yourself. You can not move forward in life if you do not forgive those who have wronged you, and you can not move forward in life if you do not forgive yourself for the people you have wronged. I know I struggle with forgiving sometimes, it is really easy to hold onto the past and to dwell on things that were not in your control. It is also easy to be hard on yourself from mistakes you have made. Once you learn to forgive, your progress on moving forward begins. You can not love if you do not forgive. You will be forever stuck in that moment, and the pain will overtake you. Your heart will become hard, and the love you could be spreading is being blocked by resentment. So, take some time and think about things that you need to forgive. Whether it is something you need to forgive yourself for, or something you need to forgive another for. I promise you, the weight that it has been putting on your shoulders will feel so much lighter. So for the year 2020, let’s work on forgiving more.

Slowing down more:

“If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? Slow down and enjoy the moment you’re in and live your life to the fullest.”

― Nanette Mathews

We live in a society where everyone is going a mile a minute and taking the time for ourselves or others seems near impossible. Between carpools, appointments, work projects, kids activities, and family obligations, slowing down seems like something we are unable to achieve. Slowing down and showing someone your time though, is showing them love. Slowing down, and having time for yourself, is showing self love. I read a article that had some statistics that families today only spend a total of a hour a day together. Only a hour. I don’t think we fully understand the destruction that is doing to our kids, or the destruction that is doing to our relationships. We are making it a point to not slow down and spend time with the ones we love, and when that happens, the loneliness spreads. Our children deserve our time. Our loved ones deserve our time. We can not spread more love to others, if we do not take the time to show them that we care. So some things we can do to slow down more:

  • Have dinner together as a family
  • Plan a date night with your spouse
  • Plan a family game night once a week
  • Read together instead of watching tv
  • Plan a few extra minutes in the morning to talk
  • Plan a time at night when everyone talks about their day

Just a few ideas, I could go on for hours about that one. The idea of it is to reevaluate what you think is important that day, and slow down and look at what is actually important that day. Slowing down and showing that the other person is important to you, is a great way to love more. So for the year 2020 let’s slow down.

Unplugging more:

“Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”
― L.M. Browning

Ugh ooohhhh, she said it. I knew she was going to say it, and she said it. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONES! GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA! There is an entire real world that is going on around you, and we are missing it because we are glued to our devices. There are small acts of kindness that are happening every minute of every day and we do not see them because we are looking at a screen, of someone else’s pretend life. Loving more, is unplugging more. This one kind of correlates with all the others, because when we stick ourselves to a screen, we can not listen, we can not slow down, we can not take the time for ourselves to forgive, it is all a circle. So put down your phone, and show the person that you have their attention. Put down your phone and help another person in need, without posting it for likes. Put down your phone and take in all the wonders of things that are happening right in front of your face. You will not learn to love yourself if you are always comparing yourself to others, and you will not show love to others if you can not even look up at them while they are talking. So set down your phone, and get on the floor and play with your child. Put down your phone and help your spouse. Put down your phone, and reconnect with the people who need your love the most. For the year 2020, lets unplug more.

I was at the store a few weeks ago with a cranky toddler and a cart full of groceries. I was so over shopping that I honestly was in the zone to just get him into the car, and get home. As I was walking out of the store I noticed an older gentleman who was having trouble getting his walker out of the car. I pushed the cart over, and offered to help him. He was so grateful, and his eyes just lit up. It probably took more no more then 15 seconds to help him. As he waved at the toddler and smiled making him laugh, you could feel the happiness and the love in the air. It was not a huge deal, and I could of been like the 20 other people just walking by him, but I took the time, I slowed down, I listened to my gut, and because I wasn’t staring at my phone, I saw him. Loving more is not hard. But, loving more could change the world for the better, one small act a day.

So I challenge you all, for the year 2020, to just love more. Love others, love yourself, love the ones who are the hardest to love. You will be surprised how much better you feel, and how much better you are making the world.

Happy New Year!

What are some ways you plan to love more in 2020? Feel free to write them in the comments!!

The Day of the Poop Apocalypse

Before it happened

It was a cold day. The sun was shining but the air hurt as it hit your face. It was mid morning. Right around the time that the toddler who had been running around playing all morning would be settling down for a nice afternoon nap. Mom was enjoying her now cold up of coffee and smiling at him being silly in the living room. He was sitting in his little reading chair, with a new book he had selected the day prior at the library. He was pretending to read the book, chatting to himself, turning the pages. Mom was wondering where the time had gone, he was just a little newborn, and now he was a little human. The dogs were all curled up on the couches enjoying a nice quiet morning, their tiny human hadn’t touched them to much this morning, it was nice. They even got to finish his pancake and eggs he was to full to finish.

The toddler was sitting so nicely that mom decided she could take this time to get some things picked up off the floor. The toddlers new game was to dump out all of his building blocks then rake them across the floor so they were everywhere. Mom started singing the clean up song, and the toddler took notice that it was time to help mommy. Then she heard it. It was like a rumbling motor of an old Chevy trying to start up. But, it wasn’t a car, no, it was coming from the toddler. He giggled. Body noises are very silly to him. Then, she heard it again. She knew what was happening. IT was happening.

As the toddler stood up the world as she knew it stopped. Poop. Poop EVER WHERE! Was this really happening? She was an experienced mom. She could handle pretty much anything that was thrown her way. She considered herself pretty lucky this time around, the baby had actually never blown out of his diaper until this point. Today. Today was the day, of the poop apocalypse.

Mom just sat there stunned. Assessing the situation that was laid out before her, literally. There was poop on the chair. Poop up his back. Poop down his legs. Poop on the carpet. There was even poop on the dog. HOW DID POOP GET ON THE DOG?! With her mouth open, her sleeves rolled up, she got to work. As she was walking down the hall to grab a diaper, and some new clothes, and the bleach, she heard it. This time it wasn’t the same sound as before, no this time it was so much worse. It was………..THE DOORBELL!

“What the fudge?” she said out loud, except it wasn’t fudge, it was the other word. She had a naked toddler standing in the living room , she had poop on her, the carpets, the dogs, she had poop every where! It was the worst poop apocalypse that has ever happened, the news stations would surely pick up this story. Someone was at her door. Who would be at her door? Not only is it nap time, she hadn’t ordered anything so it couldn’t of been those pesky Amazon Deliver Drivers who only deliver during nap time and love ringing to the door bell to let you know there is a package. NO, it was worse. It was so much worse. It was “DUN DUN DUN”! Grandpa Calendo.

Her mouth fell open, her heart started racing, NOT GRANDPA CALENDO! NOT DURING THE POOP APOCALYPSE! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

She threw her poop covered sweatshirt in her room, ran to her toddler with a diaper. RING RING. He rang the door bell again, you do not keep Grandpa Calendo waiting, oh gosh, she quickly wiped poop off the dog, looked at the carpet, looked at him waiting at the door. She threw a towel over it! She was frantic. She ran to the door in a hurry, and an apology. Grandpa Calendo entered the Poop Castle. He walked into a naked toddler, a poop covered dog, a poop covered living room, and a sweating mom. He just shook his head and smiled with a “How you guys doing?”.

You guys, yesterdays devotional was about humility and let me tell you, this is a true story and humbled my mom butt so fast. It always seems to happen that way doesn’t it? Random drop by during the worst of the times. I honestly am still laughing about this entire situation. I know a lot of you do not know Grandpa Calendo, but a lot of you do. He is my husbands grandfather, and the man who raised him after his father passed away. It is so hard to describe this man, I guess, he is who he is and you love him for it. He has the heart of a saint, but you do not bullshit him. He was stopping by randomly because he bought Gianni a new winter coat and snow pants. That man is seriously the best. He does not call, no. He just shows up. When he shows up you let him in, even if you are covered in poop.

I have been a mom for almost 17 years. I have so many stories, good, bad, ugly, funny, ridiculous. You name it, I have it. But, this one is definitely going to go down in the books as probably one of those moments I will laugh at during the most inappropriate times. He was coming to give us a great gift, he loves his Great Grandson. He walked into a war zone of me feeling like I was totally failing at this mom thing.

I am horrible at being vulnerable, and that was a very vulnerable moment. I always pride myself looking somewhat put together. Our house is lived in but clean. I never really truly worry about when people do random drop byes because we keep our house presentable, it happens a lot, and we love it. Our door is always open to whoever wants to come hang out. But to have the man who helped raise your husband, one of your husbands idols, the monarch of the family, at your door, after your toddler literally just exploded with poop is that moment in time that you just sit down and accept the defeat that is parenting.

Parenting is by far the hardest thing you will ever do. You may think you are nailing it and then your toddler poops on your dog. You may think you are just a rock star at this mom thing, and right when your child poops on your dog, your Grandfather shows up at the door with a coat. Let’s keep it real ladies, some days you just need a large glass of wine at the end of it all.

I really do not have a full lesson for this blog post, I honestly just had to share how God humbled me this week. He saw me getting to prideful and he took that pride and dumped it out of my toddlers little behind.

Him laughing at me after we got it all cleaned up

There will be more on humility, and getting rid of those negative thoughts in today’s devotional. If you would like to follow the devotional click over to the devotional section! I will have day 3 ready to go shortly.

What are some ways that you have been humbled as a parent this week? Please share with me to make me feel better about my own life! Hahahaha

Overcoming the Negative:

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We hear this over and over again as we rush around trying to finish our Christmas shopping (or start it because we all know, I do not do my shopping until the last minute). As we shuffle from house to house, load and unload kids, load and unload presents, load and unload our stress, it is hard to really get into the holiday spirit at times.

This weeks post is going to be based on Overcoming the Negative Thoughts in our lives at the moment. Whether it is having to spend Christmas time with a family member who you just do not get along with, or the worry of financial strain this time of year has on you. It could be as simple as worrying you didn’t get your kids enough. It could be as complex as forgetting what Christmas is really about. Whatever it is that is weighing heavy on your heart this time of year it is important to remember that you are not alone in this.

I know for some people, it is not negative thoughts about ourselves, but more about others. It could be the cranky lady screaming at a cashier about her expired coupon, it could be a mom letting their child just run around destroying the store, it could be as simple as someone not holding the door open for you while they clearly see you are struggling. This time of year is a really hard time, because you are seeing the good, and not so good in everyone as they are also just trying to get through the holidays.

I know for me I love Christmas, but I do not love the chaos. I love getting together with my families. I love watching the boys rip into their presents under the Christmas Tree, and I love all the traditions we do as we prepare for the big day. This year I am extra excited because it is Gianni’s first real Christmas. He has been really curious as to why there is a random lit up tree in our living room. Why this bearded man keeps saying “Ho Ho Ho” wherever we go. Why all the houses are lit up outside. You forget the magic and the joy in Christmas sometimes, so watching it through a toddler’s eyes is probably one of the most precious gifts a mom can ask for. I have noticed this year in particular I am feeling a little more anxious than years in the past. I don’t know if it’s because the older boys, are in fact older so buying gifts is getting a little more stressful. Or, if it is just that Christmas seemed to start right after Halloween in the stores, so it has just been on my mind longer. Whatever the reason it is, I know that God has my back in all of this, and He has yours too.

I was out running errands the other day and had to stop at Target to get a few things, and leave with 100 things (am I right ladies, it get’s you every time!) As I was walking in I could already feel the tension of everyone shuffling in and out. Impatient drivers trying to find their perfect spot, people cutting other people off to get a cart, and I even witnessed a lady cut an elderly woman off to check out. I instantly just felt the negativity enter into my body, now I was shopping annoyed. My negative thoughts were already controlling the situation and I was letting it. I was looking at the list that I had typed out on my phone and just trying to get this over with as fast as possible, when I hear a little girls voice in the toy section squealing with excitement! I avoid the toy section like the plague these days because Gianni is now at the age where the temper tantrums are real, so we just pretend that area does not exists. But, I decided we were going to check this out because I do love a good belly laugh from a child. This little girl was holding a ball, as the mom was browsing those dreadful LOL Dolls and she was just so excited. She was hugging the ball and giggling. The mom repeated a few times “We keep it in our arms, we do not throw it in the store. If mommy sees you throw it, it goes back and we go home” You know the typical Mom mantra we all say over and over again hoping that maybe it will register into their little minds. And you know what, that little girl sat there happy as can be just holding the ball, looking at it and laughing as her mom shopped around. I couldn’t help but just smile because it really comes down to just the simple things in life that can bring such big smiles to our faces. The ball was not the most expensive toy in that area, the ball wasn’t some $80 mystery toy egg that every child is begging for these days. No, it was a $1 ball with a princess on the front, and that small little thing was bringing so much joy to that little girls life during that time. Instantly all those negative thoughts and feelings really just left my body. I feel like sometimes God sees you and feels you and places things in your life at that moment to just tell you to relax.

Then I really slowed down, I took a breath, I looked at my curious toddler who was probably wondering why he didn’t have that cool ball, and just smiled at him. He laughed and smiled back and we continued our shopping trip, chit chatting together. Pointing out all the decorations, and him helping me put our items into the cart. We got to the check out and everyone was in a hurry, the cashiers looked exhausted, and I decided that we were just going to smile our way through this, so that is what I did. I smiled at the cashier, asked how her day was going, she laughed at Gianni’s crazy hair (I try to do it, but the curls are strong in this one), we finished our transaction and we were on our way. I left the store smiling, and the cashier was now smiling too. Her whole mood shifted, just from a stranger with a smile. I removed that negativity from the beginning by simply just allowing God to show me the small positives, the simple reminders, and a smile.

I think during Christmas time everyone just get’s caught up over and over again on what you want, instead of what you really need. I think all the negativity we feel is really us just not taking the time to slow down and enjoy just the simple things in our lives. You may not be getting along with a family member, and you are dreading having to spend holiday time with them, but if you take the time to simply slow down and think of the small positives about that person, and focus on that instead of the big negatives, it will make the situation so much more enjoyable.

Maybe you are stressing out about the financial burden this season has on you. Instead of worrying about buying your children the biggest, the best, and the most presents. Focus on the small things they will enjoy. Maybe give them an experience instead of the newest electronics. Print out a “certificate” of a full day with just mom for their stocking. Because, I will bet you when your child grows up they will never remember what they got every year for Christmas, but they will remember that one day they got you all to their self and you had the most fun day!

Maybe other people’s negativity is really affecting your spirit. Maybe you have seen just so much bad, it is hard to really focus on the good. That is when you really need to just slow down and look for the positives around you. You may of noticed someone being nasty, but I bet if you really look, you will see way more good in the world. Try setting up some volunteer experiences, to focus on other people, instead of yourself. Take some time on giving instead of worrying about receiving. Open your heart to someone less fortunate and you will see their gratitude, and you will change someone else’s life for the better.

Most importantly, remember to keep praying. Pray for those around you, those in the cold, those who aren’t able to even celebrate Christmas this year. Pray for those who have lost loved ones, and are struggling. Pray for those who have forgot why we even celebrate Christmas. Pray for the ones alone for the holiday, and pray for the ones who are hosting. Pray for the people traveling, and the ones who wish they could be with family far away. Remember if you keep praying, you are praying those negative feelings away, and you are inviting God’s light and calm into your soul.

What are some ways you can overcome the “Christmas Negativity”? What are some fun traditions you do with your family to make this time of year memorable?

For this weeks devotional we are going to work on 7 different bible verses that will help you overcoming those negative thoughts. We will do a verse a day, with some reflections, and questions. IF you would like to do the Devotional, click on the devotional setting on the menu.

Happy Praying everyone!

Teens, Apps, and What to Look For….

This is a topic that I am super passionate about. It not only affects our family personally, it affects so many other families, most do not even know they have a problem. Today we are going to talk about kids and dangerous apps that you need to be looking out for.

In a world where everything is at our fingertips, it is hard to remember what the world was like before phones, devices, and social media. I scroll through Facebook way more than I should, and my phone is never to far away. This is something I personally am going to start working on, but it is also hard for me because I am just starting this blogging adventure, and social media is how I get the word out. I am always reading other individuals posts, and learning and growing through what I have researched. At this point, it is my job. But, when does it become a problem?

One of the things I really want to touch base on is apps kids are using today, that are extremly dangerous, and ones parents NEED to look out for. If you are allowing your children to have their own device, you need to take that device right now, and look for these IMMEDIATLY:

HIP or HIDE IT PRO
  1. HIP (Hide it Pro) is an app on the phone designed to look like a simple music site. Teens and kids use this app to hide photos, text messages, videos, or any other inappropriate or sensitive materials from their parents. It uses a PIN to allow the kids to safely remove material from their phone into a “vault”.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS?: This app is expecially dangerous because if you are one of those parents who checks your kids phone or tablet for inappropriate things, this app allows them to hide anything going to that device from you. This could be inappropriate conversations, contact info on strangers, pictures, anything. It hides it all.

2. CALCULATOR+ has been on the news a few times, and every time it goes public the app creaters actually change the apperance of the calculator. This is very similar to the HIP app. It allows teens or children to hide content they do not want their parent seeing, the only thing different with this app is that it also allows them to hide browser history or browser searches. It also allows more content to be stored.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Pretty much for the same reason as the HIP app it allows children to hide sensitive or inappropriate material from their parents. This app is hidden better, because when parents see it on their child’s phone it looks like a normal calculator. What you want to look for is the plus sign after the words, that will let you know that this is an app that is hiding material.

Another app that allows children to hide their home screen on their phone to look like a normal screen is called POOF. You can go into your child’s app store and search if this has been downloaded.

3. Snapchat is a social media app that allows kids to send pictures and chat, and the material disappears. You can not track pictures that were sent or conversations that were had unless your child has taken a screenshot of something. Another reason why snap chat is dangerous is because you can screen shot anything your child has sent without their permission. So if your teen daughter sends a risky photo to another individual, that person can screen shot it, and send it out for the world to see. It seems innocent enough with silly filters, and funny pictures, but it can also be a place that puts your teen at risk for bullying, sexual content, and strangers accessing them.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Snap chat is dangerous because almost any teen I know, uses this app instead of texting for the simple reason of what they are saying and sending disappears. This allows them to pretty much say and do whatever they want, and there is no history of it. It is also dangerous because if your teen is sending someone risky pictures, the recipient of the material can screen shot it, save it, and then send that picture out to anyone they want, including sex trafficers and child preditors.

4. LINE is an app that allows free text messaging, video chatting, and sharing photos. Your teen can choose how long they want a photo to stay up, whether it be a few seconds or a week or so. As long as your teen is connected to wi-fi they can use this app to pretty much do and say whatever they want to whoever they want.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Any app that allows your teen to video chat with anyone they want is dangerous. Any app that allows your teen to send photos that do not stay on their device is also dangerous. This is how teens get groomed into sex trafficking, and this is how child predaters gain access to inappropriate materials.

5. WHISPER is an online forum where teens can share their thoughts, or other things “annonymously”. I use the phrase annonymously lightly because there is an option on this app where someone can put on their “location”and it connects the individual to people in their area. It will also give strangers their location. It also gives access to teens to communicate privatley. This opens up the door to predators to find out exactly where the teen is while they are talking to them. Whisper is NOT an app I would ever allow my child to use.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? Well, first off, it is dangerous simply by the materials your teen can access. From online bullying, to posts about drugs and alchohal, to even posts about how to committ suicide. Not only does it allow them access to these things, it gives them access to complete strangers to chat who are near them. NOT only does it give access to strangers to chat, it gives the strangers there actual location. I can not stress this enough, if your child has this app on their phone you need to act immediatly in deleting it, blocking, it and having a serious talk with your teen on who exactly they were talking to and what was said.

6. KIK, oh how I hate this app with a passion!! KIK is an app that allows teens to send video messages, chats, gifs, pictures ect. The problem with KIK is there are absolutely no parental controls and your teen can connect with anyone in their surrounding areas. KIK has been a app that has personally affected our family with our teen. She had connected to a stranger in the area that started grooming our daughter. After we found the information we turned it over to local authorities and it was found that the individual posing as a normal teen to our daughter, was actually running one of the largest sex trafficking rings in the Chicago area. She honestly thought she had just connected with a boy around the area her age, who seemed to have a lot in common, and the end result was and still is absolutely frighting.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? The main reason this app is dangerous is because anyone can use it. There are no parental controls to where you can set who they can and can’t talk to. It also connects your kids to strangers around them, with no background information on who this person is. This app is definitley by far the most dangerous app available to children today.

Another website I would like to bring attention to is a website called OMEGLE. This is not an app but you can see if your child has been using this website by searching their browser history.

OMEGLE is a website that allows children to talk to strangers through video chat and messaging. You go onto the website, put in your location, and it connects you with anyone in your area, or you can choose a different area to connect. I obviously do not have to go into details on why this is incredibly dangerous.

Some other apps that you need to look out for are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Blendr
  3. Ask.fm
  4. Houseparty
  5. VINE
  6. YOBO (Formally Yellow)- This one is like a Tinder for kids who are 13-17

There are so many more apps and websites out there, but these are the top picks that I wanted to touch base on because they are the most common. I can not stress it enough that you need to make sure you are monitoring your children and their devices. I am very anti-device as many of you know for certain reasons, and not being able to 100% monitor is one of them. You can ask my 6th grader who begs us all the time for a phone, with the simple answer of No. I am going to write a few more in depth posts in the future about how technology is affecting our children’s development, how it affects their social skills, their emotional health, and what really happens when a child becomes addicted to their device. These are all things we have dealt with personally in our home, so to say I am an expert, no, but to say I have lived through the nightmare of these apps and issues, yes.

I know it is really hard to wrap your head around it because so many parents think “Not my kid” and “We have had talks about the safety of the internet, they would never do those things” believe me I know. I have said all of these lines myself. But they are, and there are child preditors out there on all of these apps grooming, and getting to these kids. So, just be aware.

(I used Google Image for a picture of these apps so you know what to look for)

GO TEAM!

Being a parent is by far the hardest job anyone can have. Raising tiny little humans can be by far the most frustrating, yet rewarding thing you will ever do. When those tiny little humans look to you for guidance, protection, love and information on a 24/hr basis, it can feel like you can never catch a break. But, what happens when you have married someone, or you have had a child with someone and they all of a sudden do not parent the way you do? What happens if their parenting style is actually the complete opposite of your parenting style? It can make a frustrating and emotionally draining process even worse.

In today’s post we are going to touch base on how to parent as a team, even if you do not see eye to eye on everything. I have a lot of friends who are just now starting their families, or are just now welcoming their second or third into their homes. As someone who has been a mommy for pretty much half my life, I am really lucky I can add in some tips, on how to co-parent with your spouse, and stay off SNAPPED.

Communication is key:

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”- Rollo May

I can not stress this one enough, and we are going to start with it. YOU HAVE TO COMMUNICATE PEOPLE! I can not tell you how many times I have sat with my friends and they are complaining about their husbands not doing anything, or not helping with the kids, or they didn’t do this, or they didn’t help with that. But, when you ask the same individual “Well did you let them know you needed help?” or “Did you ask?” their instant answer is “No, they should just know!” or “Well he could see I was angry, he should of helped” Ladies (and gentleman) unless you are a mind reader, the other person is not just going to “know” you need help. This is something you need to communicate with them. Now, with that being said it does not mean you bark orders at the individual. It does not mean you dehumanize them, or try to degrade them for not helping right away. It means that you need to open up on what you would like from them in a respectful manner.

“Honey (or sugar plum, or whatever cute nickname you call each other) Do you think tonight you could put the pajama’s on after bath, I would really appreciate a few minutes?”

“Sweetheart, thank you so much for everything you did today! I appreciate it all, do you think you could do one more thing for me?”

“Sugar Pie, I am going to go give the kids a bath, do you mind handling the dishes? Or would you like to do bath, while I do dishes?” (Give options, it always helps)

See, not to hard. Pretty doable right? Now this goes both ways. If he has had a really long day at work, and you have had a really long day at work, or at home or whatever your day may be, it is easy to blame the other individual for not stepping up their game even though they know you had a long day. We all do it. I do it. He does it. We all do it. But, if you are not open with communication on what you need from that person, you can not give them the death stare from around the corner. It is not fair to them.

With communication, you need to communicate on what kind of parent you want to be. This is SO important. That way the other individual is not thrown for a loop when you are Major Payne, and he comes out acting like Phil Dunphy. Because two very different parenting styles will work, as long as those parenting styles are discussed. In our home I tend to be more of the nurturer, the cuddler, the if I am hurt and I am crying I am going to my mom because she is going to kiss my ouchie, and tell me she loves me. My husband is more of the hard ass (pardon my language). If they run to him crying he is going to look at them like Chow from the Hangover like “But did you die?”. The kids know this. We know this. It is a mutual understanding in our house because it is a conversation my husband and I had.

I was very honest that I am strict, I have expectations of my kids, I expect them to meet those expectations (See my previous blog post about “Being the Mean Mom”) That I encourage chores, and life skills, and that respect is number one. I was also honest that I tend to let things slide, that I may baby the younger one a little bit, okay, I baby all of them a little bit, that they sleep in my bed some nights, and that I will forever kiss them and hug them even if they have outgrown it. He on the other hand, agrees with my first few, but not so much the babying, or the letting things slide. With these differences we communicate when he thinks I need to step it up a little more, and I communicate when I think he needs to step it down a little more. This is never done in front of the children, parenting is never discussed in front of the kids, period. The kids need to see you two as a team, and discussing things you do not like about the other person in the moment will only confuse them. We say “Hey! Do you mind coming into the room with me really quick? I have something I need to ask you.” and whatever we need the other person to adjust, is discussed. Now, my husband and I are also probably the two most stubborn individuals you will ever meet. So, hearing that the other person needs you to change something is not the easiest thing to swallow. But, in the long run, it is always appreciated that you know you can tell the person something.

So, during those 9 months of waiting for your little bundle of joy, or crotch midgets from hell as some people like to say, usually they have a two year old at this point, discuss these things together. Discuss what kind of mom or dad you want to be. Talk to each other about your expectations, talk to them about the things you will both need from each other. Lay down the laws you will not budge on, and listen to them. That way 4 years of sleepless nights later, you are not thrown for a loop.

I am not always good at communicating. It is not one of my biggest strengths. I can write like crazy, but throw me in a situation where I have to communicate my feelings and I shut down. So having a partner who is really good at communicating has really helped me step over this hurdle. Communicating can also be really hard sometimes. When you have to tell the person you love, that you do not like something about them at that particular moment can sometimes seem impossible. But, let me tell you, it is so worth it. We have grown so much as a couple the past few years, just by communicating, and it has made us not only better as a couple, but better partners, and parents.

Listening:

This one goes hand in hand with communication. You NEED to listen to your partner, even if what they are saying you do not want to hear. You or your partner can talk until they are blue in the face, but if you are not listening to them, or they are not listening to you, what is the point in it all.

I am very guilty of turning a deaf ear sometimes because I tend to be a little sensitive. If Dominic is coming to me, saying he does not agree with something I have done, or said regarding the kids, I tend to take it personal. So this is something I am really working on. Listening to his concerns, and then being respectful of those concerns, and trying to change my approach to those concerns are key in parenting as a team. That does not mean that you just go with whatever they are saying all the time. It means that you listen to what they need, and you try to adjust your own parenting to work together.

Respect:

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners”- Laurence Stern

You need to respect your partner. No one is perfect. So you can not expect them to be perfect. So make sure that first off you respect them as an individual, and as a parent. Do not undermine them, ever. If they are trying to parent your child, and you go and do the opposite this will confuse your child in the long run. This is one thing I am very proud of in my relationship with Dominic. We always stick together. When you are outnumbered by crazy kids, you need to stick together, or they will chew you up and eat you alive.

I love the respect we have for each other in our relationship. It is one of our strong points. If you do not respect your partner, how are your children going to? We get compliments all the time on how respectful our kids are to others, and it starts with them seeing the respect we have for one another at home. With that, you need to respect your children too. They are growing into adults, and you need to show them the same respect, you expect them to have for you.

One thing with respect is that it is okay to be frustrated with them, but that does not mean you loose respect for them. Every one in the relationship is doing their best, and if it is not their best, you have every right to voice your frustrations, but never do it in an non respectful way. This goes with the undermining. Lets say that your child is throwing a tantrum, and your partner says “If you do not stop, we are going to take away TV time for the rest of the day” Now the behavior doesn’t stop, so your partner gets up and turns off the TV, and walks away. A hour or so goes by, your little demon child is annoying you, they wont stop talking, they wont stop saying they are bored, they keep asking questions, and in your mind you are wondering why, why has your partner has also punished you?! So you go and turn the TV on, in your mind, you just want some peace and quiet, so it is no big deal. This is a big no! Undermining a parenting decision just because you are frustrated is one of the biggest forms of disrespect in the parenting world. It will not only hurt your relationship with your partner, it will hurt the way your kids see you, and them. So keep it respectful. If a decision has been made, stick to it, and if your child is annoying you because daddy won’t let them watch TV, send said kid to daddy. It’s a win win.

Encouragement:

I think this one is almost as important as communication. You need to encourage your partner. Your partner also needs to encourage you. Think of it as a sports team. I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite memories in life are from being on the cross country team in high school and listening to everyone cheer each other on. It was simple encouragement from others that helped you do your best. So if you are not encouraging your partner, how do you expect them to be the best parent they can be? Lift each other up! Give them compliments, cheer them on! I can not tell you how many times a day when Dom is interacting with the kids I say “You guys have the best daddy!” Or when Dom gets the baby to sleep at night for me to give me a break “Good Job Dad!” It is simple encouraging words that keeps the positive in our life. He does the same for me. If you are constantly telling your partner everything they are doing wrong, and never anything they are doing right, they are going to stop wanting to do things for you.

I had a friend one time complain to me about her husband because he refuses to help with housework. They are both working parents, and she was voicing her frustrations on never getting any help. She felt like she was pulling the weight of the entire house, and she was done. It is hard to hear that from people you love, so I asked the simple:

“Have you asked him to help?”

“YES!” Numerous times, and then he pouts and starts doing things, but he does them wrong!!! So I tell him, you aren’t loading this right, you didn’t clean that right, that is not how you do it!

“So, he is trying, but because he isn’t doing it the way you want, your reaction is to tell him everything he is doing is wrong? Well, no wonder he doesn’t jump in to help, there is no encouragement.”

The same goes for parenting. I am very guilty of loving things done my way. I tend to control how things are done with the baby, and how things are done in the house. But, one thing that I have learned in my years is that just because I do it one way, and they do it another way, does not make them wrong. Because in the end, it still gets done. I am very lucky that Dominic is a very hands on dad, and I am equally lucky that he loves being a dad. I know there are some dads out there who are not hands on, it is just who they are. But, if these things were not discussed in the beginning on expectations, then you can not be frustrated with them at the end of it. If you are not encouraging them when they are trying, then you can not get mad when they stop trying. If you are not listening to them when they are frustrated, you can not get upset when they stop listening to you. If you are not respectful of them, do not expect them to respect you back. It all goes hand in hand.

Remember, at the end of the day you two are in this together. So you need to stick together through it all as a team, or it is just going to get harder as they get older, and as you get older. Just love each other through the bad days, and celebrate together through the good! Remember, you made these little blessings together, so you need to parent together.

What are some ways you encourage your spouse? It is easy to focus on the negative, but let’s share some positives! Leave your responses in the comments!

Raising Your Child With Religion

This post is not for everyone. I fully understand that not all individuals believe in God, and that there are so many other religions other than Christianity to follow. I am here to say that I fully support your choice in whatever makes your heart feel full. Some of the most judgmental people I have met in my life are Christians, and some of the most genuine were Atheist, religion does not define someones character. With that being said we are going to dive into some ways you can raise your child with a healthy idea of religion, and how to support them during their own journey.

We are a Christian household. We pray together, we go to church together, we learn together, and we grow together in our faith. Every night at dinner one of the kids says a prayer. They are simple, and to the point. Name a few things you are thankful for that happened that day, name something you want to pray about, and thank God for the dinner in front of you. This is actually one of my favorite things about the day. Because listening to things they are thankful for really helps with those one answered questions most parents get after asking “How was school?” with the response “Good” EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. It helps give a little more insight into their day, and some of the things they say are actually pretty entertaining. Next they go into something they want to pray about. During these cold winter months they are usually praying for those without proper shelter, sometimes they will pray for a friend, or a family member, sometimes they pray for themselves. We do not expect them to get into huge details about anything, because this is their prayer. Not ours.

A family that prays together, stays together.

Teaching your kids to talk to God is one of the key essentials to helping build that relationship. We always say just talk to him like you talk to your friends. If you are having a hard time it is okay to confide in him, when you are having a great day it is okay to thank him, and if you have some questions about life, it is okay to ask him. We also let them know that sometimes God does not always answer us the way we think we need answers, but he will always answer you one way or another. It is just important to look out for those answers at times. We also teach the kids that just like normal relationships you should not talk to him always asking for something, you need to also thank him for the things he has already provided to you. No one wants to listen to someone who is always asking for things, and never thanking the individual for the things they have helped with.

One of the things I want in their journey is to take the
“pressure off” the idea of GOD. One thing I love about kids is their innocence. They tend to get fabricated ideas of how things are, and who people are because their minds aren’t fully developed to comprehend such large things. Which is what makes them so much fun! Presenting God as an all or nothing mentality can cause them to be confused on what it is to “live a Christian lifestyle”. I have always introduced religion to the kids as something Mommy believes, something Daddy believes, but it is not something we expect you to believe right away. I would never expect my nine year old son to devote his entire life to Christ and to fully understand what that means. Kids need to know that Christianity is a lifestyle, and a choice. It is not something you have to believe in, and not something you have to choose. But, my job as a Christian mom is to expose them to it, answer questions about it, and to love them through it. It is also my job as a Christian mom not to force them into it. I fully feel parents who shove religion down their kids throats is a very unhealthy way to introduce them to God. I also think in doing so causes and unhealthy ideology of God, and what he stands for. I do not know one adult Christian who has not gone through a journey to get there. I also do not know one adult Christian who has not strayed away at one time, who has not questioned it, and who has not been lost at some point through it. Expecting your children to not do any of those things is setting them up for failure in this journey. I had a conversation a few months ago with a close friend who is frustrated because her daughter told her she does not believe in God and she will never believe in God. During this conversation I was letting her rant via text about it all, how she told her she doesn’t care what she believes, she is going to church and she will like it. I stopped her right there with the simple question “What are you doing to help her through this journey? Because, I know when I was a kid I did not understand why I had to get up early on Sunday, put on tights that I hated, and sit in a boring church with adults for a hour. So have you talked to her at all about any of the things she doesn’t like?” “No” Then maybe she is associating God, with just Church on Sunday. Maybe she doesn’t like Church, so she is saying she doesn’t believe in God. Have you talked with her about those things? No.Well I am sure if you have a conversation with her, and allow her to vent her frustrations, and listen to her, instead of forcing her, you will come to find out that why she doesn’t believe is probably a very innocent reason. She texted me a few days later and the reason was because she thought her Sunday school teacher had smelly breath. I definitely had a good chuckle at that one.

Our youngest getting baptized a few weekends ago. My husband is the strongest man I know, and his faith inspires me to keep going with mine. He is a very proud father, and we work together in raising our children with the love of God in their hearts.

Another thing we teach our children is God is love. Period. Anyone who has read the book, studied the word, and who practices Christianity and still chooses to hate certain people or certain peoples lifestyle is NOT living the Christian life. It is not our job here on Earth to judge anyone. Ever. Our job here is to live how Christ lived and that is to spread love, acceptance, and peace. To preach his word when his word is welcomed, and sometimes when it is not. It is also our job to teach our children the same mentality. I remember I was sitting in a bible study and a very hot topic came up, that comes up a lot in these sort of settings. It was getting pretty heated, people ranting and screaming their thoughts and saying so and so is going to hell for eternity because of a certain sin. Pretty much everything I hate about people who claim to be christian was unfolding right in front of me, and being a person who hates confrontation in any way shape or form I kind of slinked into my seat and observed these individuals just judging others. I finally cleared my throat a little, and spoke up:

“I guess I missed the chapter in the bible where God had tallies for how big a sin is? Can someone show me that part? Because unless you are living a completely free life of sin, who are you to judge someone else’s? It is my understanding that sin is sin, it is bad, but we all do it. When you die, and you get to heavens gates, you are not there yelling about what everyone else did wrong, God is telling you everything YOU did wrong.”

My favorite words from my husband when anything like these topics come up is “I would hate to be the one at heavens gates trying to explain to God why I turned them away from him, because I thought their life was not good enough, or that their lifestyle was not something I agreed with.”

These two concepts are how we teach our children to follow Christ:

To raise your child to FEAR God will give them a lifelong battle on who God really is. And, who they are.

But to teach your child to LOVE like God will give them the understanding that everyone makes mistakes in life. That it is okay, but you have a pretty cool understanding guy in your corner rooting for you to make good choices, just like we are. But, if a bad choice is made, we will forgive you, and if you ask, he will forgive you too. Because everyone makes mistakes in life. It is how you handle that mistake and how you learn from that mistake that makes you who you are.

I also have the understanding that my children are going to stray away at some point. It is normal, and I actually hope they do. I know that is a weird hope for your kids, but let me explain a little more. I remember when I was at my most rebellious of teen years I told my mom that I did not believe in God anymore, and that I was now a Buddhist. Now, I grew up in a very small rural, mostly white, town. I had no idea what being a Buddhist even was, but I saw it on a TV show and that is what I wanted to be. So my mom, said okay, and took me to the library, and the book store and bought me tons of books on the religion. She allowed me to research it, and to learn about it, and then to make a decision if that was the path I really wanted to take. I think this is something all parents need to do with their kids when it comes to any lifestyle. Even on an Atheist standpoint. Just because you choose not to believe in it, is it fair for you as a parent to shove that ideology down their throat without giving them the chance to even learn about anything else? To shield your children from other forms of religion, or to not allow them to learn there even are other forms of religion is hurting them more then just being accepting that people choose to believe what they want to believe, even if it is not something you believe yourself. As a Christian mother, I have a responsibility to teach my child about God. But, as a Christian mother I would never tell my child that they are wrong, because they do not believe in God. I would also never tell them they are going to Hell because they want to learn about something else. That type of Christianity is what grows hate. I do not and will never allow hate based thinking in our home. Like I said in the beginning, it is my job to expose them to it, to show them what living a “Christian Life” is, and to be open minded through their journey. My job is to be there when they have questions, my job is to be supportive when they are questioning, my job is to be open, honest, and loving. My job is to educate them, my job is to allow them to educate themselves, and my job is to teach them love, and teach them acceptance. That is my job as a Christian mom.

No matter what you are going through, knowing that you are surrounded by God is one of the main points to teach your child. God is around you no matter what, even in your darkest hours.

The last thing I want to touch base on is how to show your children what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is not just going to church on Sunday and spending an hour listening to someone else talk, sing a few songs, and then once you leave those doors, your job is done. You did your “God” thing for the week. Being a Christian is so much more than that. It is about serving, it is about learning, it is about teaching, it is about compassion. So let’s break those things up really quick, with just an idea on how to show your kids, and get them active in it.

Serving: What does it mean to serve? To me this means helping others and not expecting anything in return. This could be as simple as giving a homeless person extra change and a hug, it could be paying for someone else’s meal in the drive-thru, it could mean opening a door for an elderly lady, or a mom struggling to get through. This could mean working at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or non-profit, simply volunteering your time to help. Serving others is the point. Unselfishly helping those who need help.

Learning and Teaching: As a Christian you are constantly studying, you are learning God’s words and what it means. That is why we go to church on Sunday’s, to learn about God. As a new Christian you are learning who God even is. You are constantly learning. For your children you are the teacher in this, it is your job to open up that door for them to learn. It is your job to surround them around people who will also help them learn. This could be a weekly bible study at home, this could be them reading a little bit of the bible on their own and then you discuss it together, for smaller kids this could be you reading them some stories of the bible at bedtime, just to start the understanding of God. My children are a little older so we like the family bible study. It is based off their ages and we are all learning together, with the youngest one (9 months old) it is just simple baby books with the basic stories at bed. We are just introducing, and opening that door. It does not have to be complicated, it does not have to be a chore, it just has to be a little time a week you set aside so your children can see your excitement about God, and also for you to teach them why you are excited about God.

Compassion: Teaching your children compassion for others is probably one of the most important thing you do for your child. We are lacking compassion in the world today, so much. It hurts my heart watching the news, reading articles, even just looking on social media, the amount of hate in people these days. WE as parents need to stop this. WE as parents need to teach our children how to be compassionate to others. It does not matter their color, their lifestyle, their religion, their situation, it does not matter. This one does not need examples, if you need examples on how to show your child to be compassionate, then you are part of the problem.

To wrap this up, I want to stress the importance of talking with your kids. That is going to open up the door so much. When your child feels frustrated, angry, hurt, sad, or even happy, allowing them to have those open conversations with you, and plugging in scripture, or a story of someone from the bible that had the same experiences will really help them relate. It will also give them the understanding that they are not alone in this world. That no matter what they are going through, God is always there for them. That is really the key point here. That God will never turn his back on them even if everything they do is not always right.

What are some ways you are introducing religion into your home? What are some other ideas you have for these sort of topics?