First few weeks

It’s been pretty quiet on the blog lately. We’ve been trying to find a new “normal” at our house with Zeb’s arrival. We’ve been spending lots of time enjoying him these days and I haven’t had much time to write. So I’ll share a few pictures of these first weeks with him. It’s hard to believe he will be 4 weeks old on Thursday!
Bath time is so relaxing!

Song for a 5th child

As I sit here staring out of my dirty windows across the dusty sills I rock my long awaited 5th son. I could lay him down and get something done while the older boys are out helping dad. I could dust frantically ahead of the coming wind, that will undo it all. I could bake bread or fold laundry, but instead I sit rocking. Holding my son and sneaking kisses on his head velvet soft. After all, babies don’t keep.
Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

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Long Awaited — a birth story

Little did I know that in less than 12 hours of writing this post about being a watched pot, I would be holding our little baby. I firmly believed that I would be pregnant for several days yet and boy was I in for a surprise!
We had been planning a homebirth  but our plans changed a bit towards the end. Kerry was feeling a little more uncomfortable having the baby with just the two of us here so we had started seeing a doctor in Lakin. I’d made a birth preference sheet and gone over it with our doctor, who was very supportive of a low intervention birth (even though I was a 2VBA3C– 2nd time vaginal birth after 3 c-sections). I felt okay about going to the hospital, although I still would have preferred to stay at home. But Kerry and I agreed that unless both of us felt completely comfortable, neither of us would be able to enjoy the experience so I agreed to go to the hospital if I went in to labor without an extra set of hands here to help.
On Wednesday (4/3) evening, I stayed home from helping with AWANA, not because I felt laborish, but because I was just so tired and didn’t think I could handle a group of 6 three and four year olds. Kerry and I stayed home and I got caught up on some work and house keeping. I wrote my “Watched pot” post because I was sure I wasn’t going in to labor soon. Before we went to bed that night we talked again about birth plans and I thought my agreement to go in to the hospital until we had someone here to help was a “safe bet” because nothing seemed to be happening baby wise. We went to bed that night around 1:30 and, like so many nights before, I was a bit discouraged I was closing another day without a baby in my arms and my prayer was that I would be content waiting until God decided our baby was to be born.
Around 4:30 I got up to go to the bathroom. I lumbered back to bed, got settled and had just dozed off when a sudden movement by the baby woke me up. I groggily realized I was in the middle of a contraction, although I was comfortable, and my initial thought was “Huh. That was weird.” and then I rolled over and realized that the bed under me was a bit wet, I rolled my eyes and got myself out of bed thinking the baby had kicked my bladder and I needed to go pee again. As I stepped over the side of the bed I quickly realized that it was highly unlikely this was just a “kick to the bladder” and it just might have been my water breaking. I made it to the bathroom before I flooded the floor. I was in shock to be honest. After not having many contractions and nothing else exciting happening I couldn’t believe I was sitting there in my bathroom, trying to wake Kerry up and processing the fact that we were going to have a baby soon. I started shaking with the adrenaline of it all. I had a hard time calming myself down and making a coherent thought about anything. Kerry asked me what I wanted him to do…”ummm beats me.” I thought. I did ask him to get the doppler so I could check heart tones for the baby and make sure all was still okay with him. His heart rate was good so I just sat there for a bit trying to gather my thoughts. I started having a few contractions right away but I was relatively comfortable.
While we had agreed to go to the hospital, neither of us had really packed a bag or gathered stuff for the trip. While I sent a text to my mom, sister in law and a couple close friends Kerry got his stuff together and I walked around in circles trying to figure out what I needed, what I didn’t and what I was going to wish I’d brought along. Thankfully I had put together a list of things we would want to make sure we took to the hospital a few days earlier. We made a stack by the front door and debated about who we should call to sit with the boys. It was about 5:15am and I didn’t want to call anyone that early. I talked Kerry in to waiting until about 8:00 to call someone to come stay with the big boys, although I promised if I got uncomfortable I would tell him sooner. I spoke with my mom around that time and she was going to leave work early to head this direction as she lives about 4 hours away. Kerry decided he would try to get a little sleep on the couch while I ate some breakfast and tried to rest as well.
I had a hard time sitting still long enough to eat. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good and I had a hard time being able to sit through more than a few contractions. They were coming every 3 minutes or so and while I could manage them, they were much more intense than the contractions I felt with Titus. They felt “sharper” I guess. I did spend a little time in bed listening to some relaxation tracks on my phone and trying to rest. I couldn’t sleep, but was able to rest a bit and thankfully time seemed to move fast enough that soon it was 7.
I was in the bathroom around 7 when my second son Otto came in because he saw the lights on. I told him that today was the day the baby was coming because my water had broken. He was so excited and Zeke was right behind him so he heard it all too. They were both so thrilled! So thrilled in fact, that Otto walked right in to their bedroom, turned on the light to get dressed and woke his older brother Gabe. Otto was a little disappointed though that he couldn’t come to the hospital with us. He had been looking forward to the homebirth because he wanted to be close by when his little brother was born. It hurt my heart a little bit to see his disappointment. Between 7 and 7:15 we came to the living room where Kerry was dozing and woke him up. I was more uncomfortable with each contraction and was having to focus more with each one. I was starting to feel like if we were going to go some where we should go sooner rather than later or just stay home.
Around 8 Kerry called our church secretary to see if she might be willing to come sit with the big boys for a few hours until mom could get here. We knew she would be up taking her son to school and thankfully she agreed to be here by 8:30. So we busied ourselves helping big boys get breakfast and loading the car with our bags. It was so foggy outside that morning, I was praying it would clear some by the time we were going to leave. I was thankful that all of the boys were up by the time we were going to leave, that way I could hug and kiss each one goodbye and snuggle the two smaller ones a little bit before we left. We didn’t spend much time chatting with Susan after she got here, Kerry was anxious because I wasn’t talking through contractions and could tell I was more uncomfortable. He called the hospital to let them know we were on our way (but forgot to tell them my water broke).
Thankfully during the 30 minute ride to the hospital the contractions, while intense, were tolerable. It felt like it took longer than 30 minutes to get there and when we rounded the hill towards town I couldn’t see the grain elevator and was discouraged because it didn’t look like we were as close as I thought we were. Kerry knew I think that I was discouraged and said “Town is right there, you just can’t see the elevators because of the fog, we’re almost there.”
They were waiting for us when we pulled in the parking lot. There was a woman waiting with a wheelchair to take me in, although I would have rather walked. I guess my history of fast births preceded me as the room was all set up for the birth and everyone was waiting just in case. Our doctor was waiting for us as well and had gone over the birth preferences with the nurses. I was so thankful and they were willing to accommodate us. The nurses drew lab, checked me in and then basically left us alone (which is what I had asked for). I spent some time on the birth ball and walking around the room. Kerry put some hymns on to listen to while I labored.
The first hour passed uneventfully although I was fairly uncomfortable (more so than I had been with Titus), I’m not sure uncomfortable is the right word though…the contractions were just really intense. I continued to move around and it was time to get another monitoring strip of the baby so I sat on the ball while they monitored me for 20 minutes. Everything looked good with the baby and they unhooked me. I was so thankful the hospital had a nice Jacuzzi tub and I got in around 11 to try to relax. I had packed a swim suit top at the last minute and was thankful I had. I told my sister in law later at least I looked cute (ha!) while I gave birth.
I appreciated the warm water of the tub but was getting much more restless and my contractions were coming quickly (they had been 2-3 minutes consistently). I remember several times moving around and telling Kerry I just wanted it to be done. He prayed for me and kept telling me I was doing a good job. There were a couple moments when I said “I just can’t get on top of these contractions” or “Again!” when I’d have a back to back contraction. Kerry told me later he knew when I said those things that it wouldn’t be long…I on the other hand was fairly certain if it kept up much longer I was going to be begging for meds.
A few minutes later I felt my body start pushing and I remembering thinking (just like I did with Titus) “This can’t be happening, I can’t be ready now.”  And at one point I told Kerry I was feeling a lot of pressure and he might want to call the nurse, so he pulled the call bell. It took them a bit to come in, but by the time they got there the baby was already crowning and when they asked if I could get out of the tub Kerry said “No” and reached down to catch the baby. He brought him up out of the water and I held him. The baby cried right away and was so beautifully pink it was wonderful! The nurses and staff all seemed like they were in shock and kind of stood there not doing anything. We asked for a towel or blankets to dry him off. About that time Dr. Birky came in pulling on gloves and saw that he missed it. Once he saw baby looked good, he and the nurses left us alone for several minutes in the bathroom while we sat there and just bonded together. I was so thankful for this time and thankful they didn’t push us to get out or do the “routine” stuff right away (something I asked for and was grateful they respected).
When the cord stopped pulsing (another request I had made), we cut and clamped it and then Kerry took the baby and carried him to the room. I was able to get up and walk to the bed and felt really pretty good and we waited for the placenta. The nurse asked about starting pitocin, but Dr. Birky was fine with me not having any as long as things continued to look good. The placenta was born a few minutes later and I was holding the baby the whole time. Kerry took a few pictures, but thankfully one of the nurses does some photography on the side and had picked up our camera to take pictures right after he was born and throughout the whole process. I’m always thankful for those pictures and when I go back to look at them never feel like I have enough. I told Kerry that if we are blessed with another baby I’m going to hire someone to take pictures so I don’t miss anything.
The nurses did a great job of just letting us kind of take it in as a family and delayed many of the routines that happen in the hospital. They did weigh and measure him. I kept apologizing that things went so quickly and told them I thought I would have a little more time to warn them but things happened so fast. They said I was the most “natural” birth they’d had in a while and probably the first to have the baby in the bathtub. It made me chuckle a bit.
After we both were checked out we were left alone again to spend time getting to know each other. Over all I was about as happy with the hospital experience as I could have been. It was the closest thing to a homebirth in the hospital as I could have. I still would have preferred to stay home but was pleased with how things turned out. I am very thankful for the staff at the hospital and my doctor who was willing to accommodate me and the things I requested to help me have the kind of birth I wanted.
We took a bit to name him but we settled as a family on Zebediah Knox. Zebediah means Gift from God…and he truly is. We are so very thankful for this gift we have. Knox was his brother’s name and we felt it fitting to honor him in that way. Zeb weighed 7lbs 13 oz and was 20 inches long. He has more hair than any of our other boys and looks a little bit like each one of them. They have been very welcoming to him and argue about who gets to hold him next. We are praising God for the birth of our son and a healthy outcome for all of us.
I would like to thank all of our friends, family and my readers who have followed us on this journey and prayed for us along the way. I am so thankful for the support we’ve felt and the encouragement I’ve had along the way.

Psalms 127: 3-7

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

A watched pot

That’s what I am these days. I’m 40 weeks this week and still pregnant. And I’m reminded everywhere I go that I’m still pregnant.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be 40 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby. When Knox died I was sure I wasn’t going to ever get pregnant again. And then when Lily died I was fearful that I would ever make it to full term again. And here I sit…40 weeks pregnant and anxiously waiting the birth of this little one.
We feel like we’ve been anticipating the birth of this baby for a year and a half. We sometimes have trouble wrapping our minds around the fact that yes indeed we are going to be having an actual baby in the next couple of weeks. It sounds silly I know, but after the outcome of our last couple of pregnancy’s we still find it tough sometimes to really believe this is happening.
I’ve heard lots of really great “how to go into labor” suggestions. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve cleaned the carpets, walking, eating spicy food and I even mowed the lawn this past weekend. Truthfully, I think some folks are a little worried when I’m standing next to them that I’m just going to have the baby right there. They always kind of give me a sideways eye trying to judge how “close” I am. But I assure you, I don’t think this little guy is going anywhere soon. He seems awfully comfy in there.
So just for the record as of today…I am still pregnant, I haven’t had any promising contractions and it’s totally possible that I will show up to church on Sunday still pregnant and still waiting. I’m okay with that. We trust God’s timing and planning for our family size and we will keep trusting Him for His timing and planning for when each of these little ones will be born. It’s hard to be patient but we will wait and be thankful we have something someone to wait on.
40 weeks and counting…

Waiting

Waiting…that’s the name of the game here lately.
We’re (I’m) waiting kind of impatiently for this little baby to get here. I have a little while until my due date, but am close enough to know that if he decided to make his appearance now everything will likely be fine. It’s hard to wait, it’s hard to ride it out.
But I know this baby will come in his time and in God’s time. He can’t be rushed and shouldn’t be. So we wait.
I am doing okay and am thankful to have been fairly comfortable until the last couple of days. I’ve had a terrible cold this weekend and that is probably compounding the whole discomfort thing too. I hope that I am well by the time the baby comes as I don’t want to give him anything and don’t want to be dealing with a cold while adjusting to life with a newborn. Another good reason to keep waiting.
We are mostly ready for the homebirth, I say mostly because I’m sure we’re forgetting something. I’m much more laid back about getting things in order this time than I was last time. So I’m pretty sure that I’m forgetting something. I have all the essentials ready and in line so if there’s something missing we probably won’t know it until we think we might need it.
Here is a recent picture. The boys keep asking how big I think he’ll be. I have no idea to be honest. I don’t think I’m much bigger or small than I was with the other boys, so we’ll see. Kerry is much better at guessing than I am when it comes to baby weights. He’s been within an ounce or two with each of our boys, I haven’t asked him yet where he thinks this one will fall.

Five Minute Friday — Beloved

Five Minute Friday
1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.
3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:

Beloved…

Beloved family.
We kiss them and tuck them in. We snuggle with them in the wee hours of the morning and we love them. They are the beauty of us.
When we started this journey 15 1/2 years ago as a couple of high school kids we never would have imagined this spot is where we’d be standing. But we can’t imagine a better place to be. We owe it all to God’s grace and His ever patient leading, teaching, shaping and forgiving.
I watch my oldest straining to be a man. So much wanting to show his strength, his ability and that he is capable of the challenge. It hurts to watch my boy, the one I cradled and learned with…to watch him grow and yet still need the reassurance he is loved, he is capable and there will always be snuggles and hugs here.

My second, my wild card. The curve ball God gave us…to see his heart and how he cares for others. It does my heart good to hear him read to his younger brothers, to hear him voice concern for those around him and to be willing to sacrifice. I see him give his brother his broccoli…not because he doesn’t like it…it’s his favorite…but because he knows little brother likes it too and ate his already. He waits to read the stories rolling around in his head and I see him writing and telling his stories to no one in particular as he walks around the backyard…talking…telling and sharing his heart.

The third I wasn’t sure I’d have. I was so sure two was our number and then we became obedient to what God has asked of us. His big eyes from the day he was born…stunning those around us. His charm and smile. We prayed for months for his speech…for him to speak more than just a few words and now he is so eager to speak and tell others. Our prayers answered. He shows us how to be patient and how to tolerate. Beautiful in spirit.


Our fourth, our determined child. Determined to make his own way, to hold his own and to do it his way. So hard some days, yet so tender…brokenhearted so easily. Singing his heart out Sunday mornings, not knowing the words but determined to join in the choir of voices and make a joyful noise. Eager to join big brothers, meeting them jump for jump and bruise for bruise.

Then the ones we will meet in eternity. The two surprises that we have waiting…too early to know them much but still grieved and missed. We wonder about the son and daughter that we have there too. We talk of them often and talk about their short lives, their births and deaths, knowing that without them we would have missed some very important lessons about trust, reliance, healing and faith in our God. They perhaps were sent to teach us and show us what we were missing.

And we anticipate the new one…we wait and pray. We pray for his safe arrival and birth, for his health and we wait…all 6 of us with open arms. We can’t wait to hold him and see him. We are ever thankful for his safety thus far and we continue to pray.

Beloved family. Broken, hurting, thankful, healing, learning and loving together. Every day. In our messes. With His grace.

30 weeks

There were so many moments in the last year I was sure I would never see 30 weeks of pregnancy again, yet here I am and oh so very thankful. Sometimes when I think about the next 10 weeks it seems like they’ll take forever to go by and other days it seems like the time is flying by.
I have been working through some tough stuff mentally the last few weeks. It’s like a couple weeks ago I realized I was pregnant for the first time this whole pregnancy and I was terrified to be honest. I think I have been waiting so long for the other shoe to fall, to lose this baby too, that I had guarded myself against the possibility that this baby could live and I would actually have a live baby to hold at the end of it all. It caught me off guard. And there were moments where my mind would dream up the highly unlikely, completely unreasonable fears of “what if” with this pregnancy. I would think of all the rare complications, some that I’ve only seen once or twice in my nursing career, that *could* happen and would make me lose the baby. Almost like I was looking for the rare to happen again because it’s happened twice before with Knox and Lily. I am thankful for a midwife friend and several others who I could vent to and talk about this with. Most of all though, I am thankful for the patient. loving Father in Heaven for helping me deal with my fears and give me peace about what is to come. I’m feeling much better this week with what lies ahead.
I suppose that every mother wonders if she’ll be able to make it through labor again. Me included. Especially since, after 3 c-sections with my oldest, this will really be my second non-induced labor. So to a certain extent I do wonder what it will be like, if I will be blessed with a super fast labor and birth like I was last time (I’m so hoping this is the case). I’m doing the things I need to be to get myself ready for that marathon at the end. We ordered our birth supplies a couple of weeks ago and they sit neatly in a box in the corner of our bedroom. I’m not sure Kerry knows where everything is yet, but hopefully he will before we need them. I have “extra hands” on call if we need them, something that was a huge answer to prayer last week.
The only thing I’m struggling with is drinking red raspberry leaf tea. You’re supposed to to help condition the uterus and get it ready for the birth…and I’ve done it with my previous pregnancies, but this time I can barely stomach the stuff. It isn’t “robust” enough for me, I want the strong coffee flavor but it just doesn’t have it. So, for now I’ll choke down what I can, but it isn’t my thing this time. That and eating. Eating is still a challenge for me. Nothing really sounds good, still and when I do have an appetite the baby feels like he’s so high that I run out of room before I really get to enjoy much of what is on my plate. It is what it is I guess, and this is pretty typical for me when I’m pregnant. So I eat because I have to, not necessarily because I want to. I explained it to Kerry like this…it’s like eating every meal with a terrible cold, not being able to taste anything or enjoy what you’re eating. After a while, it’s just “eh” when it’s meal time.
The boys are getting very excited and still ask several times a day “Mommy, how many more weeks?” Zeke is getting anxious to hold the baby and thinks that the baby will want to sleep with him when the baby gets here.
We are excited about the next 10 weeks and the time when baby comes. We pray every day for his safe arrival and easy birth at home. By the way, we don’t have a name yet. We’re talking about it though. 🙂
 
 BabyFruit Ticker

Family Vision — Serve Others

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing about our family vision. and the most important part of that vision.
Please keep in mind that in the points that I’ll be including in the coming weeks don’t really occur in a particular order. They are what we feel God has lead us to believe is important for our family. I would encourage you as I write about our family vision to pray about and discuss with your spouse what you family vision should be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say what you want, but also why and be sure to explain why to your children.
It is our desire for our children and our family members to learn how to serve others. We want them to learn to serve God first, their siblings, us as parents, and those around them.

Image from Christart.com
Joshua 22:5
5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
We remind our boys often that we are called to serve God. He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. His son paid the penalty that we all deserve as a result of our sin. We deserve death and life away from God. God can not bear to be in the presence of sin, He hates it. Nothing we can do will “earn” our way back to Him, there is no way we can ever be good enough. But God loves us. So He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin. Once we believe in Him and trust Him as our savior we are assured eternal life in Heaven with our God. Because of this we should want to serve Him.
Serving God means we are obedient to Him and what He has called us to do. It means that we honor one another, we seek to do God’s will and seek to bring glory Him in all we do. Some ways that we teach our boys to serve God include things like
  • Prayerfully considering decisions when it comes to how we spend our money and our time
  • Seek His will before we agree to do something
  • Give God credit for the blessings, talents and abilities He has given us. They are gifts from God.
I was blessed as a mother to see this in action a year ago in my children. Our AWANA club is sponsoring another club in Nepal. The kids are bringing money to send over to the other club to help support their activities and teaching God’s word. One of my children had been eyeing a book about Legos in the store for several weeks. Every time we would go into the store he would walk past the book, slow down, pick it up and sigh. He didn’t quite have enough money to spend on the book. He was saving his money for that book each week, but then we started our adopt-a-club in AWANA. One morning during our devotions, he said “Mom, I really want that book, but I also want to give to adopt-a-club”. We told him he could give his regular giving money (we ask our boys to divide their commissions into give, save, spend) to the club in Nepal, but he wasn’t quite satisfied. “Mom, I really want that book, but I could give my money ($20.00) to adopt-a-club instead…I don’t know what to do”. I told him to pray for discernment about what God would want him to do and to do what he felt led. He prayed everyday that week for guidance. He chose ultimately to give his saved money to Nepal. He chose to serve God with his money rather than himself. It was a big sacrifice for a little boy, but I was pleased he listened to God’s prompting.
Serving others, especially siblings, requires a lot of humility. Our family’s character definition of humility is “RememberingGod is responsible for our successes and achievements and not being prideful orarrogant in my attitude or behavior.” This is tough, even for adults to master. It means that we have to put our own needs aside for the needs of others. We have to be willing to not be prideful.

I Peter 5:5 says “5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

We encourage serving others, especially siblings, by having the older and younger boys work together at tasks. When a younger brother is having difficulty completing a task, we ask an older brother to help. They don’t take over, they don’t complete the task alone, but they do it alongside one another. This is beneficial in a number of ways in our family. It teaches us to watch for when someone else needs help, it teaches us to jump in and be ready to help as best we can whenever we can, and it demonstrates team work and cooperation. Often times, the older brother will be able to show the younger an easier or more efficient way to complete a task.
Our 2 youngest serving the family by emptying our dryer
One of the things we often have the boys do is go on recon missions for dirty laundry, lost toys, shoes and whatever else we might be looking for. They go in teams and work together. If a little can’t carry his armful of laundry, the big brother can help by picking it up. They get the job done completely and serve together. They’re not only serving each other, but are also serving our family by helping with the laundry. We have a similar system for putting laundry away. A big and little go together to hang up shirts, often the big brother helping re-hang a shirt if it falls of the hanger but they serve together.
Sometime serving means giving rides in the laundry basket
Many mornings the older boys will help by making a younger brother toast or pouring milk on a little guy’s cereal. It’s not always a huge thing, but it helps keep us humble and helps maintain a servant attitude.
Making toast together
Learning how to serve takes time. We can’t just have one lesson in it during our school day and expect it to take hold. It’s something we have to cultivate every day and every moment we’re together. Teaching your children how to serve can be as simple as helping them learn to hold doors open for those around them. It teaches them to be aware of the needs of others and meet those needs. We do it when we don’t want to, when we’re grumpy and when we’re already frustrated. But…we are called to do it. We do it because God asks us to. And as we serve others, we find that we’re blessed as well.
1 Peter 4: 10-11 As each one hasreceived a special gift, employ it in serving oneanother as good stewards of themanifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is todo so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through JesusChrist, to whom belongs theglory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

If teaching your children how to serve is fairly new to your family, I encourage you to start with small things. Tell them why serving is important. Have them help bring in groceries and then praise them for serving their family. Start by teaching them how to sort laundry into piles, then praise them for helping. Often times I’ll say “I’m so thankful you were willing to serve our family, look how helpful you have been!” or “Wow! Daddy did you see how so and so served our family by doing such and such? I’m so blessed to have someone so helpful!”
Another great way to teach you children to serve, is to serve others yourself. Let your kids see you help others and do things for those around you. Let them go with you or even help make a meal for someone in your church. Tell them that you’re making a meal for this family because they could use a little extra help. When you go out to eat as a family, encourage your children to help you clean the table and floor around where you sat. A family with little kids can make quite a mess. Tell them you’re helping clean up because you  don’t want to make more work for someone else or because you want to make the waitress’s job a little easier. We remind our children to leave a place in better condition than what we found it.
In serving others, we are serving God.

Family Vision — Most important

Last week I talked a bit about how our family has developed a vision. Something we are working towards, something that guides our decisions, something that will help us build a legacy for future generations. I encouraged you to start thinking of your vision for your family. What is your purpose as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or child? How will you impact your family and the generations you will never meet? What is your vision?

The first thing I would tell you in developing a vision is pray. Pray for God’s wisdom, His guidance and His grace and mercy to fill in the gaps where you fall short.  Make it a habit to pray daily for your family, your children and their spouses (even if your kids are still in diapers…they will grow up someday), pray for your grandchildren and their grandchildren. Start to think and pray for beyond what happens this week or next, pray for your future generations.

For our family, the most important thing we want our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to do is know God and have a relationship with Him. We feel that their coming to know Christ is/should be our first priority. It’s part of the reason we have decided to home school them. We can’t save them, we can’t cajole them into loving God or wanting a relationship with Him. God has to draw them to Himself. It’s a work He does within their hearts…BUT…we can give them the foundation. We can be His tools to plant the seeds, water them, protect them and give them the spiritual food they need to grow. We can’t make our children “sprout” in faith, but we can make sure the soil is ready. It is our number one priority and responsibility as parents. If we succeed in every other area, but fail here it is all for naught.

The first part of our family vision statement reads, we have scriptural references for each point and I will include them as well. :
Every member become a believer saved by gracethrough faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10)

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which Godprepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
So if our priority is that our children and future generations is that they come to know God, what does that look like? It’s not enough to go to church every Sunday and send them to VBS every summer. That might be part of it, but it won’t give them fertile soil in which to grow.



We open every day at our house after breakfast by reading our Proverb of the day. There are 31 Proverbs, we read whatever number Proverb corresponds to the day on the calendar. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. We discuss the things we’re learning as we read, we talk about how to discern wise vs foolish, how to pick a wife, how to be obedient. We’ve been doing this for some time, and I assure you it never gets boring. We always learn something, no matter how many times we’ve read it. We have the attitude, and have often said…”if you don’t have time for devotions you don’t have time for much else”.

Something we’ve been doing that is relatively “new” to our day is we’re memorizing scripture together as a family. We usually do a whole chapter over the course of several weeks.  We make up actions to go with the verses so they’re easier to remember. Zeke and Titus sit and recite or do the actions they can remember with us. We usually add a new verse every day. We’ll recite what we already know with the actions, we’ll learn the new verse and come up with actions for that verse and repeat it several times. Then we’ll recite the whole passage again ending with our new verse for the day. When you get towards the end of a chapter, it takes a bit to recited the whole thing twice, but it really helps cement it in your brain.

After our Proverb and memory passage, we study a character trait and it’s definition. We study the same trait everyday during that week reciting the definition and talking about what that character trait looks like. There are lots of lists of character traits out there, some are biblically based and some are not. I made a list for our family that we feel incorporates both behaviors and heart attitudes that we want our children to learn. You can view our list here.



Then we pray as a family. Each member takes turns and prays for whatever is on our heart. We pray for the children we sponsor from World Vision and Compassion International. We pray for our family, our brothers and sometimes our dog.

We end our day usually with Daddy reading from the Bible (we’re currently studying James). We also pray as a family at the close of the day. Some evenings we’ll sing…I can plink out the melody for most hymns and it’s fun to hear the boy’s voices raised in praise.
We’re not perfect and don’t have all the answers. This is what we’ve found works for our family and helps us develop the foundation we desire for our children.

But you know what I think…what happens between the bookend Bible reading to our day is just as important. Between our Bible times we strive to LIVE what we’re learning. We try to incorporate our character traits, our Bible passages and their principles into our everyday life. For example, in Matthew 18 it talks about how to appeal to a brother. When the boys are fighting and they come tattle to mom…rather than jumping right in to solve it…I ask them “how are we to appeal to a brother?” They reply “go to him first and talk to him”…”did you do that”…”no”…”why don’t you try that first and then we’ll see what happens”. 9 times out of 10 I don’t hear another peep about “Mom! So and so did this”. Instead I hear the boys talking about how they are going to solve their problem. We talk about forgiveness and practice it (at lot).

It’s not enough to just throw water and fertilizer on the soil, but we have to work it up, we have to get our hands dirty and feel it. It’s the same with our kids. It’s not enough to just “throw” God’s word at them and hope it sticks…we have to practice it. We have to live it out. It’s not enough to have a family vision…but we have to work for it.


Vision

Many businesses and organizations have a vision statement to help outline their goals and “vision” for the future. I wonder though, do you have a vision for the most important organization you belong to? Your family. What are your goals for your family, your children, or your home? What are you working toward each day? Some parents would say “I want my kids to grow up have a good job and be happy”, but is that really the most important goal (should it be)?

A couple of years ago Kerry and I decided to develop a vision statement for our family. We felt like it was necessary to have a clear direction and spell out where we felt God was leading us. Our family vision helps guide our decisions and remind us of our priorities. We have also used our family vision to explain the “why” question behind what we do and the choices we make for our family and children. In the next few weeks I’ll share a piece of our family vision statement and the scripture that we use to support each point. I’ll share how we try to incorporate it into our learning and everyday life. I would encourage you to begin thinking about what your goals are for your marriage, your family and your children. Is it enough to just want them to be happy and have a good job? And think seriously about how you’re going to accomplish those goals, purpose to clearly define the steps you will take. Pray about them, pray for God’s direction and leading, pray for wisdom.

I would also suggest thinking about your grandchildren, great grandchildren and children you will never meet when developing your goals. How will the choices you make now affect those generations to come after you and what impact  could you have on them?