Raising Christian Kids in an Ungodly World

I picked up my nephew from football practice the other day and while I waited, I watched the other high school kids interact outside my car window.

A pretty girl walked out of the gym from a cross-country workout session and a group of guys started yelling inappropriate things at her. She gave them “the finger” and a dirty look and then walked up to window and leaned in seductively to whisper something in the boy’s ear.

There was raunchy laughter and arm punching. Tires spinning. More cat calls and for a brief moment I got a snapshot of the teen scene.

It scared me.

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Because I’m not so naive to realize this is regular, normal everyday teenager stuff.

This isn’t the latest trashy Miley Cyrus video that’s gotten more than 72 million views. It’s not the readily available porn on a friend’s cell phone or one of the thousands of sext messages kids send each other. It’s not the cyber bullying that results in suicide, the injustice of racial profiling, or the politically correct agenda that tells us it’s our choice to kill babies and marry whoever we please.

As I crawled into bed that night, I couldn’t help but think about my naive 13 year old who will be readying for this same high school this time next summer or my kind, sensitive son who already feels out of place among his peers because he’s a “nice kid.”

It’s enough to make a momma want to board up her doors and keep her good kids out of this bad world.

We are just entering the teen years in our home and rather than live in fear, we are trying to prepare our kids for the world. We refuse to stick our heads in the sand and throw out polite Christian promises of things our kids will never do. We know there will be temptations to look at pornography and push boundaries we have defined. We know there will be mistakes and failures because we are raising humans. And as mature Christian adults, we still make plenty of our own.

I know my good kids can be bad and the bad world can be good. But we can’t assume our Christian kids can survive this ungodly world just because we take them to church on Sundays and have 11 Bibles in our home.

Did you know 70-80% of kids leave the church when they turn 18? And many millennials don’t return. It’s a startling fact.  We can lead our children to Jesus, but we can’t make them disciples. While I want my children to make good, Godly choices as they grow up, I hold fast to the promise that God can redeem anything, even bad choices. He often uses our mistakes and failures to lead us to back to Him.

I’m still intimidated by all I see going on in the world, but I refuse to cower and move to another country (although I have thought about it) because I’m afraid. We are in the in-between years, watching our children transform into teenagers before our eyes. We are making a lot of mistakes and learning along the way. But here are some truths we are holding onto:

  • We are expecting our kids to rise above the low expectations the world has of teenagers (Read Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations). They don’t have to be rebellious. They can overcome the world with the help of Jesus and that’s our goal.
  • We are resisting the urge to make everything black/white (good/bad) and directing our kids as they get older instead of constantly correcting them. Asking important questions like, “What do you think about that video/movie?” Etc
  • We are creating a safe environment of very open communication about lust, dating, pornography, what really goes on at school, church (oh, yes, even there). We want our home to be safe, a place where our kids can talk about anything.
  • We are trying to establish a community of peer believers to do life along side our kids. I’m learning this is critical. Christian kids need Christian community outside of school (even church). They need positive peer influence or they will find it in the bad that’s at every turn.
  • We are offering forgiveness in failure. Perhaps the biggest thing we can offer our children is forgiveness. I don’t want my kids making good decisions because they think there’s is a punishment at home for bad ones. I want them to make good choices because it’s a result of a right heart. But when they do mess up, there needs to be grace.

I was raised in a black and white era of Christianity with shame-based sex education and constantly questioning my salvation with every mess-up. I don’t want to raise my kids in that tension. When I look at the world around us, my first inclination is to shelter and remove my children from it. But we are called to be in the world, just not of it. And that’s the hard part.

But by the grace of God, it’s possible to raise Christian kids in an ungodly world.

 

WFMW: Our Favorite (Easy) Summer Meal

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Summer is hot in Texas. Snow cones help. Tonight at 6pm it was 100 degrees. The last thing I want to do is heat up the oven and kitchen for dinner. With a diabetic hubby and a very picky 6 year old, it’s hard to please everyone.

The one meal everyone loves (and keeps me from having a hot flash) is what we affectionately call Chicken Chop Chop. Unless we only have ground beef and then we change the name.

It’s a super flexible meal.

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Ingredients:

Grilled chicken (outdoors) or ground beef cooked on the stove.

Taco shells or chalupa shells or some sort of taco chips (we use what we have)

Brown rice (We microwave minute brown rice) if we have it

Beans-black or pinto beans

[And then we chop chop] lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese

and top with salsa

It’s easy, delicious and my big kids can *almost* prepare it by themselves.

It definitely works for us!

What Being a Mom is Really Like

I don’t recognize the kind of motherhood I see in the movies or on magazine covers. Neat. Clean. Perfect -white teeth smiling. I don’t live greeting card or fairy tale motherhood.

Mine is messy. It’s loud with crazy laughter and tearful drama. It’s full of forgetful tooth fairies and kids in need of haircuts.

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One day it kicks my butt and leaves me wondering what in the world I’m doing wrong. The next I’m reveling in all the right and good I see in my children. And in me.

I’ll let you guess which one today was.

Being a mom is a lot like this:

You take off your cute denim jacket in the middle of dinner and hand it to your child because the restaurant is too cold. You freeze the rest of the meal. You aren’t surprised one bit when she dips your sleeve in Ranch dressing.

When your children play hide and seek in the house, you hide in the bathroom or the closet. Sometimes both, just to throw them off.

You’ve crept into your child’s room to make sure they were still breathing.

You’ve prayed the creaking door on the way out wouldn’t wake them up.

You consider grocery shopping alone a date. With yourself.

You yell at your kids to stop yelling.

You’ve set the clocks forward an hour for an early bedtime.

You dread the end of summer while you simultaneously count down the days.

You’ve had your feelings hurt by a very small person who can’t even tie their shoes or whistle.

The youngest wants to “help” with lunch. You let her, even though you know it means you’ll be adding a mop to the cleanup routine.

You cry on the first day of school. And then you do jazz hands.

You would carry every hurt and pain your child experiences. It hurts even more that you can’t.

You regret not buying stock in Magic Erasers.

You put off replacing your laptop so your child can play a musical instrument.

You have to apologize to someone 3ft tall on a regular basis.

On more than one occasion, you have verbally thanked God for Netflix.

Being a mom is the ultimate collision of imperfection and beauty. And we wouldn’t change it for all the magazine covers in the world.

Moving Day {A Special Opportunity to Love Mercy}

24 beds. 24 mattresses. 24 sets of clothes. 240+ cloth diapers.

Box by box, Mercy House Kenya is moving today from the rented home the girls and babies have occupied for over two years to this paid-for beautiful home. It’s a special day.

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If you’ve ever moved, you know how much work it is. Multiply that times 24. We have 12 babies now –with the youngest just days old to the oldest, now two! It is costing Mercy House $1700 to move 20 minutes away to the next town, a suburb of Nairobi. The new home is much smaller (but it’s ours), so the carpenter who created these custom crib/beds has been busy rebuilding them to make them fit in our new smaller rooms. As with any move, there are unexpected expenses.

And today, we have a special opportunity to be a part of this milestone. I’m excited to share my friend Kimba and her business with you:

Thank you to Kristen for allowing me to share our business with you and tell you about something exciting we’re doing to benefit Mercy House! Mercy House is partnering with Everyday Icing today to help cover the moving expenses.

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If you think Facebook is just for sharing cute pictures of your kiddos or catching up with your college buddies, you’re in for a surprise! Everyday Icing brings you a totally new way of shopping!  Each week, Everyday Icing offers our Facebook fans trendy jewelry and accessories at incredible prices!
A few key points about Everyday Icing:
1. Our pop up sales are Monday nights at 9pm EST. Just “like” our page to participate.
2. Our prices are usually between $12-$30…easy on the wallet!
3. Shipping is always FREE!!!
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Jewelry pieces are presented in an auction-style format with a photo, price and quantity. Fans of our page are able to buy our pieces by commenting “sold” along with their email address (first purchase only). The first people to comment before the featured item sells-out “wins” the item at the stated price. It’s so easy! And it’s fun! We send invoices by email and shipping is FREE!
Everyday Icing features both trendy and classic necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and scarves as well as personalized items such as tote bags, clutches and jewelry. We offer between 20-30 different items during our weekly sales and our prices are typically between $12-$30. Your wallet will thank you!”
So what does this have to do with Mercy House?
Like most of you, we are passionate about the mission of Mercy House in Kenya. They are doing the Lord’s work in a powerful way.
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Today, we are offering one fabulous piece, our Mercy House Rose Cuff Bracelet, a fair trade bracelet from India and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this bracelet will go directly to Mercy House Kenya.
About the Mercy House Rose Cuff Bracelet:
It is an intricately etched brass cuff set with a accent stone in a beautiful shade of green. It was handcrafted in India by the Ana Art Group. Because all of the materials are sourced locally in New Delhi, India, there will be some variation in the green color of the center stone. It’s a part of the beauty and charm.
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Our hope is to raise enough money to cover their upcoming move with this one special item. We would love for you to stop by and pick up this fabulous bracelet and support their important work at the same time.
We have a limited quantity of this beautiful bracelet, so don’t wait! To make a purchase, just “like” our Facebook page and comment “sold” with your email address on the listing. It’s easy!
It’s a fun, beautiful way to love mercy.
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What Every Mother Longs to Tell Her Son

I sent him off to camp for 4 days with his big sister and a bunch of friends from church. He packed his own duffle bag and I double checked it, adding socks and a toothbrush, not necessities to an 11 year old boy. When I arrived at the camp to get my kids, I spotted him in a group of boys who needed to brush down cowlicks and change shirts. He smiled when he saw me and hugged me–with his eyes. We both know our limitations in front of his peers.

Once we were home, stories and adventures spilled out from my weary kids coming down from a camp high. For the rest of the day, everywhere I turned, my son was my shadow. He sat next to me while I paid bills. He followed me into the kitchen and asked me where I was going every time I stood up. I gave him a questioning look (after I answered the bathroom at one point). “Mom, I just want to be with you.”

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When nurses handed me that blue bundle of baby boy, I fell in love with his dark eyes and curly black locks.  It didn’t take me long to understood the other moms who said, “Oh, a boy? There’s nothing like the mother-son relationship.”  As he grew into a toddler, he bedazzled the world with his friendly waves and honest (often embarrassing) questions and comments. He tried to take everything apart with a hammer and put it back together with a screwdriver. He let his sister dress him like a princess and his dad dress him like a future athlete. I birthed the most easy-going, kind son a mother has ever known.

We sat next to each other in church the other day. He stands shoulder to shoulder to me now, knee to knee, constantly measuring to see if he’s taller (any day now). As he sang, I watched his adam’s apple bob, his handsome profile looking more tween than boy. I thought of his constant, sometimes annoying, noises and sounds, the way he still is the first to ask me how my day was and how he notices every time I wear something new. I thought about how he tenderly held babies in Kenya, how he can’t walk by the piano in the living room without playing the Star Wars theme song and how much I loved watching him fall in love with archery this year.

I felt the bubble of emotion well up, sitting there, taking in my son and I felt sad that more than half his time at home is over. I leaned over and whispered in his Daddy’s ear, “I wish we had more sons” and the words caught and I had to blink away tears.

My son looked at me then, not hearing what I’d said or seeing how my heart was swelling with love. I patted his hand. He didn’t look around to see who might see. He didn’t push my hand away. He held on. We sat the rest of the service hand-in-hand.

In those moments, without words, this is what I said to my only son:

I am the first girl you hugged.

I am the first girl you kissed.

I am the first girl you made laugh.

I am the first girl you made cry.

I am the first girl you hurt.

I am the first girl you held.

I am the first girl you tried to impress.

I am the first girl you flirted with.

I am the first girl you called pretty.

I am your mother.

No matter where you go in this life–how far you fly away from me–nothing will change that I was your first love.

WFMW: Family Chore Chart

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I’m a work-at-home mom. I admitted a long time ago, I need help with household chores. Everyone usually pitches in to clean, but in our effort to stop some of the entitlement that has crept into our home, momma made a family chore chart.

And all the kids groaned. Parents high-fived.

My kids have been doing their own laundry since they turned eight years old. My son can (almost) mow the law himself, my daughter is a great babysitter and my youngest feeds the pets. We handle their rooms differently than we used to. It’s always been a battle. (In other words, I have heart palpatations in messy rooms). More than six months ago, I decided not to make my kids rooms a battleground any longer. Once a week, we expect it to be cleaned, clothes off the floor, beds made clean. It works for us.

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I really didn’t add much to their “workload” on the chore chart. I mainly created it because I felt like we needed more structure to cut out the debate of who did what last. I also decided it’s time my kids help prepare our meals. It’s great one-on-one time and it teaches them something they need to learn. Here’s where I insert a picture of my youngest covered in pancake batter “helping” me, but I was too busy cleaning it up to take a picture.

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Getting kids to actually do the chores is often half the battle. We have found the AB plan to work well for us (usually.) B (something fun–free time, screen time, treat, etc) doesn’t happen until A happens (chore or whatever you’ve asked them to do). The key is not repeating yourself a million times (I’m still working on that).

There’s just something special about men doing dishes.

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For our chore chart, I wanted something that could be easily filled in. Here are some great printable ideas:

It’s working for us, so far!

What I Love About Stitch Fix {Giveaway}

*Updated with Winner* Congrats to random commenter #32, Tara (check your email)!

By now, y’all have all heard of Stitch Fix, right? It might be my favorite mail ever. I wrote about my first fix here. Since, I’ve received 3 more. I thought I’d share an update. I usually keep a little something from my box and it’s generally a piece of clothing I WOULD NEVER CHOOSE. And that’s exactly why I love it: the clothes are Stylist approved….the only thing in my life which falls into that category.

Here’s what I’ve kept:

1. This airy red flutter blouse is something I would never have tried on. I love the ruffles on the sleeves. It has tiny blue anchors on the print.

2. Again, I would have never chosen this peacock print top, but it’s one of my favorites. I love the tie at the front.

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3. I love how tall this dress makes me look (feel). At 5’2, I don’t even try on maxi dresses. I’m glad Stitch Fix didn’t know that! I can’t wait to wear it to the beach with my hubby in a couple of weeks.

4. Chevron is the latest rage and this is my first time to wear it. I like the asymmetrical hem and it looks awesome with Mercy House beads.

5. This super cute, new favorite soft white top is so feminine. I love the lace on the back. I’m a jeans kind of girl and this is something I would have picked out! I love this top.

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What I love about Stitch Fix:

  • While the clothes cost more than I would normally spend, even after choosing the cheapest option they have (most of the above items were around $38), it’s all I’m buying these days. I typically grab clothes on the Target clearance rack and when I get home I realize my clearance top doesn’t match anything or it doesn’t hold up well. And now, I have no desire to shop for clothes because I know Stitch Fix is coming!
  • Even though you have to make a quick stitch decision (3 days to return the box), there’s free shipping and you don’t have to go to the store with your three kids to try on clothes.
  • I love that I can try on the items in the box (5 things come in every box, sometimes one item is jewelry) with clothes from my closet.
  • It’s so easy and time-saving! I don’t ever have to go to the mall again (!!), but don’t tell my teen daughter that. It cost $20 a month to get your fix on, but that amount is deducted from your box.
  • Stitch Fix has an amazing referral program. They give you $25 credit for every person you tell! I’ll keep getting a stitch fix (at least until I run out of credit). They also offer gift cards. What a great, fun gift to give!
  • Each piece of clothing comes with a picture card on various ways to wear the shirt or dress, etc. I need all the help I can get.

Today, I’m giving away a $50 gift card for one lucky person. Leave a comment and tell me if you’ve ever tried it. You can sign up here (my referral link) and start getting your own referral credits by sharing it with your friends! P.S. Stitch Fix accommodates sizes 0-14. I hope they have plans for more sizes soon. Also, if you end up on the waiting list, don’t be discouraged. It’s usually a quick wait!