Posts tagged #betsy's tips

Thinking Time: A Daily Key to My Sanity

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Recently my kids and I were eating lunch when a neighbor boy knocked on the patio door. My six-year-old jumped up from the table to slide open the door. “Hi John, we’re eating lunch right now, and then I have a quiet time, but I can ask my mom if I can play after that.” I was thrilled that my son knew our daily “Quiet Time” was a non-negotiable part of a day at home.

I have required my sons to rest after lunch since they were born…. For several years it was a nap, but when they began to give up naps, I still needed them to rest so their siblings could nap, and so I could have a moment of peace and quiet.

Betsy talks about this habit in “Tips: Practical Ideas for Building Unity and Order in Our Children”. She recommends the following guidelines:

  • When they’ve outgrown naps
  • A precursor to quiet time
  • No toys, may have music or book, but nothing is best
  • It’s just time to meditate or think (and you get a small break)
  • 30-45 minutes long (who knows, they might take a nap)
  • I timed it so I could begin dinner and have the house calmed down for when David arrived home

I have taken the heart of this idea, and modified it slightly for our family. We have it right after lunch, because I want a quiet home in which to put my youngest down for a nap. Also, if the older ones fall asleep, I need them to do it early in the day rather than later! My kids are 3, 4 1/2, and 6 right now. Even though my boys share a bedroom, I have all three of them in different bedrooms for the rest time. I say, “It’s Quiet Time!” and the little feet run up the stairs. How did I get them to do this? I have made a deal that the first one up the stairs gets to pick the room they rest in. Being in my bed or the guest room is really exciting for them...hopefully that lasts a while! I make sure they’ve gone to the bathroom, make sure they have books, tuck them in, and set a timer for about 40 minutes. If they didn’t hear the timer go off, I open each bedroom to see who fell asleep, and tell the boys they can come back down to play. During the school year, we do school all morning, then have lunch, then quiet times. My boys know that after Quiet Time they can watch a show if we don’t have any additional school work to finish.

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Was it difficult to initiate this practice? Since the transition from napping to no-napping can be hairy, I think having a Quiet Time helped. However, I have to be honest that there are those moments that the little ones want to escape from their rooms because it is “Just so looooonnngggg, Mom!” I did set the timer for shorter periods as I was first training each one to help with this. Also…. I put a childproof handle on one of the doors. If a child has a hard time staying in his room one day, he now knows he will be in the room with the handle the next day! Even so, there have been days in which the door is repeatedly kicked, and correction is needed. All disciplines take training. You may have a frustrating week setting the standard, but you will be blessed for YEARS after it has been established! Remember, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

This daily practice has been such a blessing to me. My boys are energetic and loud, and it brings me a little sanity to have them each in a room by themselves, focusing on books or their thoughts, so that I can organize mine! I usually start out the time finishing up a few housekeeping items (like responding to emails or making calls), and end it by having time with the Lord. What I like about this is that when my kids come down from their quiet times, they see me having mine too! I wish I was a morning person and could clock in a good quiet time before I have kiddos jump into my bed, but it’s just not me. Instead I try to play worship music  in the mornings to start my day out inviting God in, but I need to wait to have focused time in the Word. Sometimes I need to get my focus back on God in the middle of the day, and having my quiet time then really helps me. During some of the tiring pregnancy months, I have even snuck in a quick nap. On weekends, my husband and I use the time to catch up on our to-dos, debrief on the church service, or just talk (sometimes it’s nice to do that when you aren’t tired from a whole day with the kids. :) ) Regardless of how you use the time your children are resting, we mamas need some free moments!   

I also love the training this is providing for my little guys. In a world so inundated with constant communication, I am thankful they are learning to be still. In addition, I think this has helped instill a love of books in them.

One day my boys were being very good, and I wanted them to understand that a daily quiet time is part of a life in Christ, not just part of your childhood, so I let them read Bibles (all at their own levels) on the couch while I read mine. (Of course I told them this was a special circumstance, and it would not be the norm!)

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Do you have a similar practice or routine in your home? If not, can you see it blessing your daily sanity?

Posted on August 16, 2017 .

Betsy's Tips: Right Away, All the Way, and with a Happy Heart

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I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to sit under Betsy’s teaching in Entrusted. I learned so many godly principles and practical ways in which to raise my girlies with hearts for God.

There are many tips from Betsy’s class that have stuck with me but I’d like to share a couple that have been especially helpful for me as a mom—and for our children.

Right Away, All The Way...

One tip that I still implement from her class 10 years later, is the catchphrase, “right away, all the way, with a happy heart.” As a mom with two small girls at the time, that saying felt like a lifeline. I even made the saying into a specific singsong melody so that it would stick, and it did! You could quiz my older two (who thankfully I don’t need to say it to as often lately) and they would remember the tune.

Of course our aim is for our children to obey us, but to what lengths do we go for that obedience to take action? After we’ve asked them 5 times and then by the 5th time when we're yelling to get their attention? Do they finally obey us but with a sour face or a cranky attitude?

Right away, all the way, with a happy heart” emphasizes a complete obedience. It lets them know that they need to obey us as parents right away (not in a minute or two), all the way (not just partially), and with a happy heart (meaning their attitude has to be good).

This is a practical tool to use on a daily basis (at times it seems hourly) and it’s super easy to explain to the kiddos. One of the verses my girls memorized early on is Ephesians 6:1-2:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)...”

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Peace or Provoke

The other tip closely related to obedience is the importance of not exasperating our children. I’m not quite sure why this advice has stuck with me after all these years, except that the Lord knew I would need to be reminded of this truth often.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

I think as a young mom I had high expectations for my kids’ obedience, meaning I expected them to know what I wanted even before training them in the way they should go. So, naturally when they couldn’t magically read my mind and intentions and things went sideways, I didn’t always handle myself as a patient momma. My frustration would confuse and ultimately exasperate them.

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The Lord has impressed upon my heart the importance of a gentle and quiet spirit when dealing with my children and how much this pleases Him.

"But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4

I’ll be honest, gentle is not my first go-to. I am so grateful that God continues to sanctify me, which means I can still be the woman He created—but I can also have a gentle and quiet spirit weaved through my personality. Read 1 Peter 3:4 again. Did you catch the part where it says, “the imperishable beauty”? That is a beauty my friends, that never fades, a beauty that radiates from within and is unending.

So, the reality is...we as mamas CAN have a gentle and quiet spirit and not exasperate our children; we need only seek His help.

The Lord continues to shape me, teach me and convict my heart through the challenges of parenting and I am so glad that He does. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stay the same; I want to grow in His mercy and grace each and every day.

I am so thankful for the practical application of biblical principles that Betsy shares in the Entrusted class.  I know that the life lessons God has given her in parenting—which I have treasured in my heart—will continue to bless our family for generations to come.

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Posted on March 22, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Don’t Be Everything They Want. Be What They Need.

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Lately I’ve been wondering, If I am the mom I want to be what will be the fruit in my children?

I want to be the mom that is on top of it all, no matter what comes her way. I want to celebrate every occasion memorably. I want to have my children reciting new Bible verses in the car each week.

 

My list goes on and on. I’m sure your’s does too… and just when you think you’re starting to get on top of your list, another mom’s conquest pops up on social media and you wonder if you need to add that to your repertoire of goals. Whenever my mom friends and I get together, we joke about the pressure we feel from social media. We can laugh about it, but I know we truly feel the pressure. I will focus on that a little, but I want to bring another challenge to light.

What I want to focus on today is how we shape our children’s expectations for their upbringing. What is the fruit of a nation raised on Pinterest perfection? What if we redefine our role to mean we throw killer birthday parties, decorate perfect homes, take extravagant vacations, and make restaurant-quality food for every meal? What does this generation of children look like when they reach adulthood? What are they like as marriage partners? What kind of employees are they? Perhaps they will have learned to imitate excellence. Or maybe they will have learned to expect excellence. I think we need to be moms that give their kids what they need… what they really need. Not always what they want.

Here are some examples to explain what I mean:

Our church has the children stay with us during worship. In theory I love this plan. In practice it is often tricky. My husband and I find it more challenging to get ourselves before the throne of God when we worship than we did when it was just the two of us. Last week I gave myself a little pat on my own back as I pulled out coloring books and crayons and handed them to my boys. They were thrilled… for a few minutes. And then there was some shuffling, dropping of crayons, and a little arguing over who had which coloring book. I realized that--although I had been the perfectly prepared mom I wish to be--I wasn’t producing any character in my sons. The weeks that I don’t have anything for my kids to do are fine (and it doesn’t mean I’ve dropped the ball as a mom). They are forced to learn patience, self-control, and to focus on the words of the worship songs. I don’t think it’s wrong to have activities for your kids. I do think it’s wrong for your children to expect to always be entertained by you. Being bored is good for kids sometimes!

Have you had those moments in which you didn’t have a snack for your kids when they are hungry at the park? You feel like this is a “need” right? However, if your kids had something to eat before they left the house, you can let them have a little play time without food! Be wise and know your kids, but also remember that they don’t need to be snacking every moment of every day.

Sometimes I cut my children’s lunches into fun shapes and characters. White, oval slices of provolone cheese just beg to become Baymax from Big Hero 6. Sometimes a grilled cheese gets an “i” on it and gets dipped in “Incredibles” tomato soup. Snack foods become butterflies and hot dogs transform into octopi. They love it! However, I simply refuse to do this every day. I want these little mom touches to be special, not expected.

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I love to throw parties. I plan for weeks and pour myself into the details. Because I barely spend any money, it takes me a long time to prep! My husband saw the entertainer in me before we even had our first child. We decided we would throw our children a party every 5 years. This lets me celebrate them how I like to, and it keeps the parties really special for them. On the off years, I still make them their favorite dinner and a great cake, but I leave the glitz and glamour for those special years.

Sometimes life is cupcakes in the city…

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And sometimes it’s volunteering to pack food for starving children.

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I want my kids to understand that balance.

I have young children. These answers seem easy. I’m sure it is much more challenging to find this balance with teenagers! I believe it is worth pondering though.

I am choosing to fight the voices that want to redefine my role--and their childhood. My job is not to make my children happy. (Although anyone who knows me knows that I am thrilled to provide joyful memories for them.) What I am saying is that my calling is not to put smiles on their faces. It is to point them to a perfect Savior. I’m not looking to be mom of the year. I’m striving to have all my children at the heavenly finish line with me.

I love the subtitles to the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart chapters. I’m adding them here so you can reflect on the roles God has called you to, and forget the ones society has added!

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A godly mother…

  • Is teachable
  • Embraces Jesus as her Savior
  • Lives by biblical convictions
  • Establishes family convictions
  • Lives by biblical priorities
  • Is orderly
  • Understands the significance of her role
  • Establishes authority in her child’s life
  • Trains her children to see God as their lifelong authority
  • Manages her children well
  • Does not exasperate her children
  • Is committed to discipline
  • Is aware and ready to respond appropriately
  • Goes to battle for the heart of her child
  • Chooses her words wisely
  • Chooses her child’s environment wisely
  • Trains her children in godly character
  • Disciplines her children
  • Teaches her children to be loving and forgiving in relationships and wise in choosing friends
  • Teaches her children to be accountable in relationships.

Perhaps that doesn’t make you feel any better! It is quite the list… but it is God’s list. I’d rather pursue that one than any other list created. And what I really love is that this is the list God Himself is empowering me to accomplish.

Be blessed this week sweet sister as you focus on the role you play in the eternity or your children!

Posted on February 15, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Prayer Snowflakes

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One of the best mom tips I’ve ever been given was to write prayer requests on popsicle sticks. Before meals, we have our kids pick a stick or two to pray over. When the prayer is answered, we write the date on the back and the stick goes into a new jar. (Read a little more about this inspired idea here: https://entrustedministries.com/blog/betsys-tips-5-things-i-learned-as-a-young-mom?rq=prayer.)

Recently we bought a new home. I wish I could say it was one of those, “It sold on the first day!” or “We had multiple offers!” stories. It wasn’t. Our home was on the market for a lot longer than we expected, with three boys 5 and under helping us “stage.” Even though our family underwent three surgeries during this time, it would turn out that the time being on the market seemed like the easy part. After the contract was accepted, we  faced multiple inspection issues, our buyer’s financing delayed our move three times, and we found this out after our home was already packed up and our moving pods were loaded. Because of all the date changes, almost all of our moving help had to cancel, and our new moving date overlapped with my new job start. Although certainly not the biggest trial we have gone through, Travis and I were chomping at the bit to close this chapter!

As we were unpacking our boxes the morning after the move, my sweet popsicle-praying friend came through the door with a gift bag. Inside were some very thoughtful, generous treasures, but one in particular melted my heart. She and her children had made a snowflake ornament out of the answered prayer stick. The simplicity of the gift and the devotion of a faithful sister in Christ touched me deeply. I knew she hadn’t just said she would pray for our situation. Her family was part of the reason we were in our new home.

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When Christmas came, I was thrilled to put the snowflake on our tree. I had the thought that we should make more ornaments out of our answered prayer sticks… yet my December got a little too full. Instead, I decided to make some now so that they are ready next winter. In addition, I want to copy my sweet friend and make some gifts. Knowing a friend prayed you through a trial is a treasure. I’m excited to pass these reminders of God’s faithfulness on to friends and family members. One of the best parts of this is that little ones can help with each step except the gluing. So they can pray, create, and give! May they be truly impacted by their role in the Kingdom!

Materials:

Glue gun
Popsicle sticks
Beads and gems
Glitter (optional)
Paint (optional)
String or Fishing Line
Pen

Directions:

1. The wood color of the popsicle sticks is nice, but I wanted to try some with a whitewash of paint. I used my kids’ finger paint and it worked well. While the sticks are still wet, sprinkle with glitter.

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2. After the paint is dry, glue the sticks into the shape of snowflakes. I used three sticks for this step, knowing I would place the “answered prayer stick” horizontally on the top later.  

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3. Line up the final craft stick. Before you glue it down, cut a 6-inch piece of fishing line or string. As you glue the final popsicle stick, slide the ends of the fishing line into the glue. This will give you a way to hang the ornament.

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4. Glue beads and gems onto the craft sticks as you and your kiddos like! 

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5. Turn your ornament over, and write “Answered” and the date on a stick. This is the best part!

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6. Hang in your home, save it for Christmas, or give to a friend. I am making duplicates of some our most exciting miracles. That way we can bless someone else, and we can remember them as we hang them on our tree each year.

I love how simple, inexpensive, and powerful this activity is. May it bless you and your children as you seek to be faithful in your prayer lives!

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Posted on January 11, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Using Entrusted Scripture Memory Cards After You’ve Taken the Class

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I love the Scripture Memory Cards that were included with my Entrusted Notebook! They were helpful and adorable! As I was purging for my recent move, I came across them. I knew I wanted to keep them, but I wasn’t sure how to utilize them after the initial memorization practice. A few fun ideas came to mind that I’d like to share so you can play them with your kids!

 

  1. Let your kiddos quiz you in the car! As moms we are often trying to make the best use of our time.  I know many a mom that uses the drive to Awana or school to quiz her child on math facts or Bible verses. What about reversing the roles a bit? Give the packet of verses to one of your children. Have them give you a reference, or just the first three words. See if you can finish the verse correctly. My son had a BLAST testing me, and it reinforced the verses for him. It also provides some extra reading practice.

  2. Play “Memory” with the the Memory Cards. Place all the cards face down in classic Memory fashion. Take turns selecting 1 card at a time. If you or your child knows the verse, say it for the group, and keep that card. If you make a mistake, place the card face down where you found it. On your next turn, try to say it correctly, and keep the card if you do. The one with the most cards at the end of the game gets a prize! Allow your kids to sing the verse to you if it helps them. Maybe you want to sing your verses too… :)

  3. For older children, guide them in putting the verses in the order they appear in the Bible. Use the Table of Contents in your Bible to help them.

  4. Separate the verses into categories. You can let your kids create the categories, or give them some ideas to start with. Examples: Wisdom/Practical Advice, Encouragement, Blessings of Obedience, etc…

  5. Select the verses that you and your kids really need to meditate upon, and tape them to bathroom mirrors to be read while they are brushing their teeth. The kitchen sink is a great place for verses for moms. Make sure you change it frequently so it doesn’t slip from your mind.

You can also create your own memory cards with your kids! Write verses you are focusing on at home (or that they’ve learned at Awana or school) on index cards. Cut them in half if you can fit the verses on that space, and paste each card to a small rectangle of scrapbook paper. Laminate them if you can. This way your cards will have a fun pattern, just like the Entrusted cards. Buy a cute container to keep all of your cards in, so you can go back and play with old sets. Play the above games with your new cards to get God’s Word in their little hearts! They are sponges--let’s use that for God’s glory!

Posted on September 14, 2016 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Betsy's Tips: 5 Things I learned as a Young Mom

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I took the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart class when my firstborn (and only at the time) was 18 months old. How I stumbled into the class I’ll never remember, but this I know for sure: God had been saving my seat. 

Before I became a parent, I thought babies were like accessories. Sweet, cuddly little accessories. Once I had a baby, of course, I quickly figured out they were a little more complicated!

Remember the first time, just around when your baby starts crawling, when you tell them “no no” in a gentle coo as they’re heading for the edge of a stair cliff? They pause thoughtfully in their path. Then they look you in the eye, flash you a drooly grin, and start crawling again straight for the very thing you just told them not to!

I took the Entrusted class at a pivotal time when my focus as a mom had to shift from snuggles and story books to the hard work of loving discipline and character building. There is so much I could say about how Betsy’s curriculum changed my thinking about my role as a mother and encouraged me in the job I had to do.  

But on the lighter side of the class, there was a ton of practical advice! One of my favorite days in the class were “Betsy’s Tips” - specific, attainable ideas for having an intentional and joyful home.

I put several in my pocket as a young mom, which are all in practice today at our house. Here are 5 favorites I took to heart:

1. Make a big deal of birthdays and holidays

When I feel tired or overwhelmed, it’s easy to want to skip some of the balloons or hoopla of an occasion. But I think Betsy was right about this one. These are our kids’ memories, and they only get one childhood. I want them to remember that we celebrated them, and I want them to want to come home for holidays as adults because they’re so special. That does NOT mean expensive. But whatever I can do to mark an occasion, I believe it’s worthy of the effort. Betsy’s tips say:

  • Decorate the house; sometimes put something special on their bedroom door or a garland of lights in their room at Christmas.
     
  • Have lots of family traditions: “white elephant bingo,” “egg cracking,” gingerbread houses, etc.

2. Thank-you notes

It’s important to me to teach my kids the value of saying thank you. To do so is to obey the golden rule of treating others the way you would want to be treated. How crummy does it feel when you give a gift that goes unacknowledged? Betsy had clear expectations for her kids, to teach them the responsibility of gratefulness: 

  • If someone was kind enough to give a gift or do a service for us, the least we can do is take the small effort to write a note to them.
     
  • Includes birthday party gifts (Family saying: “It’s not yours until you have properly thanked the person”); not allowed to use the gift until the note is written.

If your child struggles with writing, you can still teach them to show they are thankful. Why not try a video thank you?

3. Hugs and Kisses

Non-negotiable in our house (among our immediate family). My son went through a phase recently where he didn’t want his brother or sister to be allowed to hug him. Nope.

Betsy says:

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  • Hug and kiss your kids every day so that it becomes second-nature to them. Don’t let up even during the Junior High years. Train them to hug and kiss you too, every day!

 

 4. Scripture Memorials

  • Mark meaningful verses with names and dates of friends and relatives, for a promise claimed, a prayer, or especially someone’s testimony verse, which is the verse that made them first believe the gospel.

Our version of this, at our house, is a prayer jar filled with popsicle sticks. Each stick in the jar has something specific written on it that we are trusting the Lord to answer. We keep it on the kitchen table so the kids can choose a stick to pray out loud at meal times. When the prayer is answered (even if the answer is no!) we write the date on the back and it moves to the Answered Prayer Jar in my office. And then we celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness by eating a popsicle!

5. Mission Trips

Hopefully writing this on the internet will give me accountability for the goal! My kids are all under 10, so it isn’t quite time yet. But I firmly believe that there is great wisdom in this advice from Betsy:

  • Make it a goal to have each child go on a mission trip before they graduate from high school. It will forever change their perspective on the world and help them develop a love for people.

Thanks, Betsy, for these and so many more!

Posted on August 17, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.

Kisses and hugs: showing affection every day

Do you show affection to your children every day (even several times a day)? And do they do the same to you? It may be a little kiss on the cheek before they jump out of the car or a hug the first moment you see them in the morning; the point is to show physical affection toward them every day.

 

If you have gotten out of the habit or have let the hugs fall by the wayside, start back up. Hugs are important! I am deeply convinced of this. Sometimes as our children get a bit older, they may act “too grown up” to give Mom or Dad a hug, especially in front of someone else. But remember to be tender with your children. It is almost impossible for a child’s heart to stray from you if you show each other appropriate physical affection every day. 

If you are in a pattern of being tender with your children, you will be able to tell immediately if things are not quite right. Sometimes when they are in their teens, you might notice a hug that lingers a little longer than usual, and you will know that they need encouraging. Other times you might feel a tightness in the shoulders of a child who is upset or the quick breaths of the child about to cry. The tender moments you share throughout the day keep you in tune with your loved ones. When the habit of tenderness is broken, it's much easier to drift apart—in any of our relationships.

Appropriate physical touch between fathers and children is also important though it may be shown in different ways, like chasing, wrestling between dads and kids, or even contact sports.

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Don't forget to verbally express your love on a regular basis, too! If this sounds hard or if you've gotten out of the habit, you can always call across the house, and say to your thirteen-year-old son, "Hey, Sam! Did anyone tell you that they love you today?" Then wait and you will probably hear, "No, Mom." Then you call out, "Well, I love you!" And then you will likely hear, "Thanks, Mom. I love you, too!" Children or teens who do not regularly receive affection or other expressions of love may become exasperated without even realizing why.*

Teach your children that kindness, thoughtfulness and tenderness are highly valued and a source of great encouragement to you and the rest of the family. Encourage them to share a hug and an "I love you" with one another as well as with their parents. This simple training will also go a long way in minimizing sibling rivalry. 

*To learn more about how parents unintentionally exasperate their children, including a helpful "quiz," see the chapter entitled, Managing a Child in Entrusted with a Child's Heart. 

Posted on June 1, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.