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 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart: How Do you Find the Time? Part 3

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This is post number seven in the series of "Having your Child's Heart" from one of The Mother of Many writers Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...

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Another way to find quality and quantity time for your children is by including them in your daily life and tasks.  Work with your children, play with your children, go to the store with your children, tackle projects with your children.

Nearly every project or task that I do around the house I have a child helper (or three).  From starting and folding laundry, working in the kitchen or cleaning up a room the children love to be paired with mom to work. (Since we have 9 children, I don’t usually have ALL of the children helping me on a single task, but choose a few to help with each thing.)  Not only does working together allow us to develop deeper relationships and provide extra time to talk,  it is a perfect opportunity to train and teach the children to be helpful or give them the opportunity to actually be helpful.       Grocery shopping, doctor visits and running errands are other special times to spend with the children.  (I posted about going out with lots of small children and ideas to entertain and enjoy your children while you’re waiting.)

Think about what you do each day and consider ways that you can include your children.  Janet  wrote an excellent, practical post about how to improve the quality and quantity time with your children. She makes a great point about evaluating how much time you are actually engaged with your children (you may be surprised) and then shares many ideas about how to increase and improve it.

You may be interested some tips for minimizing laundry, how we save money by getting and using free paper for all of the children’s artwork or reading about the unique environment where God placed our family that helped shape us into what we are today.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart: How do you Find the Time? Part 2

This is post number seven in the series of "Having your Child's Heart" from one of The Mother of Many writers Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...

This is simply a continuation, so if you haven’t read Your Child’s Heart: How do you Find the Time? Part I, please do so to understand the context.

Having a priority of building strong, solid relationships with your children will affect your decisions in regard to education and curriculum choices as well as activities outside of the home. An obvious and practical way to spend more quality and quantity time with your children is choosing to homeschool.

I realize that this is obvious. If you stay at home and take a daily, active roll in teaching your children reading (so they are able to read God’s Word), writing (so they are able to communicate God’s truth to others), history (so they know how God has dealt with His people throughout time), math (so they realize that God is a God of order and logic), science (so they are amazed at God’s majesty and power), etc. then you will be spending more quality and quantity time making disciples of your children than you would if you delegated that responsibility to someone else.

When I was 11 God allowed my mother to be diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live. It was one of the best things that God did for our family. Through my mother’s cancer my parents began to homeschool us. This decision dramatically changed our family for the BEST in more ways that I can articulate and probably in more ways than I even know.

Don’t get me wrong, we were a strong family that loved the Lord before we began homeschooling. My father was a pastor and strove to obey God in all aspects of His life. We children were attending a small, solid Christian school and my parents were spending time each day teaching and instructing us in the ways of the Lord. I had made a personal profession of faith as had my younger brother (9) and sister (7). (We also had a 2 year old brother and my mom was pregnant.) All this merely to point out that God did not use homeschooling to change an apostate family that was broken and heading for trouble into a solid family who loved the Lord. The changes were more subtle than that, but not any less drastic.

Our family grew much closer to each other and as a result we were more ready and strong to stand together against a declining culture even when it seemed that we were the only ones. As children, we learned to respect and turn to my parents for advice and wisdom in a deeper way. We also became more confident in following God even when it went against popular opinion. I still see that in my siblings now that we are adults. None of us have taken the wide and easy path, we are all passionate about following the Lord and serving Him where He has called us and so long as we are serving God it doesn’t much matter what others think. One interesting note: All of us who have children have chosen to homeschool and the others hope to in the future.

The true blessing of homeschooling is not measured in academics (although homeschool students do perform well academically), but in family.

However, homeschooling alone will not automatically build the relationships that we are seeking. We must make purposeful decisions about how we homeschool with the focus on obeying God by making disciples and building relationships.

If each morning you give your child a list of assignments to complete and they go off, complete the assignments and bring them to you to check OR if you are running this child to Latin class, that child to violin, then the first child is off to a history class and child number three needs to be taken to a speech then there is not much more quality and quantity time spent with your child than if you dropped them off at school in the morning and helped them with their homework in the evening.

I’m NOT saying that sending your child to Christian school or homeschooling in one of these ways is wrong. Simply that if you make these choices you must work harder and more diligently to find time with your children to build these relationships. God has given the responsibility to educate to you and these are your decisions to make. I AM saying that I think homeschooling offers so much more than giving your child a stack of textbooks or running them to 10 – 15 classes each week.

Consider choosing a homeschool curriculum or developing one that allows you to directly teach your children. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Consider choosing something that allows children of various ages and various levels to be learning the same things (at different depths) and working on the same projects (at varying levels of skill) and consider using discussion as one of the main methods of checking comprehension and application. These things will all help build relationships and enable you to be actively involved in making disciples of your children throughout the educational day. This method of home education gives you an amazing opportunity of getting to know your children, where their strengths lie and whether or not you have their heart.

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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (New International Reader's Version)

 

 4 Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength.

 6 The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. 7 Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up. 8 Write them down and tie them on your hands as a reminder. Also tie them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses. Also write them on your gates.

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Homeschooling in a manner that is focused on building relationships and making disciples can be an excellent way to spend quality and quantity time with your children.

I’ve done a series of post about how we homeschool . I’m not sure that it’s finished so if you have questions or would like me to post about a different aspect, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart: How do you Find the Time? Part 1

This is post number six in the series of "Having your Child's Heart" from one of The Mother of Many writers Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...

 

In the previous posts in this series of “Keeping Your Child’s Heart”  I’ve pointed out that the ultimate goal of gaining our child’s heart is to make disciples of Christ.  In order to do that we must discipline and instruct them (Ephesians 6:4).  We can do neither of these without spending both quality and quantity time with our children.  This brings us to the question, “how do we find that time?”

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Ephesians 6:4 (New American Standard Bible)

 

 4 ">(A)Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

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One of the easiest ways to find and spend more time with our children is to make decisions that focus on that as a priority.  Mark and I pray, talk over and write out a daily schedule.  Our goal is for me to spend the majority of my time engaged with our children.   By writing down how we are going to fit everything into our day, we are able to see where we are spending our time and evaluate whether we are investing our time into the things that we say are important.

Even if you don’t like schedules, writing down what you do over the course of a week and how much time that you spend doing it can be a useful tool to see how you spend  your time and how that reflects your priorities.  How important is “fill in the blank” (watching television, participating in sports, etc.) to you?   Now how much time do you spend in a week doing that?  Now compare that to the amount of time you spend communing with your God or directly engaging with your children.  Do your daily decision reflect your priorities?

I think our human tendency is to sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate.  We tend to sacrifice building relationships and making disciples of our children in order to fix dinner, clean up the mess, minister to others or provide our children with some “wonderful” opportunity.  Of course I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do these things, just that everything should remain in balance.

If I am so busy keeping the house clean, doing laundry, getting dinner on the table or running the children to different activities that I have very little time or energy to invest in my children then something is wrong with my priorities.   This priority of building strong, solid relationships and making disciples of our children will affect nearly all of our decisions.   Are we walking the walk, or just talking the talk?  Evaluating how we spend our time can help us determine if our daily decisions are enabling us to meet our goals.

Another aspect of prioritizing our time is out-side-of-the-home activities.  There is so much pressure, especially in the homeschool community, to have our children involved in multiple outside-the-home activities that there are many homeschooled children who  spend more time with various peer groups than they do with their family and mothers who spend more time in the car than at home.  (Don’t forget dad in all this.  Fathers can become so busy with work and other responsibilities that they do not have a daily presence and influence in their child’s life.)

Saying “no” to good things in order to make room for the best things is vital when it comes to building relationships and gaining your child’s heart.  We can not do it all!

A hard part of this is that often the BEST things aren’t flashy.  Staying at home and making disciples of your children by pouring your life into them and encouraging them to choose the role of a servant and to serve others does not win awards, acclaim or scholarships.  However, we must go back to our standard for life.

what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8b)

Christ came as a servant, why should I desire more for myself or for my children?  No it’s not flashy, but it’s godly.

So evaluate how you use your time and the decisions that you make in light of the goals and priorities that you believe God has set for your family.  He has given us enough time to accomplish the things to which He has called us.  It is our responsibility to use that time properly.

4 Mom, 35 Kids talk about scheduling in only two more days.

You may be interested to read about some of the ways we try to implement our goal of teaching and training our children about the most important things in life.  We try to  make Bible reading a priority, we help our children memorize large amounts of scripture and doctrine, we have a daily time of family worship and we  include our children in the corporate worship services at church.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Our Insufficiency

This is post number five in the series of "Having your Child's Heart" from one of The Mother of Many writers Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...

 

Our culture and our world emphasize self-esteem and a pride in our accomplishments, but usually the best place to be is not a place of self-confidence, but a place where we recognize our failures and shortcomings, where we realize that we are not sufficient and where we are forced to fall on our knees and beg God for His mercy.

We are always challenged as parents.  We are humbled.  Even on our best days, we come up short.  My two-year-old offers me her little drawing of scribbles. “Wook, Daddy, wook!” she says.  My reaction s not to throw it back at her in a rage saying, “What is this? Just a bunch of scribbles on a piece of paper?  Take it away!”  No.  I take her up in my arms and say, “Thank you sweetheart!  You drew this for me?”  I post it over my desk.  She gave me a little piece of her heart.  She wanted to please me with the drawing, and she is pleased when she sees that I am pleased.

Similarly, when we parents, as the adopted children of our heavenly Father, present our parenting work to God as scribbles on a piece of paper, we must believe that He will accept it and that His grace will cover us.  We must believe that when God posts our grubby, blotchy artwork, He really can turn it into something great.  It is only then that we realize what we really mean when we cry out to our children, “My son, give me your heart.” ~ Kevin Swanson “Upgrade

The truth is that we are not sufficient, that we can’t do a ‘good enough’ job.  If we fail to recognize this then we are liable to miss the most important ingredient in the raising of a godly seed, God’s mercy and grace.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart Requires Time

Post number 4 in ths "Having your Child's Heart" Series from from one of The Mother of Many writers' blog Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...Raising Olives.

Esther who blogs at  MATROZKEPZO (and holds the distinction of being the only foreign language blog, that I know of, to have Raising Olives in their blog roll) left this insightful comment on my last post in Your Child’s Heart series.  I thought it was good enough to warrant it’s own post.

Many people, even Christian mothers think, that it is sufficient and enough to occasionally listen to their kids. At these times, they sit down with them, and ask questions about school and life, and they are expecting ‘talk-flood’ from their youngsters. But usually, that flood doesn’t happen- and no wonder why. Because nobody can force another person at a certain time to open his heart up for him for ten minutes or for half an hour- just to be neglected for days or weeks after that.

The key is availability.

Many loving parents don’t realize, that there’s no such think as quality time by itself! QUALITY COMES FROM QUANTITY. You need to spend many many many hours (and I mean it literally) watching and listening to your children. You don’t even need to ask questions. Just be with them, and let them feel your presence. And then, you need to listen to them.

I think, this is the hardest part. To sit still smiling, and look into their eyes while they are chatting, talking and talking to you about everything. Sometimes it is so hard for me not to close my ears and my heart at them – even when they are talking almost continuously all-day-long! <img src=" src="http://raisingolives.com/2010/02/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" /> But I know, there is no other way I can have their quality time. Because in this way, I build relationships between me and each of them uniquely. So that each of them get to know, that mom is a person that he can trust with his secrets and one who he can count on- probably one of few in the early years… I think this is very important.

This makes clear the point that I was trying to make.  In order to keep our children’s hearts we must spend both quality and quantity time with our children.  I think Esther put her finger on a key point, “Quality comes from quantity.”  You can’t have one without the other.

In Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 we are to teach these things (God’s law) diligently to our children, but then it goes on to explain that we should do that as we walk through life with them.   If we aren’t WITH our children, if we are allowing others to raise  them, teach them,  spend the majority of waking hours with them, it is difficult to obey this command.   We can’t simply schedule some “quality time” with our children in order to teach them what they must know.  We must build a relationship, a relationship that in some way mirrors the relationship that our children should have with God.

For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:12)

Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:13)

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:7-9)

I’d love to hear how you incorporate both quality and quantity time with your children and how you foster and develop solid, loving relationships with your children.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart: What’s Your Responsibility? (Instruction)

This is post number three in the series of "Having your Child's Heart" from one of The Mother of Many writers Raising Olives. With a large family this writer manages her home through Godly and Biblical principles through every avenue to also include her strong belief in homeschooling her many children. Through her experience and God given blessings has she written this series in her own blog...

To keep or gain our child’s heart, we must love our children and our love must be defined by God’s Word.  I think that the two main responsibilities that parents have may be found in this verse:

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

In my last post I addressed discipline, now we’ll look at instruction.

We must instruct our children.

The Biblical basis of instruction which results in obedience is love (relationship).

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:13-24)

So how do we develop a loving relationship with our children so that we are able to expect them to listen and keep our instruction?

In order to have a relationship with our children we must spend time with them.  I’ve seen it discussed in various arenas  whether we should spend quality time or quantity time with our children.  I think that the answer to that is BOTH.  Instruction is a constant, daily, hourly, moment by moment activity that we partake in as we live life alongside our children.  (Notice even in the John 14 passage that it says that God will come and make His abode with those who love Him.  He will come and fellowship closely with him.)

Deuteronomy 6 says,

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6

Spend quality time with your children.

I can not diligently teach God’s Word to my children if I’m not paying attention to them, listening to them, talking to them.

I must be plugged in to what they are talking about, what activities they are involved in, what they are hearing and as much as they will communicate, what they are thinking in order to use all these different times and  opportunities to point them to God and His Word.

Spend a lot of time with your children.

In this passage in Deuteronomy God gives us a pattern of when we should instruct our children.  We should do it when we sit, when we walk, when we lie down and when we rise up.  The bottom line?  We should ALWAYS be teaching our children.  It is impossible to be teaching God’s Word to your children at all these times if you aren’t with your children.  So I think that it is a parents responsibility to spend a lot of time with their children.

Use the time that you spend with your children to instruct them in God’s Word.

Simply spending a lot of quality time with our children doesn’t fulfill the instruction part of our responsibility.  We must use this time for the purpose of instructing them in God’s Word.  This is one of the things I try to communicate in my posts  why we homeschool and how we homeschool.  As Christians our main focus and priority may not be the academic progress of our children, it must be training in instruction and righteousness.

How do you keep your focus, your priority on the spiritual discipleship/instruction of your children?

How do you build those relationships?



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Your Child’s Heart: What’s Your Responsibility? (Discipline)

This is the second post in the series "Having your childs Heart" by Raising Olives.

The first two posts in this series talk about what it means to have your child’s heart.  Now, let’s look at what responsibilities we have as parents to accomplish that goal.

I believe that normally the process of gaining or keeping your child’s heart begins at birth and does not finish until our kids leave home (and probably not even then).  It is an ongoing process and while normally parents and children who consistently follow God’s Word, seek His wisdom and conscientiously work on this relationship from the very beginning will be blessed with stronger and easier relationships,  it is also never too late to win your child’s heart and your circumstances are never too difficult.  This is true because we serve a merciful, kind and all powerful God and He can accomplish all He desires.

I want to make this extremely clear.  While we’ll be talking about things parents  should do to gain and keep their child’s heart, we can not, by our actions alone, win our child’s heart.  That ultimately is God’s gift.  However, just like with their physical safety, parents do have  responsibilities.  God promises blessing for faithful obedience and curses for disobedience.  So while keeping our child’s heart is not completely dependent on our actions, it is also not completely separate.

To keep or gain our child’s heart, we must love our children and our love must be defined by God’s Word.

I believe that there are two main ways that we must show our love to our children and both are found in this verse.

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

Discipline and instruction.  If you desire a healthy relationship with your child these two things must be present.  You can not choose one without the other and expect health any more than you can choose to only give your child food OR water and expect health.  Each must be present and balanced.

We must discipline our children.

The fifth commandment is “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God gives you.”  This is repeated often and in many different ways throughout the Bible.  Yet, if you go to any public place you will see children out of control.  This is common in our society.

I have been having regular chiropractic appointments and since I don’t have a cell phone, I take all of the children with me.  Yesterday we walked into the office and sat down in the waiting room with 3 other ladies.  One looked at me just 2-3 minutes after we walked in and said, “These are the best behaved children I have ever seen.  Thank you.”  The other two looked up and one nodded and the other verbalized another compliment.

This is a horrible indictment on our culture and I relate this because it is one of the most common comments that we get when we are out in public  and it is indicative of a major problem in our society.  It should be the norm in a “Christian” nation like our own, for children to be obedient and to show basic honor to their parents.  After all “this is the first commandment with a promise.”

(Please do not misunderstand my use of this example, Mark and I fail daily to Biblically discipline and disciple our children.   And our children are not perfect.  They regularly disobey and are disrespectful at times.  My point is that Biblical discipline is so uncommon in our culture that strangers are surprised to see children who respond to their parents with basic obedience.)

It is our God-given responsibility to teach our children to honor and obey us and to use Biblical correction to accomplish that goal.  If we fail to do this, our children will not know or understand how to obey and honor their heavenly Father.

Children are much smarter than most adults give them credit for and when you see a child that is out of control (stomping, screaming, hitting, thrashing and yelling because they don’t get their way), you must realize that that child is dramatically unhappy.  Way down within themselves, they know that something is missing.  That child, by those very actions, is stomping, screaming, hitting, yelling and begging for someone to control him, for someone to love him.  He is asking, begging, pleading, storming for an adult to show him Biblical love.

God’s Word clearly teaches.

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them;  Hebrew 12:7-9

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24

Our children know that if they are loved they will be disciplined and taught.  If they are not lovingly disciplined they know that they are not being treated as a beloved child.  They are being treated as illegitimate children and are receiving a message of hatred from their parents.  Think about it.

As Christians, our goal should be Biblical discipline that seeks for the good of our children and their right relationship with God.  However, we all fail.  Each and every one of us fail daily in our responsibility of disciplining  our children.  This is where we come back to the beginning of this post.  God is the only one who is able to ensure that we have our children’s hearts.   He is a merciful and loving God who blesses us, His children in spite of our failings.  Just as we love and care for our children, in a much more full and glorious way, God loves and cares for us and gave His only Son for us.

This does not relieve us of our responsibility, but it gives us hope that we are not too late, it gives us encouragement that our efforts our not in vain and it gives us motivation to daily ask for God’s strength and wisdom to fulfill our God-given responsibility to our children.

Do you think Biblical discipline strengthens the relationship between parents and children?  How?

Remember this is just half of the equation.  If you give only discipline to your children you should not expect a healthy relationship.  Next week I hope to post about the second aspect, instruction.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Do You Have Your Child’s Heart?

This is the first post of a series of post on "having your Child's Heart". The bible instructs us to rear up our children so that we have their heart, in order to rear tem up for the Lord. In order for our children to truly grow up an dlove and fear the Lord, it is our God given responsiblity to grasp on to our children and have their hearts, thus teaching our children to open their hearts to the Lord. If we do not have our childrens hearts, we can not rear them up as God commands us to and our children will grow up with out respect for themselves or for others, this to include their siblings. This is the first post I am sharing here for my own reference as well as any others who may come across this. Its posted from Raising Olives.

In the first post in this series I mentioned that having your child’s heart is an important part of Biblical child training and is one of our family’s main goals, but what does it mean?

So how do you know if you have your child’s heart?   Ultimately I believe that if you are a Christian who is seeking wisdom from God in this area that you will know whether or not you have your child’s heart.  This is an ongoing process and I don’t believe that we are ever finished winning our children’s heart.  Just like any relationship it takes consistent, diligent work but the rewards are beyond measure.

Signs that you have your child’s heart:

  • One of your child’s greatest desires is to please you.
  • Your child voluntarily thinks of and performs acts of service for you.  (This shouldn’t be limited to things that are “fun” for your child.  This morning 3 of our children got up early and cleaned the whole upstairs, including dusting, vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms, as a surprise for Mark and me.)
  • When you say “no” to your child they accept it cheerfully.
  • When you give your child a command or a request they are happy to comply.
  • Your child desires to spend time with you.
  • Your child takes correction from you with a pleasant or grateful attitude.
  • Your child mimics you and/or wants to grow up to be like you.
  • Your child comes to you for advice.

Signs that you do not have your child’s heart:

  • Your child doesn’t consistently obey.
  • Your child obeys, but with a grudging attitude.
  • Your child values the opinion of their peers or others above your opinion.
  • Your child treats you differently in front of his/her peers.
  • Your child says, “But so-and-so says/does/thinks.”

I’m not talking about having children who are sinless, but if you have your child’s heart they should be characterized by these things.  Certainly if you see pouting, stomping, arguing or other outward signs of rebellion in a child older than 3-6 you should pray and examine carefully , whether you have your child’s heart.

I often try to measure or gauge it this way, “If my child has fallen into serious sin, would they come to me (or Mark) for help first?” OR “If my child has their heart set on something and Mark and I say ‘no’, will they respect our wishes from their heart, not just on the outside?”  If the answer to either of these is no, then we don’t really have their heart.

I believe that God has given children the natural desire to give their hearts to their parents, but there are many, many things that can change, disrupt, or discourage that from happening.  There are also many forces that compete for the hearts of our children.  (Just read through the Proverbs and look around at our society if you don’t believe me.)

I know that I do not have all the answers and would love for you to share your wisdom and ideas about how we can keep or gain our children’s hearts.  What do you think about these lists?  Did I miss something? Feel free to join in the discussion.  (If you haven’t read Disagreeing with Love and you disagree, you may wish to read that first.)



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Building Strong Sibling Relationships: 4 Moms of Many

Sibling relationships need not be characterized by sin anymore than the  marriage relationship shouldbe characterized by sin. All relationships will be affected by sin, but by God’s grace and mercy we can have relationships that are characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

Here is how we deal with arguing and fighting.

Here are some ways to cultivate beautiful relationships among your children.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Pray that God will bless your children’s relationships

Ultimately God is the only one who can change your children’s sinful, selfish nature and give them hearts that long to please Him and serve others.

Give them an example of godly relationship.

I hate to say this one because I fail multiple times each and every day and the primary sins that I see in our children’s relationships are sins that I regularly model for them. Our children’s relationships are certainly not a result of my godly example, but rather of God’s grace. That said, striving to put before them a godly example is vital.

Give them time together.

Relationships develop when people spend time together. If your children spend most of their time with a peer group, the peer relationships are what they will value, almost always to the detriment of sibling relationships. (I suspect this is because because most peer groups aren’t composed of friends who encourage children to godliness.)

Our family has observed a striking contrast between sibling relationships in friend’s children who spend many hours a day with peer groups and sibling relationships in friends children who spend most of their time with siblings and parents.

If your children spend most of their time alone, they will value being alone and choosing what they want to do, when they want to do it.  It’s difficult to learn to serve or to sacrifice self, if we spend much of our childhood serving self.

In order to develop strong relationships siblings must spend time together and must be involved in each others lives.

Don’t give them too much space.

If you followed the above link to my post on solving sibling squabbles, you will see that we have given our children a specific method, based on Matthew 18,  for solving conflicts. This biblical pattern works beautifully, if it’s followed.

________________________________________________________________________________

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18: 15-17

________________________________________________________________________________

   As sinners it’s our children’s nature NOT to handle a conflict biblically and so until they consistently and reliably follow the pattern given in Matthew 18 they need supervision. And until BOTH parties are willing and able to solve the conflict at step #1, they need a parent available for step #2 and/or #3.

I often think of Ephesians 6:4, when it comes to sibling relationships.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

If adults need the Matthew 18 pattern to solve conflicts (and they do), shame on parents who tell their children that they need to work things out on their own. God knows adults aren’t able to solve all problems without outside help, we should not expect it of our children.

That said, as our children mature, they rarely need to come to us and are able to solve most conflicts with simply the first step of Matthew 18.

Make relationship a priority.

Please do not underestimate the importance of relationships! When Adam sinned the consequence was a breaking of the relationship between God and man and the purpose of Christ’s life, death and resurrection was to restore that relationship.

I believe that Satan rejoices when he sees the constant name calling, bickering and fighting within the families of those who claim the name of Christ. Our calling as parents isn’t to take the easy way out and the godly discipleship of children and building of strong, godly family relationships is not easy.

Here are a few simple ways that our family makes relationships a priority:

  • Nothing is more important than teaching our children to have a relationship with God.
  • We spend time together as a family. (Lots of time, everyday) My series on capturing your child’s heart
  • We homeschool with a focus on relationships. (6 ways our homeschool is different than most)
  • We consider relationship in the ‘little’ decisions. ( Who sits by whom in the van, room sharing, homeschool curricula, family activities, individual activities, daily schedules, etc.)
  • We strive to be given to hospitality. Hospitality does not require a large budget or endless resources, but hospitality always requires a little bit of self-sacrifice and self-sacrifice is always beneficial to building relationships.
  • We carefully consider the friendships that we encourage both in our children and as a family.

Do not be misled, “Bad company corrupts good character.” ~1 Cor. 15:33

  • We view our primary parenting responsibility to be to teach our children God’s mighty works and His law.

How do you manage sibling relationships in your home?

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about sibling relationships:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

 

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Large Family Transportation: 4 Moms

Some tips and tricks from 4 moms of large families that have worked for them. All of which are based upon Christs teaching to the peaceful upbringing or the children in their home.

moms of many manage

Welcome another week of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking about tips for transporting our large families.

Our family of 12 drives a 12 passenger van. Although it gets tricky when we are trying to get camping equipment, clothes and accoutrements for 12 people and all the food we’re going to eat fir a week into the van with every seat occupied by a person we appreciate spending less on gas than we would if we drove a 15 passenger van and most of the time we have no problem with lack of space.

Tips for transporting a large family.

Pay cash for your vehicle – It’s possible and it’s prudent and we’ve never regretted driving an older, paid-for vehicle. We’ve always purchased used vehicles and have driven them until our family outgrew them or they were ready to be “put down”.

Plan your seating – Consider your children, their capabilities and personalities.  We have considered who may need help during our time in the car and have planned to have a helper near enough to be of service.

Having a large family provides many opportunities for children to consider one another as more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3-4)*, so while one could purposely place two rough personalities far away from each other and achieve immediate peace,  we generally choose to place them beside each other. This furthers our goal of training our children to be more like Christ and provides more opportunity for those rough edges to be rubbed off  (Prov. 27:17)**.

________________________________________________________________________________

*Philippians 2:3-4 (New International Version)

"3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. "

**Proverbs 27:17 (New International Version)

  "17 As iron sharpens iron,
   so one person sharpens another."

________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The beautiful thing that we’ve seen happen is that both children have their weaknesses and relationship strengthened. They learn to play and interact with each other and often they ask to sit next to each other when it comes time to rearrange seating.

Ban electronics from the car

Surprised?  I don’t mean completely, I just mean those electronic devices that separate people who are sitting right beside each other. (iPods, hand-held games, DVD players, etc.)

Whether we’re traveling long distances or simply running errands our children read books, draw, play games (Battleship, Sorry, Mastermind, etc.), tell stories and generally enjoy each other. In my opinion that’s much better than a silent drive any day (well, almost any day <img src=" src="http://raisingolives.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" /> ).

How do you transport your large family? What tips do you have?

You may be interested in tips for feeding a large family while traveling or our 1,800 mile trip (I can’t believe how much the kids have changed).

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to find out how they transport their large families:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Large Family Transportation: 4 Moms

Some tips and tricks from 4 moms of large families that have worked for them. All of which are based upon Christs teaching to the peaceful upbringing or the children in their home.

moms of many manage

Welcome another week of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking about tips for transporting our large families.

Our family of 12 drives a 12 passenger van. Although it gets tricky when we are trying to get camping equipment, clothes and accoutrements for 12 people and all the food we’re going to eat fir a week into the van with every seat occupied by a person we appreciate spending less on gas than we would if we drove a 15 passenger van and most of the time we have no problem with lack of space.

Tips for transporting a large family.

Pay cash for your vehicle – It’s possible and it’s prudent and we’ve never regretted driving an older, paid-for vehicle. We’ve always purchased used vehicles and have driven them until our family outgrew them or they were ready to be “put down”.

Plan your seating – Consider your children, their capabilities and personalities.  We have considered who may need help during our time in the car and have planned to have a helper near enough to be of service.

Having a large family provides many opportunities for children to consider one another as more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3-4)*, so while one could purposely place two rough personalities far away from each other and achieve immediate peace,  we generally choose to place them beside each other. This furthers our goal of training our children to be more like Christ and provides more opportunity for those rough edges to be rubbed off  (Prov. 27:17)**.

________________________________________________________________________________

*Philippians 2:3-4 (New International Version)

"3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. "

**Proverbs 27:17 (New International Version)

 

 "17 As iron sharpens iron,
   so one person sharpens another."

________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The beautiful thing that we’ve seen happen is that both children have their weaknesses and relationship strengthened. They learn to play and interact with each other and often they ask to sit next to each other when it comes time to rearrange seating.

Ban electronics from the car

Surprised?  I don’t mean completely, I just mean those electronic devices that separate people who are sitting right beside each other. (iPods, hand-held games, DVD players, etc.)

Whether we’re traveling long distances or simply running errands our children read books, draw, play games (Battleship, Sorry, Mastermind, etc.), tell stories and generally enjoy each other. In my opinion that’s much better than a silent drive any day (well, almost any day <img src=" src="http://raisingolives.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" /> ).

How do you transport your large family? What tips do you have?

You may be interested in tips for feeding a large family while traveling or our 1,800 mile trip (I can’t believe how much the kids have changed).

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to find out how they transport their large families:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Building Strong Sibling Relationships: 4 Moms of Many

Sibling relationships need not be characterized by sin anymore than the  marriage relationship shouldbe characterized by sin. All relationships will be affected by sin, but by God’s grace and mercy we can have relationships that are characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

Here is how we deal with arguing and fighting.

Here are some ways to cultivate beautiful relationships among your children.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Pray that God will bless your children’s relationships

Ultimately God is the only one who can change your children’s sinful, selfish nature and give them hearts that long to please Him and serve others.

Give them an example of godly relationship.

I hate to say this one because I fail multiple times each and every day and the primary sins that I see in our children’s relationships are sins that I regularly model for them. Our children’s relationships are certainly not a result of my godly example, but rather of God’s grace. That said, striving to put before them a godly example is vital.

Give them time together.

Relationships develop when people spend time together. If your children spend most of their time with a peer group, the peer relationships are what they will value, almost always to the detriment of sibling relationships. (I suspect this is because because most peer groups aren’t composed of friends who encourage children to godliness.)

Our family has observed a striking contrast between sibling relationships in friend’s children who spend many hours a day with peer groups and sibling relationships in friends children who spend most of their time with siblings and parents.

If your children spend most of their time alone, they will value being alone and choosing what they want to do, when they want to do it.  It’s difficult to learn to serve or to sacrifice self, if we spend much of our childhood serving self.

In order to develop strong relationships siblings must spend time together and must be involved in each others lives.

Don’t give them too much space.

If you followed the above link to my post on solving sibling squabbles, you will see that we have given our children a specific method, based on Matthew 18,  for solving conflicts. This biblical pattern works beautifully, if it’s followed.

As sinners it’s our children’s nature NOT to handle a conflict biblically and so until they consistently and reliably follow the pattern given in Matthew 18 they need supervision. And until BOTH parties are willing and able to solve the conflict at step #1, they need a parent available for step #2 and/or #3.

I often think of Ephesians 6:4, when it comes to sibling relationships.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

If adults need the Matthew 18 pattern to solve conflicts (and they do), shame on parents who tell their children that they need to work things out on their own. God knows adults aren’t able to solve all problems without outside help, we should not expect it of our children.

That said, as our children mature, they rarely need to come to us and are able to solve most conflicts with simply the first step of Matthew 18.

Make relationship a priority.

Please do not underestimate the importance of relationships! When Adam sinned the consequence was a breaking of the relationship between God and man and the purpose of Christ’s life, death and resurrection was to restore that relationship.

I believe that Satan rejoices when he sees the constant name calling, bickering and fighting within the families of those who claim the name of Christ. Our calling as parents isn’t to take the easy way out and the godly discipleship of children and building of strong, godly family relationships is not easy.

Here are a few simple ways that our family makes relationships a priority:

  • Nothing is more important than teaching our children to have a relationship with God.
  • We spend time together as a family. (Lots of time, everyday) My series on capturing your child’s heart
  • We homeschool with a focus on relationships. (6 ways our homeschool is different than most)
  • We consider relationship in the ‘little’ decisions. ( Who sits by whom in the van, room sharing, homeschool curricula, family activities, individual activities, daily schedules, etc.)
  • We strive to be given to hospitality. Hospitality does not require a large budget or endless resources, but hospitality always requires a little bit of self-sacrifice and self-sacrifice is always beneficial to building relationships.
  • We carefully consider the friendships that we encourage both in our children and as a family.

Do not be misled, “Bad company corrupts good character.” ~1 Cor. 15:33

  • We view our primary parenting responsibility to be to teach our children God’s mighty works and His law.

How do you manage sibling relationships in your home?

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about sibling relationships:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

 

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

You may also enjoy:

  1. Solving Sibling Squabbles
  2. Family Relationships
  3. Preparing Children to Be Around Unbelievers: 4 Moms

 



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Solving Sibling Squabbles

Hello and thanks for visiting. If you're new here, you may sign up to have posts delivered to your email inbox for free or subscribe to my RSS feed. Be sure to 'like' me on Facebook for even more large family goodness. Thanks for visiting!

As you can imagine in a home with 9 children we have had a lot of opportunities to deal with sibling squabbles and it is one of the questions that we have been asked repeatedly, “How do you deal with arguing, fighting and tale bearing?”  Our answer:  “What are you talking about, our children never argue, fight or tattle tale.”  Complete sarcasm there, I couldn’t resist. <img src=" src="http://raisingolives.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" />

The simple answer is that we try to deal with arguments among our children by using the pattern that Christ  gives us  in Matthew 18 for dealing with arguments among brothers.

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is how it works in our home.  Let’s use the example of child A taking a toy away from child B.  The first step would be for B to say nicely to A, “A, I was playing with that toy, will you please give it back to me?”  If A gives the toy back to B, then the disagreement is over and ended, just like in verse 15.  If A refuses to listen then child B comes to mom or dad and calmly tells us what happened, per verse 16 then mommy or daddy help settle the dispute.  (Here is how we deal with sin while showing love to our children.)  Obviously we have never had to appeal to the church, but that is an option if we ever have an older, rebellious child.

How a sibling squabble should look:

  • When child B comes to tell mom or dad something that child A did, our first question is always, “Did you speak kindly to A about your problem?”  If B did not then B is in trouble for not obeying mom and dad by speaking kindly to their sibling first.  If B is young enough to need a reminder, we remind them and then possibly help them role play through the process.  (We do this for children who are still learning to speak.)
  • If B did indeed speak kindly to A then A is in trouble for sinning against B and for not repenting when confronted with his/her sin.
  • If  A tells us that B began the whole problem then we pull both children together, get the whole story and deal with each one as needed.
  • If B did not tell us the whole story, (For example they took the toy away from A first or they hit A after A took the toy away.)  Then we deal with B for lying.  If they are young we usually prompt them with a question to help them remember that they need to tell us the whole story.  “Why did A take the toy away?”, “Did A have the toy first?” or “What did you do?”
  • After each child has been dealt with, the offending child/children must repent and ask forgiveness of the child/children that they offended.  In this example, A would say, “B, I was wrong for being unkind by taking the toy away from you, will you please forgive me?”   B would respond by saying, “I forgive you.” and they would hug.
  • The offending child/children must also repent and ask God to forgive him/her.  So child A would pray, “Dear God, I was wrong for being unkind to B by taking the toy away.  Will you please forgive me and help me by your power through the Holy Spirit to be kind to my sister/brother.”
  • One exception is if one child is physically violent to another child then the offended child may come directly to a parent and skip the first step.

To teach our children how to do this we role play with them.  Let’s say things went wrong.  Child A took the toy away and then child B yelled and grabbed the toy back and ….  Mommy hears the ensuing scuffle and comes into settle the dispute.  After dealing with the obvious sin, I will give the toy back to the child who took it away and we will role play how the disagreement should have been settled.

We begin this process of confrontation and repentance as soon as our children begin to use words,  generally around their first birthday.  Obviously, we guide them step-by-step through the process, it goes something like this:

Big kid takes a car away from baby and baby begins to scream.  Mommy comes over and says, “Baby, no screaming!” and gives baby a swat on the hand,  hugs baby and then asks, “Did big kid take your car away from you?   I’m sorry, but you may not scream.  Come ask big kid to give your car back.”  Then Mommy guides baby through the words to say and baby says, “mama sss ma ma ma ma.”  Which of course means, “Big kid please will you give me my car back.”  Now mommy and baby wait for big kid to respond.  If big kid gives the car back, mommy praises both baby and big kid for being kind and handling the disagreement in a godly manner, problem solved.  In some cases big kid may need further instruction and usually big kid needs to repent and ask forgiveness for taking the car away in the first place.  All arguments should end with hugs.  It is amazing how quickly our children have caught on to this.  It is not uncommon to hear baby babbling and then to see big kid hand a toy back, sometimes they just need a little reminder.

This training requires more work on the parents part than just letting them fight it out, but the reward is a more peaceful home and children who know how to solve conflicts Biblically.  Like almost everything worthwhile, it takes time, hard work and patience in order to see long term results.

Some parents have said that children need to learn to handle disputes on their own and that by our constant supervision we are teaching them to be dependent on mom and dad whenever they have a conflict rather than teaching them how to deal with it independently, i.e. without any parental involvement.  Our perspective is that if Jesus in Matthew 18 instructs his disciples to get help from others in a conflict where one brother will not listen to another brother, it seems a bit presumptuous for us to expect our children to work out difficulties more independently than these grown men.  In our experience, we deal with a lot of conflicts when our children are small, but once they reach age 3 or 4 the amount of fighting subsides.  We still frequently deal with unkind speech, but probably only deal with direct conflict between our children (excluding the two youngest) a few times a month, perhaps less.

Here are some other rules of behavior in our home:

  1. No screaming, yelling, hitting, etc.  All of these things are dealt with before we even hear what caused the problem.
  2. No physically taking anything away or picking up/moving a sibling unless they are a danger to themselves or others.  For example, if Nicholas (1) has a marker which he is not allowed to have, no one, except mom or dad, has the authority to physically take it away.  They must say, “Nicholas, please give me the marker”  and wait for him to give it to them.  If he doesn’t then they proceed to step 2 and come tell mommy.
  3. Big kids have a responsibility not to boss little ones around.  They may remind little ones of the rules. (No running upstairs, no jumping on the couch, etc.) and they may make requests of the younger children (Please don’t touch my knitting, will you please quiet down?), but they must be very careful about giving commands.
  4. Little kids have the responsibility to obey bigger kids.  If a big kid reminds them of a rule (no running upstairs) and they continue to disregard the rule, then they are in double trouble, 1. for disobeying the rule and 2. for not heeding wise counsel.
  5. All the children have the responsibility to respect their siblings.  If someone makes a request, we expect that request to be obeyed or for the child to appeal to mom if they aren’t sure it is a reasonable request.  They may not just ignore a request.
  6. Occasionally Mark or I will give authority to a big kid to watch the little kids.  When this happens the little ones must obey the big kid even if they are being unreasonable.  (This is different from asking one child to keep an eye on another child, rules number 3 and 4 apply to that situation.  This is when mom and dad are going out and will not be immediately available.)  We have never had the little children disobey a bigger kid in this situation,  probably because of #7
  7. We only give authority to children who have proven themselves faithful in little things.  If a child is not faithful in their chores, school work and relationships we do not give them authority over their siblings.
  8. If a big kid is unreasonable when given authority they are corrected and loose the privilege.  (We have never had to deal with this, probably because of #7.)
  9. In order to train our big and little kids for this type of authority shift, we will give a big kid a task to help a little kid complete.  (Help little kid to get his shoes on.)  We teach the little one to obey their older sibling sweetly and the older sibling to serve the younger one by being kind and making it fun.
  10. Speak kindly.

Here are some rules that Mark and I try to follow:

  1. Pray specifically for each of our children and for each of their relationships every day.
  2. Be within earshot of the children, so that we can hear if there are disagreements.  We have found that our children are all too happy to deal with disagreements independently.  There have been a couple of times that relationships have suffered because of  long term unkindness that was not properly dealt with.
  3. Be consistent.  Don’t ignore screaming (or anything else) just this one time.
  4. Don’t let the baby act like a brat just because he/she is tired/hungry/teething/ate too much sugar.  Be understanding (maybe they need some extra hugs), but don’t simply excuse bad behavior.  (We had no problem with this with our older children, but we need to remind ourselves more often with our younger ones.)
  5. Don’t skip repentance, forgiveness and hugs.  Our kids need to know that the relationship is restored.  This is obvious with our little ones.  When they have sinned they repent, usually without being asked, and as soon as they are finished they throw themselves into our arms and get a huge snuggle.

How do you handle sibling disputes?



 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - Wendy Breslin 

Freezing Hamburger

 

But yet another tried and true homemaking tip. As my family became bigger, it brought on new ways of doing even the smallest things...from when and where to grocery shop and especially how to shop, store, and cook foods to be most effeciant as well as healthy. I foud this post from a blog named "Feeding the Crew" whom also feeds a large family and thought I would share it. I also have been freezing my meats after buying in bulk for several years in this way. Until recently now that I have been full time working, I haven't had the blessing of time to continue on with this. Although finding the time, and shuffling things around need to be assessed, but thats a whole other topic for discussion. Anyways, here is the down low on buying the meat in builk and freezong..you don't really need a scale..as she has below, I successfully eyed my meat divisions by hlaf's and quarters and was fine. This can also be done with ground chicklen, ground turkey, buffalo, or alligator from down south lol

10:32 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
DSCF7150

When I buy meat, I buy it in bulk packages, usually between six and seven pounds each. I weigh it on my handy kitchen scale (you do have a handy kitchen scale, don't you?) and divide it into 1 1/2 pounds portions. I usually cook one portion up right then, and freeze the remaining ones.

I put them into gallon sized freezer bags and press them flat, making sure the corners are filled. Easy as pie! I lay them in the freezer flat. When I need to thaw one, I place them in the sink and run a bit of hot water. They are thawed in just ten minutes or so!




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