Hooked on Phonics

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This is the latest great offer from Educents that I thought some of you might be interested in. I have heard lots of great things about Hooked on Phonics. My two are too little for learning to read, but I’m definitely looking at this curriculum for the future.

Oh, and I love the quote below – it is an absolute gem. Leaders are readers!

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Program

From Gladie, at Educents:

COMPLETE 4 – Level Learn to Read Kit for $109 (Usually $299)

There are not many products out there that are worth spending a ton of money on. But if there is ONE piece of advice I have to parents: invest in your child’s ability to read and write. {<<< Yes!} It’ll be worth every penny, and more. That’s why I’m excited to share this deal with you.

Why? Communication is key to success, and learning to confidently read and write is its foundation. The Hooked on Phonics Program is a tried and true program that’s helped multiple generations of learners in my family master reading and phonics. It’s so easy to use and follow along that children can even teach themselves to read with Hooked on Phonics.

You may know the well known quote from Harry S. Truman,

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

The world of literature also helps children build upon their imagination, become more empathetic, and improve emotional intelligence.

So, if anyone were to ask me what the best reading/phonics program is, not only as a mom but as a learner, I would (and have many times) recommended the Hooked On Phonics Learn To Read program. This set is the absolute best deal I’ve found for beginners. It includes five levels from PreK-2nd grade.

Other great programs by Hooked on Phonics are available for older children here on Educents, where I found this deal. Right now you can get free shipping with code CANDYCORN.

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Growing up with a father in Children’s Literature and having our own personal library, I can attest to the magic and wonder of reading. Reading really does make us smarter. When I used to teach English as a second language, lots of mother’s of students would ask me what they should do. Every single time I replied, “Get them reading!” ~ Sarah

Have you used Hooked on Phonics? What success did you have with it?

What Happened When We Brought Our Son Home From Preschool.

I could write so much on this, but let me just summarise it in one word:
Transformed.
That is the most succinct word I can think of to describe what has happened to our little boy since we brought him home from preschool. It’s been two months and they have flown by. Why? Life is just easier with him at home.
Now, I’m not saying my days are breezy. Ha! Two children under three? No day is going to be breezy! I’m teaching, correcting, encouraging, disciplining, playing, chasing, imagining, cleaning, cooking, and living with them both all day, everyday. I don’t get the few hours of space like I did when he went three mornings a week. And I don’t get time alone with Rosalie now, either.
But – and it is such a big but! – we just have a totally different boy in the house. The boy who was always there, underneath, but who got confused and influenced and tired and overstimulated and put in the world before he was ready. Therefore, the boy who was more aggressive, rebellious, hurtful, less kind to his family, bored all the time, unable to play with himself or others has gone.
Instead, we have a boy who is more kind, more loving, more open, willing to be corrected, less rebellious, more imaginative, more able to play by himself, enjoying more self-directed learning. So, like I said, transformed. We have our little boy back. 
Do I regret sending him to preschool? Yes and no. 
Yes, because I have changed my stance on early education and the only reason I have is because of the negative effect it has had on our son.
But no, because I believe God has had His hand on it all.

It’s helped me know my son more {he’s an INTROVERT, people!}.
It’s helped me know my convictions more.
It’s helped me trust God’s guidance more.
It’s helped me be more confident as a mother
It’s helped me be more confident in my husband’ judgement {why don’t I learn this quicker??}.
And it’s helped me see that homeschooling is probably going to be the best thing for our family.

God always knows what He’s doing and, when we make mistakes, if we bring them back to Him, He redeems them and glorfies Himself. I love it because mistakes then, are not ever mistakes at all. Just experiences that push us more into God’s will, and nothing can go wrong with Him.
Today, as I was contemplating it all and looking at planning some activities at home, I spent some time in my number one favourite book on motherhood: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson {affiliate}. Whenever I’m feeling in need of some motherly advice for a mother, I turn to her. These words just lifted me up today:

“Simply throwing children into a cultural tornado and hoping for the best gives them little chance of living up to their potential or coming out unharmed. Someone needs to take responsibility for their nurture, protection, nourishment, intellectual development, manners, recreation, personal needs, and spiritual development. Someone needs to commit time and energy into staying close to them as they grow, encouragung and correcting and teaching…

Best of all, when a mother chooses to stay home, she has the time and opportunity to craft the kind of relationship with her young children that only extended time together can foster. And from such a relationship she has a much better chance of building a strong moral and spiritual foundation in the heart of her young children, teaching a system of truth and values without the constant challenge of authorities and peers whose lives are totally different.” p.43,48

This is me. Just me. From my heart for motherhood to our own experience. If you have a little one in preschool or school, and you just have something in your spirit telling you pulling them out might be a good idea – don’t ignore it. Seek the Lord, talk with your husband, pray and read His Word. There is great wisdom in keeping children home for as long as possible to prepare them to be with the “authorities and peers whose lives are totally different”. 

Have you experienced something similar with your own children? What do you think about Sally’s words?

The Importance of Wild and Free Outdoor Play for Boys.

During my childhood, I had the best of both worlds: I grew up in the city until I was nine, then my parents decided it was time to make a life in the country, so we shifted to the seaside on a peninsula. And you know what? The countryside and I are like, the best of buds. I am so thankful my parents made that radical decision.
My brother {who was five} and I grew up with: the bush {though we thought it was a jungle}, sand to make castles on, streams to fortify and walk up, rocks to search for sea animals, shells to collect, horses to ride, sheep to chase, wharves to jump and fish off, small country schools to blossom in, and – in my opinion, just the best thing – the freedom to be children.
Now, as a mother living in the city, I see how much lack there is for children to just roam nature and climb trees and explore bushy areas. Plus, with a very active, rumbunctious and high-energy three-year-old boy, I see the vital importance of outdoor play for him. Of course, spending time outdoors is of vital importance for both girls and boys. But recently, in the study of my own little boy, I see a direct correlation between outdoor play and the whole-being of a boy.

Here are some of my current thoughts.

Boyhood Today

I really believe that we are in an era where boys – and much of what makes them boys – is squelched out of them. Their desire for rough and tumble; their need for deep male friendships; the way they learn as opposed to the way they are taught; their need to be heroes and warriors and rescuers; their desires to be leaders; their innate instinct to protect {gasp! yes, protect women}.

Boyhood today is not the boyhood of yesterday. Today, we have domesticated our little boys. And one massive area of boyhood that has been domesticated is the greatly needed realm of wild and free, unstructured outdoor play.

And this lack and decline isn’t just because we live in cities. There are many factors that have contributed:

  • Our children are in educational institutes from a very young age, corralled into areas with tens of other children, confined to playing with man-made play equipment. 
  • When the school day is over, boys are being put into constructive and defined extracurricular activities. 
  • We’re also terrified of them braking arms or hurting others and lawsuits from occurring. 
  • There are school games – like bull-rush in New Zealand – that are deemed too dangerous so are banned.
  • From a young age, we rely more and more on technology to entertain children {especially boys}.
  • We ply them with ready-made toys {and lots of them}.
In the last fifty years, but more from the late eighties, a boy’s childhood has become more and more confined, controlled, timed and planned out. Our culture’s view of boyhood has become more feminine. We have allowed fear to rule our parenting. So altogether, our boys are domesticated.

{v} domesticate: to tame

We have tamed our boys. But so much research is showing the need for children to be free, wild and outdoors. Having plenty of time to play, build, explore, imagine, role-play and just run around crazy outdoors has social, health, educational, and behavioural benefits.

Why Outdoors Is Needed

This study from England delves into the need children have to be outside, and a study by the American Medical Association quoted in a Guardian article showed that:
“Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the outdoors.”
If parents are worried that such unstructured play isn’t learning {because our culture is so obsessed with education and being succesful before children even reach puberty}, it is both obvious and proven scientifically that play is learning for the child.

“It is difficult to differentiate play from work in the child, as according to nature play simply is a child’s work – the work or exercise of body and mind required to prepare for coming life.” {source}

And that makes sense, doesn’t it? From birth, babies are continually learning. We don’t put them into classes to learn how to crawl, or walk, or feed themselves. They learn organically by playing, by experimenting, by trial and error. And as older children, that hasn’t changed. 
As a boy climbs a tree, or runs as fast as he can down a slope, or finds as many crab shells as he can to fill a bucket – this is all learning. And many boys learn through activity, building and breaking with their hands, digging trenches, dropping sticks from a tree hut, seeking out rabbit holes. Boys in that kind of environment learn quite differently to a boy in more domestic environments.

 “…it is obvious that outdoor play experiences contribute to children’s physical development, in particular to motor development. Less obvious is the learning that happens as children test their strength, externally and internally: how high can I climb? Why does my heart pound when I run? Am I brave enough to jump from this platform?” {source}

In the homeschooling sphere, the education philosophy of Charlotte Mason encourage nature study and outdoor pursuits, especially in the early years. Charlotte Mason said that children should be outside for many hours each day, in unstructured play, but with a parent observing for necessary help and habit training.

My Own Little Boy

As a mother, I have found all of the above to be true. I think though, more significantly, I have found changes in my son’s behaviour depending on how much time he has to be free outside.
Since bringing him home from kindergarten, Josiah has just blossomed. The attitude and behaviourial issues we were having with him have decreased greatly, and he is more gentle, more loving, more adventurous, more imaginative, and more helpful and kinder to his sister {and everyone!}. Aside from being home with his family more, I do believe this improvement has been because I have taken him out at least three times a week for walks in the buggy to spaces where he can just play.

In both pictures above, he is wearing his favourite costume: a hooded towel {his Batman cape}, his rocket socks and rocket boots. He loves zooming around the house as a superhero and he loves running here, there, and everywhere on our walks. He expends so much energy. He uses so much imagination. His mood elevates. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes are full of joy.

He is wild and free and living.
Though the kindergarten we had him at was great with an amazing outdoor space, there is just something very different about acres of land, park space, pathways in forest walks, creek beds and bushy hideaways. Though our city was devastated by earthquakes a number of years ago, where we live is now blossoming into green space because all the houses are gone. This is where I take the kids to roam free and it has just been the best of blessings.
If your son is struggling, is moody, emotionally up and down, more troublesome with you and siblings – try sending him outdoors. Take him several times a week to a place that is big and wide and green for him to run around in. If he’s absorbed in dropping stones down a drain, just let him. Don’t hurry him a long. Forget about the time, things that need to be done – just let him have space and live.
Your little boy needs to be a boy and it is your job as his mother to understand this and to provide opportunities for him to have that avenue of free exploration in God’s green earth.

A Little Post of Praise {A Mother’s Love For Her God}.

I feel just an enormous sense of relief today. Our son finished kindergarten and I am just thrilled to have him home. Not that he was there huge amounts of time – only three hours, three times a week. But now, he’s fully home. 
My little boy is where he belongs for now and it is just right. 
My heart sings for joy to the Lord because He really has been good to us. Sometimes when you’re faced with a decision that just doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer, you just don’t know what to do. You feel blind and you’re afraid to even make a choice.
But that is when faith steps in. Faith in a God who knows, who cares, who foresees, who listens, and who guides when asked. He very rarely {in my experience!} blasts a neon sign in your face to show the way – instead, He is gentle, He nudges. His Word really is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path.

When praying for our son and what to do, I prayed,

“Make me [us] know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of salvation; for you I wait all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
Like I said, God doesn’t usually make the answer obvious; but He has obviously given us His Word for guidance. In fact, He says it is all we need for LIFE and GODLINESS {2 Peter 1:3}. 
One quiet time, as I searched through the Proverbs – just a fabulous book for so many reasons, and not just for parenting – my eyes fell upon these simple words:
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
Something about this verse just dug itself into me. Here we were, worried about our little boy and the changes we could see in him and his behaviour from his time spent at kindergarten. He was suffering harm. And it wasn’t because this kindergarten was horrible – it is amazing – or that the teachers were neglectful or that the children were terrible. Just none of the above.

They just aren’t like us. 
Secular environments obtain their wisdom from men. This is good – God has given us brains and minds to delve into many aspects that make us human. But it is still that – human. And anything that is purely human is simply sinful and flawed.
But a flawed human relying on a perfect God and His perfect wisdom? Power.
I’ve said before that one day, when they are ready, our children will be in the world. Fully and immersed. But, only when they are equipped, armed for battle, able to handle themselves. When they are able then, they will know the truth of how to walk with the wise and not with fools.
Until then, my little ones remain by my side. As crazy as it may sound to some, they belong here.
Don’t fear for their “socialisation”. I am certainly not worried with what I have lined up for them! And don’t worry about them being “overprotected” because they will be sheltered from the unnecessary and gently guided to what is necessary.
If there is any point to this post, it is this: God really has the parent’s back. If you ask Him, He really will help you. Don’t expect big signs. Expect quiet peace. Expect to be asked to be courageous. Expect to be guided where others may not go. But expect what is good and what brings life. Expect His ways. And be thankful.

The Foundation Years: Letting My Kids Just Be.

I wrote awhile back how we are considering homeschooling our two children. This is still very much on the cards, and my husband is about 70% convinced it’s a good schooling option {compared to the 5% when I first brought it up!}. 
Just with every major life decision, I have spent much time in reading and praying over the reasons/positives/negatives about it all. And I can honestly say that, as I have done so, the Lord has really surprised me. 
My original reason why I wanted to educate our children at home {ie. there are no good schools in our area and I think God might want us to} is now a periphery reason. Even my conviction that it provides a really solid education is not where God has surprised me. My happy surprise has been this:
Home is where my children should be for as long as possible. 
In all my reading, the conclusion I have come to is this: research shows that the influence of parents and family during a child’s foundational years is fundamental to their health and well-being. Not only that, but, educationally, children learn best when they can take their time and grow/learn at their own pace. Self-directed and guided learning in childhood sparks a life long joy and delight in learning. 
I have never been a person who takes the status quo without thinking it through. That has always made me a bit different. My parents taught me from an early age to try and see past the surface to the why’s and how’s of situations and ideologies. My history degree taught me an array of new ideas and concepts, but most enduringly, the simple fact that our culture today is the odd one out.
And it frustrates me when others do not see this. They take the status quo and accept that either,

  • this is the way it has always been, or,
  • our society is more advanced now so this way must be better/more evolved/more fulfilling {and so it goes}. 

Sometimes I feel my insides spiking a fever of “Use your brains! Think outside of now! The way things are doesn’t mean it’s better!”

And for Christians who, genuinely without realising I believe, I want to say,
“Just because our culture sends kids off to school at five-years-old doesn’t mean that it is right.”

Chocolate.

Childhood in western society today is a pendulum of experiences unlike any other in the past. They have health, they have freedom from work/pain/suffering/fear, they have education, they have gadgets, they have individuality. Children today have gained so much and yet, have lost so much as well. And the most significant loss I believe they suffer through is the loss of their family as the primary source of worth, friendship, learning and wisdom.
Time goes so quickly. My son is just over three – wasn’t he born not long ago? And my daughter, she is two in July. We no longer have babies in the house – but I have only been a mother three years. Time is just sucked up into the vacuum of fading memories. In less time that he has been alive, according to the status quo, I ought to be sending him to a place where he spends the majority of his days for the next thirteen years. 
Five years. That is all I’m “supposed” to get. 
Historically, educationally, relationally, theologically that just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t.
Now, I’m not ganging up on school. I wasn’t homeschooled – I’ve been to big schools, country schools, public schools and christian schools. I see great benefit in being in such an environment. But, I firmly believe now, only when children are ready
Schools in my area of New Zealand are changing dramatically. Modern Learning Environments are the new “thing” for education {even though they tried it in the sixties and it didn’t work, but hey, we have technology now and we are more advanced so that time/failure doesn’t count} and at the school my children are zoned for, they would be new entrants in a single building {with no walls} holding three hundred children. Three hundred. At five years old.
Why that makes sense when research {over and over again} shows children learn better the smaller the class room. Who knows what politicians are thinking?
Sensory bin.
Anyway, that is just not an option. And not just because it’s nuts. Primarily that is not an option because our children are our children. Our community and society can have them one day, but not yet. They are just not ready. They need time to mature, know their place in the world, grow in beliefs that are rejected in most institutions. 
So until they areready {ten? eleven?}, I’m letting them be with us. Yes, we’ll do “proper” learning, but even then, it will look different. We’re going to read ridiculous amounts of books. We’re going on lots of walks. We’re going to kill lots of dragons with homemade bow and arrows. We’re going to listen to a lot of Batman by Danny Elfman {at least three times a day, currently}. 
These foundation years, we never get them back. So I am grabbing hold of them and living them to the fullest. Childhood that is family {and not schooling and peers and fads} is back in. There is no status quo around here.

Ode To Naptime.

We used to be friends, you and I;
We have many a happy memory.
You brought peace and stability;
Routine to my frazzled nerves.
The house became still
As little breaths rose and fell,
And I breathed a sigh of relief.

Sometimes we had time aplenty,
At other moments, just a few;
You and my son were like clockwork;
But my daughter liked to retreat from you
At all costs, frustrating us both.
But when it worked so magnificently,
I had a moment  or two to rest my own eyes;
Or read, or browse mindlessly
On this app or that.
You gave me strength,
Helped me climb parenting mountains;
And now, as suddenly as you came into
My life, you have bid a fond farewell.
Though I couldn’t synchronise you
With my two little cherubs;
You still gave me that moment,
To gather, to collect,
To regain enough to be spent so well.
To the three years we were friends,
Thank you.

Being An Undivided, Whole-Hearted Mother.

Last year I read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. It is, by far, one of the best books on motherhood I have ever read. And, when I read it, my soul felt a thrill of joy. Finally, finally, a woman spoke the language of my heart for motherhood. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Here was a woman who embraced, fully and completely, the task and call of being a mother and didn’t let anything pull her from this eternal task.

In fact, I put up a picture on Instagram the moment I dived into this kindred-spirit-of-a-book:

Now, when I say that I didn’t feel so alone anymore, I mean this: It is not that I think other mothers are less, or that their choices for their families mean they are not wholehearted. I would be lying if I said that I don’t compare, struggle with pride or insecurity. It’s just that, despite all the amazing mothers I know, who love love love their kids and do their very best, I just feel…different. Odd.

Perhaps, it is perspective. Perspective is definitely what got me here today, pursuing undivided, whole-hearted motherhood. You see, the reason I believe in this so deeply and passionately is this: I am a child who didn’t have that. In fact, even as a almost thirty-year-old, I still don’t have that.

And it breaks my heart.

undividedwholeheartedmother

This is not going to be a blog post bagging my mother. I love her. There are many qualities I so deeply admire in her. And she is an amazing Nanna! But part of my story is the living and working through the failures she made as a mother. Without going into details, though a loving mother with great strengths {she is better at nursing her sick children than I ever will be}, she had a divided heart. She wanted motherhood, but she wanted more too.

Is it wrong to want things outside of motherhood? No. But the plain truth of the matter is that we cannot have it all without sacrifice. Either our families get our best, or something else does. It is impossible for us to be 100% for everyone and everything.

“In that moment the two conflicted drives of my heart stood out in stark contrast – my commitment to motherhood versus my lurking desire to have life my own way. And from that moment on, I became a little clearer about which path I needed to follow if I really wanted to reflect God’s design. I began to see my children’s care and nurture as God’s best will for my life during my season as a mother… If I didn’t commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else.” ~ Sally Clarkson {emphasis mine}.

Growing up, my little child-heart sensed – then grew to know – my mother’s heart was always somewhere else. I knew my mother loved me and I relished her love. But there were parts of my life where I felt her absence. Distinctly I remember feeling forgotten, shunted aside for more important pursuits, and, verbally, that we {my brother and I} were burdens.

It is still painful now, especially since I have become a mother. The pain is raw, the vulnerability I felt as a child still lingers. But, and a great but it is, God is a God of redemption and he has redeemed my life, so deeply. 

“[What is] sown in weakness, is raised in power.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:43

Only recently did God press this verse on my heart. Because of Christ, because of his blood purchased on the cross for me, all that is sown in weakness in my life can be raised in power. If we commit our pains, hurts, wounds to God, he lovingly and carefully restores goodness, truth, healing and freedom into our lives.

For me, he has raised in me a passion for wives and mothers to embrace living their lives fully for their families. I do believe this is biblical and the way it has always meant to be. But we’re broken, fallen and wayward, and we’ve lost the truth that our families need us – all of us. And I know that that can produce in us a feeling of panic, of drowning – “What about me?” we ask, “What about my needs? My dreams? My life?”

I get it. In many ways, it is natural. But in a lot of other ways, it is cultural. Our culture demands that we give ourselves up for no-one. Our lives should be determined by ourselves and if anything requires sacrifice, don’t let it swallow you.

By encouraging undivided, wholehearted motherhood, I am not saying lose your identity, or what makes you you. God made you unique and essentially you. You and your personality were written in the Book of Life from long ago, and God delights in you. But he also delights when we love others so much that we put them and their needs first. As crazy and as mental as that sounds, in the biblically-mathematically-rule-of-nature-and-life, when we lose ourselves to others, we gain life. True, abundant life.

But if you are a Christian, you know this. You know that to follow Jesus, we emulate him, and we lose our lives by giving them up for others, and we gain eternity. We know this. Yet, we’re still dipping our toes in the pools of selves along with everyone else, and we’re wondering why we’re still lost. But isn’t obvious that if we look to what is broken to fix us we’re just going to end up as messed up as everyone else? And, not just us, but our children.

As Sally realised in her early years of parenting, she couldn’t have it both ways. For the season when her children needed her, she knew that she had to put aside the pursuits that would draw her heart, her mind and her body away from her family. And that is what we need to remember, it is just for a season. It isn’t for always.

Again, I am not saying you can’t have hobbies, or outside accomplishments, or a job. But we need to make sure that get it all in the right order. Some people say we need to find balance, but I personally don’t think it’s possible. It is more that we get things in the right order. Family first, then other stuff. Our family get our best. By God’s strength and grace, they get our best. And whatever we struggle or fail in {because we will}, we pray that whatever we sow – ignorantly or deliberately – in weakness, that he would lovingly raise in power in the lives of our children.

How Accepting My Limitations Has Brought Me Peace.

“You keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” ~ Isaiah 26:3

As someone who has struggled with anxiety most of my life, this verse used to bring me a sense of despair. I felt despair because no matter how much I fought to stay my mind on God, I couldn’t. I was stricken by fear and anxiety and, as part of this struggle, I believed that for some reason, this part of God’s Word, was not for me. I would never have perfect peace. I trusted God, but there was something wrong with me or I was not enough because my mind didn’t get better.

{Side note: Only after the birth of our son, when my anxiety came on in full force as part of postnatal depression, did I understand that I had an illness and my struggles were not something I could just grow out of or even have enough faith to be healed from.} 

But as I speed along towards my thirtieth birthday, I see now that this verse is not about anxiety really at all, nor is it offering some sort of solution from an anxious mind. Yes, anxiety does lessen when we place our trust in God over everything and in every moment of anxious need. But, anxiety can be an illness for some and in such cases, only medicine and therapy can help a person get through and get help.

No, an aspect I didn’t understand about this verse in my younger days was this:

Peace comes when we accept the way God has established things in this world, and peace keeps our hearts and minds as we live in thankful and joyful submission to his perfect ways.

acceptinglimitationspeace

Something our world doesn’t understand anymore, but which it did for centuries, is that there is a way the world works best; a way which is ordered, which has a beautiful harmony of rule, submission and union. Our world has rejected terms like authority and submission because they aren’t egalitarian enough; they confine, they limit, they are the “enemies of freedom”. But, unwillingly, in rejecting this way of order, our world has lost the key to true freedom.

And what is true freedom? Living in submission to the will of God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time he will exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6

Who knew that humbling, submitting and obeying could lead to exaltation and honour? But, you know,this is what the world has forgotten. And women, I believe, are paying an enormous price.

There is something called a feminine instinct. It is not a result of cultural conditioning. There is a reason why girls nurture, care for, tend to, and check on when they play, just as there is a reason boys save the world, dominate, and burn physical energy in rough and tumble. Of course boys can nurture and girls can play with swords, I’m not eliminating that; but there is a basic instinct to which we are called, a part we follow by nature as well as by nurture. These are “rules” so-to-speak, and part of the order by which God made the world to work.

Birds, for example, have wings. These wings help them fly, but they do not help them swim. Do we see birds rebelling against the rules of their body? Do we see them trying to redefine the function of their wings, trying to find some freedom outside of their limitations? Do we see birds trying to be elephants or elephants trying to be birds?

No. These creatures accept the way they are, they do what they are called to do, they live happily with what they have and function as they were designed to be. Now, we as humans may call a particular part a limitation if we think a creature could be something they are not. But a bird doesn’t know it has a limitation, it is just the gift to fly.

Today, women have cut off their wings. The wings that enabled them to fly – that is, nurture, receive, give, feed, bring life to, uphold, strengthen – were seen as a limitation, a curse. Now, many of our sex are disfigured, seeking the gifts that were given to men. Many have believed the lies of a few.

“The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as a bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird up – up, away from the world, into the sky, into freedom – so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling – wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God. ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Perfect freedom. Perfect peace.

In a few months, I will be thirty. Youth is fading, but not my peace. You see, the older I get and the more I accept my womanhood, the calling that my body and soul demands, the more peace I experience. It is a peace that comes from embracing God’s ways, of believing and seeing with clear eyes that God knows best, and that, as Elisabeth said, he sets no traps.

It’s no trap that you are a woman. And being a woman holds no traps. Trying to be what you are not, however, does. But accepting yourself as female, different from male, brings a peace no activist will find. Let us fully embrace being women then, and stop cutting off our wings. They are what cause us to fly.

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{Affiliate: All excerpts are from Elisabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman, the book every Christian woman should own and have dear to their heart.}

Home: Where a Child Knows No Shame.

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Josiah recently stopped wearing nappies and is now a full-blown toilet user {can I get a high five? Whoop!}. Aside from the awesomeness that is this milestone, God has used it to bless me in another way.

This morning, I was making Josiah’s bed after helping him get up on the loo. From the bathroom, all I could hear was this high, sweet, just delightful sing-song voice as our boy sat on the loo, happy-as-larry, completely unaware that this could be in any way, embarrassing. 

A grin just broke out on my face and my chest filled with the glory of love.

How comfortable how freehow completely able — Josiah was to just be himself, half starkers on the loo, without fear, embarrassment or shame to sing while he was doing his toilet thing.

As a parent, I have lost many toilet privileges. It’s not often I can have uninterrupted bathroom time. I have lost any sense of shame or privacy about sitting on the toilet with the door open so my kids can come in and pull things out of the drawers or show me their boo-boo or sit on my lap.

I’m okay with this. In fact, most of the time, there is something sweet about it. We’re family after all, nothing to be embarrassed about.

But the blissfully unaware way our two-year-old sang his songs on top his throne, the door wide open, interspersed by productive silences?

God just impressed upon my heart once again, how beautiful and how simple it is to give our children a home.

My heart felt full that our son feels home here, that he knows nothing else. He knows love, he knows security, he knows what it is to be fully himself – clothes or not – and be safe

How many children are there who don’t know this security? How many children are there that can almost feel no sense of shame or embarrassment that Adam and Eve felt before the Fall? Too many don’t. Oh, Lord, protect their little hearts.

Mothers, make it our aim to provide what every child’s soul needs – the ability to be fully themselves. Embrace their nudey silliness, sing along with their songs sung on the loo, smile as they run to you, proud of their toilet success {or any other such  potentially shame-inducing accomplishment}.

I remember, as a tween, home was the only place safe for me as a bullied schoolgirl. I could endure the days at school only because I knew at home I was safe. I could be me and not have to worry about all the things I was teased for. I cannot imagine what it is like for teens now when, what they endure at school, now comes home with them in the form of the internet and social media. I never had that and it saved me.

Shame is something that will come to our children, as it came to you and to me. But let us never let that awful feeling come from within the walls of our home. Home is safe. It must always be safe. Protect that safety with everything you can.

What Our Hands Find To Do {Diligent Faithfulness in the Mundane} + FreePrintable

For the wife and mother struggling to just do the day-to-day. This is for you {and me}.
“‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.’ ~ Ecclesiastes 9:10

‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do’ refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, talking of them; we must practically carry out ‘whatsoever thy hand findeth to do’. One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories.

Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we ‘find to do’ day by day. We have not other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we shall never have anytime but the present.

Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavor now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which your perform what you find to do – ‘do it with thy might’. Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intent to do tomorrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of today. No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow.

If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do today. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve Him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.”

~ Charles Spurgeon
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