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Making Your Own Holiday Traditions

by Christy on November 25, 2009
category: Humor/Random,Practical Tips

thanksgiving tableThe holidays are a time of excitement and family.  Growing up, we are shuffled to this relatives house or that one’s house to see family and eat wonderful meals prepared with love.  As we mature and start our own families, it’s only natural that we would want to start our own traditions.  This year, my family opted to have a small Thanksgiving at home with just us and my Mom.  Now, we can’t say that this will be our annual tradition, but it’s nice to break from the mold once in a while and do something a little different. 

There are certain things to think about before trecking out on your own with holiday traditions:

How will everyone else take it?  It’s always important to consider how other family feels about you ducking out of the normal traditions and starting your own, especially if that means not participating in the usual festivities. 

What kinds of things do you want to do?  When merging two families (yours and your husbands) there will obviously be two or more ideas of how to do things.  Sit down and discuss how you both would like your family to celebrate the holidays, what traditions are especially important to both of you and what things you don’t want to do. 

How can you get things started?  When starting new traditions, it’s not important that you do everything the first holiday.  Don’t feel obliged to get it perfect from the get-go.  Remember that your family has most likely been doing the same thing for years and that they started out slowly too. 

I think it’s a great idea to start your own traditions and have fun doing it.  Let your kids help out with decorations and cooking/baking.  Let them be a part of incorporating the new ideas and activities so that they feel they connected to the holidays and are not just spectators. 

Have you ventured out on your own and started your own holiday traditions?  What was the most difficult part for you?  How did you get started?

Photo Courtesy of Evan S. Photography

Book Review: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

shepherding a child's heart coverOver the last few months, I have been participating in a study at my church of the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  This book has been eye opening to me and I thought I’d share my personal feelings and thoughts about it with all of you. 

The basis of the book is raising your children in a godly biblical way.  So often in our society we are caught up in the pop psychology of child raising that we stray so far away from how we are supposed to raise them.  I personally have tried many of the “tried and true” methods, including a ton of SuperNanny’s tricks and none of them have worked with our son.  Why?  Because they don’t get to the heart… they just focus on getting your child to do what you want them to do.  The main purpose of this book is to get you to focus on the heart and the attitude of the heart, to teach your child that God has placed you as the authority in their life to protect and guide them and that you serve as their authority under God. Once you teach the heart to love and to serve, the behavior changes.  It’s not only teaching your child’s heart, but it teaches your heart along the way. 

Tripp explains the two biblical methods of discipline are the rod (spanking) and communication.  He goes into great depth in explaining the appropriate way to spank and how not spanking puts your child in peril spiritually.  It was difficult for me to read this because my husband and I had decided not to spank because we had seen how upset we got with our son and felt like we didn’t want to spank in anger.  Godly discipline is NEVER done in anger, but in love.  Doing it in love prevents abuse and actually leads you to a stronger relationship with your child.  Since implementing this type of discipline, we have seen how differently we address our child’s behavior and how he is learning that we love him and that is why we aren’t letting “this one go”.  It’s a hard way to parent, but it’s the right way.

Tripp also goes into great detail about why the typical methods of discipline don’t really work and why as our children get older, they will rebel.  It’s really eye-opening!  It’s no wonder children are so rebellious these days and why so many are doing things that we never would have thought of at such a young age.  Parents are taking the easy way out. 

The only negative I have to say about this book is that there isn’t a lot of practical application examples.  However, through the Shepherding the Heart Ministries, a variety of tools with examples that are very helpful are offered.  Ginger Plowmann offers a  great supplemental resource in her Wise Words for Wise Moms chart that gives scripture references in dealing with specific issues.  The book does have review and thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter which are helpful in getting you to really understand the concepts.

All in all, this is a fantastic book written by a father, teacher, counselor and pastor.  With years and years of personal experience, his insight is clear and heartfelt.  He lets you know the struggles his family has had with certain things and he gives examples of how raising your child biblically makes all the difference in the end.  I highly recommend this book to anyone. 

Ephesians 6:4  “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Have you read this book?  Would you recommend it to other parents?

Abiding Monday: Finding True Rest

by Christy on November 16, 2009
category: Uncategorized

abiding monday

Matthew 11:28-29 Then Jesus said “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you.  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest.” (NLT) 

I often get sick of hearing myself say “I’m so tired” and actually feeling that way.  It’s common as mom’s (or dad’s for that matter) to feel tired, because let’s face it, we don’t get the sleep we physically need.  Add to that the constant emotional stress of being “needed” 24 hours a day and it is enough to drive a person insane.  So how can we find true rest when we barely get enough sleep to function?  The answer is simple… rely on Jesus. 

For me personally, this could not have been a more poignant thing over the last 5 months.  My husband was laid off in June and is still unemployed.  I have dealt with constant pain that has led to two surgeries and an uncertainty of our family’s future.  But God is so faithful.  I have found rest and peace in Him during this time.  Jesus says in Matthew to take His yoke upon us because His burden is light and that it will give us rest.  What an awesome thing our Savior has promised us!  All we have to do is believe in Him and trust Him with our burdens and He will give us rest!  He doesn’t give us more trouble or worries.  Just simple, perfect rest. 

I guess then the question comes, how do you fully give Him your burdens?  Develop and nurture your relationship with Him and it will be easy to cast your cares on Him in faith.  Dawn mentioned being in a funk last week and how reviving her quiet times helped to bring her out of it.  When you are holding on to Jesus and loving on Him daily, you learn to trust Him more and feel Him loving on you.  You learn that He is faithful to fulfill His promises to you.  The Lord promised in Exodus 33:14 that His “Presence will go with you and give you rest” (NIV).  Let it go and let God grant you His promise of rest!  You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel!

Jesus promises that those who know Him find this beautiful rest.  Do you know Him?  Do you really know Him?  Just believe He is the Son of God, that He died for your sins and then rose to Heaven to intercede for you with the Father and you can find this perfect rest!  If you have more questions, please contact us at The Mom Crowd.  We’d love to pray with you and help you.

Dear Lord, thank you for being so faithful to fulfill Your promises.  Please help me to trust in You that when I lay down my burdens at Your feet, You take them and give me rest.  Help me to know that You bring the only rest that is worthy of seeking and that it will be more satisfying than any worldy rest I can find.  In Your Name, Amen.

Money Saving Ideas for the Holidays

by Christy on November 11, 2009
category: Practical Tips

toy aisletoy aisle trutoy aisleWhen I told my husband that I was planning to write about this topic this week, he thought I was being a little premature with the subject matter… money saving for Christmas.  So many people shop early and are done, but then there are those of us who wait until the week before to buy our presents.  Personally, I loved how I did it last year and thought I’d pass along some of my money saving and making ideas to you.

Have a garage sale in November – Ok, so I know that not everyone lives in Houston like I do, where it’s usually balmy and comfortable in November, but still… it’s so worth it!  A few of my friends and I had a large sale last year and I made over $200 that I dedicated to Christmas gifts.  It was a great idea because we didn’t have to spend any of our money out of our checking account (or savings) for gifts.  It also cleared up a lot of room for new toys and clothes for the kids.

Shop the sales now and keep your receipts -  Last year I bought a musical play table at Target for $45 and a few weeks later it went on sale at Toys R Us.  I got their Big Book and found an extra $5 off coupon, so I got the table for $15 cheaper.  I returned the one I bought at Target and ended up spending less money than I had originally thought.  Don’t be afraid to return something if you find it cheaper at another store after your original purchase.

Take advantage of coupons – Some stores are having fantastic sales and even have some pretty amazing coupons for toys in the month of November.  Target recently published an online site with over 50 toy coupons.  Other coupon sites also have toy coupons that are good through the end of this month.  In this economy, no one is going to think less of you for being frugal!

Shop resale stores and garage sales - Resale stores and places like Half Price Books are great for those items that don’t necessarily need a box. You can always find some great children’s books at garage sales, too.  (Be sure to disinfect the books if you buy them used). 

Sign up for online giveaways – You never know how lucky you can be!  Why not take 1 minute to sign up for a Wii giveaway or for a free laptop?  It would be a great gift if you win!  Sites like Freebies4Mom offer giveaways and links to other giveaways daily. 

The best thing to remember is to have fun with it.  Find a way to save that is fun for you.  If you are a catalog shopper, flip the pages and compare.  If you prefer to shop online, make sure you know the store’s return policy before you buy if you think you might return your purchases.  And don’t forget, your kids will enjoy the holidays no matter how much you spend on them as long as you are there!  They don’t need to know you paid less for their new game than their friend’s mom did! :-)   Happy Shopping!

What are your money saving rituals?  Do you have any special plans this year for keeping Christmas spending under control? 

Photo courtesy of bowbrick

Apologizing to Your Kids

sorry hugsOn Halloween, I was so excited to dress my kids up and see how adorable they looked in their costumes.  Our oldest gladly dawned his Mr. Incredible costume and was ready to head out the door.  Our almost two year old was not quite to happy to oblidge.  All I had to do is bring the costume near her and she screamed like I was pulling out her fingernails.  Actually getting it on her brought forth a thirty minute temper tantrum complete with the gasping for breath dramatic effect.  All of that made me angry.  Unrightly so, but I was mad.  I had longed to see my cute little girl all dressed up in her sweet “girly” outfit and she wanting nothing to do with it.  I finally gave up trying to convince her and fussed at her.  A few minutes later I realized how selfish I had been.  I was trying to force something on her that obviously made her unhappy and my response to it was completely inappropriate.  I got down on the floor, put her in my lap, cried and told her I was sorry.  She gave me a kiss, wanted to put on her shoes (to match her “normal” clothes), and we went on our way.

Many people would be shocked at the fact that I apologized to my toddler.  But why not?  Is she not a person too?  Did I not behave in a way that was wrong and hurtful?  It frustrates me to hear parents say “I am the parent,  I have the right” without taking their child’s feelings into consideration.  Not to mention, children learn by example.  We often times try to force our kids to apologize when they do something wrong to us or another child… even if they don’t mean it.  By allowing ourselves to show that we are not perfect and that we mess up too, we are allowing our children to accept that they don’t always have to be perfect, but that they should be aware of how their actions affect others. 

Another thing that was recently brought to my attention about apologizing to our kids is that it shows our children that we are all sinful and are all in need of a Savior.  My friend Ashley makes a practice of asking for her children’s forgiveness and then prays for her own forgiveness with her children.  When she told me about this, I thought it was a beautiful way to share your faith with your children. 

All that being said, it’s easy to ask forgiveness when you step on a toe, accidentally throw out a toy, or forget a birthday party, but asking forgiveness when you were acting selfish or even if you were just plain cranky is a lot more difficult, but no less needed.  Your children will learn to respect you and appreciate your honesty and they will learn how to respond to their own behaviors. 

Do you apologize to your children?  What specific way do you do it?

Photo Courtesy of deeleea

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