To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Time to be Built-Up in the Faith

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall 
search for me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

One of our biggest prayers for our children is that they will do as this verse says and pray to God and seek Him with all their hearts. There are many things we can do to help our kids know God better and love him. Obviously we take them to church and read the Bible to them and try our best to teach by example but there are so many other resources out there you can use to teach your kids the ways of God. I thought I'd take some time and give you the ones we have used and like and that our kids have really enjoyed. If you are a parent seeking materials that will build up your kids in the faith then some of these are worth taking a look at. 
1. Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall. My MIL bought this set of books for the kids a few years back. She used to read these stories to her kids and remembered how much they enjoyed the stories. They are geared toward young children and my kids have loved them. Even now that Noah and Owen are older they still enjoy them only now they enjoy reading them to their younger siblings.
2. Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible (dvd) These DVD stories are really well done and true to the Bible. Our kids have really loved them, and we have several. Plus they are inexpensive and make great gifts.
3. Gods Wisdom for Little Boys/Girls by Jim & Elizabeth George. These two books are excellent for teaching your young kids about the kind of character God wants them to have. Each page is dedicated to a different "virtue" that God wants a boy or girl to exhibit making it a great book to use for devotions. I have not done the girl book yet but have enjoyed using the one for boys with Gabe & Will. A friend of ours recently bought the kids these two books and I am so thankful because I'd been wanting them and they are a great resource to have.
4. Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen Taylor. The author took John Bunyan's original story and simplified the vocabulary and concepts so younger children could understand it. This was a Christmas gift so I am only a little over halfway through the book reading it with Noah and Owen. They beg me not to stop, they are so into the story and at the same time are learning so much about what Gods word teaches. I find Gabe & Will too young still to really grasp the concepts so am waiting to share it with them. The time reading it with my two older boys has been precious and the questions they've had have really helped them grow in their faith and build their understanding.
5. Dinosaurs, Genesis & the Gospel (dvd) by Ken Ham & Buddy Davis. We recently purchased this DVD from the Answers in Genesis website and could not be more pleased with it. If you are a family who believes in creation, this DVD is a must have to help instill those truths while keeping it fun with silly songs about God's creation. It's definitely geared toward older children but your younger children will enjoy the songs.
6. Jonathan Park Audio CD's from the Answers in Genesis website. My kids have the Aquarium one, which teaches them about the sea creatures. They listen to these CD's at bedtime and really like them. We have a few different series of audio CD's for the kids like Patch the Pirate, etc. Our kids love falling asleep to audio CD's and lately they've really been enjoying their Jonathan Park ones. I want to get them the Amazon one next.
7. Fins, Feathers, and Faith by William L. Coleman. This is a great devotional book for kids using God's creation. We used this book with the kids for devotions before school last year and they really liked it. My older two boys especially love animals so it was really perfect for them. This too, was a gift from their aunt and uncle and one I recommend. 

As I write this list I have to take the time and reflect on how blessed my kids are to have so many people in their lives who care so much about their spiritual growth. Many of the resources we have come to value came to us as gifts from friends and family. So even if you don't have young kids of your own to purchase these items for, maybe you can be a blessing to a family you do know who has young kids by gifting them resources that will help them grow in the Lord!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Time for a Blessing

Yesterday morning Gabe and Will decided that 5 am was a great time to be awake and playing at full force. I am normally up at 5 but mommy is the only one who is allowed up at 5 because that is my "alone" time and the time I use to mentally & spiritually prepare for my day. I got Gabe and put him in my bed so the two would be separated and have more chance of maybe going back to sleep. When it was time to start the day I went upstairs and could hear Will crying at his door-it really sounded like a dog whimpering. I went in and asked him what was wrong. He said between sobs that he missed Gabe and wanted him to come back. I said, "you miss Gabe?" and he says to me, "yeah, I miss Gabe, he's my best friend". It was the sweetest thing and it made me so happy to hear.

It has been very important to Ben and I that our kids understand that God gives us our brothers and sisters for a reason. We have tried to instill early on that their siblings are their friends that God has given them and while it's great to have friends, those friends should never come before their siblings. We have been so blessed to watch this very relationship build between Noah and Owen. Almost from day one the bond between the two was evident. Noah just loved Owen right away to the point that each morning he would climb into Owen's crib just to be near him. As soon as Owen was able to recognize Noah it was obvious how much he looked up to him. They really are each other's best friend and it is so fun to watch them just play and make each other laugh, hear them talking till late in the night (yes, they are night owls like their parents) and sharing inside jokes. It is such a blessing to my heart to see the bond they have. I've prayed that Gabe & Will could have this same kind of relationship and when I didn't see them bond quickly the way I did with the older two I started to get nervous they wouldn't be as close. But apparently it just took them longer because I am starting to see the bond form and see how they share jokes, and play and interact and it's so, so fun!
I was in Rite Aid the other day with the younger 3 and the lady working there started talking to me. They were 5 in her family and she told me how her mother's rule about having friends over was that it was fine as long as that friend wasn't causing strife between the siblings. If they could all play and get along the friend could stay but as soon as it seemed a sibling was treating another sibling badly and the friend was becoming more important, then it was time for the friend to leave. I love that. I love that she was a mom who saw the importance of her kids having friends but not at the expense of ruining a sibling relationship. Don't get me wrong, they still fight and have arguments, they are kids after all and we're all just a bunch of sinful people living in one house together. But the arguments are resolved quickly and they end in forgiveness and lots of hugs! 
I receive so many blessings from my kids but one that I enjoy the most is the bond of friendship I am seeing them develop. Our prayer is that they always remain close. And a little part of me is praying God provides Jena with her own little sibling friend in the form of a female! :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Time for Question Two: How do you find time for each other?

Why the rain? Ben asked me to
go out with him in the rain
 and proposed in the rain!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,it is not proud. 
~I Cor. 13:4

 This is sort of a follow-up to the blog post I did," answering question one". Another question we get asked a lot is how do we find the time to be alone and do things together. It's true that with little ones finding extra time for each other is challenging. And it's a challenge whether you have one or you have 10. Whether it's the challenge of being able to find child care, affording to go out, finding the time in your busy schedule or even the challenge of having your spouse gone for lengths of time like our military families face. It is hard for most couples to find time to be together.
For Ben and I our biggest challenge is child care. We do not have family near us that we can ask. Finding a babysitter who is able and willing to watch five young children is also not easy. The thought of watching 5  kids is overwhelming to most we have discovered. Thankfully we have one girl who comes from a large family and does a fantastic job handling the kids-when she's available. She has a job and a busy life so she's not always available. We are also blessed with some amazing friends who have offered to watch the kids from time to time so Ben and I can get out-for that I am very grateful! It is so important for couples to make time for each other. Sometimes, you just have to get the idea of a "perfect night" out of your head and get creative. It can be very disappointing when you have an idea in your mind of what you think would be the most fun or most romantic only to have those dreams squashed because of life's circumstances. I have learned to just go with the flow, and think outside the box! For those of you who find yourselves in similar situations as us, here are some ideas.
1. Date Night In! I know it doesn't sound as exciting but when babysitters are not readily available this is a great alternative. We usually splurge on what we'll eat that night (since we're saving money not using babysitter) but it can be as simple as grilled cheese and soup. We put the kids to bed early (I keep the younger ones up all day and skip naps so they are ready for bed early) and then we start our date. There have been times we've even gotten dressed up like we're going out. This has been, for us, an excellent alternative to going out. And most times, we enjoy it more than if we had gotten a babysitter and gone out. Get a movie to watch after the meal or plan to play a game you both like but never have time to play- purpose to do something together and make it fun!
2. Turn your room into Paradise! This idea I got from a blog post I had read a couple years ago. I don't know about you but we can barely get someone to watch the kids for a few hours let alone a whole week so we can go on vacation. The last time Ben and I had no kids for a whole week was when his parents had Noah, Owen and Gabe so I could deliver Will. Not exactly paradise. Last Valentine's Day I asked Ben what his idea of a romantic getaway would be. He said camping. I like camping, but it doesn't say "romance" to me. The difference between men and women I guess. But if that was his idea of paradise then I was going to make it happen. So I turned our basement playroom into a camp site. I set up our tent inside and got out our sleeping bags. I bought yankee candle air fresheners in Pine scent to make it smell "outdoorsy". I found recipes online that could be made on a campfire in cast iron. Our stove is propane so it's kinda like a campfire-kinda! I had flashlights and lanterns all powered up and a deck of cards & cribbage board. When I was all done all I could think was, "really? this is his idea of romantic?". But he loved it and was really appreciative of the thought and effort. And I had fun doing it for him.
3. Get creative in how you communicate. I never understood it when couples would say, "I haven't had time to talk to my spouse about that yet". When we had just the 2, maybe even 3, boys I felt like we always had time to talk. It hasn't been until maybe the past couple of years that I feel like we hardly have time to have a conversation. I mean sure, we talk about the day to day stuff like, "you'll have to get the kids at school today..." or "can you pick up some milk on your way home" but as far as a real conversation it's very challenging. I am usually fighting with the kids for his attention, and vice versa. Plus now that two are in school and they have more activities and with Ben and I having more responsibilities as of late, there isn't a lot of time for talking. And I think this affects me more than him-actually I KNOW it does! You can leave notes for each other around the house, in a place they won't expect it. Ben makes an effort to call me at least once a day to check in and see how I'm doing. This means the world to me! I saw this idea on Pinterest (seriously if you're not on it yet, you should be!) and fell in love with it. It's such a great idea. Here's the one I made:

It was so easy. Buy a frame (or use one you already have), get some scrapbook paper, write the words "I love you (or "U") because..." in your own handwriting, with a printer or with stickers like I did and embellish it if you want. Voila! Then get a dry or wet erase marker and write a message like this:
You write your message right on the glass and erase it when you want to write a new one. Take turns.I gave this to Ben recently because he's been working late every night, last night it was 9pm before I saw him. It's a fun way to remind each other what it is we love about each other...and it's quick! It was meant to be a Valentine's Day gift but he's traveling for 2 weeks for work starting on Sunday and won't be here for Valentine's Day. I think this is just the coolest idea for a gift because seriously, after 12 years of being together, I'm starting to run out of creative, thoughtful, romantic gift ideas!.
Those have been some fixes to some of the challenges we face and it has really helped us stay connected. If you have any ideas of your own that have worked for you, please share!