The End of an Era….

 Posted by on November 11, 2014  3 Responses »
Nov 112014
 

The other day I noticed ‘Stripey’ was not in bed with Selena as I came in to say goodnight.  In fact she hadn’t been for several nights, but this was the first time it really registered with me.  Stripey has been her constant companion since she was three and she would not sleep with out her, until now.  I asked her why and she said the Stripey was not real but just a stuffed animal.

The End of an EraWOW

That’s a big change.  Those two have been inseparable for so long.  Stripey has bathed with her and lost all her pink stripes swimming in an overchlorinated pool.  She has been recovered by me when she fell apart.  I actually remade her and stuffed her into her new skin, transferring the eyes to the outside of the slip cover.  I personally have a lot of time and effort wrapped up in that little pink and white frog!  For many years Selena carried tucked under her left arm and had trouble at playgrounds climbing because she couldn’t lift her arm to climb.  Recently she had been leaving her home but never had she slept without her.

At first I felt sorry for Stripey.  Wait, no, I felt a sense of loss for myself.  My little girl is leaving girlhood behind and growing up.  Those Stripey years are passing away, never to return.  But, I must let go of them too.  Let go and embrace the future.  Don’t cling to the past and regret it’s going.

StripeyGod is working in her life and mine.  Creating a new thing.  Maturing us.  Some days I don’t feel much more mature than her.  So Lord fill me with joy and the energy to leap into this new phase of life you have for us.  Be near me and help me to guide Selena in your ways.  Because this is not the end, but the beginning of a new era.

~ written by Amy Waters

Jan 022014
 
ID-100179707

Photo: Free Digital Photos

A while back I blogged about the empty nest and how it shouldn’t be something that we avoid or dread. That as couples, we should almost rejoice when we have an empty nest because it affords us an opportunity to spend time with our spouses alone and to get to know them again on a new and deeper level. It also affords us an opportunity to have a hobby or a second job or to travel. To fulfill a dream that we never had time to fulfill.

For many, especially those with large families, the empty nest will happen little by little and by the time you see your last child leave the nest, you’ve already got grandchildren begging to stay in it. For those of us with smaller families, when the nest begins to empty, you feel it immediately. But no matter what the timing, we usually think the empty nest will begin when our children are grown and go off to college or marry. It’s painful but positive.

There’s a different scenario of the empty nest that often occurs. It’s when you’re not prepared for it. It doesn’t happen with the natural progression of life. This is when a child leaves suddenly in the middle of the night after an argument and never returns. When a child is abducted. When a child chooses to live with your ex. Or when a child dies either unexpectedly or from an illness.

Photo: Free Digital Photos

Photo: Free Digital Photos

One of my high school friends recently lost her only son. He had started college in the fall and a month later was coming home for the weekend, had a blowout, hit a tree and was killed. My friend’s empty nest began with shock, grief, and shattered dreams of the future. She has a daughter at home who I’m sure she’s clinging to and doesn’t want to let out of her sight ever, but her son can never be replaced. She would have never imagined that her child would die just months after signing a scholarship with his dream college. Her dreams of having her son carry on the family name were completely snuffed out in one accident. This hit home with me since I have only one son.

Many of us will experience the empty nest in unexpected, uncomfortable, unwanted or unfamiliar ways. As a surprise or a shock or an earth-shattering disappointment. For me, my nest began to empty sooner than and not at all in the way I thought it would. Thankfully, it was not because of a tragedy.

I homeschooled my children for fourteen years. I raised them with the help of a homeschool group made up of like-minded families. My kids had a nice little cluster of friends to hang out with when they were younger. It was easy to dream of what the future would look like. Cookie-cutter and perfectly planned out.

Having taught our children about purity and about not dating until they were smart enough to pick a godly person to go out with, I thought that there’d be a nice sweet courtship of my daughter from a nice proper appropriate homeschool boy. Of course, this boy would be the son of one of my friends. But that never happened. When my daughter first started dating, she did date a homeschool boy, but it wasn’t someone that our family knew. It didn’t take long for us to learn that he had some major issues. As a result, he broke her heart. And that is the last homeschool boy my daughter has ever been attracted to.

She enlarged her territory, made new friends, and learned that there was much more to life than our small town. My free-spirited child very quickly became dissatisfied being in our nest. This child, if she were an animal, would be a butterfly or a blue bird. She desired to know more and more people and it became evident quite quickly that God did not create her to only have a small handful of safe friends.

Kayla in Paris this fall

Kayla in Paris this fall

Your plans for your children and your careful guidance to make them “not like others in this world” doesn’t change who they are or the desires God put in them. Yes, you’re able to shelter and protect your children for a while, to help direct their desires toward godly desires instead of worldly desires and help them make wise decisions. But if you have a child that’s a free spirit, that child is going to be a free spirit even if you keep that child at home for school.

So my empty nest began almost two years ago with my daughter deciding to move to Atlanta. That didn’t settle well with this mama at first. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep her from exploring the world. Really and truly I just wanted to keep her safe. Period. I wanted to help her keep her purity and that would be difficult if she set out to explore the whole world as a single woman.

The beginning of the empty nest didn’t happen the way I had planned it. But God is bigger than ME and His ever-watchful eye has remained upon her. The dreams I once had for my daughter at eighteen wouldn’t have satisfied her long term. She’s not the same person she was then and God has shown her that what she once desired was not His desire for her. She would’ve been a restless soul had she married that young. In her heart there’s always been a desire to explore and to see what else is out there. She’s learned a lot about herself and the type of man she wants for a husband. I believe God held back that part of her life until she had time to become the woman He wanted her to be.

One benefit that has come out of her exploration of the world beyond our little bubble is that the more people she’s encountered, the more she’s seen she’s very unique. The more she sees that her roots run deep. Most people that she’s met were not raised with the same ideas of purity and they are blessed by her commitment to it. Although at times, this has become a burden for her, it’s also been a great testimony to God’s faithfulness and His protection.

The emptying of the nest is unpredictable. You may have one child gone and one child still at home who may not be at home for very many hours of the day. You may lose a child suddenly like my friend did. One thing is for certain: Without a doubt, the empty nest will come. One way or the other.

This is why it’s important to raise our children according to God’s Word and to teach them how to follow Him. To teach our children to desire to serve Him. To desire to honor God with their bodies, their minds, their hearts and with everything they do in their daily lives.

We can’t dictate the futures of our children.

The wonderful thing about all of this is: when you seek God and realize that some of the things you’ve wanted for your children might not be what God wants for them and you’re able to let go of your ideas of the future, that’s when God steps up and says:

“Let me WOW you. Let me surprise you. Let me give you treasures that you could have never imagined you’d have. That you’d never have asked for because you couldn’t fathom them.”

That’s when God does wonderful things with your children and for your children. That’s when He blesses your marriage even more. So the empty nest may come sooner for some of us than it does for others and it may not come as we expect it to. The key to all of this is: trusting God in every facet of your parenting from the very first day that your first born appeared in your belly to the day that your last child leaves the nest. Remember, don’t let your feathers get ruffled over things that won’t matter in eternity.

Couple: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/the-couples-summer-vacation-photo-p179707

Nest: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Birds_g52-Hand_And_Nest_p53539.html

Jul 152013
 

I’ve found that at the heart of schooling, education and teaching is parenting, haven’t you? Our group of writers here at Habits for a Happy Home are offering you, dear readers, resources to equip you in your parenting journey!

Parenting Tool Kit at www.habitsforahappyhome.com We gathered a basket of items we know are trusted parenting books. And we are giving it away! Be sure to enter to win via the rafflecopter widget at the end of this post.

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6: 7-9

What is included in our Back to School Parenting Tool Kit?

1) 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler – I have so enjoyed this being on my nightstand this summer. I’ve soaked up snippets here and there – just when I needed it! “God created the family to be a powerful, life-shaping force in the lives of your children – to be the place where their potential can be energetically and effectively nourished and cultivated. Sadly, in today’s culture, kids and parents alike often view the home as the spot to recharge their cell phones, change clothes between activities, and then crash at night…. learn to use the toold the Master Gardener has provided for tending and teaching all your children. She will help you recognize the signs of potential in each child, signs that are easy to miss yet are ripe for cultivation. As you read, you will find exciting ways to enable your kids to establish a godly identity, discover their purpose, develop a biblical worldview, and build leadership and communication skills.

2) How to Have a Heart for Your Kids by Rachael Carman (read Richelle’s review at The Curriculum Choice) “How well do you really know your kids? What has God shown you about who they are and who they will become? He has sent these children into your home at this specific time for His glorious purposes. Indeed, you have been invited on the adventure of a lifetime, a journey on which you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain. You don’t need special skills or training for this journey – you need only seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand!”

3) Parenting the QBQ Way by John G. Miller author of QBQ! the Question Behind the Question – How to Be an Outstanding Parent and Raise Great Kids Using the Power of Personal Accountability – ” Why don’t my kids do what I say? Who made the mess in here? When will my teen make better choices? The solution: Learn to parent the QBQ way. Ask the right questions to eliminate blame, complaining and procrastination from your family! Bring personal accountability to life within our families.

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We invite you to browse all the parenting posts here at Habits for a Happy Home!

iHN-Back-to-School Don’t miss all the fabulous back-to-school took kits by iHomeschool Network bloggers!

(1) Back to School Toolkit from Milk and Cookies
(2)†Back to School Toolkit from These Temporary Tents
(3)†Back to School Toolkit from Spell Outloud
(4)†Back to School Toolkit from Great Peace Academy
(5)†Back to School Toolkit from Gricefully Homeschooling

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(6) Back to School Toolkit from Raising Lifelong Learners
(7) Back to School Toolkit from WriteShop
(8) Back to School Toolkit from Preschoolers and Peace
(9) Back to School Toolkit from Starts at Eight
(10) Back to School Toolkit from Joyful Mothering

……

(11) Back to School Toolkit from Harrington Harmonies
(12) Back to School Toolkit from Ponder the Path
(13) Back to School Toolkit from Forever, For Always, No Matter What
(14) Back to School Toolkit from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
(15) Back to School Toolkit from Habits for a Happy Home

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(16) Back to School Toolkit from Curriculum Choice
(17) Back to School Toolkit from See Jamie Blog
(18) Back to School Toolkit from Beautiful Motherhood
(19) Back to School Toolkit from Sam’s Noggin
(20) Back to School Toolkit from This Reading Mama

……

(21) Back to School Toolkit from Teaching Mama
(22) Back to School Toolkit from Adorable Chaos
(23) Back to School Toolkit from The Pelsers
(24) Back to School Toolkit from Hodge Podge
(25) Back to School Toolkit from Sallie Borrink

……

(26) Back to School Toolkit from The Kennedy Adventures
(27) Back to School Toolkit from Flourish
(28) Back to School Toolkit from Our Journey Westward
(29) Back to School Toolkit from Meet Penny
(30) Back to School Toolkit from On Faith and Coffee

……

(31) Back to School Toolkit from Our Abundant Blessings
(32) Back to School Toolkit from Holistic Homeschooler
(33) Back to School Toolkit from The Encouraging Home
(34) Back to School Toolkit from Motherhood on a Dime
(35) Back to School Toolkit from The Homeschool Scientist

……

 What is your favorite parenting tool and/or advice?

~written by Tricia, Hodgepodge

What are You Living For?

 Posted by on May 9, 2013  2 Responses »
May 092013
 

Florence

Monday morning I sat down with my two oldest boys and asked them this question. I told them I didn’t need an answer right away, but I wanted them to take a little time and think about it. I said, “I know you both know what the right answer is, but what is the real answer?”

“What are you living for?”

One of them chimed in with, “I’m just trying to get all my schoolwork done so I can do what I want to do.” I think he wanted me to believe he was living for school. So I said, “And which of those things are you living for? School? Or doing what you want to do?” He answered honestly.

So I reminded them of this week’s Bible verse, Matthew 22:37-39, which says:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel guilty or sad. I was just trying to make them think. Our conversation made me think, too.

What am I living for?

Truthfully, many days I am living for that brief moment in the afternoon when the house is quiet and I can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee without interruption. When my six-year-old is on my lap reading aloud to me, I’m thinking, “Hurry up. Stop looking at the pictures. We’re almost done for the day.” Or when my oldest is struggling through his math and it is 3:00 and we’ve been at this for hours, and all I want to do is be DONE, what am I living for? Most of the time I’m living for me.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with enjoying a moment of peace and quiet. And I’m certainly not saying there is anything wrong with coffee. But in my own life, I can see how sometimes the desire for “me time” casts a shadow over everything else, causing me to rush through things and miss the opportunities God has put in front of me to love the people around me.

So I’ve been repeating this question throughout the week, to myself and my children. What are we living for right now? God, what would You have us do with this day?

~written by Kendra