Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

Children Category

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Book Review: The Grace Effect

 

The Grace Effect, How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Alex Taunton was not at all what I was expecting.  Frankly, I was expecting a somewhat dry theology book, but that is not the case at all!  This is a combination biography of a child’s adoption from the Ukraine, apologetics book, and engaging treatise on the power of grace all in one.

Far from struggling to get through the book, I was fascinated from beginning to end.  Taunton details the excitement, drama, and the frustration of endless, needless bureaucratic  delays (necessitating bribes or “gifts”) of his family’s adoption of 10 year-old Sasha.  Woven into the story are the astonishing (to those of us in the United States) facts of the every-man-for-himself mentality of the communist countries.  Taunton ties all of this together with a very compelling argument that the reason for the difference between these countries of atheist persuasions and a country founded on Christian principles is the Grace Effect.

This book would be good for high schoolers on up.  Although there are a lot of statistics given, and the book covers history, apologetics, and current events, it is not at all stuffy.  I found myself wanting to share several tidbits as I read.

My biggest complaint is that the book ended too soon.  After falling in love with this little girl and rooting for her as it seemed the Ukrainian adoption processes were designed for failure, I wasn’t ready to say “goodbye”!  I would have loved to have gotten more than just a few tidbits of how she adapted to life here in the United States, and would be happy to someday read a sequel to The Grace Effect.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and the links above are affiliate links. If the links do not work in a feed reader, please visit the actual page.

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Swine Flu?

“The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.”  Psalm 41:3

Our house has been more like a hospital than a home for the last week.  The day after my husband left for an overseas business trip, my oldest daughter started to feel sick.  One by one, each of the other children also came down with the bug.  We haven’t been to the doctor, but the symptoms very closely match swine flu.  (Doctors aren’t testing for it anymore, anyway – just diagnosing by symptoms.)  We’ve run the gamut from fairly mild cases to delirium and difficulty breathing.  On several occasions over the weekend, I thought I was going to have to take my asthmatic 13 year-old to the hospital, but calls to his pulmonolgist, a prescription for prednisone, and numerous breathing treatments allowed us to say home.  I am very thankful for hospitals, but they are also a good place to pick up new bugs!

There was one night when I had beds set up in the living room for all but my oldest 2 (who were feeling better), and I dosed when I could – sitting up in my computer chair!   Thankfully, I have either not gotten the bug or it has been very mild.  The times when I have felt sick could easily be attributed to exhaustion, since I’ve been surviving on strong, hot coffee.  And I’m even more thankful that the baby (who just turned 3 months) has not been very sick.  She’s had some minor congestion and coughing, but so far no fever.

We’re not over this yet, as I still have boys who are doing more sleeping and coughing than anything else, and one is suffering from an ear infection.  This bug comes in stages and has definite ups and downs.  Even those who are feeling better are still weak and exhausted.  To top it off, I found out that if it is H1N1,  the contagious period is up to 10 days from the first symptoms.  We have had to cancel a visit from DH’s 85 year-old mother this coming weekend.  She hasn’t seen the children for 4 years, and hasn’t even met the youngest 2, but we certainly don’t want to expose her to the bug.  And now we need to decide whether or not DH comes home tomorrow when he returns to the states.  Thanks to the economy, he no longer gets sick pay, so he has no time to be sick!  ;-)

Through all the concerns in caring for my children, it has been a comfort to know that the Lord has been watching over us and caring for us.  During those times when I was having to make difficult decisions on the best way to care for them, I was very aware of the Lord directing me and helping me to think clearly.  It was He who gave me the strength to keep going when I felt like I was going to drop, and He who has been bringing each one safely through this sickness, swine flu or not!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Times and Seasons

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”  Genesis 8:22

It hasn’t been very many posts since I was glorying in the arrival of spring, and here we are deep into autumn.  In a few more days, October will be over, and we will lose an hour of light in the evening as we cause our clocks to “fall back”.  Where, oh where does the time go?

It is at this time of year that I feel myself going into hibernation mode.  While I love the beauty of the fall colors, I know that soon the leaves will all be fallen and the trees will be bare, seemingly devoid of life.  The weather is getting colder, and it won’t be long before I’m worrying about snow and ice as I run those errands that can’t be put off.   We had an exceptionally cool summer, so now an exceptionally cold winter is predicted.  (Global WARMING?  Not here!)  I don’t do real well with the cold.

I feel as if it is time to start gathering my children close around the fire until the world comes back to life.  ;-)  I know that is rather silly, but maybe there is some good in that idea.  Maybe it is time to turn my focus inward toward my children and my house.  I have had to be gone from home so much over the last few months, that it will be good to slow down.  My pregnancy required 3-4 doctors appointments per week for the last  couple of months.  I thought that things would slow down once the baby was born, but running errands with a newborn takes 3 times as long as running errands by myself!  There is still plenty of training that my children need, and I’m afraid that there is a fair amount of retraining that is needed in all of the children after all of the time I’ve had to be out.  Now that Baby Girl is almost 3 months old, I am able to do more errands in less time, and I’m working to cut down on the time I’m away from home.  Some things are seasonal and are winding down, so that is a help, too.

Yes, I think it is time to turn the focus inward.  By spring, I want to have done a lot of retraining, and I want to finish going through and decluttering.  Perhaps we can make inside feel more alive, even if things are barren and dead outside!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

A Joyful Mother

“He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD!”  Psalm 113:9

It’s hard to believe that a whole month has gone by since my last post!  Thank you for all the wonderful congratulations.  I have wished that I could reply to each person, but my hands have literally been full most of the time, and it is hard to type one-handed.  My little baby girl will be 8 weeks old on Friday, and is already changing from being a newborn.  Oh, she still sounds like a newborn, but she is very interested in what is going on around her, and those big, beautiful smiles are something that we all work very hard to get.  ;-)

Even though she weighed 8 pounds at birth, she looked more like she weighed about 6 pounds.   (Even the medical people thought so!)  For someone who is used to 10+ pound babies, it’s been a new experience to have such a tiny one!   She had us concerned for a few weeks, as she lost about 12% of her birth weight in the first few days, and then didn’t get back up to her birth weight until she was about 5 weeks.  There were several trips to the lactation consultant and pediatrician for weight checks, but she finally did start to gain and outgrow all of those newborn clothes that had been too big on her.  She is still in newborn diapers, though – something that my other children hardly used at all!

Since my first child was on the way by the time I had been married for two months, I have never been someone who would be considered a “barren woman”.  However, the Lord HAS given me the blessing of being a “joyful mother of children”!  I was having my car inspected today and was sitting in the busy mechanics’ lobby with the baby, when a lady asked whether or not this was my first baby.  Of course, she was surprised when I replied that it was my 8th baby, but the lady sitting next to her looked at me and, almost in a hostile tone, asked, “Why?”

I have never before been asked “why” when people have found out that I have several children, so I was speechless for a moment.  Then, I simply responded that it was because I have been blessed.   And, truly, that is the way I feel.  I won’t deny that I’m not always joyful, or that there aren’t days when I wish I could put the children on the schoolbus and have a few hours of quiet.  I won’t deny that there are times when the tears are rolling down my face and I’m the one asking the Lord “why”!  However, it is much more frequent that I look around at my children and feel richly blessed.  My children really do bring me joy!

Well, my latest bundle of joy is exhibiting signs of being tired of being held by her big sister and wanting Mommy, so I will have to finish this another time.  I’ll try to make sure that it is not such a long time before I post again!

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

It’s a Girl!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Well, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted, and for that, I apologize.  But for those of you who don’t yet know, I need to let you know that our 8th child is now in our arms.  :-)  Our 3rd girl arrived safely via c-section and is bringing joy to our hearts.  We’ve had some challenges with her eating and she still hasn’t come close to regaining back to her birth weight, but she is settling in to family life.  This baby is by far the most contented baby I’ve ever had, and she is very definitely a “mommy’s girl”!  Knowing that this newborn stage will be gone in the blink of an eye, I’m savoring every moment.  I don’t feel at all deserving, but this precious fruit of my womb definitely is a reward!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Temptation Escape

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  I Corinthians 10:13

Temptation is a daily part of life, unfortunately.  Some days there are more temptations than other days, and some temptations are stronger than others.   Some temptations are for minor things … like complaining … and others are for major things that are easier to recognize.

I memorized the above verse when I was in the 10th grade, and it has come to mind on a regular basis since.  It has been a real encouragement to me when I have felt overwhelmed, and the Lord has proven Himself time and time again.  Recently, we were assigned this verse for memorization in the Bible Study that I am going through, using the book Growing Strong in God’s Family.   (Tyranny of the Urgent is another post referencing this study.)

I had the verse written out on a 3 x 5 card in my Bible along with the other memory verses for the study.  Yesterday, one of my children was lamenting the fact that temptations can sometimes be very difficult to overcome, and I was able to pull out the card and give it to the child.  I need to also pass it along to the rest of the children.  I hope that it will be as much of an encouragement to them in their lives as it has been to me!

The opportunity to pass along a meaningful scripture yesterday further illustrated the point to me that it is important for me to be modeling a quiet time and scripture memorization for my children.  I know that it meant a whole lot more to the child receiving the verse yesterday that I had pulled it out from my Bible rather than having to go look it up and suggesting that it be written out.  It was obvious that the verse meant something to me more than just a platitude to pass along.  I just wish that I had been more faithful with my quiet time and memorization earlier, but it’s never too late.  I pray that the Lord will help me to be more faithful from here on out!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Pestered, or Blessed?

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.”  Psalm 128:3

Part of the price that we pay for the blessing of children is the discomfort that is often a part of pregnancy.  I have spent the last 3 days in a fair amount of pain, and I know that there is more to come.  But right along side the pain, there is joy.  Just a few minutes ago, as I sat my aching body down in front of the computer, my three-year-old came to me with a hug and said, “I want to pester you.”

:-D

Did I feel “pestered”?  Not one bit!  Rather, I felt very grateful that I had a little one to hug and hold.  I felt grateful that “pester” isn’t a bad thing in our family, so that my little one felt perfectly free to come to me for some lovin’.  I felt grateful for the ability to be home with these precious children.

Along those lines, I’d like to encourage you to go read this post from a mom who has far more experience than I.  She is the mom of 14 children, with another on the way, and also a grandmother.  I found her post very encouraging today.

I’m going to get off the computer and go enjoy my children!  :-)

Friday, April 17th, 2009

A Wise Fool?

“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”  Proverbs 17:28

The Proverb chapter for today included a verse that reminded me of a humorous incident that happened several years ago.

When I first started homeschooling, I was blessed to be a part of a wonderful support group made up of Christian homeschooling moms.  We laughed together, prayed together, had park days and field trips for our children, and generally encouraged each other.  Even though I have long since moved far away from that city and have only infrequent contact with a few of those ladies, I still cherish the friendships that were established when I was a young mom of young children and sometimes overwhelmed by the responsibility of motherhood and homeschooling.

After a couple of years of being a part of this group, I was privileged to be asked to be a part of the leadership for the group.   We were having a “board meeting” one night, and plans were being discussed.  As the youngest member of the group, I was mostly sitting quietly and observing, especially since I didn’t feel that I really have anything of worth to add to what was being said.  Finally, one of the other moms turned to me and said, “What do you think?  You’re always so wise, sitting there quietly while the rest of us are all talking.”

Well, our family had just recently read the above verse, so I immediately quipped, “Even a FOOL is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut!”

We have often repeated this incident in our family and laughed about it.  There has been more reason for repeating the antecdote than for a laugh, though.  We have tried to teach our children to not just feel that they always have to be interjecting into a conversation, but to wait until they really have something to contribute.  When we are seen as someone who always has to say something about everything, others tend to give less credence to what we have to say.  However, when we are thoughtful about what we say, people tend to listen more and give our words more weight.   I certainly wasn’t sitting in the middle of that group of ladies feeling at all wise, but my opinion was specifically sought BECAUSE I wasn’t feeling that I HAD to interject myself into the conversation.

It has often been said that we are given one mouth and two ears for a reason.  We are to listen twice as much as we speak.  How often do I instead speak twice as much as I listen?  Am I even more guilty of this when it comes to my children, or am I careful to listen to them?  Ouch.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

A Soft Answer

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

As part of my scripture reading, I like to read the Proverb of the day.  (There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so I read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month.)   Today’s chapter started with a verse that I am trying very hard to implement in my life and teach to my children.

Some days it seems as if the bickering and arguing is constant.  One child makes a snide remark, the next responds in anger hurting the other’s feelings, and soon you have them seeing who can outdo each other with the loudest and most hurtful words.  If the child who was the recipient of the original remark had responded with something that had diffused the situation rather than adding fuel to the fire, there would have been a quick end to the bickering and fewer feelings hurt.

When we allow ourselves to raise our voices in anger, it very often breeds more anger.  The blood pressure goes up, our voices get louder, the anger increases, the ability to think clearly decreases, and the cycle continues.  When I was in the 7th grade, I had an English teacher who told us that she and her husband had decided early in their marriage that they would lower their voices instead of raise them if they were angry.   She said that you could tell when they were really angry because their voices were so low that you could hardly hear them.  Rather than emotionally tuning each other out, they were more likely to pay attention to what the other person was saying because they had to really listen to them.  The result was that their anger was not escalated by the sheer adrenaline produced by shouting, and they were able to work through things much more reasonably and quickly.  Their home sounded a lot more peaceful, but it truly WAS a lot more peaceful, too!

As a mom, there are MANY things throughout the day that get on my nerves, and some of those things make me angry.  Do I respond harshly, or do I try to calm the atmosphere with a soft answer?  I am afraid that I have been guilty of yelling far too many times.  I know from experience, however, that yelling lowers my clear-headedness and either induces feelings of rebellion in the child being yelled at or causes them to withdraw.  While there are times when it may be appropriate to raise my voice, more often than not it only makes matters worse.  On the other hand, if I practice lowering my voice, I am able to stay more in control of my emotions and speak more logically and KINDLY, and my words very often get through more effectively.

Now if only I could be consistent in giving soft answers, maybe my children would finally learn how to do so, too!

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Child Training

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

Susanna Annesley Wesley (1669-1742) was the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church.  Susanna was the youngest of 25 children, and grew up to give birth to 19 children of her own.  Only 10 of those children survived infancy.  Although Susanna was deeply religious, setting aside 2 hours per day for prayer and raising her children for the Lord, it was not until late in her life that she was brought to salvation through the testimony of her sons.  (John and Charles were saved while on a missionary trip to Georgia, and then their testimony brought Susanna to see that her salvation could come only through grace, not of her own works.)

Several years ago, I came across this list that Susanna Wesley supposedly used in raising her children.  While I may not agree with every single one, I think they provide a good example and definite food for thought.

Susanna Wesley’s Rules for Child-Training

1. No eating between meals.

2. All children in bed by 8:00 p.m.

3. Take your medicine without complaining.

4. Subdue self will in each child.

5. Work with God to save the soul of each child.

6. Teach each child to pray as soon as he can speak.

7. Require all to be still during family worship.

8. Give children nothing they cry for.

9. Give them only what they ask for politely.

10. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed.

11. Do not allow a sinful act to go unpunished.

12. Command and reward good behavior.

13. Preserve property rights, even in the smallest matters.

14. Strictly observe all promises.

15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.

16. Teach children to fear the rod.

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