MOPS: Raising Boys

We have an extra week this month in between MOPS meeting since September had 5 Tuesdays. So this week I was excited for it to be a MOPS week. We continue to have new moms coming to our meetings. I love seeing our group grow!

This week a good friend of mine came and talked to us about raising boys. She is a mom of three boys (plus a little girl on the way!) She has a great testimony and so much wisdom and insight. She has been a great encouragement to me during the past couple years as I have gotten to know her better.

I never imagined the difference between raising boys and girls until I became a mom of a little girl and then eighteen months later we added a baby boy to the mix. Now we are a family with two sons. As soon as my son started to become mobile and interactive with others I realized I had a lot of learning and growing ahead of me.

Boys tend to be much more active and aggressive (not necessarily in a bad way). The climb, everything! They find satisfaction is pursuing things and accomplishing tasks.

Boys are messy! When we sit down for meals my daughter is so careful to keep herself and her space clean. She wipes her mouth after every bite. Then you look over to my son’s space. The table, the floor, his clothes, goodness even his hair is covered in food that didn’t make it to his mouth. He doesn’t mind. My sons love to play in the sandbox and mud. Driving trucks and tractors in the sandbox provides hours of fun.

Boys are loud! Both my boys like to go into the milk house in the barn because it is the perfect place to yell and hear the sound vibrate and echo. My house is noisy. And honestly sometimes it does get to me, but I have learned to embrace it. My children are learning and growing through their play and sometimes that requires a bit of noise.

Boys I love cause and effect! My boys find joy in the “if I do this what will happen?” experience. Sometimes it is fun and harmless. Other times it is difficult to deal with. Pulling Sissy’s hair just to hear her scream. Can anyone relate? These are perfect teaching opportunities.

Boys are very protective! My three-year old would do anything for his sister if he felt she was being wronged. He is always watching out for her even at this young age. Growing up I had a younger brother and it was always such a comfort know that even though we had our differences he always had my back. If we encourage this in our boys the will grow up to be men that are compelled to take care of those that they love. They will make good husbands and fathers.

Boys love their mothers! I know that my daughter loves me and we do share a bond that I am not able to share with my boys. But in the same way I see that my boys have a special bond with me that is like nothing else. I am the one they come to when they need comfort and help. I am the one they one they look to meet their needs.

When I look at my boys I not only see who they are now but I also look at who I hope they become. I want to instill in them now the things that I feel would make them good men. As their mom I am the first woman they will interact with. Some day my boys will probably be husbands and fathers. I want to equip them with the skills now to flourish in those roles.

As their mom I also want to encourage their father to be a role model for them. I want to encourage him to teach them and guide them in becoming a man of God. He is who they are going to look up to and imitate. I have this amazing opportunity to let them see how a man and woman relate with each other. By letting their father be the man and spiritual leader of our house they are seeing and learning from our examples. When I value myself it lets my boys see that women have value and men should treat them like they are valuable. My husband is a wonderful man and I love the example that he is for our sons. My role is to let him be that example and encourage him in it.

Some days being a mom can seem overwhelming, whether you have boys or girls. I know there are times when I just don’t feel equipped to do this job. Well guess what, on my own I am not able. I need the support of others. Our MOPS group has been a great source of help and encouragement. Also having close friends that are going through it themselves is in my opinion necessary. There are countless times that I have received encouragement and direction from a friend that has helped me get through a difficult situation or even just a difficult day. The great thing is that I also have the opportunity to be there for them when they need it. I love how community works.

As much as I feel having a great support system is necessary it does not compare to the wisdom, guidance, direction, and love that I get from my relationship with God. He unltimitely is the one that I lean on. He gave me the children that He did because He knows that I am the mom that they needed, and they are the children that I need. He will equip me with what I need to raise these children. He is the one that I look to daily, hourly for the wisdom to raise my children.

Raising my boys is the hardest, most tiring,  most fulfilling, most rewarding, and hands down the best job I have ever had.

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Now it is your turn. I want to hear from you! What do you have to add? What things have you learned while raising your boys?

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MOPS Meeting #2

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Earlier this week we had our second MOPS meeting. It was a really great time! There were a couple of new moms that came this time. It is always exciting seeing new faces, and of course I love seeing familiar faces as well.

We had a woman come in from our local pregnancy care center to speak to us this time. She talked some about the care center and what they do at all three of their locations. The Endless Mountain Pregnancy Care Center is an awesome ministry to our community and has been a huge blessing to so many moms in this area, this mom included. As well as speaking about the care center she also talked to us about relationships and love. She encouraged us to invest in our relationships, with our families, friends, and God. She also talked about love being a choice that we have to consciously make moment by moment, some moments being harder than others.

As we broke up into our discussion groups we talked more about love and relationships. We also talked about taking time to refuel ourselves, and by doing that we are benefiting our relationships. When we take that time to refuel we are often a better mom and wife. I know that if I don’t get a little bit of time to myself regularly I will become overwhelmed with all my responsibilities. I like to take a few minutes, or some days longer, in the afternoon after the kids are down for their naps to spend some time relaxing. Sometimes it is just eating lunch in peace and quiet. I find that time really does help me reset myself. Also I try to make a point to spend time with my husband on a regular basis without children inturuptions. We need that time to connect with each other. With three children it can be hard to have a regular date night out, but on most Sunday afternoons we take an hour or two and spend time just the two of us while the kids are napping after church. Another way to refuel is to spend time with friends, which is why I look forward so much to MOPS twice a month. Having that time with other moms who I can relate to is such so refreshing.

Investing time in our relationships with our spouse and friends is so important, as well as investing time with our children. I admit that having three little ones does make it hard to get that quality time with each of them, but I do my best. They need that time with their mommy, having my undivided attention is important to them. Lately we have been letting them each take a turn staying up just ten minutes later than the others. They get to spend that time with me and/or Daddy doing something they enjoy. It really does make difference and deepens our relationships with our children.

Most importantly we need to be investing in our relationship with God. When I neglect that relationship I find that all of my other relationships suffer. Spending time with Him is the ultimate refuel. I also see that becoming a mother has changed my relationship with God. I view things a lot differently now. It really does take me to a deeper sense of trusting Him, because I see my need for Him more I think. I also have found a greater perspective of His love for me. I look at the way I love my children and how I would give up everything for them. I can be confident that God loves me the same way, only so much more. I see more of His Father’s love for me.

We did a craft again this time after the discussion groups. I made sure that I had everything with me this time, plus I remembered what I had forgotten last time. Yay!

We made name tags for ourselves to use at our meetings. They will be much nicer than just using the sticker name tags. I showed them how to make a fabric flower by rolling strips of fabric. They came out really nice and it was neat to see them all finished. (I completely forgot to get a picture of them all together, but I will get one for you next time and update it here.) We attached the flowers to laminated paper with our names and glued it to a magnet that will hold it onto our clothing. Our discussion groups are separated by different color flowers. So on each name tag there is color in some way or another to signify which group we are in.

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Our First MOPS Meeting

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Well it finally came. Yesterday was our very first MOPS meeting. We have spent  so much time preparing for and praying about this. It is exciting to see it finally be here.

The turnout surprised all of us. There were more moms and children than we expected, which is amazing. It was a thrill seeing mom after mom walk through that door. I enjoyed talking to their little ones. Watching their faces as they dropped their children off with the childcare volunteers was priceless. The blessing that we can be to these moms is so rewarding. I am looking forward to making connections and building relationships with each one this year.

My good friend and one of the moms on our steering committee shared her story with us. She has an amazing testimony. She encouraged us to look at our own story as a mom and be mindful of the ups and downs. She reminded us look to those around us when we need support and also be an encouragement to others when we see that they are in need. We then used our discussion group time to get to know those in our group a little more closely, and to share some of our story. I really enjoyed talking to the other moms and hearing their thoughts. As a discussion group leader I am looking forward to that part of each MOPS meeting. I am excited for friendships we are forming.

As the creative activities leader I did a craft for the moms to put together. A friend of mine and fellow craft enthusiast actually put the craft together for me this time. Unfortunately me being forgetful as I am had to leave half of the supplies on my kitchen counter. So needless to say we were not able to complete the entire project, and I will take the rest of the supplies next time for them. I guess this is all about being real and I displayed that well.  HaHa!

I would like to show you what we made and give simple directions for you to make it for yourself if you would like.

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A shopping list or place to make notes for yourself.
Supplies Needed: ~ small wooden board ( I stained mine, but you could leave it natural if you would like) ~ roll of paper (like would go in a calculator) ~ piece of twine (about 15 inches long)~ large binder clip ~ large rubber band
Supplies Needed:
~ small wooden board ( I stained mine, but you could leave it natural if you would like)
~ roll of paper (like would go in a calculator)
~ piece of twine (about 15 inches long)~ large binder clip
~ large rubber band
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Place the binder clip at the top of the board. Put the twine in between the board and clip.
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Thread the twine through the paper roll. Tie at the side. Stretch the rubber band around the bottom of the board. This will be used to keep the paper in place when it is rolled out.

Run The Race

This morning as I was doing my devotions I was really challenged. I often get very discouraged that things don’t go as I plan, or I don’t see things happening as quickly as I would like them to. As I was reading I was reminded that as we see what we want we need we need to set goals for ourselves to get there. It may be something like making a large life improvement or lifestyle change, or maybe it is something that may seem smaller but still makes a big impact. Whatever it may be we can’t let the thought of that end result seeming so big and out of reach that we don’t take any steps forward.

We need to first pray about it and make sure that are thoughts and plans are in line with God’s. Ask for His help and His guidance. I am only able to be who I am with Him leading and guiding me. So it makes perfect sense to start there.

Next we need to set goals. For me one thing that I struggle with is keeping my house as clean as I would like it. Now I know that it is not always going to look perfect. We have three small children in our house and it is going to look lived in. But there are things I can do to make it look better than it does. For example, in the middle of my kitchen I have a big island. I love it! It is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen, but because it is so large it tends to get cluttered really quickly. So I have decided that for the next week my goal is to keep my island clean and free of clutter. It may seem like something little and insignificant, but to me it is a big thing. It will take the stress level of “my house is a mess” down a notch. I have to start somewhere.

I am taking my situation and looking for one thing that I can to do to get to my end goal. Like running a race, if all you do it sit there and look way ahead to finish line and make no action you will never get there. To achieve your goal you have to take action, one step at a time. Each step has a purpose. Each step gets you closer to the finish line.

So as I look at my house I see one thing that I can do to improve it. I am going to make the commitment to take action. And the more that I do it the easier it will become. Keeping that island clean will become more of a habit. Once I have made that adjustment then I am ready to take the next step. And step by step I will get closer to my goal.

Now is the perfect time to take action! Stop just sitting there looking at the finish line and focus on the next step or even the first step. Make a commitment to run that race. However fast or slow you may go isn’t the issue, it is all about just moving towards the goal.

 

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In The Quiet

One of my favorite sounds is the “pop” that canning jars make as they seal. I know, silly right? Well I love it. It reminds me of my childhood and also just has this homey feel to it.

Unfortunately I don’t get to hear the “pop” very often. My house is usually a hub of activity and with that comes noise and lots of it. Now I do enjoy the sounds of children and all that comes with it, but tonight as I sit here finishing up the rest of my first batch of salsa for this year I am enjoying the quiet. Everyone else has gone to bed and the house is still. Generally I would be in bed now too. Tonight though I get a little blessing is disguise. At first I wasn’t all that pleased when I realized I would be staying up late to finish my canning that I had started earlier in the afternoon, but now I am cherishing this time. I put some relaxing lavender essential oil in my diffuser, sat down uninterrupted, and now I can spend some time reading. And of course I get to listen for the “pop.”

Be Imitators

Have you have stopped and listened to your children playing? I mean really listened. If you do I am sure that you will find they sound a lot like you. Children are probably the greatest imitators. They pick up on even the littlest of things that we do and say. As they are babies we are so proud to see them imitate. They learn to sit up, they eat at the table with us, they take their firsts steps, then they begin to talk. Those first few first words are so cute and we cherish them.

Imitation can be the cutest thing. I love seeing my daughter taking care of her babies, talking to them, feeding them. It is so cute to watch my sons driving their little trucks and tractors around “just like Daddy” does at work or the farm. They all love to play “house” and the many other day-to-day things that we do as a family. But then there will come something out of one of their mouths on occasion that completely surprises me. Most times though when I stop to think about it, it was probably something that I have said. I say things that in the moment seem harmless, but when I hear them repeated out of my child’s mouth it doesn’t sound so innocent. Or maybe it wasn’t what I said but how I said it. As parents we have to be so careful how we behave around our children. They see and hear more than I realize at times.

It can seem like such an undertaking. I can get overwhelmed just thinking about it. How can I always behave in a way that is worth imitating. It is a lot to know that you are most responsible for how your children act.

There are two things I have learned in this.

  • One bad moment, one bad attitude, does not make a bad child and also does not make a bad parent.

  Every time we see ourselves fail or see our children behave in a less than lovely way it is tempting to think that we have failed. That is not the truth, as long as we recognize our shortcomings and make an attempt to learn from them. Use those moments to teach our children. Grow from them ourselves. Only when we accept defeat and make no attempt to move forward have we failed.

  • We have the best example ourselves to learn from. God is the most gracious Father.

He loves with unfailing love. He continues to pick us up and call out the best in us. I find that the more time I spend with the Lord the more I become like the Him and in turn the more I see of Him in my children. I cannot improve my children until I take care of myself. God calls us to be imitators of Him and we cannot do that if we do not know Him. Taking time to learn who Christ is and what He has done for us is the very best thing that we can do for our families.

Becoming an imitator of Christ and spending time with Him is going to look different for everyone. For me I most enjoy spending time in His Word in the morning. Unfortunately I do not usually get a lot of time then. My little ones are early risers and my day starts quickly. I do try get a least a few minutes. But for the most part my time with Lord is spent in little bits of time throughout the day. When I was young our pastor’s wife described it as “10 second prayers”. Taking those few moments to acknowledge the Lord throughout the day, talking to Him just as we would a friend. Also I enjoy worship music and you will often find it playing in my house. I connect with the Lord though that and it is something that I can do as I go about doing the other tasking that demand my attention. What I really love about that is I can do it with my children and it is something that I am proud of them imitating. Just as they pick up on the not so desirable things they will pick up and begin to imitate the good as well. There are few things that make me as happy as seeing my children worshiping the Lord and singing songs to Him, seeing them spend time with Him.

One more thing to think about; we are learning and growing just the same as our children are. As they imitate the things they see and hear and use that become who they are and the adults they will become, we also are shaping who we are by the things that leave an impression on us. Don’t take that lightly, because just as children we will begin to imitate the good and the bad, therefore shaping who are children are. If you ever want to really see what influences you just take a moment to watch and really listen to your children. They will show you with the most unhindered honesty.

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MOPS – What This Mom Needs

Mothers Of Preschoolers

What is MOPS? It is a place for moms with young children (ages birth to 5 years) to come together and connect with each other and form a community of women. A place of refreshing and spending time with other moms who are in the same place in life. Honestly, every mom needs some time with other moms, to have girl talk, to laugh with and cry with, and enjoy the journey of motherhood. It is a place to build relationship with other moms. Moms that understand the things you are going through daily. Moms that know what it is like to have multiple small children running around the house. Moms that know what it is like to have 24/7 responsibilities, that yes, we love whole heartedly. MOPS helps us build an amazing support system that can be so hard to find. We are able to build relationships that will last for years to come.

As a child I was able to experience MOPS at a local church. My mom went with friends and took my brother and I along. I don’t remember much of it, but I do know that it was something that I enjoyed. As a teenager I volunteered to help with childcare at MOPS at the same local church. I went with a young mom who was my neighbor. She went to benefit from the MOPS program and I was able to spend time doing something that I enjoyed, playing with the small children. The MOPS program at that church ended not long after that for many reasons. This year as a young mom myself I have the pleasure a being a part of bringing MOPS back to this area at that very same church. I am privileged to be able to work along side of some of my good friends and also to make some new friends that are in leadership. I am so excited to have this opportunity. We are officially chartered and taking registrations for this fall and I am very excited to see this all come together. I am leading the crafts and activities.  With the help of a friend of mine we are putting together all sorts of fun things to make and do this year. This is an adventure that I am really looking forward to. I myself need the time that MOPS provides twice a month to spend time with friends old and new. To build that support system that I believe every mom needs.  I am so thankful to have this opportunity with MOPS this year. It is going to be amazing!

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

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  It is strawberry season here is Pennsylvania!  The kids have been finding small wild strawberries on our path over to the farm these past couple of weeks. They love searching for them. Unfortunately they are not enough to do anything with. So the kids enjoy their little treat. Every year we will buy a few quarts of strawberries to enjoy. This year I wasn’t able to go pick them myself so I just bought them from Aldi. We will have them all sorts of ways, but one of my favorite things to make with them is Strawberry Freezer Jam. I will make enough of it to last us through the winter. I love being able to open up a jar of jam in the middle of the cold winter and have a little taste of summer and warm sunshine. It is fairly simple to make. Honestly the hardest part is not eating half of the strawberries while you are cutting them up.

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Don’t they look amazing!

After you rinse off your berries you will hull them and cut in quarters. I use my potato masher to mash them. You can also put them in your blender and pulse until they are the consistency that you like. I like to have little pieces of fruit in my jam, but if you would rather it smoother you could mash a bit more than I did mine.

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I make 2 quarts of berries at a time. It will equal about 4 cups of mashed berries.

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Next mix together your fruit pectin and sugar.

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Pectin

I am using instant pectin, that way I don’t have to cook anything. I can just mix it together. After you have the pectin and sugar mixed together add the pectin mixture to the berries and stir for 3 minutes. It is important to stir for the full 3 minutes. This will help to ensure that your jam with set and thicken. Spoon the jam into clean jars. I often use empty peanut butter jars. They are handy and a good size for us. You can really use any jar that you have as long as it is freezer safe and the top seals well. Make sure that you leave a 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar because the jam will expand as it freezes. 2015-13-7--11-30-59 Then go ahead and put your jam in the freezer. If it even makes it that far. It is that good! It will last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. When you are ready to use it just take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator until it thaws out. Enjoy!!

The Story Behind The Name

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This verse from Nehemiah has been one of my favorites over the years, but it has also proven to challenge me. When I sit and look at it there is really a lot of meaning in just those few words.

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “The joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” Stronghold literally being fortress. A place where a particular cause is strongly defended and upheld. To put it simply so that even my mom brain can understand. God creates a place through joy for us to reside where he defends us and hold us up.

What is joy? Well looking at it from what I have learned through scripture it is so much more than just being happy. Happiness is an emotion. Joy is a mindset. It is the assurance that God has it all in control. God is working for your good. God is good, and he loves us without end. Joy is also making the choice to praise God through all things, not because things are always going well and I am continually happy, but because He is always present in every situation. He is always with me.

In the assurance that God is a loving God and ever-present we can find our strength. I have realized that it is not who I am that brings me strength, but who God is in me. When His joy is running through me I am a new creation. I am fulfilling His purpose for my life.

I love this version of Psalm 33.

“We’re depending on God; He’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own His holy name. Love us, God, with all You’ve got – that’s what we’re depending on.” (Psalm 33:20-22 MSG)

When we put our all into God, then we can truly and fully experience His joy. How amazing is that. It gives me chills as I am writing it.­

Let’s be honest, there are more than a handful of times that I don’t feel joyful. Things don’t go my way. My kids are in sour moods. My husband did something that irritated me. And there are hundreds of more reasons that I won’t spend time listing, because you get the point. We all have things that take our eyes off God and the joy He has for us. And this is where I mix up my perception of joy and happiness. I can’t be happy all the time, and that is ok. That is life. It doesn’t make me any less of a mom, wife, or woman. But what I can continually have without fail is joy, God’s joy through me. That will be my strength, my place of refuge. That will be what I cling to when all seems to be going wrong. God will get me through. His love covers all and holds me together. And when thing are going well and happiness is emotion that I can easily feel I have all the more reason to be joyful.

So what it all comes to is that God is for me. His joy is in me. Whether happy or sad, up or down, He is constant.

Hello world!

So I finally did it. I started a blog.  This is an idea I have been tossing around for the past year. The problem was I didn’t know where to start. It didn’t matter how much I looked at things to try to figure out what I was doing I still felt clueless.  If you know me at all you me all know that I like to feel prepared for things. I like to feel knowledgeable. Well I still don’t feel completely prepared, but I am just going to go with it.  It will be a journey with many things to learn along the way. I love to learn new things and I am always looking for new and exciting things to just pour myself into.

A JoyFull Home

I would like to use this blog to share who I am and the things I enjoy. You will find a lot about my kids and the adventure it is raising them along with my amazing husband who I am sure you will read a lot about as well. We are lovers of the outdoors and when the weather is nice that is where we spend most of our time. The adventures we have are endless including the many things to do on the farm and all of our gardening.

I love all things crafty and I look forward to sharing that with you. I am also a lover of music. I am pretty sure it is on my blood. I don’t ever remember a time when music has not been part of my life. My husband and I are head of the worship ministry in our church and it has been quite the adventure. Along with all this I am a hair stylist by trade. I love doing it, but right now it is just at home on the side. I loved my job in the salon but I chose to stay at home with my children instead of work a full-time job. There are times I miss it, but I wouldn’t trade this time with my kids for anything.

Above all else I love the Lord with all I am and I would not be where I am or who I am without Him. You will find that the things I have to say will be intertwined with Him and my growing relationship with Him. I hope that I can inspire you and encourage you in your own relationship with Him.

Be blessed! And I hope you enjoy our time together.