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Candle in the Night

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fabulous Fall Fridays #1: Candle Apples Centerpiece

Welcome to Fabulous Fall Fridays!  I'm so excited to start this series!  If you follow me on Facebook, you will have seen the supply list for this first Fabulous Fall Friday earlier this week.  I'd planned on getting this post up earlier in the day, but I had sick kids all week and a sick husband today, so I feel like I'm doing good that it's up before midnight!

So what is Fabulous Fall Fridays?  Every Friday between now and Thanksgiving, I'll be posting a DIY craft or project to beautify your home for fall.  I know it's still technically Summer, but I'm ready for fall, so I decided to start!  Today's project is sort of "Back-to-School" looking, so it's okay to do early, right?  Ready?  Here we go!

This is what my table usually looks like.  HAHAHA!!!  Okay, everyone who knows me knows that my table does NOT
usually look like this.  But this is what it looks like after it's been all cleaned off!  Not very fall-friendly.  

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

When Life is Hard

I hesitate to even use the word "hard".  I have friends and family going through much harder times than I'm going through.  When I have friends who have had their little ones go home to Jesus, friends with children battling cancer, friends struggling with miscarriage and infertility, friends who might lose their babies in the womb at any time, I don't like to use the word "hard" to describe my life. I hesitate to even post this at all.  But I know that I'm not the only one going through the regular "hard" times in day-to-day life.  And so I feel like sharing will do no harm and will hopefully do someone some good.

This week has been one of the hard ones.  Sometimes it feels too hard.  Friday, my littlest got sick, and stayed sick for several days.  As soon as she was better, H got sick and is still sick.  It's
tough at any time to have sick kids, but this week has been harder than normal for me.  Why?  I had big plans.

I had hoped to get my house totally clean by the end of the week.  I started Monday when we were kind of in between illnesses.  I felt like I got a TON accomplished and was excited to see what the rest of the week would hold.

My daughter's room at the beginning of the day on Monday.
I'm ashamed to admit that it had looked this way for quite a while and took most of the day to clean up.
But when it was done and organized, I was so excited to get the rest of the house looking nice!

The same room at the end of the day!  It is so wonderful to have a clean room!
And I'm so glad I got it done before she spent the whole next night throwing up.
I might have hurt myself getting to her over and over that night if it had still looked the way it did before cleaning!  
So here's what the rest of the week has held.  Cleaning up after a sick little one, loads and loads of laundry, and an exhausted mommy, sick three year old, and whiny two year old who is still getting over being sick and would rather be doing the "normal" stuff than sitting around at home.  Sadly, none of my plans were a success.  M's room is still a disaster, the kitchen table barely has room to eat on it, the living room is piled high with clean laundry needing to be folded and put away (at least it's clean though!), and every other room in the house needs a good cleaning.  

I think the worst of it is, our church retreat is this weekend and it's something I look forward to all year long.  It's great time for growing closer as a family and a church family and it's very renewing for me.  It's not only nice to get away and focus on God, it's also nice to relax a little and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning for a weekend.  At this point, it's not looking promising that we'll make it.  And it's becoming very tempting for me to slip into pitying myself.  

This is the verse that God keeps bringing to my mind today.  

James 1:2-4
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  

Patience.  Patience.  Patience. It's what God keeps driving into my heart.  If we let it do its work, it can make us be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  And doesn't that sound wonderful?  It does to me.  I know that God has a perfect plan for me, not only for this week, but for all the months and years ahead.  Please pray for me today, that no matter how much longer the sickness lasts in our house, I'll be able to avoid falling into pitying myself and instead, count it all joy.  

What about you?  What can I pray for you today?  

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Life Cycle Begins

A friend at church gave us some polyphemus moth eggs in a little baggie a little over a week ago.  She told us they'd probably hatch by Thursday, so when Thursday rolled around, then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I figured the eggs hadn't made it.  Well, today, I picked them up to throw them away and lo and behold!  There were four tiny caterpillars in the baggie!  I'm not sure exactly when they hatched as I hadn't looked at them in a few days, but here they are now.  I'm hoping they make it because it'll be a great experience for the girls if they do!

Here you can see two of the tiny caterpillars.  This picture makes them
look bigger than they actually are.  They're SO little!  

Here you can see the outline of a third.  I was so excited to see he'd taken
a bite of the leaf!!  Wikepedia (I know...not the most reliable site, but
I usually believe it on things like this) said that these caterpillars will eat
more than 86,000 times their own weight in two months!  We're going
to need a lot of leaves!!  

This is what those tiny little caterpillars will grow into!  Isn't it amazing?  I'm excited to watch.
Polyphemus Caterpillar (Antheraea polyphemus)
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And here's what they'll look like after metamorphasis.  God's design is just incredible!  
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Train Up a Child: Part 4

Why does Proverbs 22:6 sometimes fail?

This is part 4 of a series of posts.  Part 1 can be found here. 

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

I could not complete this series without addressing this question: Why do children of Godly parents grow up and "depart from" the way.  Isn't the promise that they won't depart from it?

Something's wrong
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I've heard several answers to this question over the years, but none have set right with me.  Here are a few.
  • Perhaps the children will eventually come back to the fold.  This one doesn't work for me.  There are examples even in scripture of those children growing old and dying and not coming back into the fold.  
  • Maybe the parents didn't do a good enough job of training.  This one doesn't sit well either.  So if the parent isn't perfect, the child is destined for failure?  That's not the way God works.  Remember the post about grace?  I believe that God also gives us grace daily in our child rearing.  
  • Everyone has their agency.  The child, although trained by diligent parents, has the agency to choose their own path in the end.  This is absolutely true.  But then, what of the promise?  
Finally, I heard an answer that satisfied the questions and I want to share it with you.  It all comes down to one word.  Promise.  And where that scripture is found.  Proverbs.  

Proverbs is a book of wisdom.  Not a book of promises.  

Proverbs 10:4 says, He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.  Is it ALWAYS true that the lazy are poor and the hard working are rich?  No.  But it is still wise advice to be hard working.  

There are examples like this throughout Proverbs.  One of the best things I read in preparing for this series was found here.  "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and sometimes you wind up in Congress banning light bulbs for the rest of us."  It made me laugh's true!  Sometimes the lazy people get the cushy, high paying jobs and sometimes the hard workers end up with no job or money at all.  But that's not the norm.  Proverbs gives us wisdom to do the right thing.  The norm is, if you train your child to follow God when they are young, they will walk with him when they are old.  And that is what Proverbs 22:6 is teaching us.  

Thank you for joining me on this four part journey.  I hope you were encouraged and reminded of the importance of child training.  It's not easy and in this world, we often feel as if we're walking alone.  I feel like there is so much more that could be shared on the topic, so if you'd like, please leave a comment and add to the discussion.  I'd love it if you did!  

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Train Up a Child: Part 3

Why is child training important?

This is part 3 of a series of posts.  Part 1 can be found here.  

When your child is learning to ride a bike, where do you start?  With a two wheeler?  No...usually, you begin with a trike of some sort.  Then, they may move up to a big wheel or a bigger trike.  From there, they might move up to a two wheeler with training wheels.  When the training wheels are removed, you'll hold onto them as they ride the two wheeler, helping them keep from falling.  Eventually, you'll let go and they will take off down the sidewalk.  They'll probably fall along the way somewhere and skin their knee and when they do, you're right there next to them.

But what if you skipped the earlier steps?  

If I had gotten my three year old a full-sized bike for her third birthday, she would have been equally excited.  She'd have wanted to climb right on and go for a ride.  If I had put her on and given her a little push, she'd have fallen over and gotten very hurt.  If she lived to be eight or nine, she might learn to ride that bike on her own, but without the proper training, there would be a lot more pain and danger for her along the way.

The same is true in all other kinds of training.  If you let a baby just crawl around with no diaper, and gave them no direction, they'd proceed to make a mess all over you and the house.  Eventually, they may learn to go in the toilet, but not before there were accidents everywhere.

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There are some things that come naturally to a child.  Rolling over, crawling, pulling up, walking, and talking are all things that they'll pick up on their own.  Other things don't come naturally.  Romans 3:10 tells us, There is none righteous, no, not one.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishnes unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  Sin comes naturally to us.  Obedience does not.  Sin separates us from God and will separate our children from Him also when they reach the age of accountability.  We are responsible for training them up so that when they reach that age, they're ready to obey and follow Him.

This is easy to read over and even think about, and still not realize how important it is to train our children.  It all goes back to the scripture in yesterday's post about the rod.  Let's look at the rod as training.  Whether you are sitting down with the rod of scripture, speaking the truth to your child or using the rod of correction and spanking your child, we can all agree that the rod is a tool of training.  So why is training so important?

Proverbs 13:24  He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.  

Proverbs 22:15  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  

This one is the most clear to me and drives home the importance of child training and why it MUST NOT be neglected.  

Proverbs 23:13-14  Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.  

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Friends, can you see the importance of this?  Neglecting child training is dangerous to our children!  Our children, if they continue in their fleshly desires, doing as they please and not submitting to the will of God (which they learn by submitting to the will of God-fearing parents) are on the path to hell.  Please, do not neglect the training of your children.

Since this series isn't really discussing methods of training, I want to open the comments up for that.  Please be respectful and kind to one another.  Views on this subject vary greatly.  So my question is, how do you train your children?  What methods do you find to be most effective?  

Please join me tomorrow for the final portion of this series.  "Why does Proverbs 22:6 sometimes fail?"

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Train Up a Child: Part 2

Why Do Parents Choose Not to Train up a Child?

This is part 2 of a series of posts.  Part 1 can be found here.  

Fast forward a year or so.  I have a little one who is nearing potty training time.  I'm in several Facebook groups that are focused on breastfeeding, babywearing, and general attachment parenting.  I began hearing a phrase I hadn't heard before.  It was "potty learning".  At first, I thought it was kind of silly.  Wasn't it the same thing?

M. decided she wanted to try the potty at an early age.  :)
We allowed her, but formal potty training hasn't taken place
yet and she still potties in her diaper most of the time.  

As I associated in these circles more and more, I noticed a trend.  Training was looked upon as almost a dirty word.  Whether it be potty training or sleep training or simply training your child to obey, there was much to be said about letting a child make their own choices and decisions and avoiding discipline of any kind along the way.  This was all new to me.

And yet, it wasn't.  I'd been working in the public school system for over three years.  I hadn't seen the parents interacting much with their children, but I'd seen the results.  The halls of our schools are filled with children who have been raised by parents who are unwilling for one reason or another to train their children.

Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day.  It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.  ~Bill Dodds
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Why have parents chosen this route?  It's clearly not working.  The parents aren't happy, the children aren't happy, the teachers aren't happy, and more and more, we're beginning to see the effects.  So why does the trend continue?  There are several clear reasons I see.

Reason 1: Parents want a better life for their children than what was given to them.  I've seen this one multiple times.  Parents of small children are not close to their own parents because their parents never respected them, never approved of them, or even worse, were abusive.  This next generation wants better for their own children and they find it in the "attachment parenting" viewpoint.  (Disclaimer: I am not anti-attachment parenting.  I do extended breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, etc.  But I'm not for the anti-child-training aspects of attachment parenting.)  These parents find this group of moms who seemingly love their children more than other mothers.  They are attached.  And the latch onto that and go with it in every aspect.

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57
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Reason 2: It's a trend.  Letting a child make choices for his or herself.  Building a child's self esteem.  Helping a child discover themselves.  Child-led weaning.  Child-led play.  Child-led learning.  These are all huge trends today.  I'm not saying that any of them in and of themselves are bad, but when they indicate that the parent's role is to be as hands-off as possible and not give the child any type of guidance, that's where the issues arise.  The parent's role cannot be nothing more than a bodyguard to make sure nothing or no one hurts their child.  Look at the example of Christ.  Leading, guiding, teaching, training.  The two just don't mesh.

Reason 3: It is the will of the devil that parents not train their children.  Okay, losing some readers over that one, I'm sure.  But it's the truth.  Look at the scripture.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Why would the children need to obey the parents if the parents aren't directing them in some way?

Proverbs 23:13-14  Withold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
These verses are pretty clear.  I know that there is much discussion about what it means to use the rod.  Some say the rod means the Word of God.  Others say it's a rod like a shepherd's rod used to direct the child.  Others say it is a rod of correction (spanking).  No matter how you use the term "rod", these verses show a clear need to direct your child.  It's clear that in training your child, you're delivering his soul from hell.  

Deuteronomy 6:4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD they God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 
It is SO important that we teach our children to love the LORD and to walk with Him.  

Ephesians 6:1-  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be will with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  
These verses are amazing.  It holds such promise for children who obey.  And such wisdom for parents.  Gentle discipline and instruction are emphasized.  

A Mother's Kiss  [123/365]
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There are multiple other verses in scripture that address good parenting and child training.  I just picked a few.  The point is, this isn't something that God is silent about.  It's very clear that parents are given to children to raise them up to be Godly individuals.  If we fail to do our duty, our children will likely be found not in the hands of God, but in the hands of the devil.

So what else?  What other reasons do you see that parents choose not to train their children?  
Visit tomorrow for part 3...

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Train Up a Child: Part 1

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

I've been mulling this post over and over for...well...years now.  There are several parts to it and I've been trying to find the right way in which to address them.  Let me go back to when I bought my puppy a few years ago.  (I know this seems irrelevant, but stay with me!  It'll make sense!)
I don't often post pictures of myself on here, but I love this one!
Me and Ellie meeting for the first time.  :)
I wanted to get a dog well before having children so I could have her properly trained before the babies started arriving.  I got her at the beginning of the summer after my first year of teaching and spent the entire summer working with her.  She was SO well trained!  Not only did we train her to do the "normal" things (potty outside, sit on command, come when called), we trained her to do all sorts of other things as well.  She would ring a bell when she needed to go out.  She would sit until released...not just a couple of seconds.  She wouldn't jump (not normal for a spunky little sheltie).  She could sit, lay down, "possum" (play dead), play peek-a-boo, and any number of other fun tricks.  She would sit and look at a plate full of meat (or a plate with some leftover scraps of meat from our dinner...all the same to her!) and not even touch it until she was told it was okay.  She was (and still is) a well trained dog.  
Ellie playing peek-a-boo
Ellie dancing
It took a lot of time and work and treats along the way, but wow, it was worth it!  She's not perfect now...she's lost some of her obedience since I've had two children and haven't been able to work with her as much, but she's still well-loved and a puppy we like to have around because she's obedient and, in general, minds her manners.  
Sharing with H.
Skip ahead to my second year of teaching.  It was a challenging year.  I had a class that was...well...difficult, to say the least.  The standing procedure at the school was that when certain things happened in class, the consequence was walking so many laps at recess.  Pretty standard.  Well, the laps were supposed to be walked without talking.  When a student chit-chatted while walking their laps, they were required to do them again.  The point was for it to help them remember to not talk during class...if they were talking during the consequence, it did no good.  Most of the students totally understood this and had no problem with it.  But a few of them didn't think it was fair.  And neither did their parents.  I received an email from one mom in particular telling me that this just was not acceptable.  

"Asking the students to be outside near all those kids at recess and expect them not to talk was like dangling meat in front of a dog and expecting them to not eat it!"  

Ellie wait...

Hmmm...I heard this shortly after training Ellie to sit nicely and wait for the release words before eating the meat in front of her.  In fact, by this time, we'd trained Ellie to sit while we put a treat on her nose and then wait until released to pop the treat into the air and catch it in her mouth.  

Waiting patiently.  
So what was this mom telling me?  She didn't want her 11 year old child as well behaved as my 6 month old puppy?  No.  She didn't like the behavior either.  It was the training that bothered her.  She didn't want her child to have to go through the training.

And so here we are...
2 Timothy 3:1-5  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  

Have you seen examples of parents not wanting to train their children?  I'd invite you to share in the comments below.  Join me tomorrow for part 2...

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Showing Grace

"Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that can pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, grace, God's great grace,
Grace that is greater than all my sin."

What a thought!  God's grace is so incredible.  It's saving.  It's refreshing.  It's light.  It's truth.
It's life changing.  

And we're called to be like Him.  Wow...what a calling.  

I think of this often when in the midst of child training.  There are times I am tempted to just hold a firm, unwavering hand when training.  It's in those times that God reminds me how much grace He shows me.  And if my children see grace in me, they will more easily understand the grace that God pours down on them when that time comes.  

Friends, these are the thoughts I want fresh in your minds as I begin my series on child training.  In the midst of all we must do to "train up a child", it is so very important to remember grace.

Praise the Lord for His grace!  

This post is linked up at the following sites...

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Birthday Express

Well, H's 3rd birthday was over three months ago and I'm FINALLY getting pictures posted! The story behind this party is a little funny...  M loves trains.  She was VERY into trains for quite a while!  So we decided to throw her a train birthday party when she turned 2.  We'd talked about it a bit and H overheard and decided SHE would like to have a train party!  So we switched it up.  Little did I know, it wasn't going to be so easy to have a girly party with a train theme!

Everything train party related is Thomas themed.  I'm not a fan of "characters".  Plus, Thomas isn't very girly.  So...I browsed Pinterest and found some ideas that I liked and then adapted them to be more girly!  It was lots of fun!

Three Years Old
Birthday Crossing sign that was on our front door.  :)
Birthday cakes!  My wonderful sister made this adorable train cake!  It couldn't
have turned out cuter!!
Decorations and Food Table

I loved the banner and clouds.  Probably my favorite elements!  :)
Food table.  Train cars full of fruits, veggies, crackers, and dip,
delicious wraps, pb&j train sandwiches, and fruit kabobs.  
Fruit Kabobs
Present time!  H received her first trike!  So exciting!  
She took no time in jumping on and taking a spin!

She also received a box violin.  She was pretty excited!!
Playing "twinkle"!

Big girl is ready for some cake!  
Pretty excited!  
Waiting for candles!  

Make a wish!
H refused to wear the hat, so M got to wear it.
And did a super cute job of it!  
Getting a picture of four kids smiling and looking
at the camera is next to impossible!
M got a chance to ride the bike when H was done!  :)

H. had a fabulous time and so did the rest of us!  Happy (waaaay late) birthday to my big girl!  

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