Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Am I the only one with an inner toddler?

Every time I try and get myself to get it together and get some things done, my inner toddler throws a full blown hissy fit and screams "NNNOOOOOO! I don't wanna!"

How is it that self discipline is actually HARDER than disciplining my kids?


off to spank the inner toddler and clean the kitchen.

By the way, if you have a moment pop over to Se7en to congratulate them on the arrival of hood #8!! Their blog is SERIOUSLY GREAT and watching them celebrate their "little" ten pounder makes me all weepy and nostalgic on the eve of MY ten pounder's second birthday.

And if that doesn't give you your fill of cute-ness, go and visit Mama Bug (one of my favourite "Imaginary Friends" who I have never met in real life but imagine I will have a cuppa or two with in heaven) or The Peterson Clan. Too many babies, my ovaries are aching with the lovableness. What am I gonna do when my friend's triplets are born? *sigh* babies rock.

Now I am going to clean the kitchen.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Update In Pictures - the last six months

Guess who found the card reader? That would be me!

So our last six months of photos are in the process of being sorted, here's a sample....

has been training medical students who, quite frankly, are like trained monkeys!

She's also been bonding with her sister

Caging wild animals (yes, that is Billy in there, APPARENTLY he was in on the game)

and having a birthday

Most recently, she's been in training for the next mad scientist

has been creating wonderful nature collections of....dirt.

having a birthday of his own

and making alien eyes

Most recently, he's been wondering if having a sister with medical aspirations is all it cracked up to be...

Has been a bit exhausted

considering taking to the high seas, arrrgh

discovering the joys of playing out on a lawn

learning to mop the front hallway

has been smiling

being subjected to bunny ears

and funny hats

and being completely adorable - even with flushed, teething cheeks

Friday, September 25, 2009

My New Blog

Because I have so much free time now days (har har) I decided to start a second Blog especially for homeschooling stuff.

So go and check out What! Why? How?!

Why do I have a small house?

Why on earth did I move from a big, four-bedroom-with-a-massive-sleep-out-walk-in-pantry-kitchen-you-could-turn-cartwheels-in house

to a

three-bedroom-but-only-two-with-internal-walls-pint-sized-living-area-with-a-kitchen-that-would-fit-in-a-caravan house?

WITH our fourth baby on the way.

I know the answers to this question, and they are many, but the biggest one is this:

I asked God to make me a better housekeeper.

I did it, nobody else, it wasn't imposed on me, I voluntarily prayed that God would teach me to keep house better. You think I would have learned, the last time I asked God to teach me to have a quiet voice with the kids, I woke up with laryngitis! True story, you gotta love an All Powerful Deity with a quirky sense of humor!

So He bought me here, where I HAVE to deal with the mess because I can't get away from it! Where I HAVE to put all my lovely homemaking theories into practise CONSISTENTLY. And, kicking and screaming, wailing and gnashing my teeth, I have been slowly getting the hang of it. I am not saying I HAVE the hang of it yet, there are a lifetime of bad habits and my inner-toddler that screams "I DON'T WANNA" every time I go to clean, but I am GETTING the hang of it.

In spite of me, He answers my prayers.

What a good and merciful God He is, praise Him!

Praise Him in the midst of nappies and dust, Praise Him when the crawler eats something she shouldn't, Praise Him when I have to don protective clothing before entering the kitchen, Praise Him when visitors arrive and it looks like a bomb has exploded around me while I am making Googly Alien Eyes in the middle of the loungeroom with the kids.

Praise Him, because He is Changing Me.

Little by little, every day, little by little in every way, Jesus is Changing Me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new way to teach skip counting

I started teaching Erin to count by twos today.

I softly counted then kissed her ear every time we got to an even number and she would shout the even number.

We call it "Kiss Counting"!

"Squeeze Counting" also works but "tickle counting" is not so successful, it is hard to shout numbers when you are lying on the floor giggling!

Two Girly links

for those with daughters....

A fantastic blog post about Princesses

Growing in Grace
, a magazine for Godly young ladies

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Anniversary

It is our wedding anniversary today.

You know how I know?

Beloved came up to me and gave me a big kiss and a gift bag and said

"Happy Anniversary!"

That was my first clue.

The second clue was checking the calender then searching the recesses of my memory and discovering, yes, today is our anniversary!


I knew it was coming, but it got here a little faster than I expected!

So, in the interests of making up for being a terribly slack wife and celebrating the fact that I am married to the MOST wonderful man in the world, I am neglecting the children to write a list of top ten reasons why I love being married to my Beloved!

He understands and shares my rampant bibliophelia. To share the joy of having ENOUGH BOOKSHELVES for the first time EVER then to proceed to collect even more books - not everyone would be as excited about that as we are!

9. He loves us more than work. He can put aside various projects and jobs and simply spend time with us. This is a balm to my soul, and shows me in a most vivid way that he loves us, he loves ME.

8. He is my HERO. He protects my heart and when he sees someone being unkind or hurtful, he will gently and quietly step in and tell me that NOBODY will treat his bride in such a way. He will lend me his strength and support when I need it most. Because of him, I can be soft

7. He inspires me to be a better person, without making me feel like a bad person. Because of him, I want to be a better wife, better mother, better homemaker, better friend, better Christian.

6. He is my Huston. From the safety of his arms, I can shoot for the moon and at any moment, I can call back with "Huston, we have a problem!", and he gives me somewhere safe to land no matter if I made it to the moon or not.

He is my rock. While my feet are firmly planted on THE Rock, the Rock of Ages, he is the rock I lean against, and he gives me stability and shelter. He is SO consistent with our children, teaching and training them so well. I can depend on him every day.

4. He is intrepid. We go adventuring, we push our limits, we take the path less traveled and live a life less ordinary. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

3. He is not afraid to depend on God. He does not see it as less manly or weak to fall on his knees, and because of that I see him as stronger and more manly than ever.

2. He leads us gently. He shepherds our children. He is not intimidated by our skills, thoughts or abilities, he does not see them as a threat to his authority. He sees them as his ASSETS. Gifts given to him in us. He delights in us.

He loves me. Through and through. He would lay down his life for me, I know this because he DOES this daily. He puts himself on the line, lays aside his own hurts, wants, desires, upsets - to take care of ME. He does not worry about what others think, or let the winds of change toss about his ability to be there for me. He is available to me at all times, because he loves me.

I love you honey, more now than I did nine years ago. And I love you more each day.

One of my Favourite pictures of Beloved, him holding a minutes old Anna

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Health, wealth and happiness - (well, two out of three ain't bad!)

I mentioned a while back that I was getting rather near the end of my tether. Well, I thought I would give a quick update on the status of my tether and the proximity of the end of it!

We are back on track.

Beloved and I reading scripture together morning and night has added so much to our home and our relationship!

We have started having actual family worship before bed which is also wonderful. It is something we always wanted to do, but because Beloved so often gets home late etc. we just let it go. Now, if the kids don't get to bed until after 9pm, we consider it worth it! As I put the children to bed more often than not Daddy serenades us with hymns on his harmonica, a beautiful childhood memory for our children.

A weekend of thinking time and space back in August did wonders for me, as did a great big CHAT with a good friend who has several babies of her own and has experience having an ill husband. She lives on the mainland so the opportunity for a face to face chat only comes a few times a year.

Beloved seems to be on the mend a bit. He is not completely well, but the last few weeks have seen him better than he has been in a year or more. Some medication from the doctor, various herbs and potions that I have been plying the poor man with, a few lifestyle changes and lots and lots of prayer are having an effect.

A few SUNNY DAYS have given me a new lease on life. It is raining at the moment, but yesterday I was outside in short sleeves soaking up rays while I hung out the washing.

We have also looked at what we are planning for the renovations. The next thing on the list is still finishing the front room so that we can have the boys move into there. This will give the kids somewhere to play OTHER than the living area when Anna is asleep. I am all for having the kids with me, but when it has been raining for three months the boys need a space larger than three square meters to let off steam. It will also mean that we can fit in furniture to keep the kids clothes in etc and give us added storage generally which will make the house a lot easier to keep tidy. Sitting down together and going through it all makes it seem much more attainable and once the weather clears enough for us to seal the back door and put it in use again and we have the front room clear of some stuff and ready to be finished off, I think I may even start to enjoy this house!

Daffodils, lawn daisies, rainbows and mountains with snow on them are nature's Prozac.

We are going away on holiday in a couple of weeks. Our first EVER family holiday! A whole ten days. Just us, hanging out, catching up with friends and family and going to the ZOO!

We have been making big efforts to be good to ourselves as a family. We went to Liffey falls the other week which was lovely, the rain even cleared enough for us to get down to the base of the falls and back. We piled in the car and drove down to Hobart and back a couple of weekends ago. It was a 6 hour round trip, but I have downloaded a stack of old radio shows, kids audio books, sermons and seminars that kept us entertained. Plus driving into the night with four sleeping children affords Beloved and I some wonderful couple time! We went to Pizza Hut and the Botanic Gardens. Last weekend after a church luncheon we went for a drive and dropped in on some friends with our leftovers and shared tea together in their new house. This time out as a family has mended many fraying threads both in my heart and in the family and for this I am thankful!

I have had my "woes" put in perspective as I pray for and support a girlfriend expecting to double her number of children to six with a triplet pregnancy. Supporting her blesses me in so many ways!

I am still tweaking the housekeeping and have great hopes of this becoming easier after I have finished my latest spring clean/throw out anything not nailed down. I have come to the conclusion that if we don't need it and we don't love it, it needs to go. Trying to keep clothes for each gender and season in each size is a wonderful idea if you have the space, but I don't! I am stopping worrying that the people who gave us things will be offended if I get rid of them and started judging things on how they serve US and our needs. If people do get offended and stop giving us things, well, that's just less stuff for me to take care of! I have a good God that will provide all I need. Plus I am culling down the clothes we DO use to 4 or 5 every day out fits and 2 going out/church outfits. I am saving up for some attractive storage baskets to replace the cardboard boxes which currently grace the shelves in our lounge room.

So yes, over all we are doing much better!

God is good, my ever present help in times of trouble, and He leads me so gently in His way.

"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his
arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother
sheep with their young" Isaiah 40:11

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hard work or hard labour?

If you listen to a bunch of passionate hikers discussing what they love, you will hear: remedies for blisters, preventative techniques for leeches, ways to dry your wet socks before the next day's hike in the pouring rain, ways to prevent hypothermia or frost bite, ways to make a semi-decent meal over a butane stove with dehydrated ingredients, reminiscences of times they ended up waist deep in mud, got their pack soaked through and had to sleep in a damp sleeping bag, the time someone turned an ankle and had to be air lifted out of a remote area.

And you'd think - Why?

Why do you do that to yourself when you could be home, safe and dry?

It is rare you hear them discuss in detail the good they see. Mostly, because there are no words. You can sketch out verbally the sunset you saw over the mountains or the rare orchard you saw or the feelings of triumph after a long walk - you can even show photos - but there is no way to recreate the feelings it inspires. A fellow hiker can, with a few words, be inspired to remember their own experiences and guess how you felt, but those who don't love it, will never understand. Those who don't understand, can never FEEL it. And those who do understand, need few words.

So you hear about the aches and pains, the insects and parasites, the blisters and wounds.

So it is with motherhood.

Those who don't understand will never understand, those who do, need few words.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she shared with me about a Catholic mother she knew who did not love having children. When she hit menopause after her six children were born, she cried out in relief, with not a little bitterness to her tone. And I thought, what is the difference between her and me.

Then I realised, I do hard work, she was sentenced to hard labour.

I am Sir Edmund Hillary mounting the summit.

She was a prisoner on a forced march.

I am a sculptor creating a thing of beauty, forgetting to eat and sleep because I am so entranced.

She was a slave breaking rocks in a quarry, denied food and rest.

I LOVE what I do and do what I LOVE.

People aren't shy about telling you how busy you are when you have many small children. "You've got your hands full" "My, you must be busy!" "Gosh, how do you cope?"

I have been painted as a victim of my own choices, trapped with no escape. I have been depicted as a martyr or superwoman.

I am none of those, I am me. Artist, hiker, mountaineer, MOTHER. There is no way I can find the words to make them understand unless they do already. I could no more describe a mountain to a fish or a the deeps to an eagle.

But I know this much, I am blessed beyond words.

And I thank the Lord for it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Long Time Coming update

I did a little checking and it turns out that it has been over a MONTH since I last did an update. Oops! Seeing as the primary purpose of this blog is to update family and friends on the goings on of the Guest Household, I better get to it!

is about to finish her tenth reader which means she is ALMOST ready to have our GIRLS NIGHT! When she reaches the goal of completing reader ten we (she and I) will sit up watching "Little Women", I will do her hair in rags, we will pop popcorn and have other special foods and we will snuggle together in the lounge room on the fold out couch. This looks like it is going to be so successful that we may well make it a regular reward. Billy is already looking forward to his first boys night! I love that it nurtures our relationship rather than adds to the "stuff" in our house

Another system we have put in place for Erin is our "button system" for the dishes. Erin can be a bit VAGUE at times - think absent minded professor from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She loves doing the dishes for me, but I was starting to find bits of food still stuck all over them after she had played "making jam" with them for an hour. This left us with a few choices

(a) she stops doing the dishes for me
(b) I stand over her to make sure they are done properly
(c) I mete out punishment when the work is not done properly or
(d) I give added incentive for her to maintain high standards in her work

I picked the one that requires the LEAST work from me and is MOST likely to teach her a life skill and nurture a helpful attitude - D! So on our kitchen windowsill we have two jars, each time the dishes are done to my standards (which are very high) she gets to put a button across. When all the buttons are across she gets to buy a chocolate frog! There are 14 buttons, so she has to do the dishes perfectly 14 times before I spend 45 cents on a chocolate frog - works for me! Erin is thriving and we are teaching life lessons - if you do the work to a high standard, you get paid, if you do a shoddy job, you have to do it again and you don't get paid! Plus, developing an eye for detail can only serve her well in future.

is wildly excited about the possibility of going to the Zoo when we go away on holiday. I asked him which animals he PARTICULARLY wanted to visit and the list he gave me probably would have filled Noah's ark. It also contained some animals we probably won't see - unless they have rabbits and bees at the Zoo now! He is loving the warmer, SOMEWHAT drier, weather of spring and being able to get outside to run and collect firewood for me makes for a much happier boy. It is rare for us to go a week without him asking if he can go visit Nanny and Poppy after his weekend away last month, but as they are on holiday in Queensland it probably won't happen for a while. He has started learning his alphabet as he has a strong desire to read to me. We are taking things very slow though as I know where he wants to be academically is probably a little beyond where he is capable of being JUST yet! He's a bright button, but he wants to be able to read 101 Dalmations to me and I think we need to take things one step at a time!

is also enjoying the added freedom of being able to get out and run. We were housebound yesterday due to the rain and we both nearly went crazy! He is even more affectionate, frequently throwing his arms around me, yelling "Tiss!" and planting a big, sloppy one on my mouth! I have started making a point of reading to just him and Anna before nap time and this has done wonders for our relationship. Having that focused time with just the little ones makes him seem much more willing and compliant later in the day. He adores Anna and often climbs into her playpen to play with her. I think she is the only one who doesn't boss him around! The older two can get quite pushy with him and when he dishes out what he has been served (which he can, in spades!) they are the first to come crying to me. We are addressing this, but it takes time. The older two are also starting to play more intricate games, which an almost two year old cannot understand. Even if they DON'T set out to intentionally exclude him (which, let's be honest, sometimes they DO!) the games go completely over his head - so Anna is very important to him. I am pleased and relieved when the boys play happily together or when Erin plays with Christopher and I have to remind myself sometimes that this is just where they are all at and their relationships will change a million more times.

is not afraid to use her two teeth - on me! She is also very into solid food all of a sudden, but is getting a little bound up so we incorporate a fair bit of prune juice into her diet. She is crawling on her tummy, which I am so not ready for, and having big long conversations with anyone who will listen. My Ergo is an absolute joy and she can usually be found either in there or in her playpen. Still the happiest baby in the world, she is also showing signs of having as strong a will as Christopher. Already she will hurl herself at the limits with abandon! She also seems to have the "grab life with both hands" attitude that Billy has which is startling after having the laid back Christopher as our last baby. Hmmm, Billy's full on, fast paced development with Christopher's strength of will. OK, this could be interesting!

The house:

is a mess. I am in total revolt against STUFF. I am a mother, my mission in life is to raise CHILDREN not STUFF. So I am going on a spring clean/cull and I am getting rid of STUFF. It probably wouldn't matter that Erin has four jackets if we had the storage, but we don't, so now she has two (one for good and one for the yard). It probably wouldn't matter that Anna has 15 pairs of PJ's if I didn't let the washing go until every single one of them was needing to be washed - but I do, so now she has 5. It probably wouldn't matter that we have two little wooden puzzles that are exactly the same and totally unusable because they snap as soon as the slightest pressure is applied in the wrong, wait, there is no justification whatsoever for keeping THOSE! So I am getting rid of STUFF. I am ignoring the wails of a certain little girl who says "But Nana Julie/Breah/Nanny/someone whose name I don't remember GAVE me THAT!" (I am sure they will get over it) and "But I MADE that!" (no you didn't, you made something else and this is the 1 cm square SCRAP OF PAPER left over!). The only STUFF that is off limits is Beloved's STUFF, and that is only for the sake of the marriage!

The garden:

is waiting for me to finish getting rid of the STUFF so I can get out there into it! I love daffodils and lawn daisies, they give so much and expect so little.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

A clip

I thought this was a beautifully presented truth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer request

I have a friend who is about 28 weeks pregnant. This is her fourth pregnancy and she was planning a home birth. A couple of weeks ago she went in for a check and she was measuring high for dates so she had an ultrasound where two little bubbas were found floating around! The next week she went for a more extensive ultrasound and they found ANOTHER one! Yes, she got nearly two thirds through a triplet pregnancy without realising it! I THINK we can safely say there are ONLY three in there!

She and her hubby seem to be handling things beautifully, but going from a family of five to a family of EIGHT in one hit is a big adjustment.

One of the biggest challenges they currently face is the attitude of the medical establishment. Unfortunately, she is facing an attitude of bullying from doctors who believe that there is NO way she should even be allowed to trial labour and, in fact, they tried to give her a shot of steroids with no prior warning "just in case" the babies came early (she has had NO sign of pre-term labour and is already at 28 weeks). While she doesn't want to be foolish about the added concerns and risks of a triplet pregnancy, she DOES want to be included in decisions made about her body and her children - not too much to ask in my book! So please pray that she will be given wisdom and direction and the health professionals will treat her with respect and courtesy, offering their learning, advice and experience to facilitate her and her husband to make wise and considered decisions.

Please also pray that they and their other three daughters will receive all the support they need and will feel God's presence and peace as they plunge into the world of triplets! A wonderful blessing, and a wonderful challenge!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Multi tasking

How to teach botany, biology, math and economics while gardening organically and hanging out the washing.

Step 1. Get two enterprising children

step 2. Arm them with a small bucket of salt water each.

Step 3. Tell them they will get one cent for each snail they collect.

Step 4. Watch them while they collect snails, pointing out likely hiding places and things that the snails have been eating.

Step 5. Count their snails with them about 80 times before they decide they have enough.

Step 6. Count the snails (again) and pay the agreed amount.

Step 7. Dispose of snails and take children to the shop to spend some money!

Step 8. Help them put the change in their money boxes

Step 9. Watch them enjoy the fruits of their labour!

Step 10. Give yourself a pat on the back and go and blog about it.

I love lazy, sunny Sundays

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On becoming a woman

I remember the day of her birth.

Placed on my belly, the warm, moist form looked up at me brightly then started crawling toward my breast making sucking sounds - before I even said hello.

I scooped her into my arms and moved the umbilical cord to have a look.

Then I looked again.

Then I looked AGAIN.

The bossy midwife who I didn't like called across the room
"WELL? What have you got?"

I ignored her and turned to Beloved.

"we got a girl."

In amongst the high of birth, the indescribable love that was washing through me toward her and the praise and thanksgiving to God for this precious soul in my arms there was sheer, unabated, TERROR.

a girl.




What are you THINKING Lord?

This isn't the plan.

Sons, I was going to have all sons.

Boys are resilient, out there, EASY!
I can do boys.
I can tell what boys are thinking, most of the time.
They don't play games with people's heads.

Boys always, on some level, think their Mum is brilliant.
Girls - well they seem to learn different at some stage.

Everything is navy blue and red Lord, EVERYTHING.
I don't think I even have a pink blanket.
I have been referring to this child as "he" for months and months.
I've scarred her for life already I'm sure.

What to I know about girls????

I don't even know about being a woman myself.
I have screwed that up royally,
along with my marriage and everything else you have given me.

So I looked around from under the warm sheet, flung over me and my newborn amid the birthing fluids.

I saw my husband, a man who I loved with the greatest passion,
a man who I had been separated from in terms of address
for almost the entire pregnancy,
a man who I had been separated from on deeper levels for much, much longer.

The look on his face was - joy, amazement, and a million other things.

The shock numbed me at first I think. I had been so sure that she was a boy. Terrified of the alternative.

We didn't find out our baby's gender during the scan, possibly because I was afraid to find out in retrospect.

I had never been totally comfortable with being a woman. I never had a desire to be a man or was confused about my gender or anything like that, but the mantle didn't sit easy. To be a role model to a little girl seemed completely beyond my capabilities.

Beloved and I were trying to piece together the broken shards of our marriage and the little one I held in my arms was the only thing to make me truly, deeply, happy for a very long time. Possibly the only thing to make me truly happy ever at that stage. And I was DETERMINED to do the best I could. Stubborn is one thing I CAN do well, so I set my jaw stepped out.

Over the months and years that followed there was an amazing journey for me. A journey of motherhood, yes, but a whole different journey meshed with the first, but at the same time completely separate.

The journey of becoming a woman.

A journey I am yet to complete.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Weird childhood memories my children will have #682

Mum crying as she reads 101 Dalmations and the puppies are stolen.

I have only read the book about fifty times - Poor Pongo, Missis and Perdita! Poor Dearlys and Nannies! Poor Puppies!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

I dream

of a massive family.
adopting from Ethiopia and/or Romania.
Jon working from home full time.
of a bit of land to feed us from.
of a writing studio and time to use it.
of hiking, camping and singing together.

Wild, extravagant dreams.

Dreams that seem impossible in this moment.

But still, I dream.

I remember when being a wife and a mother was my dream - more than a dream, an obsession. Instead of preparing myself for the role, I threw myself into relationships backward - in the custom of my culture - falling in love first, asking questions later. It wasn't until I finally let go of the dream, gave it to God, and focused on what He needed me to do in the NOW that the dream arrived.

So I still dream.

I read blogs written by Mums of large families with international adoptions, I read about the less shiny parts of being an adoptive Mum, and articles by Mums who have followed that particular road and had the good sense to point out some of the pot holes they hit on the way.

I write occassinally and read whenever I can so the skills don't totally rust away. I bookmark articles on the art of writing in the vague hope I will get time to read them and fill notebooks and journals with thoughts that I may one day finish (when all the kids leave home?).

We shop for land and madly save every penny we can (which isn't much). We research different enterprises and try not to get totally out of practise where all things rural are concerned, in spite of living in the middle of town (btw, town is 1 shop, 1 school, 1 pub, 1 post office and a couple of assorted tourist attractions and B&B's, so we aren't total city slickers!).

We sing every day.

We hike sometimes too.

We have lined up some camping trips with friends this summer.

And sometimes we, I, dream.

But mostly, I try and stay in the here and now. I try and learn the lessons of today, leaving the dream in God's hands. NOW, He is teaching me the lessons of keeping house by giving me an itty bitty one to manage for a while (I remember praying a while back that He would teach me to keep house better - you'd think I'd learn). I am learning patience. I am learning to let go of what doesn't matter and hold tight to what does. I am learning to put Patrice back in her box. I am learning where I can get love and support and to make use of those avenues BEFORE I get to crisis point. I am learning that it isn't my will that matters, but His. I am learning that He has great plans for me.

I dream, but beyond that I LIVE. Because I have been given life abundantly and HIS dreams for me are beyond even my wildest.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Top Ten Tips for Family Worship with Preschoolers and Toddlers

1. Use the KISSS principle – Keep it Short and Simple, Sweetheart! One song and a prayer done well has far more impact than a twenty minute session which leaves everyone in tears – including Mum!

2. Keep things predictable. Have worship at a fairly predictable time. After breakfast works for us, everyone is awake and fed and linking it to a feed time means we don’t forget. We don’t forget to eat very often in this house! Also if little ones know what to expect, they will be more likely to cooperate.

3. Have REALISTIC expectations. You are not going to have the Von Trapp family singing harmony in your lounge room. Expect there to be disasterous days. Expect to be singing solo for the first year or two of worship (I did!). Expect to have to teach your children how to behave during worship. Then you are less likely to be disappointed!

4. Realise that teaching and training your children is in and of itself an act of worship. It is hard to feel worshipful when you have to stop “Jesus Loves Me” ten times to administer correction, but correcting and teaching your children IS an act of worship.

5. Stick with it. If you are having worship as a part of the rhythm of your home, it is because it is important to you. Focus on the long term, the ETERNAL, benefits of family worship. It makes it easier to start family worship yet again when it resulted in tears the previous five times.

6. Personalise it to suit your family. At the moment, we have one song each, our pre-prayers songs, family prayer and The Lord’s Prayer. Totally different to what we did last year and I dare say it will change again next year. Do what works, and if it doesn’t work, change it.

7. Have clear expectations. Before worship starts, tell the kids what you want them to do with their hands, feet, eyes, mouth etc. Before prayer time, Say SPECIFICALLY what you want them to do with their hands, feet, eyes, mouth etc. Eventually, get THEM to tell YOU and their other siblings what the expectations are (firstborns especially love this in my experience!) then when those things are NOT done, it is clear defiance and it can be dealt with in the way your family deals with defiance. There will be no space for argument or compromise and kids respond to clear boundaries.

8. Include them in choosing songs. This gives a feeling of ownership. At the moment I could quite cheerfully NEVER sing “The Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock” OR “Whose the King of the Jungle” but we sing them every day because the boys love them.

9. Don’t expect to see fruit straight away. My kids still go mute during worship, then the other week while he was wandering around the back yard Billy belts out “How Great Thou Art” at the top of his lungs. It gets written on their hearts, even if you can’t see it.

10. Make A Joyful Noise! Find a reason to laugh during worship. “I have fingers that tickle, tickle, tickle” is a verse of our pre-prayer song and it always makes us laugh. You can take a moment to tell the kids one reason you are thankful for them, one thing that makes them special. Whatever it is, make worship a pleasure, not a chore!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Food for thought - and a giggle

Are your lights shining in September?