Lyrical Sparrow

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And I have to remind myself to smile

Each morning I wake up and I tell myself…this is the day that you are going to have patience…when all of your words will be soft-spoken and loving…when you will sing and dance around the house, smile all day long and just be outwardly expressing the joy and peace that you feel on the inside. I remind myself of all of my many blessings and I begin my day. But, I am not a morning person, and it takes me a little bit of time each morning to actually wake up. The precious 40 minutes or so I have with the kids before they leave for school, are spent in a daze. It is as if I am on autopilot. I make 5 breakfasts, I whip together lunches for the kids and I repeatedly remind the kids to get shoes on, finish their breakfast, get coats on. Some mornings there are little arguments that I attempt to diffuse, while still half asleep. And since my eyes are only about halfway open and I am not fully functioning…I am pretty sure that I walk around with a scowl on my face. I am most sure of this because it is my daughter that usually asks me why I am angry. “I am not angry,” I tell her. “I am just not awake yet.” I quickly remind myself to smile. Then the kids and I hurry out the door…we drive to school, say quick goodbyes and I continue my day.

My time during the day flies by. I usually have a lot of work to complete in a short amount of time for my clients. I then usually try to tidy up the house, do some laundry, empty and load the dishwasher and maybe run a quick errand before it’s time to pick up the kids from school. And usually every minute of my day…I am reminding myself to be joyful, to be peaceful, to be gentle, to smile.

Is it strange that I have to remind myself to smile, even when I know that I am happy? Why is that darn smile not on my face? Oh does it bug me. Lately, I feel like I am so serious all of the time, in a constant state of listing off my never-ending to-do list in my head, so focused on all that needs to be accomplished and for some reason, I have forgotten to smile. I know this because my kids and my husband constantly ask me if I am okay…or ask me what is wrong. Usually I am fine, really, truly….so I tell them that, but then I feel guilty that I look angry when I am not angry. I vow to work on that and I again remind myself to smile.

Before I know it, it is time to get the kids from school. As I sit in the carpool lane I remind myself to be patient, gentle, FUN, soft-spoken. I again remind myself to smile. I watch the kids, as they are in the little field in front of the school with the other kids waiting to be picked up. I watch as they run around, act silly, have fun. I focus in on them and smile (finally). They seem so happy and that warms my heart. All is peaceful.

I finally get to the front of the line, open the van doors and 4 excited kiddos jump into the van…and then crazy happens. All of them are shouting at me at once, they all have something they want, they need, they desire for me to hear at the exact moment. One was the star student, one wants to have a play date as soon as we get home, one got hurt on the playground today, one learned about weather in school, one got to pick out of the treasure box, one is sad because she did poorly on a test, one has a project that is due next week, one REALLY wants to have a play date with their friend right when we get home.  I try to lovingly talk over all of the shouting. “I can’t listen to anyone’s story until you are all sitting and buckled, cars are behind me waiting for their kids and I need to drive.” I am ignored. They all continue shouting their stories, sometimes there is whining mixed in or bickering as they are all competing to talk over the other. Again I remind them to buckle their seat belts, which they finally do.

Once buckled, I then encourage them to talk one at a time, they try to, but then one interrupts the other, or adds their own wisdom to the story. I have to tell the child who really wants a play date after school that I have to talk to the other child’s parent first and that it will most likely not happen today. Before I know it, all of the kids are bickering, somebody is crying, there is whining…and the 3 minute car ride home from the school has left me exhausted. And peace escapes me. And the rest of the evening pretty much continues the same way.

I am ignored or disrespected as I try to herd my little sheep into the house and to the table to do homework. Sometimes there is defiance, sometimes there is fighting between kids. I have to tell one of the kids, “no.” which leads to crying. Another child begins to have a meltdown.

This continues on during free time and while I prepare dinner. Dinnertime is difficult too. Kids are whining because they don’t like what I am cooking, kids won’t sit at the table and eat as they should. Again there is bickering. Kids are staring at other kids, which causes an argument. One kid says something mean to another. One won’t sit still or stop playing with his food. There is usually arguing, whining, disrespect. It is usually at this point that I shut down. I am overloaded and done.

The rest of the evening is usually a blur……I just know it usually involves more whining, disrespect, arguing. Some nights there is a lot of smiling and laughter…I wish it was more often.

Getting the kids situated to pray before bed is another difficult feat.There is arguing over who sits where, who prays first. Someone is staring at someone else. Someone is touching someone else. By the time it is ready for the kids to pile into bed, I am flat out exhausted!

I end the night usually feeling defeated…and that defeat turns into guilt. If only I had been more patient and loving. If only I had smiled more. If only I had been singing and dancing around the kitchen and making the home environment fun. I dwell on all that I felt I did wrong that afternoon and evening before drifting off to sleep…and then morning comes.

 smileI wake up and I tell myself….this is the day that you are going to have patience…when all of your words will be soft-spoken and loving…when you will sing and dance around the house, smile all day long and just be outwardly expressing the joy and peace you do feel on the inside. I remind myself of all of my many blessings, I remind myself to smile……and I begin my day.

lovefinalpost


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Teaching LOVE (1 Corinthians) to the Kiddos – Love Does Not Envy, it Does Not Boast

lovefinalpostWe have started on an adventure in 1 Corinthians with our kids, in hopes to encourage them to love one another better. Our plan is to go through portions of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, have discussions over each portion and take part in some fun games, activities and crafts to make it fun. Be sure to check out my previous post on “Love is patient, Love is kind,” which includes kindness heart buckets and patience rock candy.

After dinner last night we took some time to discuss the next portion of the love verses; “It does not envy, it does not boast.” We chose to teach these verses by focusing on contentment.

You see, it is easier to want what others have when we aren’t content with what God has blessed us with in our lives. Also, when we are constantly focused on our possessions, finding happiness in things, and continually wanting more, more, more, it is harder for us to let go of what we have, to give to others and to not feel the urge to boast about what we own.

Before we got started with our discussion, I took out a large, covered bowl. I told the kids that I was going to go around the table and pass something out to each of them. Without knowing what they were going to get, I asked them if they wanted a lot of what I was passing out, or if they wanted just a little bit. Four kiddos asked for “a lot” and one kiddo asked for” just a little bit.” I then gave each kiddo, who had asked for “a lot,” a pile of cooked spaghetti, making sure that their portions were very tangled. The kiddo that asked for “just a little bit” received just a few strands of  tangled spaghetti. I then revealed a bucket of cotton candy. I told the kids that as soon as they neatly untangled all of their noodles, careful not to break them, they could then receive some cotton candy as a reward.

Of course the kiddo that only had a few strands to untangle was delighted. She was done very quickly and was soon enjoying her cotton candy, while the other kids worked diligently to untangle their spaghetti. Eventually all 5 kiddos had earned cotton candy. I should mention that one child ended up breaking her noodles, ripping them into pieces, to make them easier to untangle.

As they enjoyed their treat, I talked to them a bit about the noodles, relating the noodles to “stuff” in our lives. You see, the more stuff we have in our lives, the more we get consumed with it and the harder it is for us to disentangle ourselves from all that we own. The noodles were sticky and at times plastered themselves to the kiddos’ hands. Sometimes when we have a lot of things, we can even get into a habit of hoarding items, having more than we’d ever need, becoming stuck to our things. And sometimes when we have a lot of stuff, we are so caught up in it, that we don’t take time to enjoy the little things in our lives. Finally, when we are consumed with stuff, we end up appreciating what we have less. We end up mistreating our things or easily discarding our things for the next big thing. In our example, one kiddo quickly ripped up her spaghetti to get her hands on the cotton candy.

We talked about the story of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-27. We also discussed Solomon and the knowledge that he shares in Ecclesiastes. He was very wealthy. He had all of the money and possessions that he could possibly want, yet he soon discovered that it did not make him happy. In fact, having everything he wanted actually made his life hard and miserable. We read through Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, replacing the words “money” and “wealth” with things like Ninja Turtles, Monster High dolls and stuffed animals.

There was some insightful conversation, as we asked the kids what toys or things they want more of? How would they feel if they couldn’t have those things? Would they rather have gladness of heart or frustration? How would they feel if they had a yard filled with their favorite toy and all of the kids in the neighborhood came over and played with everything of theirs in the yard? Would that make them happy or sad? Would they be able to part with or give away their most favorite toy?

All in all, it was a great lesson and the discussion was fun. If you would like to study this topic for yourself or with your family, here are some other great focus verses: James 3:15-17, Proverbs 14:30, Luke 12:22, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Proverbs 21:25-26, 1 John 3:17-18.


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His Peace

I woke up reluctantly this morning. The temperatures here are so frigid, that I had a hunch last night that schools would close once again today. I stayed up late, probably too late, trying to get ahead with work, so that I could spend the day enjoying the kids at home, and not filled with too much stress about work deadlines. Unfortunately, staying up late meant that I did not get enough sleep. Getting out of bed this morning was very difficult. The kids were filled with excitement with the news of another day off from school, while I moved around the family room and kitchen like a zombie, planting myself on the couch, zoning into space…most likely still asleep.

The kids made their breakfast, finished it up quietly and began playing with one another. They were enjoying each other’s company, getting along swimmingly and making each other laugh. It warmed my heart a bit. I made some coffee in an attempt to finally wake up.

When you are home all day long with 4 kiddos, it is important that they do not realize just how tired and out of energy you are. They will use that information to their advantage. I contemplated making myself an entire pot of coffee. I knew that I needed ammunition.

With a warm cup of coffee in hand, I headed into the office and took in the beauty of the freshly fallen snow. The ground covered in a glittery powder. The majestic mountain crowned in white. Everything so still, so peaceful, so quiet. I let it sink in, filling me up. In that moment, I was filled with peace, with contentment, with a quiet joy.

snowtoday

I prayed that God would keep me filled with that peace, keep me consumed with that contentment. I knew that it was only a matter of time before a whining 5-year-old would begin to argue with me,  young ears would forget how to listen to me and tiny hearts would forget how to be kind to one another. I prayed that I would be so filled with the Spirit and filled with energy, patience, love and grace.

You see, I needed more than just a cup (or pot) of coffee this morning. That isn’t enough to get me through my day. And while this day is quite an easy one compared to what other’s days are like…even on easy days…I can’t do it without HIM! Remembering that on the easy days, makes it easier to go to Him on the hard days.

And every single day calls for His love, joy and PEACE!

May you enjoy His peace today, my friends.

“…Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”  Romans 8:6

“The Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:11

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

 siggiemedfinal

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Teaching LOVE (1 Corinthians) to the Kiddos – Love is Patient and Kind

There are 5 kids in our blended family. Their ages are  10, 7, 6, 5 and 4. We have been a family for a little over one year. I have learned that a blended family definitely comes with its challenges. It is important to remember that each kiddo has come from a broken family and because of this, there is already emotional damage that they, as young kids, are trying to understand and deal with. They go back and forth from each family environment, deal with missing the other parent while away from them, and find themselves upset and questioning why their original family fell apart in the first place. Their hearts are fragile and tender and some of what they are feeling emotionally, they aren’t even mature enough to fully understand. On top of that, they now have a new family, new siblings and they have to learn to grow and come together, while only spending half of their time within that new family environment. This definitely is something that takes time.

The biggest challenge that we have been facing this past year, while becoming a family, has been in the love department. It has been a struggle having the kids show love to one another. As parents and step-parents there can sometimes be challenges as well. How do you deal with your own kids’ fragile hearts, while also connecting with and loving the step children with full compassion and empathy as well?

It has been difficult and my hubby and I decided that it is time to focus on LOVE! We wanted to do more than just lecture the kids. They are encouraged all of the time to share,  love, be kind. We decided to use 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as our guide and  go over each separate section with the kids over a period of time. This would include discussing each section or verse, having specific prayers to coincide with each section or verse and using games and activities to also help teach the particular character traits to the kids.

ImageFirst, we found this free printable of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. (There are several colors and designs to choose from) We liked the chalkboard subway art version.  We ordered a 16X20 print at Walgreens and plan on hanging it up  in the family room where it can easily be seen.

Tonight we went over the verses with the kids. We read through all of them together and then chose to have tonight’s discussion and activities center around “Love is patient, Love is kind.”

Here’s what we did!

Love is Patient! First,  we went around the table and gave examples of what it means to be patient. We also shared some examples of what it is like to not be patient.

We then each said a quiet prayer, in which we focused on a family member who we felt that we were having a hard time with. Maybe we found ourselves angry with or bothered by that family member. Praying to ourselves, we asked for God to help us to be more patient with that particular family member.

We then discussed an argument all of the kids recently had. We discussed why the argument happened and how it could have turned out differently if everyone had been patient and kind instead.

rockcandyI then introduced to them the patience project that we are all going to do together the next weekend that they are here with us. We are going to make rock candy/sugar crystals…or as I like to call it, “Patience Candy.” This is a project that requires patience, as it takes several days for the sugar crystals to form. I found this idea on the Kids of Integrity website. AWESOME site. I also found an example with tons of pictures on the Jojobei Designs blog!

We then moved on to “Love is kind.” We discussed what it means to be kind and how we can show kindness to one another. I then introduced them to the story, How Full is Your Bucket? I was able to find the story on YouTube, so we all sat and watched it. The story focuses on how we all have an “invisible bucket” that is filled up when others are kind to us. This same bucket becomes empty as others are mean to us. When our buckets are empty, we become sad and angry. It can be hard to show kindness to others when our buckets are empty. The good thing is that we can help to fill up our buckets as well. When we are kind to others, that kind deed also helps to fill up our bucket. For example, when we share with our brother,  we add a drop into our brother’s bucket while also adding a drop into our own bucket.

I then gave each child an empty plastic container and showed them a giant ziploc bag filled with conversation hearts. The container represents their bucket. Each time they are kind to a family member, one heart is dropped into their bucket. This helps to emphasize that being kind to others, helps us to feel good as well. The goal is to fill up their container with hearts, each heart representing a kind deed, word, gesture. They will be able to compare their containers with one another and I am sure that it will become a bit of a competition to see who can fill up their container the fastest. Hopefully in the meantime, kindness will become a habit!

I plan on posting on each individual section or verse that we go over and share with all of you links to the sites I used for discussion, prayer and activities.

I would also love to know if you have done any sort of lesson or activity dealing with the love section in scripture. I would love your ideas.

siggiemedfinal


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Happiness Is……

Happiness is the sound of a 3-year-old’s prayer at bedtime.
(Sorry for the dark video, I recorded it for the sound only)

Happiness is the love between a daddy and his daughter.
dadlove

Happiness is a silly family of pirates. Arrrrrrr!
pirates

Happiness is goofy faces.
goofy

Happiness is His Word.

verse

What is happiness to you? Head on over to Crazy Adventures in Parenting to add your Happiness is… post.

siggiemedfinal


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Crafting Through the Jesus Storybook Bible

jesus-story-book-bibleOur family is journeying through the Jesus Storybook Bible together. We have been trying to commit to reading it weekly and adding in a related craft or two for the kids.

The craft adds fun to the stories and I enjoy seeing, through their art work and conversation, how the kids relate to each Bible lesson.

So far we have completed crafts for Noah’s Ark and Tower of Babel.

Noah’s Ark

Rainbow Game

On the printable rainbow, each row of the rainbow has a coordinating number. Red = 1, Orange = 2, Yellow = 3 and so forth.  To make it fun, I used dice to turn it into a game. On their turn, each child would roll a die and color in the row that matched the number rolled. It was a race to see whose rainbow would get completed first. I also placed a Froot Loop on each row. It served as a visual as to what color the row should be. It also made a fun reward for completing the row.

ark1

Once the rainbows were finished, we glued on a Bible verse, the ark and cotton ball clouds.

Also, the Froot Loops were such a hit, that we ended up creating Froot Loop necklaces as well.

Obedience Ark

Next I provided each kiddo with their own ark. We worked together to come up with ways in which they can obey God.They then wrote some of their ideas down on their ark. One of my children even took it a step further, and on the backside wrote out a sweet prayer on how he wants to obey God.

ark2 ark3

Ideas and printables found here: Obedience Ark and Rainbow.

Tower of Babel

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of our Tower of Babel craft – Just picture a paper towel tube with a brown paper spiral around it.  Or you can just go to the lovely blog, Spark and All, to view her detailed post complete with many pictures.

I plan on sharing many more crafts as we read through our Jesus Storybook Bible. Next up is Abraham. Stay tuned.

siggiemedfinal

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