Simple Devotion: Bringing Our Family Back To The Basics

Tonight we decided to watch a movie together, as a family. We had such a great time snuggled up under blankets with some popcorn, everyone glued to every moment on the screen. That wouldn’t be such a big deal but the fact that we haven’t had any electronic interaction all week (except to post on social media our updates)…No scrolling, no channel changing, no flicking, and I can count on one hand the calls and texts that we have responded to. This week has been void of nearly all electronic devices! Whew! It’s been a struggle, I won’t lie, but we’ve seen great changes take place over the last six days.

Every day since we got here at least one child has had an electronic breakdown of sorts. Nothing too alarming, mostly just complaining. The first three days were the worst, but as the week has progressed we’ve seen a notable difference in all of us!

Everyone has commented how well they are sleeping lately. Kris and I both have been able to fall asleep faster and at a decent time. Most of the aggression and arguments between the kids have stopped; it seems like they get along much better without the internet. (I’m sure they wouldn’t admit that though).

Monday we spent most of the day exploring the property, hanging up No Trespassing signs, and fishing, so we all were pretty busy and distracted from any tugging from the grid. Tuesday and Wednesday we went to town to get supplies and groceries. We got our official change of address completed and our new library cards (you nerds out there will totally understand how high up that ranks on the list of priorities) and we wanted to do a little sightseeing….

As long as we were busy everyone was content, but as soon as an empty moment happened we were reminded of the urge to be entertained.

The evenings were full of “we’re bored” and “there’s nothing to do”, but by Thursday we started a new trend; The kids went tromping through trails, they played board games and a really great round of “Go Fish”. Tonight (Friday) we had to interrupt a hot game of tag, as the kids chased each other through the fireflies, just to get them to clean up for dinner. And all of this on their own whim.

It’s weird to think that the kids these days have no idea how to have fun. They don’t know how to entertain themselves.

We didn’t do this overnight, of course. We have spent months preparing for this upheaval. Once we decided to make some drastic changes to our lives (more here about specifics) we knew that intentionally changing how our family consumes entertainment and technology was one of the biggest changes we wanted to make. For us personally, we wanted to stop spending so much time in the internet world and focus more on the here and now, more on what is truly important to us, each other.

We can easily recognize the yearning of others’ children for their parents attention. Have you ever seen that before? You’re sitting in a restaurant, the kid is being crazy wild, and the parent is zoned out on the phone. I know I’ve seen it.

It’s so easy to judge that parent harshly in the moment … but it’s an entire different thing when we start looking for it in ourselves.

Kris and I realized how far away we’ve gotten from how it used to be. When we lived in north Georgia we spent a lot of our time outside, with the kids, and having a great time together. I’m not sure when it all began, but around the time I started having symptoms in 2016 it was a slow fade. It became easier to give the kids technology or television than to deal with them when I already wasn’t feeling well.

Last fall we woke up from the trance that had dazed us all when we caught little Elijah “twerking” in the living room. It’s not everyday you see your six year dirty dancing, but I can say this; It’s not something I ever want to see again. That night we all sat down and discussed how to get this bus back on track.

Today I can finally taste the beginning fruits of all that labor!

A Slow Day with Fibromyalgia

Well I knew this day would come when Kris told me to pull the kids out of public school for good.

This morning I woke up around 7 am and I could feel the heaviness in my body and the fogginess in my mind.

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If you don’t have fibromyalgia then it’s hard to explain, but if you do it’s a feeling we know all to well. The best way to describe it is how you feel that first day you wake up with a legitimate case of the flu. Not a bad cold, the REAL flu. Your body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, every movement takes all the effort you can muster, and your mind feels like it has been drugged. It’s almost like you can’t see clearly or think clearly. EVERYTHING is a huge effort, even just getting out of bed.

So this morning that’s how I woke up feeling. Most times when a fibro-sufferer wakes up in a flare (that’s what we call these episodes) we just go back to sleep. This morning Trayce came in my room, checking on me since it was already 2 hours past when we’ve been starting our school day. My entire bed was wet, along with my hair and clothes, from the sweats I get with the flares. I knew today was one of those days that I struggle just to exist.

Thank God that I gave the kids instructions ahead of time for how to function when mommy has bad days. Daelynn and Trayce went ahead and made breakfast for themselves and for Elijah. They cleaned up a little and did their morning chores. Trayce let me know that he went ahead and did some of his math and some of his grammar that he didn’t need help on.

Planning ahead of time for the bad days has been one of those things that I’m so grateful that I did BEFORE it happens.

Another thing I do to prepare is how I lay out my meal plans each week.

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I plan each week to cook dinner for two days in a row. On the third day we have “leftover night” or “find your own food” night. I have a large family and so I make large amounts of food. We usually always have left over food from dinner. So on every third day we pull out everything in the fridge from the last two nights and warm it all up for dinner. In the case that dinner was a hit and there’s not much left over it becomes a “find your own food night “. On those nights pretty much anything is up for grabs that isn’t needed for dinner on other nights. Think sandwiches, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

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This system has been such a blessing to me because I don’t wear myself out cooking huge meals every single day, as well as how it helps me whenever I’m not feeling well. Any of the bigger kids can handle warming up food or making sandwiches. Even Elijah can pour himself a bowl of cereal or make himself a sandwich.

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I feel like teaching our kids how to do simple things for themselves as well as having conversations beforehand to prepare them for what is expected of them even if mom isn’t supervising, is a major step in teaching them self-sufficiency and maturity.

Isn’t it our whole goal to teach them how to be great adults, loving the Lord and serving others unselfishly?

As I sit here in my bed at 1pm I can rest peacefully knowing that I’ve prepared my family well.

If you have fibromyalgia how do you prepare for those bad days? Let’s share some ideas in the comments to help each other out!

Much Love,

Brandy

January Character Study For Our Family

Over the past few months we have seen some changes in our children, and not necessarily for the good. The kids have been arguing much more often among themselves. The attitude of disrespect has been elevated in our teenagers and it has been rubbing off on the younger ones. Kris and I came together and had a long discussion about this in December and made a plan for the New Year on how to rectify this situation. We love the Lord and want our children to grow in discipleship to God as well as to become great examples as they shine their lights into the world.

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Here’s a peek into our plan….

For the month of January we have been studying “Christian Virtues”. The first thing that we do in the morning after breakfast is to pray over our day and thank God for it. After that we all open the Bible and read/discuss different verses on the topics we are discussing. For example, over the last two weeks we have looked at different verses discussing our speech, what our speech should be like, and how important our speech is to God. Everyone is involved in this, even Elijah who can’t yet read the Bible (He sits quietly and listens and I make sure to involve him in questions and explanations) I am the one who leads this devotion in the mornings as part of our school-day (Brandy).

Here are a few of the verses we have looked at in our morning devotions:

Genesis 11:1,7,9 1:27, 2:18-20, Luke 1:20,64- Speech is a gift from God and He is insistent upon our obedience

Genesis 2:18-20- God designed us specifically for speech

Psalm 34:1, 50:23, 145:5 Proverbs 11:11, 14:25, 15:1, 16:24, 25:11-13, Ephesians 4:14-15- Our speech is to praise God. When we speak it should be to encourage and uplift others. Our speech should glorify God and so we shouldn’t misuse this gift

Psalm 10:4,6,11 James 3, Ezekiel 35:12-14 Romans 1:21, Proverbs 11:9, 12:18, 18:8 Matthew 12:34-35- Our speech is to be pure, not  cause division or be immoral. We should not complain and argue. 

Nehemiah 1:1-11- We should use our speech to communicate with God in prayer (Jesus is our example. Look at how many times he left the crowds to go and pray. If he had to stay in direct communication with the Father, how much more important should it be to us?)

After school is finished I spend some extra time with Elijah about different ways to use these lessons in his life. I have chosen to use our reading time for this. Here are a few of the books that we have been looking at to go along with this study. He has really enjoyed them and I can definitely see the change in his behavior after this time together.

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Your local library will usually have a section on manners and being a good citizen. You can ask the librarian to help you find this section. We have really enjoyed reading these types of books together. I have about 5 different books about praise to God and His great creations (which I encourage Elijah to notice and thank God for). I also have about 5 books on manners, such as not interrupting, being respectful, bullying, etc. It has been really good because I can link these things back to our speech lesson from the morning devotion. The “Praise the Lord, My Soul” book is just beautiful!!

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In the evenings, after dinner, Kris leads the family devotion time. This one is a little over Elijah’s head for understanding but he has enjoyed sitting, listening, and asking questions.

In this study we have been looking at the different Christian Virtues in the Bible. This includes Devotional Life, Love and Compassion, Contentment and Stewardship, Humility, Speech, Purity, Honesty, Faith and Trust, Obedience, and Christian Service. 

Kris has each person look up a verse listed and read it out-loud, then we all discuss it and answer any questions listen in the study for that verse. We take turns doing this so that everyone has practice looking up verses and reading.

Here is a link to the study we have been using. Even though it’s from a different denomination than we are a part of, it has EXCELLENT coverage of these Biblical topics! You can either order a copy of the booklet, or you can use the free PDF version and print it out.

The biggest evangelism and discipleship assignment that Kris and I currently have are our children. We cannot assume that in just two hours of church a week that they are receiving all the Biblical knowledge that they need. Teaching our children about God is OUR JOB and it goes hand in hand with the church.

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But be careful to not just teach- You must also LIVE IT in front of them.

I hope this helps inspire you to dig into a deeper study of the Scriptures with your family. Have fun learning and making necessary changes together as one.

What are you currently studying with your family? Leave me a comment below and help inspire others. 🙂

How I Get My Kids To Eat What I make

I don’t know about you but one of the biggest problems we have in our house is getting our little ones to eat food they think is weird or gross. I have found a few tips along the way that have helped us to broaden their horizons in what they will put in their mouths.

One of the hindrances I find when introducing something new is if someone else in the family says “I don’t like that”, or “Eeewww! I hate spinach”…..immediately the smaller kids will follow suit, even if they liked it before. They will do and say what you do and say. They will especially follow big brother or sister.

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This brings me to our #1 Rule: No one is allowed to say they don’t like something.

 This is not a hard-nosed rule that we get crazy about. I just took my older kids aside and explained to them that every time they make a big scene, Elijah will just assume its gross and refuse to eat it, even if he’s never tasted it before and even if he liked it last time. Bigger siblings have a big impact on the younger kids.

Talk to them about being a good example!


#2: The “No Thank You” Rule

Not every meal is going to be a big hit. Some kids will eat salad with no problem, while others will fight tooth and nail. Maybe you are being adventurous and decided to make an Extravagant Indian Cuisine that your family has never tried before. A life saver at our house is the “No Thank You” Rule. Here’s how it works:

Everyone 

                   must 

                                  TRY 

                                                 everything 

We all know how it goes when a child says they don’t like something that they’ve never tasted. Try this: From now on have your child take 1 bite before they are allowed to down-right refuse. Then they can say “No Thank” if they decide they don’t like it. We do this for everything, even if we just had that food item a few days before. As an adult you may have noticed that you hated celery as a child but love it now! Or that you don’t like baked potatoes, but love mashed potatoes…..the same things apply to kids. We can’t just assume because you didn’t like something last week that you won’t like it this week, or that just because you don’t like an food prepared one way that you won’t like it prepared another way…….I apply this logic to the “No Thank You” bite.

We used this great Daniel Tiger episode to help us with this! Check it out!

“Try New Foods Because It Might Taste Good”

Anytime Elijah says he doesn’t like something I sing that little song and remind him what Daniel Tiger says. I then tell him he has to take one bite to see if he likes it and then he can decide to continue eating it or say “No Thank You”.