M. O. M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem book review

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M.O.M. Master Organizer of Mayhem can be a quick and easy read. I was on the launch team and got behind so I read the whole thing over a weekend. It’s doable and there are some great suggestions in here. But, I don’t recommend reading it this way. Each chapter has an action step. When you breeze through the book, you don’t have time to do all of the action steps that will really help you organize things for your family. I recommend taking your time to get through this book so it is more beneficial. She gives great suggestions on decluttering, organizing, meal planning, laundry, and getting kids to do chores.

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Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “Being organized does not mean we have to have the perfect home, sterile and clean, at all times. Clean is good, but dust bunnies, crumbs, and spilled milk happen…organization is about increasing the efficiency in our home so that we can maximize our time with our family and for other priorities.”
  • You can’t have everything perfect all the time. Ask your husband what things are important to him. Focus on those things. (I need to ask Tim this again.)
  • Keep a master list of projects room by room to refer to instead of just reacting to problems you come across. Pray for God to give you a vision for each room.
  • “Creating efficiency in our home is all about finding the right rhythm so that our family can productively perform the tasks, chores, and routines that need to be done regularly.”
  • “The basic principle for toy management is that every toy in the house needs a home – and your child needs to know where that home is.”

 

God Schooling Review

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Since Clarissa is in kindergarten, I am very new to this homeschool mom thing. As a former public school teacher, I am used to following curriculum or a pacing guide. But learning to go at my child’s pace is pretty new to me. I enjoy it but I always wonder if I’m doing it right. So when I had the chance to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco, I knew I would benefit from this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

God Schooling book

In the first section of the book, Julie really challenged my thinking about what homeschooling should look like. She makes some great points in the first chapter about curriculum as a tool and not as an end goal, teaching character before academics, and your relationship with your children. “If we are walking closely with the Lord, He will show us exactly what to do at exactly the right time. ” So as long as I’m seeking God,  Clarissa will be fine. “He loves Clarissa too much to let ME ruin her…” So it really helps to alleviate some of the stress of am I really doing this right?! 

In the second section of the book, Julie Polanco spends some time discussing how to teach children at different ages. Research shows that “the basic character of a child is set by age 7,” but a child can learn academics at any age. So especially when a child is young, teaching character and behavior is more important than learning facts. She thinks that children don’t really need formal academics until about age 8-10, but they will learn more quickly at that age because they are developmentally ready for it. She encourages readers to focus on life experiences instead like writing letters to Grandma or learning math through daily life (cooking, playing games, counting things, etc) instead of a formal curriculum. She also says that teenagers should be able to cook, clean, mow the lawn, run errands; basically to run a household. This totally makes sense if you are going to prepare them to be independent adults.

I did like how she said not to assume that Clarissa would enjoy certain subscriptions or field trips. Ask her first. Sometimes she would rather stay home and play. I have found this to be true with my child. Several times in the book the author mentions “I have often found myself worrying about what other people think about my kids, rather than what God thinks about my kids.” I think this is probably true of most moms, myself included. It is just refreshing to hear another mom admit this. My main goal in homeschooling is for Clarissa to be who God created her to be and to be ready to walk in whatever He has called her to. So it is going to look different than what other parents are doing with their kids because their kids are probably called to something different than Clarissa.

I like many of the points that Julie Polanco makes in her book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. I think it would be encouraging for homeschool moms to read, just to see how another mom thinks and teaches her children. I don’t think I’m a true unschooler as I am not ready to throw away all of my curriculum. But I am learning to not demand that Clarissa completes a certain number of pages each day. I have an idea of what I want her to work on, but if she loses interest before then it’s okay. We’ll get to it eventually. She actually enjoys doing things in a set pattern or working through a book together. As she gets older I think she will have more say in what subjects we will study. For now we are going to focus on Bible stories, life skills, and learning to read.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

She is Yours

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I have a stack of books in my room waiting to be read. My priorities this year were mainly to focus on God, Tim, and Clarissa. She is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts fit well into two of those categories.

The whole premise of the book is that our daughters really belong to God more than they belong to us. We get to raise them and participate in their lives. But ultimately, we have to trust that God will do His best for each of their lives.

The book has three parts: Her relationship with God, Her relationship with you, and Her relationship with the world around her. Each part is broken up into several chapters with things to focus on, scripture verses, and a prayer for reflection. It was easy to finish this book in about a month by reading a short chapter each day.

In her relationship with God, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts mention “Knowledge of God and knowing God can lead to very different life experiences” (35). That was very sobering for me. It is one thing for me to teach Clarissa about God. She has some head knowledge at this point. But it is entirely another for her to have a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, that is what will matter in her life. It doesn’t matter how many boundaries and rules I set up for her. She will miss out completely on God’s best if she doesn’t know God herself. At the same time, it was comforting to read, “drawing hearts to His presence is the Lord’s job, and that His call is just that–His call” (38). They discussed ways that they did family devotions in their home, family service projects, and sending their daughters to Christian summer camps.

I read the section on her relationship with me twice. The first time, I was really convicted that Clarissa needed more attention from me. Yes, we are home together most days, but how are we spending our time together? I decided to reread this section before moving on. “If you don’t take a step back to enjoy life with her, you can quickly get lost in a world of expectations and obligations–losing the happiness that rests in the joy of raising her” (101). They also talk about how if you have a relationship with your daughter, she is more likely to listen to your counsel as she grows. I like that idea that God gave Clarissa to me on purpose, that Tim and I are the ones who are most equipped to raise her. This section of the book also reminded me that Clarissa wants to spend time with me, not just because she needs my help. They also give several suggestions on how to be intentional about spending time with your daughter.

The third and final section was about how Clarissa will interact with people and places outside of our home. This part challenged me to really ask Clarissa about what she is thinking and feeling or why she did something instead of just responding to what I think is happening. I am reminded that in the times I have done that in the past, I usually understand why she did something that may not have been my favorite way for her to respond. Chapter 16 talks about dealing with fear in parents. It was really good. There is even a chapter about praying for your daughter’s husband.

The authors quote Tim Kimmel and say, “God has not called us to raise safe kids; He’s called us to raise strong ones. He hasn’t called us to raise popular kids; He’s called us to raise spiritually potent ones.” We don’t have to raise Clarissa the way that everyone around us is raising their kids. Actually, we’re not supposed to. God has a plan for each individual child, so raising her to be who God created her to be, will certainly look different for each girl. As Clarissa grows, I want to find ways for us to serve together as a family. She loves babies so I would not be surprised if we end up volunteering in the church nursery at some point. I also want my home to be a place that she can bring her friends to.

It was such a great book. I predict that I will reread it periodically, if not yearly. The prayers were great and specific for each chapter so I can go back if there is something in particular that I need to focus on.

Binge reading

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In November, author Robin Jones Gunn was on a podcast I listen to called Cultivating the Lovely. She and the host discussed life as an author as well as some of the books she had written. The host talked about how she grew up reading the Christy Miller series and it taught her about how to be a Christian teenager. I was intrigued.

The library on post had the entire Christy Miller series, twelve books about Christy’s life in high school. The library also had Christy and Todd: The College Years available in ebook format. Fifteen books in, I needed to see how their lives continued. So I started a quest to find the last ten books. Four books in the Katie Weldon series, plus Christy and Todd: The Married Years and Christy and Todd: The Baby Years. It took me a few days, but finally I found them on BookMate. I started a free monthly trial which meant I had 30 days to read these books…It took me two weeks.

Clearly, I enjoyed the series or I would not have read 25 books in two and a half months. It’s a series that I look forward to introducing Clarissa to when she is a teenager. She can see read about what it might look like to have a group of Christian friends, go to college, get married, and have kids. And I won’t be worried about the content being raunchy.

Halfway through The College Years, I realized why I enjoyed the books so much.

Christy, the main character, reminds me of myself. She has blue-green eyes and brown hair. She is the oldest daughter of two children. She marries a blonde haired blue eyed boy who cherishes her and has great faith, like my husband Tim. She is also quite a planner compared to Todd’s very laid back nature that seems quite random, which is much like us. Christy has great friends to do life with (who also remind me of my friends that I miss back home). Her best friend Katie, even gets married and moves to Africa. I can so relate to living on a different continent than your best friend. Plus, all of the time she spends praying about what she is called to really was very fitting for me in this season of my life. travels and does mission work. Christy just seemed so real to me. I loved how she learned to trust God in the ups and downs of life. She also learned to be comfortable in her own skin about the time she turned 30.

I love watching a person’s story from beginning to end. I hope there are more books in the series eventually.

Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break

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My last Bible Study in Daegu was Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I only finished half of the study with my class. But I really liked it so I decided to finish it on my own once we moved.

I had never done a study by Kelly Minter before. I like the format of weekly homework with a short video to tie things together. The five days of reading each week wasn’t as long as some other studies I have done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. Two of the big themes in the study were service and obedience.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the study:

  • Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything. “When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s tragic state he didn’t call a meeting, gather his smartest friends together for a quick think tank, or take a poll about what should be done…the first thing he did was pray” (16). He did things like pray for four months before we went to talk to the king.
  • Knowing the Word of God/scripture is important.
  • It is important to serve as a family and for Clarissa to participate in that.
  • Nehemiah chapter 3 lists a bunch of people and their jobs. My big takeaway from that was that God uses ALL gifts and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. My calling is just as important as anyone else’s.
  • If I regularly record answered prayers, then I can remember the things that God has done in my life. It is faith building.
  • “Essentially we are just living as slaves when we’re not enjoying what God has promised to us” (130).
  • When God puts something on my heart, there is NO WAY that I will see the end game before I start walking in obedience. (Hebrews 11:8)

Lifegiving Home: April

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The move definitely put me behind on my reading. The chapters on March touched on rest. As we are settling in to our new routine in Pyeongtaek, I am making an effort to plan for rest. Clarissa is going back to some rest time in the afternoons and I have not committed us to many things in our schedule. It has been nice to spend more time at home, just playing and enjoying my time with my family.

April is titled “a heritage of faith.” In this chapter, Sarah talks about how she saw her parents’ faith while growing up. It reminded me that I enjoy listening to music while I wash dishes and clean the house. Playing music would promote a certain atmosphere in my home.

She also talks about how when she would wake up in the morning, she would always find her mother with her Bible and often she would just join her. She continues the tradition of morning devotions as an adult. So often, I have tried to wake up early to be finished with my devotions before Clarissa wakes up. Now that she is waking up earlier, maybe I should just let her join me or have special books in my room for her.

Sarah discussed many of her family’s Easter traditions. I realized that I never got around to blogging about Easter.

Clarissa and I did Sense of the Resurrection again this year. We didn’t get through all 12 lessons, just the first 10. Clarissa’s favorite lessons were probably washing each other’s feet and when we put a red dot on our hand to show where the nail pierced Jesus’s hand. She often would color the picture on the flag and then cut it out so the flags looked a little different this year.

This year, we added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition. I hid the eggs inside the house while she was playing with Daddy in the kitchen. After she found the eggs, we sat on the couch as we read the story Lily’s Easter Party. In the book, Lily invites her friends to a special egg hunt and as they open each egg, they learn about the toys inside. As they learn about the donkey, crown of thorns, and a rooster, they learn the true resurrection story.

I love that now any time she sees an empty egg, she says it’s empty like the tomb Jesus was in. She enjoys playing with the toys inside as well. I’m not sure that all of the eggs and toys are currently accounted for… Clarissa has requested egg hunts since then. She doesn’t quite understand. When it is her turn to hide the eggs, she will tell me to stay in the kitchen while she hides the eggs. Then, she brings me to each egg and tells me to pick it up and put it in the basket. No finding for me.