Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Large Family Homeschool: A School Year Re-Cap

So I'm going to share a little re-cap of our homeschool year: the victories the Lord has given us, progress that was made and blessings we received. And I know it is at the risk of sounding like we have it all together (a pitfall of blogging).  So I will just briefly add that yes, we had hard days.  Most days contained interruptions of some kind with chaos levels ranging from mild to DEAR LORD HELP US ALL. But God was faithful.  Here a little, there a little.  Just faithfulness in small things each day and before long, fruit is growing.

I love homeschooling and count it such a wonderful gift and privilege, even going on 16 years of it now. I recently read this from Edward W. Hooker (1794--1875):

"Your child will need a well-balanced and cultivated mind as much as a pious heart.  Let his desires to do good never be frustrated through your neglect of his intellectual education."

Re-Cap of the 2014-2015 School Year

  • Every day began with group time. As in, everybody. During group time we read aloud through about ten books varying in genre. We began most mornings with Proverbs, books, hymns and prayer. In the fall we went through Veritas Press' Old Testament History together.  When finished, we could put  the main events of scripture from Judges to 1 Kings in chronological order, and we had tons of fun doing it.  (Last year we did VP's Genesis to Joshua. Lord willing we will continue using VP's Old Testament History program next year.)


Shiloh getting a back rub from Serenity while I read during group time..

  • I also read-aloud another 5-7 books alone together with Stephen (8), Silas (6) and Shiloh (4) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, including their all-time favorite:  The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (Each time we start a new book they ask to read that one again).  I tried to keep these book choices extra awesome.

(I must insert here, that it is easy for me to get discouraged in the amount of read-aloud books we can cover.  We used to be able to cover many more.  It has been a lesson in contentment the Lord has taught me, as well as trusting Him to bring the increase in my best efforts. And I mention it because I think it is a common point of discouragement for moms :))

  • On Mondays and Wednesdays I worked with Stephen (8), Silas (6) and Shiloh (4) on the Children's Shorter Catechism and group scripture memory.  We fell off the wagon on this several times and had to climb back on. This takes a total of about 10 minutes, but is very easy to let fall through the cracks.

  • Silas (6) and I worked one-on-one every day for about an hour or more, and he was able to finish the entire Hooked on Phonics program, the first McGuffey's Reader, a multitude of Mudge and Henry books :) and Abeka Math K.

  • Also during our time together Silas narrated many of Aesop's Fables to me and did copy work every day. He went from copying one sentence at the beginning of our school year, to copying paragraphs with more complicated punctuation, by the end of the year. He has also grown confident enough to write me notes and has begun to pen-pal with two other boys his age. Si made a lot of progress this year and I'm thankful to be the one to get to watch his mind open up so beautifully.

  • Stephen (8) has daily worked through a list of assigned books to read independently (that included science and history).  I required him to orally narrate to me from time to time, but I failed to do it as often as I intended.  Still, Stephen has grown in leaps and bounds in his reading fluency and writing ability.  He enjoyed his Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Book and finished it months ago. He copied good literature each day. He has three pen-pals and has begun writing the letters in cursive.  Stephen is still working on the Abeka math book 2 and will stop at the end of this month. 

  • Stephen (8) has been taking piano lessons from Shelbi for two years now, and, bless his heart, he's been real tolerant of the whole thing, never complaining (I think it's because he enjoyed the time alone with Shelbi).  But...let's just say a fire was never lit ;)  So I let him quit and he just started guitar lessons. He is definitely more excited about the guuitar!  And I don't regret the piano lessons for a second. Good habits of self-discipline were formed and he can read music now on a beginner level, and that will help him in any instrument he ever plays, as well as in singing. (Ya'll didn't know you were going to get a sermon about music lessons, did you?)
First guitar recital for Stephen and Seth with their new teacher.

  • Sarah Grace (10) worked more independently this year than she ever has before.  She worked through Rod and Staff Math 4 and I checked her work.  In the spring she needed more help and we worked 15-20 minutes each day until she got the new concepts.  Then off she flew again, finishing a few weeks ago. She completed the Classically Cursive book from Veritas this year too.

  • Sarah Grace has also read through a list of assigned books and has moved to written narrations.  I require one written narration of her each week, at least a page long, and we go over it together and make notes of the problems. These have steadily improved throughout the year. Occasionally, she will work on a lengthy copywork passage four days and on the fifth day I dictate it to her as she tries to write the passage without mistakes in spelling or punctuation.  (These are all simple and effective ways I have taught all the kids to write, and they are all strong writers).

A few on her list

  • Sarah Grace also has four pen-pals she exchanges letters with. She took off in hand skills this year as well, especially crochet. She started an etsy shop.

  • All of the kids have scripture memory goals that I give them and some make faster progress than others. A big part of their day is devoted to it.  But Sarah-Grace blew everyone out of the water when she finished memorizing the entire Sermon on The Mount last month.  That day called for excessive amounts of chocolate.

  • Seth (14) is independent in his work.  He comes to me when he has a problem and when he is hungry and we're out of food.  This year he finished a list of assigned books (many of them history), Editor-in-Chief workbook, Easy Grammar Plus for high school, numerous written narrations on the assigned reading, and creative writing that I insisted he do (insert evil laugh here), and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1.  He moved on to TT Geometry and is half-way through it now. Seth also finished Apologia Biology.

Guitar lessons

  • Seth started Visual Latin this year and he and I both are big fans of this program.  He is about 3/4 finished with level 1 and next year I will get level 2, Lord willing.  He also took off by leaps and bounds in his ability on the guitar.  He has played for many years, but this year he became more passionate and naturally that took things to a new level.

  • Savannah (18) finished her last year of high school in March, the stinker.  Just couldn't soften the blow a little and wait until May.  This last year she only had a list of books I gave her to read, Notgrass Government and Economics and....that's it.  The rest of her requirements were met already.  Sniff.  (I could write an entire post on how it feels to graduate a homeschooler, but the lump in my throat always gets the best of me.  It is bittersweet.  And graduate number 2 hasn't been any easier! I already miss telling her what to do. Heh.)

  • Shelbi (19) graduated last year but I'm sticking her in here because old habits die hard.  Shelbi still has an insatiable appetite to read and learn and now she is the ones who recommends books to me.  Shelbi started CollegPlus in January.  It was a big decision for her and one we sought the Lord on for a long time.  In one semester she earned 18 hours of college credit through CLEP testing alone.  She is really enjoying and benefitting from the CollegePlus model so far.

All three of our teenagers are very busy and the Lord continues to provide them with so many unique opportunities.  It is an exciting time of life for them and we are thankful to see them maturing in the Lord and walking is wisdom.  That said,  miss them as babies.

God has been so good to us.  Homeschooling isn't always easy.  There are temptations of laziness for some and temptations of worry and fretfulness ("Am I doing enough?") for others.  Sometimes we fall anywhere on that scale at any time :)  But I'm convinced God will give us the grace to do what he has called us to do.

    What about you?  How did your school year go?  Will you keep up a summer school schedule or be footloose and fancy free? :)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Coconut-Lime Smoothie

What to do about morning sickness is a mystery no woman has ever completely solved.  However, I've discovered a few things that work for me. 

Now, I have never had incapacitating morning sickness and I am so thankful for that.  But I do have low-level nausea, fatigue and food and smell aversions. I have found eating berries at night helps with how I feel when I wake up (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries). Also smelling lemons or adding a drop of lemon essential oil to my water.

But the best solution has been eating high protein food.  It helps me tremendously.  The last few weeks I have been eating lots of protein.  LOTS. 

This high protein smoothie has been one I have made a few times and it took me awhile to get it perfected. I use the basic principles in Trim, Healthy Mama's recipes for smoothies, to keep it as nutritious as possible.  But the great thing about smoothies is they are so very forgiving :)  Add more of one ingredient or less of another, to suit it to your taste.

Coconut-Lime Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 dashes of coconut flavoring
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp coconut oil (tip: heat the coconut oil first and blend in gradually so you don't have clumps)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Sweetener to taste (I use 4 tsp xylitol sweetener but you could use stevia or whatever sweetener floats your boat :)
  • 1 1/2 trays of ice cubes
Now blend it like there's no tomorrow. If you don't have a high-end blender (I don't), you will need to blend, then stir, blend, then stir.

This makes a quart-sized mason jar smoothie so you can suck on it all day, taking it in and out of the freezer as you want it.

What about you?  What are your morning sickness tips? What are your favorite smoothie combinations?

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Package Giveaway {Valued at $150!}

I haven't hosted a giveaway in so long. But I wanted to take the opportunity here at Mother's Day to do so. Sometimes I look at this poor old sporadic posting, my ancient "blogger blog" and simply how ya'll still read here, you few and faithful who stick around as I share my heart in simple and non-exciting ways. (((Thank you)))  I hope this is fun and blesses you.  And I do hope to draw your attention to some useful and beautiful resources.

One winner will get it all!!

First, a copy of Women of the Word, a journal and some pens.

I gave a short review of Women of the Word on my Top 5 Books of 2014.  I love this book.  The truths are foundational--study your Bible. You can't love Someone you don't know. And if we are consistently approaching the Bible with  "a verse-a-day" approach, we'll starve.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

I love colored felt tips pens.  They make journaling much more fun.

Next, I'm super-honored to give away a copy the new True Woman 201 book as a gift from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and the Revive Our Hearts team.  I received a free copy of Nancy and Mary Kassian's new book, True Woman 201.  I have read a few chapters of it and love what I have read so far. This is a ten week study on Biblical Womanhood. If you have read True Woman 101, this new book is a part 2. This would make a fantastic Mother's Day gift.

Next, my friend Tonya, owner of Fruitful Vine Creations as well as a blogger, is generously giving away a $50 gift coupon to use in her store.  Tonya is a talented and creative designer.  Her website is full of options for you to choose from to decorate your home with scriptures or quotes directly onto your walls.  Right now everything is 20% off. You can also subscribe to a weekly deal and be notified of a super-sale every Monday on a chosen design for that week.


Lastly, I want to give a reader this collection of three beautiful flexi clips from Lilla Rose.  Each one is in a different size (mini, extra-small and small) so keep them all for yourself or share with another special mom you know.  I have been a Lilla Rose consultant for over four years now and still have the same clips I have when I started. They are durable and worth every penny. Even come with a one year warranty.  The pin is attached so you never lose it. 

They quickly add beauty to the head of a busy mom, but toddler to grandmothers all love Lilla Rose.

You can also use them on scarves!

I believe this gift set values at around $150.  And I wish I could give it to all of you! My ten-year-old asked if she could enter, ha!  But no, it's for one of you guys. 

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter (U.S. entries only).  Email subscribers will have to go to the site to see the Rafflecopter thingy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tokens of His Lovingkindness

It is easy to adopt the world's attitude about children.   But children are not hindrances to more important work.  They are the important work.  And labor-intensive, they are, if we take this responsibility as seriously as we must.

With each child the Lord allows me to carry I pray He will conform me more to his image.  And he is already doing that...again.

Yes, tonight was a special date-night for us.  There are three hearts beating in this photo. 

Ten children is never what I pictured for my life.  But it is a good way to spend a life. 

Ten children.

Ten children.

That's, like, twice as many as five!

Even just two or three kids ago, I thought ten children sounded so "out there."  And Kevin and I feel a little like Abraham and Sarah :)

We are thankful.  Oh, so thankful.

Thankful that God doesn't give children based on our age or beauty or income level or educational achievements, the size of a home or how many vacations you can afford. He gives because He is kind and children are tokens of his great loving kindness.

Pray for us?  Pregnancy is the easiest part of motherhood.  With each child the Lord gives us we feel the enormous responsibility of this gift: to teach, train, be an example of love, humility and faithfulness...for a lifetime.  It's just amazing that God entrusts into our hands His children, isn't it?

And they are His.  If we grasped that more fully I think it would change everything about the way we bring them up and the choices we make for them when they are young.  They are His.  We are merely His chosen instruments to carry and train and teach what doesn't belong to us, but Him.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Imperfect, Interrupted and Beautiful Life

As a mom of many littles as well as three teens, each day is full of interruptions and days that never go fully according to plan.  Whether it be in minor emergencies or small inconveniences throughout the day, the disruptions to some plan of mine are always there.  I have become adept at expecting the unexpected :)

If we can learn to accept those interruptions, not as a negative thing, but as sovereign and divine "deliveries" from God, it can help us to smile. To choose the joy. This is the day the LORD has made (even if the day is one that involves a phone call in the middle of math, a toddler who is discovered wearing a diaper on her head, or a sudden realization that you have to run to the store for a missing ingredient in tonight's meal), let us rejoice and be glad in it!

But moreso than the small, insignificant-in-the-big-picture-of-life interruptions, are the bigger and sometimes HUGE interruptions. A job change that involves a relocation. Debt you're trying to pay off so you can make an essential purchase or get mom at home full-time.  A long term or chronic illness.  A pregnancy. A time of waiting.  All these and many more I have at times viewed as interruptions or a time to be simply waited out. And in my mind I think that once this or that thing in my life is resolved, I can get back to doing life again the way I want it.

I love what C.S. Lewis said here:
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life--the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination." --C.S. Lewis

It's true.  If all we ever do is wait around for life to be interruption-free before we do what needs to be done, we'll do nothing at all.  God has work for us to do today.  It does not happen according to our perfect will, but according to His instead.  Submitting to that requires a soft and malleable heart. I pray for that kind of heart.
Right now our family life is in a season of sharing vehicles and young adults that lead incredibly busy lives.  Being introverted and a homebody and (ok, I admit it) a recovering control freak, and desiring all my chicks to be in the nest, it is tempting for me to keep putting off responsibilities and even the pursuit of making special family memories as I've done in the past. Why? Because I'm waiting on a perfect scenario.
This is my real life.  The one God is giving me day by day is the one He expects me to live in, for his glory. Imperfect, crazy, unpredictable and full of interruptions  divine appointments as it is.  This is it.  I'm going to rejoice and be glad in it.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

When You Feel Like a Cockroach of a Mother

"For we can never too earnestly press upon ourselves the conviction that education is not what we teach our children in detached periods of time, when we are giving them special instruction or explaining to them revealed truths, but rather what we teach them by the silent, but ever-influencing language of our general example." --Susan Huntington

My example in the home has the ability to build up or tear down.  What I model for my children has the potential to grow them in maturity, as well as tempt them to sin.  This power of a mother's influence is a serious truth. One that we cannot deny, refuse or ignore.

If you are like me, this truth can tempt you to despair because often you feel like a human cockroach.  You blow it time and again.

"The mother who recommends religion, in her formal instructions to her children, as a thing of the first importance, while, in her own case, it is habitually driven into a corner;
who urges on her children the supreme desirableness of laying up treasures in heaven,
while her dearest ones are evidenced, by her conduct,
to be on earth;
who insists on the excellence and importance of meekness, patience, and charity,
while she is no way remarkable for the exercises of these graces herself;
who descants on the vanity of the world,
while she is seen to be a slave to its opinions and fashions;
can hardly expect much success from her labors."
--Susan Huntington

Thankfully, new days come with new mercies.  Yet we may find ourselves, yet again, doing that very thing we hate, or omitting things we know we shouldn't.

None of us want to be that hypocrite before our family.  None of us want to tear down our house with our hands, piece by piece.

I weep over my shortcomings, often.  Nighttime seems to be the worst as I recall this or that I did/didn't do or could have, yet didn't. 

And while all of us must confess to God, and yes, acknowledge to our children how we have failed or sinned against them in some way, shouldn't this bring into clearer focus, our dependence on God to cover us? The God of all consolation loves us, pities us, and He honors a loving and trusting soul.  And oh, how we must trust him! He alone is able to prevent our own influence on the minds and hearts of our children, as well as grant them the grace and love to forgive. (I'm so thankful that children are very forgiving people.) This should give us great courage to press on and also hope in Christ to will and work for His good pleasure.

He is faithful when we are not. He never yields to lazy parenting and he never grows tired or weak.

God can and does, effectually overrule all things, including a mother's sin. This does not weaken my obligation and responsibility toward my children in the least.  It would be arrogant and destructive for me to expect that God would deviate from the means by which he has said he will work (Prov. 22:6).  But it should make us thankful.  And it should produce humility to know that no matter how hard you work, you will fail, and that God never does.

All of our sinfulness, this monster cockroach in our beings, keeps us in constant exercise against the world, our flesh and the powers of darkness.  This exercise is at the foot of the cross of Christ, falling down and telling Him the worst of it...just how bad we really are (He already knows).  He sweetly invites us that labor and are heavy laden with rest in Him.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten Blessings That Come With a Large Family

Not everyone is blessed with a large family.  Some have willingly ended their fertility and never looked back.  Others have done so and later regretted it.  Many more labor hard to attain contentment as God's plan unfolded for their lives and it did not include for them a large family as they had hoped.

For those of us who have been given this great privilege, we know that it is not a perfect life.  An easy, pain-free life exists for no family, big or small.  But some of the struggles large families face can be unique. Or at least packaged differently. The doubts and fears might center on wondering if there is enough of you to go around, fear of peoples' reaction when you announce another pregnancy, how to make the grocery budget stretch for an army of people, and the endurance to keep vigilance over so many hearts. Because it will be a decades-long task.

But there are so many beautiful blessings that come with having a large family.  We must remind ourselves often and "Bless the Lord, O my soul, forget not his benefits!"  One of the reasons we grow discouraged, weary in our work or begin to doubt that we are equipped is because we fail to remember.  If we don't intentionally choose to remember what God has done and the bounty of goodness he's lavished on us when he gave us so many children, we can lose sight of why we started this journey of faith. It is a short fall into the well of self-pity.

The Apostle Peter wrote to the saints that he was stirring them up by way of reminder.  We all need stirring, and often. I do.  I am stirring myself up by choosing to remember what God has done when he made me to bear and care for so many.

Ten blessings that come with having a large family:

1.) It is a gift to the children

There is always someone to play with. This truth is what made me take notice of big families before I had one.  There is never a person left out or lonesome or bored.  If one sibling doesn't want to jump on the trampoline right then, or work that puzzle with you, or go on a bike ride, you just move on to another one until someone says yes.  Or maybe you want to watch a movie that most everyone else thinks is corny. Eventually you will find someone to watch that movie or play that game.

2.) There is always someone to talk to

True, this is another gift to the children, but it is also a gift to the parents.  I love having my teens around to talk to, laugh with, discuss deeper issues with, confide in and be confided in.  It is pure joy to have your children walk in truth and become allies and buddies.

I love having my middle-aged kids to visit with because they are so open, transparent and humble, eagerly sharing news and stories that excite them.  Conversations with them often leave me humbled and asking God to make me more child-like.

And it is such sweetness to gather up a toddler or preschooler in your lap.  They speak without any filter.  What ever is on the mind, comes right out the mouth.  Precious.

3.) The incredible power of positive peer pressure

The power of influence that older children have over younger ones is astounding.  If a bad habit or an ugly word is said by a one child, chances are the younger children will repeat it.  Thankfully, the opposite is also true.

Sibling influence is a mighty tool of God to help us form godly character.  Younger children want to please their older siblings almost as much as they do their parents.  Instead of children having only the praise and encouragement of their parents to love God, obey and show courtesy and kindness to others, they also have the example of the older kids who are already doing it.

Later on in middle childhood and teens, I have seen enormous benefits of the power of positive peer pressure between siblings.   When they get into sticky situations, the gift of a sibling nearby helps them remain steadfast to what they have been taught. There is safety in numbers:  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecc. 4:12

4.)  It is fun

When you combine the unfiltered comments of toddlers and preschoolers, with the silliness and energy of the middle-aged children, and add to that the wittiness of teens, you have a recipe for tons of laughter. It is hard to take life too seriously in this environment.  Laughter is good medicine.

5.) Opportunities to share and serve others

In a large family there is no lack of opportunities  to share and serve what you have with others.  Sharing and serving is a great thing. It builds spiritual muscles they will need as adults, especially when they marry. It is a great weapon in the fight against the entitlement syndrome, the laziness syndrome and the selfishness syndrome. 

Sharing what we have and taking care of the needs of others is what Christians are called to do.  The "one anothers" begin in the home.

6.) Work gets done quickly

My kids can demolish a room in about 30 minutes.  They can have it cleaned up in 15. 

From the oldest to the youngest,  everyone is capable of doing something, and so many hands keeping busy means it happens fast.  (And working together, brings hearts together.)

7.) Ministry Opportunities

The more hands there are to serve, the more people that can be served.  We can branch out in different directions, even dividing our family in half or thirds, and get twice or three times the service done for other people.

8.) Older Parents

Often large families have older parents and this is a great blessing to the children.  My younger kids' childhoods look a lot different than my older ones, for several reasons.  For one they don't have a young, energetic mom  (It blows my mind now to remember that I used to work the graveyard shift at a hospital and then come home and care for them all day, surviving on naptime alone).  Also, I know I am not as creative about homeschooling as I was when it was all brand-new and exciting.  But I still think the younger ones have a unique blessing that the older ones didn't.

They have a mom and dad who have grown in knowledge of God and the scriptures and so they have grown in grace and humility.  With years of life, come trials. For all of us. Trials are where spiritual growth comes from. It's where a deeper understanding of God's character comes.  And that growth in faith helps us as we parent and show the same love of God to our children, that he has shown us.

A few hard knocks of life like job loss, church conflicts, long illness, extended family drama, financial crises, the shock of learning that your older kids will fail, helps you be more ready with encouragement than rebukes.  With years should come wisdom.  And wisdom, for us, has meant we are heavier on mercy, forgiveness, tenderness and making the most of the days we've been given. I think not having the same levels of energy and creativity is just fine anyway because keeping life simple leaves us more time for investing in relationships instead of chasing our tails here and there.

The older children, who had us as young parents, benefit also.  They receive the unique gift of watching their parents care for, teach and train little ones.  I was 17 when my younger sister was born and it was a huge help to me when my Shelbi was born just a few years later.

9.) Opportunity of living out our faith

A large family is contrary to the world.  We all know that.  We've all been the butt of the cheesey jokes that the person telling thinks are original.  We have all had to awkwardly field personal questions that cross the boundary of socially acceptable. Why is it so common?

One reason it is common is because all people everywhere stay stupid things about everything under the sun, not just your birth control practice.  If you are building a house, someone will tell you a story about the disaster it was when they built a house and how they nearly got a divorce.  If you are single, someone will ask you wouldn't you like to be married.  Its just human nature and we all do it. This is particularly fun to watch on Facebook. If ten people comment on a status, often at least one will be something you could have lived your whole life without hearing. It's the way of human beings.  It's just that we can recognize it so much easier in others than we do ourselves.

But another reason this is common is because large families are anything but normal.  Generally speaking, the world does not like kids, at least not for more than photo opportunities.  And since the world doesn't like them, to see a whole bunch of them all at once, is odd. 

Having a lot of children is a bold statement of faith.  It isn't the only one, but it definitely is one nevertheless. 

Of all the strange comments we have received, last year on vacation, we got a new one.  All of us, minus Kevin, walked into a book store.  The manager counted us, looked at the kids like they were behind glass at a zoo, asked the usual questions about age span, were they from one marriage, etc.  Kevin later walked in and the manager asked to shake his hand and had to know what chain of restaurants he owned to be able to support so many kids.

This was just one more opportunity to present something different and unusual to this curious man.  "God has always provided for us. We have never done without anything we need."

These are opportunities to plant seeds at least and share the message of the gospel at best.  A large family can be a city on a hill.

10.)  A Spiritual Heritage

Children are a reward, Psalm 127:3 says.  Even though they were "conceived in sin" (Psalm 51:5).  So God said they were a reward  even though he knew they would write on the walls, make noise in church and get stomach bugs at the worst possible times. He said they are blessings even though they wake up at night, have trouble getting along at times and need almost constant correction and heart-tending.

Kids sin against us and each other and they keep us crying out for help. This doesn't mean they are blessings-gone-wrong. Our kids are sinners in need of grace.  They don't come out as arrows, ready to meet with enemies.  Part of the blessing of children is in the discipline they need.  If it weren't for challenges we would never recognize our desperate need for God and His Word. Kids are a constant reminder that we need Him.

When little ones test our authority and seek to go their own way, we get to proclaim the gospel to them.  These are evangelistic opportunities.  No need to go on a mission trip Mamas, it's right in front of you!  Rebellious, stubborn little people who need Jesus are looking you right in the face. And who better to introduce them to Jesus, forgiveness and renewed fellowship....than you?

I'm thankful to be called Mama by nine people.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to train them up, exhausting as it is at times. Just because something is hard doesn't mean it is the wrong thing.  Often, just the opposite. I'm thankful for all these added blessings that come when just getting to know each one them would be far more than I deserved.

 These are not the only blessings that come with a large family.  What are some others?

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