Posted in bible, Christian Parenting, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, parenting, parenting blogger, raising children, Teaching kids

When do I switch to the Big Bible?

My 7-year-old has read two new Children’s Bibles since the start of this year. I still remember the day when she was little, and I was about to read her the story of Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith in God. When kids are younger, we worry about reading some of the Old Testament stories. We are afraid that their fragile heart and innocent minds will be scarred by history. After all, these are unimaginable events that are hard to rationalize. But several years after that day, here I am at a place where this kid can understand that these are history lessons that occurred a long time ago. I purchased the NIV Adventures Bible because of her deep interest in knowing more.

When your kid is ready, no matter their age, don’t be afraid to share the truth as written in the word. We know that times have changed and that through Jesus, we are atoned for, unlike in the Old Testament. The Bible is real, and we know this as believers. We also know that history can teach us valuable lessons, especially in learning about the men and women of faith who taught us to be bold, courageous, loyal, faithful to God, and strong leaders. 

I do not remember learning the Bible so deeply when I was young, and I want to change that for my children. I would like them to place the events in history on a timeline and recognize geographically where in the world the events occurred. These provide perspective, especially as we learn parallel history along the way. This information will also equip children to grasp the fullness of the Bible stories on which our faith stands and place it into the world we live in. 

So, what Christian resources do we use in our home? Your kid will likely read several Bibles before transitioning to his/her own full Bible. There are so many children’s Bibles that narrate the stories differently. These are the ones my 7-year-old uses.

  • It’s All About Jesus Bible: This is a good transition Bible from a little kids’ Bible. A friend recommended it, and I cannot recommend it enough as well. The illustrations are gorgeous. They reference the chapters in the Bible with each story, and it includes questions for your child to connect the story to Jesus.
  • The Children’s Bible in 365 days: This Bible is a very old book and a family favorite. I remember reading it when I was much older but early in my faith. My mom loves this book and says she could even read it today. It is a great way to learn the Bible stories without filters. The illustrations are also a little more mature.
  • NIV-Adventure Bible: This will be her first real BIble. It is written in NIV format for the new readers. It is designed with the child in mind with colorful snippets of information, easy to learn verses, and other facts to help them understand and learn the Bible as they read.

We are currently following ‘The Story of the World‘ curriculum on Ancient History and love to learn the Bible stories intertwined in there with the stories not told in the Bible that give greater context to the setting. I also recently purchased the book ‘God’s Bible Timeline‘ after a good friend recommended it, and I look forward to diving into it with my kid.

If you ever wonder what Bible to start with and progress as your child grows, this is certainly one way of doing it, and I hope you will find these resources helpful.

Posted in Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, Listening, mom life, parenting, raising children, relationships

Are you listening when they speak?

Do you have chatty kids? I have a few at home, and trust me, they chat a lot when they do. I would love to listen to their stories and all they have to say, but at times I just don’t feel like it. I’m either busy doing something and do not wish to be disturbed or just exhausted from a long day. Sometimes I just do not want to listen, not because I don’t care, but because after spending all day with three little ones, all you want is quiet. 

No matter how I feel, I’m writing this for myself and every other parent out there who is talked out; I still need to listen. And here is why. 

Teach them to be good listeners by being a good listener

We are so triggered when our kids do not listen to us. It shows a lack of care, disrespect, disobedience, and so many unspoken messages that no one intends when they do not listen. If we give our full attention when our child wants to speak, it teaches them that we care enough for what they have to say and hope that they will learn to do the same in return. It is an indirect way of teaching them to be good listeners. 

Make memories that matter

When you are not willing to listen to your child, they feel ignored and unheard. Their craziest stories matter, and sometimes it may just be what we need to hear to make our day brighter. My 7-year-old constantly talks about past memories of things that mattered enough for her to repeat over and over again. If her stories are of the past, then me not listening can quickly become a memory of hers too. In other words, you are making memories with your child when you pause in your day to listen to them. 

Build deep relationships

It is not enough to just listen but to actively listen. Ask questions and probe some more into what they are sharing. They will feel a connection to you and start to open up a lot more. This establishes a deep relationship essential as they grow older and a safe place to talk about deeper issues they may face in life. 

The benefits are immeasurable, but this does not mean that you can’t have boundaries. For example, if you are kid’s stories are a distraction at the dinner table, then ask him or her to hold off for a better time. If you are in the middle of a conversation, you can explain that you will listen to them once you are done. When your kid has to focus on a task, such as completing homework or tidying up, they should finish up and then share their thoughts. These are fair expectations, and communicating them to your child is essential to avoid the feeling of dismissal.  

Take the time to listen today and share your stories here. I’d love to hear them.

Posted in intentional marriages, just parenting freestyle, marriage matters

Marriage – a true image

A 10-year anniversary photo

I wanted to write a post about marriage today because it is our 15th wedding anniversary. Nothing mushy here but a picture of reality, the same kind of marriage we all live except for the parts we don’t talk about. No one ever said marriage was easy. I’d like to compare it to the ebbs and flows of the ocean. There are moments of stillness with gentle breezes and yet roughness in storms. But if the foundation is strong, no storm, no rough wave, can topple the walls. You ask – what is the foundation of a strong marriage? It’s simple – it is unwavering loyalty, indefinite love, undeterred commitment, and the presence of God. Everything else is peripheral. These foundations do not come easy. You need to work on it every day when times are tough and not just when times are easy.

I love the chapter on Love in 1 Corinthians 13 – “Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” If you are ever looking for a definition on love, this is it. It is also the hardest one to live by. We were never meant to be perfect, but in knowing Christ, we strive to live by his word and apply this to those we love.

My husband and I celebrate 15 years of marriage today, and we made it here because we chose to get past our greatest fights. We made it to 15 because we found a way out of it no matter our differences. We made it to 15 because family matters, and love trumps over all other disruptions. We are not the perfect couple – we fight, disagree, and do not always make amends. But we complement each other in ways only God could have designed this reunion. Marriage is not about living the perfect life. It is about having someone to lean on, share your life with, make memories with, raise children with, vacation with, and marvel at the beauty of the world – all of it through joy and sadness. To live this life, we need to work at it just as we do in parenting.

For those reading this, I hope to leave with you a perspective about marriage. That marriage is about being intentional every day; that it is a matter-of-effort and not a matter-of-expectation; that it is a choice you make to be content; that it is a life you live that has valleys and hills; that it is a willingness to accept the imperfect that makes your marriage perfect.

So on my 15th Wedding Anniversary, I dedicate this blog to my husband, whose patience astounds me in times of my imperfections. I’m blessed to have made it here because of grace and will raise a glass to the rest of our lives together – no matter what comes our way.

Posted in Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, momlife, parenting, parenting blogger

A Parental State of Mind

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What is it that triggers our irrational state of mind when it comes to our children? Is it disobedience, subordination, lying, fighting, whining, irresponsibility, or disrespect? No matter what gets us on edge, we need to reflect on why certain things bother us and if it is ok to let it go. I will be honest with you, I am not always patient, but I make a tremendous effort before losing it altogether. But this effort comes from my ability to self-reflect each day about how I could have handled the day better. We need to live in a state of continuous improvement to work towards being great parents. After all, you don’t just become one overnight.

As grown-ups, we sometimes lack an understanding of our child’s behaviors and attitudes. This is because we reason logically about the world, unlike our children. On the other hand, they are still developing their maturity, rational thinking, and understanding of what’s in their best interest. This gap can create an unimaginable clash of minds. As a parent, you cannot rationalize the childish nature causing strain on your state of mind. This is when you exhibit emotions such as impatience leading to yelling, reprimanding, time-outs, etc.

How can we rationalize our feelings at the right moment to respond more appropriately to our children’s behaviors? I call it the intentional moment of thought. We need to teach and remind ourselves every moment of the day that sometimes, we need to let go of the expectation that our children will behave rationally at the moment we need them to. We need to accept that our children will not stop a behavior just because we tell them it doesn’t make sense. An intentional moment of thought can be applied at any time. Make a list of events in the day that made you feel uneasy about how you approached it. Find out what triggered it, and rationalize it for a moment.

For example, my kids scream a lot when playing, and trust me, it is no fun listening to that. But in rationalizing it, I realized that their screaming resulted from their play and not an effort to drive me crazy; So unless we need quiet in the house, I do not stop them. Sometimes we need to pick and choose our battles with our kids. Do you want to get into a heated discussion over why your kid didn’t put their plate away or just remind them to do it? Would you yell over a mess of spilled water or let it go and commend your toddler for pouring a glass of water on their own? Do you get mad that the car was not put into the proper toy bin or just be thankful that your child tidied up?

Let’s be rational beings in our homes and give our children some liberty for error, understanding that it comes from being a child. Let’s choose to be ok with some mess and noise and be aware that this little person is not intentionally making an effort to rattle you.

Posted in Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, parenting, The whole-brain child

Parenting Emotions

Have you ever gone to bed wondering if you could have handled an emotionally charged situation with your child differently? If the answer is yes, then pick up a copy of “The whole-brain child” and read it. It is one of the best parenting books you can read. It helps you understand how your child’s brain functions and why they react to situations in certain ways. The book also gives you 12 strategies that you can use to help your child navigate from their irrational state of mind to logic and reasoning. In doing this, they can develop emotional awareness and healthy brain development.

I work very hard at parenting. I give myself a hard time after I retrospect on the good and the bad. I go to bed, reminding myself that I need to practice more patience, show more affection, and enjoy every moment. These are important reminders because, in the day-to-day grind, we go from one thing to another and forget to make instant memory stamps in our kids’ brains. But I also deal with emotionally charged children, and if you have them, you understand.

To be honest, I would rather have kids who cared enough to be upset over things versus having a child with no emotion over any grief. But then I also have the task to teach my children to discern their emotions and understand what it does to them. I need to help them move from one emotion to another, use the feeling to overcome their problem and empathize with others. In doing this, they will gain an awareness that will guide their thought and behavior. This is called emotional intelligence.

If I do not teach my children these things, they will grow up to be adults who lack emotion where there should be one and cannot empathize with others when they need to. And we have all come across these people in our lives. When you are aware of your own emotions and those around you, you can establish deep and healthy relationships. Think about your own emotions. If you find your family desensitized to your needs, you feel like you live in a vacuum with no outlet and no deep connections.

Needless to say, this principle applies to how we parent. If we cannot emotionally connect with our children in their time of distress, we miss the opportunity to create a sense of connection in the parent-child relationship. We also miss a chance to help them understand why they feel a certain way and how they can move from that state to another.

Many of us already know that our right brain drives emotion, and our left brain provides logic. Most young children operate in the right brain. They are bursting with anger, fear, sadness, or grief and cannot snap out of it. To help them connect to their left brain, parents need to communicate with their child’s right brain first. This is called empathizing. Once you have acknowledged their emotions, you can walk them over to their logical left brain. When all the parts of the brain start to work together, this is called integration. Having an integrated state of mind teaches your child to be in control and rationalize what is happening. This book encourages you to teach your child how their brain functions, which is very empowering.

Parents should define their jobs as managing the emotions of little ones. Once we acknowledge this, we will better equip ourselves to resolve our child’s state of mind versus the situation at hand. In the below examples, the parent is focused on solving the problem without paying attention to the brain activity.
Example 1: Your kid cries because he wants a snack when it is close to lunchtime. You are then trying to figure out how to tame his meltdown.
Example 2: Your child cries because he/she is struggling with a school assignment. You are annoyed that tears are being shed over this matter. Example 3: One sibling hit the other and is undeterred that his sibling is crying. You are unhappy that your child is not feeling remorse over his sibling’s grief.

The strategies in this book will change how you respond to these circumstances and help you become aware of the part of the brain that causes the behaviors.

I find myself pausing to reexamine my approach after reading this book. And every time I connect with my child at an emotional level, I experience peaceful parenting. And if this blog did not convince you to parent differently, pick up the book and read it.

Posted in Christian Parenting, Easter, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, parenting, parenting blogger, Teaching kids

How to teach the story of Easter

How do you teach little children about the story of Easter? After all, their little hearts and minds are too innocent to understand death and, more specifically, the gruesome details of Jesus’ death. They are yet to learn the reality of the world and that everything is not sunshine and rainbows. Yesterday, my seven-year-old asked me – “What does crucifixion mean?” and while I gave her a quick and simple answer, it deserves a more extended response – one with depth in faith, reality, courage, and sacrifice.

When kids are five and younger, do they have to know about the crucifixion? In my opinion, no. If your child has the understanding and maturity, then, by all means, read the entire story from a Children’s Bible. But if they are not ready to learn the whole story, build up with each year starting from 3 years old. You can find so many books that tell the story by age. Here are a few that we love using.

Easter books for young children

When talking to your 3 or 4 year old, focus on the fact that Jesus may have died but he ROSE AGAIN and we knew he was going to because he told his disciples. Little kids can be fearful of the idea of death. But if you teach them that death is only the beginning of what God promised (eternal life in heaven and that heaven is a place of reunion where they can meet everyone they love), it helps ease some of their fears.

With my 3.5-year-old, I talk about how the coming of Jesus fulfilled a prophecy (you can use the word promise). It was a promise that God made to save humankind (us) and bring us back into eternal fellowship with him. I read about the cross in stories with him and he does not dwell on the details. Many Children’s Bibles focus on the connection to Jesus through each story starting in the Old Testament and those are great ways to talk about it.

With my 7-year old who has a keen interest in the Bible, she wants to know all the details. She has read her Bible once and is rereading it. At this age, sharing the story of Jesus’ life in more detail and all that he did before his death is a good build up to the cross. It helps lay the foundation. I have a Bible that only tells stories of Jesus (see image below) and my kid loves this Bible too. Remember that every child is different and will grow in faith at different times.

To conclude, there is no specific time to share the story of Easter and Christmas. It is ok to read books any day of the year so that these stories stay in their minds and they understand that these are significant events in the Christian Faith.

I hope you found this helpful in teaching your chid about Easter. Leave a comment to share what you do in your home.

Posted in bible, Christian Parenting, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, mom blogger, mom life, parenting, parenting blogger, Pray, Prayer, Teaching kids

Teach your child about God

Today’s blog is an important topic for those Christian mamas with little ones. If you are wondering how to teach your children to love the Lord, you are not alone. From the day I became a new mom, I knew I wanted my kids to develop a personal relationship with God. It is more than reading them stories at bedtime or asking them to say a prayer at night. It is a way of life, a relationship more profound than any other. It is about sowing a seed in their heart that will grow their personalities, behaviors, and actions. It is about paving the way for them to stand up for what is true, good, and right.

When I became a new mom, I bought a book to help me pray for my baby. I have since, bought more books on praying for my children than parenting books because praying for our children is the best thing we can do for them. But when it comes to teaching them about God, we already have the tools we need to teach them. I want to share a few ways you can start to sow the seed in your kid’s life by one, teaching them to pray, two, reading Bible stories, and three, praying for their faith.

Reading resources on praying for kids and teaching kids to pray.

As early as my kids could speak, I introduced praying at bedtime. I taught them to say thank you prayers – a great way to introduce gratefulness. We start by thanking God for our family, followed by our basic needs, and then anything else. When your child has enough vocabulary to speak, it is an excellent time to introduce it. Kids will surprise you with the things they thank God for. My 3.5-year old has said things such as bless Mickey Mouse to help mama’s headache all on his own. My older kid used to pray for her friends in school by name when she was 3. These are mighty prayers for people who don’t know God is watching over them because a little kid said a prayer for them. My 2-year-old yesterday prayed for a booboo he had, and that’s how they add on to a simple prayer you taught.

Another great way is to teach them Bible stories. They are full of action, adventure, and life lessons. I have bought way too many Bibles to write about in this blog, but I have separate ones I use by age at home, from my 2-year-old to 7-year-old. If you are wondering which story to start at, my advice is to start at the beginning. Many children’s Bibles help you teach your child how the Bible is one big story, and many of them connect each account to the coming of Christ. You can also use books about Bible characters such as David, Jonah, Esther, etc. My 3.5 year old prefers to read those books, so we switch it up based on his interest.

Bibles we use for my 7 year old, 3.5 year old, 2 year old (from left to right)

Many Bible stories are tough for little ones to comprehend, so follow your understanding of your child’s maturity level before reading these stories. Sometimes you can give them the ending of the story or the lesson it teaches before reading it; an example is Abraham’s story where God tested his faith and asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Of course, we all know the ending, but your child does not.

Emphasize the lessons they learn from these stories. One day when my older kid was mad at her brothers, I reminded her of the story of Joseph and how he held no contempt at his brothers who mistreated him. You can talk about Esther’s bravery, Daniel’s faith, or Noah’s obedience to God. Kids will give you many reasons to bring up these great stories to make the Bible relevant to them.

Here’s another great way to talk to your children about God – Easter and Christmas. There is no better time than to teach your child about Jesus than these. Last Christmas, I made a DIY Nativity Calendar for the Christmas countdown, and the kids loved doing it every morning. We love Santa, and we do the whole Santa act at home, but we don’t spend all Christmas teaching about Santa.

Easter is more important because it is the pinnacle of our faith. There are so many easter books you can read to your child. This Easter, we are reading ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible.’ It is not my favorite of all the Bibles I have, but they have an Easter reading plan, and my kids are invested in this activity that comes with cutting off a link each day and reading a story that takes them from the Old to the New Testament. We will also be learning the Easter story with a 12-day countdown Easter Egg Kit we purchased on Amazon. Kids remember more when they can interact in the learning process.

I know I have shared a lot here, but I want to close with one of the most important things you can do for them – to pray. Pray that God will sow a seed in their heart that will ignite interest, passion, and dedication in learning the word of God.

Posted in Homeschooling, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, mom life, parenting, parenting blogger, SAHM, Working mom Life

My greatest dilemma

I left my corporate job in 2018 and decided to stay at home for a brief while. In all honesty, I wanted to choose where I needed to be in my career and thought that a short break would give me some time to plan my next career move. I was pregnant with my third child at the time. Little did I know my plans to stay home would spiral into something meaningful for my children. Covid happened, and before I knew it, I was signing myself up to homeschool my little ones. I gave homeschool a try in the summer of 2020, and when I figured it would work, we pulled our kids out of school and changed our lives for the better.

We are six months into the school year. I can tell you that I am deeply invested and find myself dreaming about the possible educational experiences my kids could have if I chose to continue to homeschool. I say ‘if’ because it is my greatest dilemma as a stay-at-home-mom who dreams of having a successful career and financial independence.

Here’s the debate for both sides. There are so many educational methods like Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Waldorf that that you can introduce to your child. Rich curriculums accompany each, and you can pace learning for your children based on their learning agility. You can focus on strengthening their strengths and assisting them in their weaker subjects. You can enrich their learning with anything you believe is valuable to their future educational journey and allow your child opportunities to study topics they have a passion for learning. And lastly, the added time to do as many extracurricular activities such as sports, music, etc., is a bonus.

On the other side of this debate is a mama wondering what her life will look like after her kids leave home, a mama wondering if putting her dreams on hold to offer a rich learning experience that does not pinch every penny out of the banks was worth it all, a mama wondering if her kids will genuinely use this education to become something extraordinary in this world.

No matter what decision I make or any stay-at-home mom makes about transitioning back to work or not, there is no right or wrong answer here. Kids thrive in all sorts of environments, and sometimes, when we think that homeschool is best, a school setting might have just been better. And you will never know. In essence, all stay-at-home moms and dads out there struggle with the decision to transition back to work. But at the end of the day, you need to do what makes you most comfortable and satisfied with your choices.

Do you struggle with making this decision today? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. For those of you who would like to follow my homeschool journey, find me on Instagram at freestylemom_eva.

Posted in Christian Parenting, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, mom life, parenting, parenting blogger, Pray, Prayer

Praying for yourself

Praying resources

One morning when I sat down to pray, I thought about my intentions when praying for my kids. As a mom, I want my children to be the best version of themselves. I always pray for them to possess character traits that demonstrate acceptable outward behaviors. I pray for my kids to love the Lord, be healthy, successful, and be kind human beings. These prayers come with a more extensive list, such as being obedient, honest, kind-hearted, generous, disciplined, etc. 

But as I thought about the traits I pray for them, I realized the need to pray a similar list for myself as a mom. If you are a self-reflecting person and honest with yourself, you can be sure to have plenty on your list that needs prayer. I know I can personally use more patience, gentleness, and forgiveness. God knows that we, mamas are not perfect and that our efforts to be good moms are limited by our weaknesses. 

One day, my kid lost her temper, and I lost my patience. Later that day, we talked, and I asked her if she would pray for both of us to be more patient and less angry. They say that kids imitate behavior they observe around them, and I will say this is both true and false in my own experience. But for those actions that they do imitate, when you admit to your child your fault and intentionally change how you respond, then your kid will imitate that too. 

I recently finished reading a great book that guides you to pray for your kids using scripture. Our kids need us to intercede in prayer for their safety, future, life choices, and character. But as we focus our efforts on praying for others, let’s also make a list of things we can pray for ourselves so that God can work in every area of our lives, and in-turn, we can teach our kids the power of praying for ourselves is real and necessary. 

Posted in Christian Parenting, Intentional parenting, just parenting freestyle, mom blogger, mom life, parenting, parenting blogger, Uncategorized

Making time for my kids (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote about why it was essential for me to ‘make’ time in the day for my kids. This week, I wanted to write a follow-up to that blog because I fulfilled a commitment I made, and it mattered to my kids and taught me that being present for a few moments is all it takes to create lasting memories.

On Monday, I informed my kids that 4:30-5:00 would be Mommy Time and that we could do anything they wanted. Come 4:30; my kids said, “Alright, mom, it is mommy time now,” and they held me accountable to fulfill my commitment. In all honesty, all I could think about was the mess in the kitchen that I needed to get to right away and the dinner I had to make for them, and I was prepared to make excuses and get out of it. But then I remembered that I intentionally chose to do this for a reason – to be present with them, make them feel special, connect with them at a deeper level, and let them know that no matter how the day went, Mommy loves them and is ready to have some fun.

So I paused in my moment of weakness, put away my excuses, and joined my kids in the family room, where I became Cookie Monster. It is a game I play with the kids where they are cookies, and I, Cookie Monster, catch them and gobble them up. After 15 minutes, they made me Tickle Monster, where I find little kids and tickle them up. We had so many laughs that day that I forgot how quickly the time passed. When Mommy time came to an end, my kids raved about it all evening, and it also made it to the night-time news with daddy at bedtime.

Their excitement was from one 30 min experience they had. It was a small effort on my part, leaving big feelings in their hearts. As parents, we need to be aware of this fact. It is not the big things that matter but the small things that count. Your kids notice that you notice them; they love it when they get compliments in the least expected moment; they love it when you pause in the day to give them a quick hug. My two-year-old, who has become overly chatty, will drop in on me every so often in the middle of his play to say, ‘Hi Mommy.’

Take the time to be present with them in small ways possible. Your daily chores will be there when you come back to it, your work phone ringing after hours can wait, and all other distractions will have to pause for the moment that you choose to be 100% present with your child.

‘Mommy time’