07Apr

Poor is in the attitude

 

 

wanting less

This is from the archives,originally published June 2012 but this is almost exactly what we talked about in Sunday school yesterday, so I thought I would repost.

“Poor” is a matter of attitude, not bank account.

I know this series is about conquering debt on a low-income, but to do that requires a frugal lifestyle (or that you win the lottery, of course), and a frugal lifestyle usually requires that we change our way of thinking.

I read an article recently that saddened me.  It was about “impoverished” parenting and the author was lamenting the fact that her children weren’t able to eat much junk food because they were too poor.  They also couldn’t afford to buy organic products, or name brand clothes.  She went on and on about how “poor” they were because they could only do this and this, but weren’t able to do that.  By the end of the article, she had achieved her goal and I felt deeply sorry for her children.

I don’t feel sorry for them that they are deprived.  They aren’t.

There are countless people in this world who are starving.  No this isn’t a “there are people worse off than you” lecture, the point is that many of them are more content than we are!  Will you process that for a minute?  When I went to Haiti on a mission trip in 2003, I witnessed some of the deepest levels of poverty I have ever seen—people living in run-down straw shacks with dirt floors.  Babies with their bellies pooched out from malnutrition, and kids with orange hair because their starving bodies were trying desperately to save any nutrition possible.  Even in their deep need, the people I met were far happier and more content than the spoiled American society that we live in.

The children from that blog post are only deprived because their mother is teaching them that they are deprived.  They are being taught to allow money to control their happiness and to live in a constant state of perceived want.  Once that mindset starts, there can be no fulfillment, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many nice things you have, there will always be something out of reach that leaves you wanting, until you change your attitude.

We’re on a limited budget, and I’ve had people shake their heads at how we’re depriving our boys of ____ (insert junk food, eating out, fancy toys, expensive vacations, etc.).  We have a roof over our heads and God always provides our needs (and most reasonable wants!).  We have a $200/month grocery budget, which rarely includes junk food.  (that’s a good thing.  We don’t need junk food!)  My boys always wear used clothing and it’s rarely name brand (again, a good thing.  I don’t want them to learn that the label on their clothing determines their value).  Logan wears almost entirely hand-me-downs, except for a couple of new outfits throughout the year that he gets for his birthday or Christmas.  They have less toys than other children we know and the ones they have aren’t fancy.

But, let me make something very clear.  We are not poor and my children are not deprived.  I will not teach them that.

They use their imaginations.  They enjoy simple things.  They don’t require the newest fancy toys to have fun or be happy.  We choose this for them, for a variety of reasons.

As Christians, we’ve all heard this verse quoted, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Do you know what Paul said just before those inspiring words?

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:11-13)

Paul had learned the lesson that contentedness, happiness, fulfillment and joy are not found in things.  He had learned to be content despite his circumstances.  Why are we teaching our children the opposite?

It is our job as parents to teach our children how to be content, transcendent of circumstances and material possessions.

We are making the choice to teach our children this valuable life lesson.  Through simple living, we are teaching them to be content with what we have.  No, they don’t have name brand clothes, a lot of junk food, or fancy toys.  They don’t “get to” eat out a lot or go on expensive vacations.  But they are happy and enjoy the simple things in life.  They are content.

They are a lot richer than most of the children around us who have every possible want fulfilled.

03Apr

Cardboard Testimonies

On Easter Sunday, we were blessed to participate in cardboard testimonies at our church. If you’ve never seen (or heard of) cardboard testimonies, you can see an example here. It’s an incredibly moving presentation of people sharing something God has done for them, or something God has helped them overcome.

Our testimonies are powerful.

Here is Chad and my younger son, Logan with their original cardboard pieces.

Cardboard Testimonies

When Logan was born, I was only allowed a brief moment with him before he was taken away to the NICU because he couldn’t regulate his blood sugar. At 5:00 am the next morning, a doctor came into my room:  “Your baby is having seizures.” This doctor was trying to help my son and had no time for bedside manner. He immediately went into a litany of tests being performed, possible diagnoses and complications.

I won’t lie, I was scared.

100_2590

 

The seizures continued and later that day, Logan was transferred to a nearby hospital with a better NICU and access to a better neurology department. I chronicled our week-long journey in real-time. But in the end, I sat in the NICU holding my newborn Logan while a neurologist told me that my baby had brain damage. They couldn’t say for sure if it happened in utero or at birth, but it was there. He said the damage was similar to what would be caused by a stroke and that if an adult suffered such damage there would be no hope. They would be a vegetable or dead.

He kept saying “we can’t know how bad it will be, only time will tell.” He said worst case is that my son would be in a vegetative state, require constant care for the rest of his life, might never be aware of his surroundings, never be able to speak, never able to recognize me as his mother or tell me he loves me. He might never walk or talk. He might have cerebral palsy. The list of potential problems and complications was seemingly endless and severe.

The hope offered was that sometimes a baby’s still-forming brain can compensate for such a loss. The best case scenario was that he’d have milder learning or physical disabilities.

As I cried into my baby’s sleeping head, clutching him tightly to my chest, I wanted this doctor to tell me it might be okay. I said “So the other parts of his brain might compensate so that you can’t even tell anything’s wrong?”

He was quick to correct me. “No.” This damage is there, and it is permanent. The only thing we don’t know is exactly how badly his life will be affected. It might not be very bad. But, he assured me, my son would have some sort of disability.

When I relayed this to others, I would put on my happy face, and I would dress it up. I would leave out the worst case scenario and focus only on the best. But I was there, alone in the moment when the doctor happened to come, and I will never forget the scary and uncertain prognosis delivered to me that day.

It was a waiting game.

But then he started to laugh.

Logan

And he started to roll over, sit up, and crawl.

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And he started to walk at 10 months of age.

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At 18 months, he recognized all his colors, even though he couldn’t really talk yet.

Logan

And at 2 years old, a switch seemed to flip and he went from not talking at all to speaking in full sentences, almost over night.

Logan

And slowly we watched our little boy grow, meeting or exceeding every developmental milestone.

Logan's Testimony

And on Sunday we were able to share the rest of the story in the form of a cardboard testimony:

Cardboard Testimony

 

21Mar

Saying yes.

Today has been one of those days…we’ve had a lot of them lately.  Something about that lost hour has really affected my boys this time around, and we’re just now getting back to normal around here.  So, I decided to drown my grumpiness in cupcakes.

The boys, of course, were quite excited as well.  It came time to ice them, and  I hear an excited voice, “Can I help put the icing on?”

Big sigh inside.

I can do this infinitely faster without their particular brand of help.

I was in no mood to have a short task turned into a long one, or to clean up the mess made by a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old trying to put icing on cupcakes.

Everything in me said “No.”

I reasoned that they were getting cupcakes, and fun colored icing to boot…that’s treat enough, right?

But in that moment, another little voice reminded me that these days are fleeting. We all hear it so often, and we all know the truth of it.

That other voice also reminded me that living with a mom who suffers from depression means that my kids get less fun mommy moments than I would like.  There are far too many “no’s”.

So, in that moment, I grabbed a couple extra snack-sized bags from the pantry before I could give myself time to think about it.

They had so much fun.

It was worth the mess.  And you know what I’ve found? It almost always is.

Note: If anyone is interested, I simply made homemade butter cream frosting (similar to this recipe, although you could use store bought as well), and then colored it with food coloring. I put it in zippered baggies, and cut a small hole in one corner to squeeze out the icing. It helps if you refrigerate it for a bit, so it’ll be firm. Otherwise the heat from squeezing on it makes it kind of melty.

Concentrating:

 

Logan’s favorite part (licking the icing off his fingers):

Caeden was actually pretty good at it:

Having Fun:

And, of course, the best part:

When is the last time you said “yes” to spontaneous fun with your kids?  What inspires you to have more fun moments?

22Oct

The Birthday Game

Today, I wanted to share about a fun, rainy-day game we play.  We call it “The Birthday Game.”  It’s a fun game because it’s very versatile and uses things that you already have.

The game got started when we were playing with a foam puzzle like this one:

The boys love to make them into a box.  So I started taking the top off and adding a small toy inside, and then the exchange goes something like this (it’s kind of like a knock-knock joke in that the exchange/responses are always the same):

Me: I have a surprise for you;
Child: For me?
Me: Yep :)
Child: What is it?
Me: Open it and see.

And then they open it and gasp (they get so excited, you’d think it was a “real” present! lol)….”Oh wow, it’s________” (Francesco, Lighning, buzz action figure, dinosaur toy…basically whatever would fit in our small box.)

This is also a great game to play on a long drive.  I brought our foam puzzle pieces and some small toys.  They each made a box in their seats and handed them up to the front and I filled their boxes with surprises…over, and over, and over!

Our game has grown and now we use a gift bag, and we’ve used it for homeschooling as well.  Here are some ideas:

-Alphabet birthday (fill a gift bag with toys/snacks that start with a particular letter)
-Number birthday (put a certain number of items in the bag)
-Community birthday (fill gift bag w/ toys related to jobs throughout community–fire fighter, police, ambulance, etc.)
-Color Birthday (fill bag with items of a certain color)
-Book time
-Animals
-Nature Items

The possibilities are endless, and you can change it based on whatever you’re learning.

My boys enjoy this game so much that they now play it completely independently, filling bags for one another.

Here is a little video of a recent “Birthday Game” where Caeden prepared Logan a movie birthday.

Does your family have any fun or silly made up games?

 

16Oct

Field Trip!

Yesterday was a fun day for us.  Daddy has been picking up acorns for work (He is a forest ranger, and one of his many tasks is to gather seeds for the state tree nursery).  So, yesterday we spent the morning helping him gather acorns.  We made it into a lesson about nature and trees, and the boys had a blast.  Please forgive the poor picture quality.  I think my camera was on a weird setting for part of them.

Here is what we spent the morning gathering :)

Logan, hard at work!  Someone gave us that halloween bucket last year, but we don’t celebrate halloween, so it became an outside play bucket.  Now, it’s an acorn gathering bucket.  He had so much fun filling it up, but mostly asking mom and dad to fill it up for him so he could dump it into the big acorn holder.

And of course, daddy was hard at work the whole time gathering acorns as well.

Caeden was so excited.  He woke up yesterday and said, “I have to get my work clothes on, because we’re going to work today.” Apparently, these are his work clothes:

Even mom was picking up acorns:

(Yes, I did really just post that awful picture of myself…see, all about authentic around here! lol)

And, we had some fun too:

The boys really enjoyed getting to “go to work with daddy” and we got to learn about the fall trees, and acorns and white oak.  We also learned that acorns can be really good math manipulatives :)

I wish I had taken a picture of the final product–a HUGE bag of acorns that we gathered over a couple of hours…but alas, I didn’t.

What are some of your favorite everyday field trips for homeschooling, or family outings?

 

 

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