The Mission Field in Your Home

One thing I often hear from stay at home moms is that they feel they aren’t reaching out with the Gospel of Christ.  They are so busy running a household, they have time for little else.  (Remember my post on What You Need to Know About Being a Mom Many Littles?)  These woman want to be spreading God’s Word, but they can’t find the time, the energy, or the babysitter.  I’ve even known some women who gave up homemaking and homeschooling in order to make a greater impact on their community for Christ.

What these mamas are missing is the mission field right in their very homes!

The Mission Field In Your Home - "Living and Ordinary Life in the Name of an Extraordinary Savior" | RaisingArrows.net

Before you hang up on me because I’m being trite, please listen to these words written to me in an email by a Saladmaster Cookware representative who visited our home last week:

“Your family is truly amazing and I felt I was on very sacred ground being in your home.  I am in homes all the time and see interaction in all sorts of wonderful families but have to say, yours is a real stand-out!  I consider it a privilege to have been among you.”

That blew me away.  Sure we get comments as we are walking down the aisles of the grocery store or in restaurants, but to have someone who had been around us for more than 10 minutes give such an amazing testimony to the Light of Christ IN OUR HOME blessed my busy homemaking/homeschooling mama heart!

My children as a mission field.

The Mission Field in your Own Home - don't miss it! | RaisingArrows.net

My mission field has always been my home.  I care for children all day long, doing my very imperfect best to instill the Gospel of Christ in them.  My intent is to raise them as arrows for the Lord to one day be shot out from our home and carry the Gospel with them.  Thus, the name of this blog – Raising Arrows.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”
~Psalm 127:3-4

Often, a mother of young children won’t see the fruit of her labor until much later, giving her the impression she’s not really reaching anyone.  However, a funeral we recently attended gave me insight into what a faithful following looks like at the end of the race…

The gentleman who was being remembered died at 93.  Although he was raised in the church, he did not become a true Christ follower until he was 40.  By that point, he had been married quite some time and had 4 children, but it changed his outlook and attitude dramatically.  However, he lived his life as an ordinary man, doing ordinary things; the difference was that he now did it for and in the name of Jesus.  Because of this, his impact on his world was EXTRAORDINARY.

All 4 of his children are believers, as well as most of their family and extended family.  All of them spoke highly of him and how he ministered to them as a family.  His work in the community was done in the capacity of his various jobs, and he was well-loved by those who knew him.

Once, he counseled Ty not to worry about taking the “right” job, but to do something he enjoyed and work for the Lord there.  He did a lot of work in the church, but again, it was done in the capacity of the gifts and realm of influence the Lord had already placed in his life.

Visitors as my mission field.

The day the Saladmaster representative came to cook us dinner, we all pitched in and cleaned the house.  That was the only thing I did to prepare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure half of my boys had on jeans with holes in the knees.  I had to leave the kitchen several times to change diapers, my 4 year old kept playing with one of the pans, and my 2 year old took off with the 1 pound fat glob the guy brought as a visual to explain how to cook healthy meals.  Perfect it was not.

But, it didn’t need to be perfect.  It just needed to be authentic.

Being a missionary is easier than you thought.

The Mission Field is your own Home - RaisingArrows.netBeing a missionary is a calling all Christians have and it has very little to do with your training or your location.  As a mama, it is about being authentic with everyone you come in contact with from your husband to your children to the mailman to the Saladmaster representative. It isn’t about saying the right thing or looking a certain way.  It isn’t about being the perfect hostess or reaching the most people.  It is about living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in the name of an extraordinary Savior!

Your life, your home, your testimony - it doesn't have to be extraordinary to reach others with the Gospel! | RaisingArrows.net

So, next time you are tempted to believe you aren’t really doing the Lord’s work, or what you are doing is much too insignificant, remember WHO is doing the work.  It isn’t you.  This isn’t about you.  Be faithful where you are.  The Lord didn’t accidentally give you these children or this life.  It was planned with a purpose.  Work where you are FOR HIM, and let Him do the rest.

Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Home School Hope Interview

Home School Hope Podcast interview with Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.netThis past week, I was interviewed on a podcast called Home School Hope.  I really enjoyed the interview, and I thought all of you might like to listen to it.  It’s not super long, so you can start it while you cook dinner and be done before your food is ready!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Jealous Siblings and Other Such Nonsense

One question I get asked a lot is if any of my children are jealous of the new baby.  I can honestly say I have never had this happen.  I have never had a child ask me to send back a younger sibling or act like they hate the new baby.  Which makes me curious…why is this?

Well, because I’m pretty sure this whole jealously thing is a lot of nonsense.

Jealous Siblings & Other Such Nonsense - the answer to what's really behind it from a mom of 9 | RaisingArrows.net

Before I end up with scads of email telling me I’m all sorts of wrong about this, hear me out.  If at the end of this post you still believe I’m wrong, feel free to let me know.

Sibling jealousy is often nurtured.

Sometimes it comes from mom and dad, sometimes a well-meaning grandparent, sometimes from Joe Schmoe down the street…someone says something that seems harmless and the little kid wheels start turning.  For instance, Grandma tells little Timmy that when his new baby sister is born he might feel like he’s not getting any attention, but his parents really do love him.

Hello?!  Let’s just set the little guy up for failure, shall we?

Or what about mom and dad who bend over backward to try to keep little Timmy from feeling jealous with presents and coddling.  Or maybe the opposite happens and mom and dad suddenly focus all their attention on this tiny creature, all the while making it very clear that Timmy is “in the way”.

Don’t encourage jealousy with your words and actions.  As adults, we are the ones these little people take their cues from.  If your cues are suggesting they *should* be jealous of a new baby, then they *will* be jealous.

Jealousy stems from confusion.

We have always made the new baby a part of the family from the time he or she is a tiny little bump in mama’s belly.  The baby is an addition, not a replacement, and our children are encouraged to dream about baby, shop for baby, talk about baby, and ask questions about baby long before the baby joins the family on the outside.

If you avoid talking about baby and letting your little ones interact with the baby before he or she is born, you end up surprising your child with a kicking, screaming doll that is terrifying.  Mom and Dad spend a lot of time dealing with this tiny human, and little Timmy is totally confused about who this person is and how he is supposed to interact if he’s never been told this baby is “his” too.

Yes, your child may be too young to understand (my little Creed couldn’t even remember me without a belly, and he certainly had no concept of what a baby really was), but don’t let that stop you from talking about baby and including your child in baby related activities like shopping for baby and baby showers.

Jealous siblings see the new baby as YOURS, not OURS.

Jealous Siblings & Other Such Nonsense - the truth behind sibling rivalry from a mom of 9 | RaisingArrows.net

We talk about OUR baby.  We tell our toddlers the new baby is THEIR baby.  We make sure they know this new little one is a part of OUR family, and we talk about what it means to be a part of OUR family.

They come to the hospital.  We encourage them to hold baby.  We let them join in diaper changes, baths, and feeding.  We are in this together ,and baby is an addition to our family dynamic that we all get to enjoy.

But, if a parent excludes their other children from the day to day routine of having a new baby, or they never talk about baby being OUR baby, a toddler or older sibling may get the impression the baby isn’t someone they should pay attention to or bond with.

All this aid, my biggest gripe with this whole sibling jealousy thing is…

Sibling jealousy is talked about way too much.

Any little sign of a child feeling jealous and we jump on the “we might warp them if we don’t do something quick” bandwagon.  We are so busy trying to nurture our poor jealous child’s psyche, we end up making things worse!  We run to grandparents, friends on Facebook, and even strangers in the supermarket to get their opinion on jealous siblings.  All the while, our little children are wondering what you are so in a tizzy over, but the attention they are getting sure is fun!  It doesn’t matter if the perceived jealousy is real or not, if little Timmy can milk it, he will.

He may actually be feeling a little left out and confused by this new person in his home, but if you run around like a crazy person, stressing over everything he says and feels, he’s not going to feel MORE secure, he’s going to wonder what is going on and act out even more!  Stop talking about it so much.  Stop stressing over it!  Bring little Timmy alongside you and baby and show him that having a new baby in the house is just the way things are and everyone is better for it.

I truly believe many “modern” sibling issues are a lot of hype.  We American parents stress over everything it seems.  Somehow we’ve got to get a grip and just be parents…be a family…have a life!  No more majoring in the minors.  Let’s enjoy our families!  Let’s show them just how wonderful and special new babies are.  Let’s try to keep things low key and normal.  No more jealous sibling nonsense!

So, now that I’ve laid it on the line, I’d love to hear from you!  Be respectful, but feel free to share your thoughts on sibling rivalry, especially pertaining to bringing a new baby into the house.  And if you have questions, feel free to leave those here too!  Raising Arrows readers are always more than willing to help other moms out!

DrinkBands Giveaway in Time for Easter!

It’s time to start planning for your Easter celebrations!  One thing you should consider adding this year is a set of DrinkBands.

DrinkBands Giveaway on RaisingArrows.net

If you give gifts to your children for Easter, wouldn’t it be fun to add a personalized DrinkBand in their favorite color to their Easter basket?

Are you having guests over?  Keep everyone’s cups separate with a set of DrinkBands!

Win a set of DrinkBands! | RaisingArrows.net

There are tons of colors to choose from.  You can personalize any color with your child’s name or nickname.  You can also bundle packs together and save!  They are wonderful to have on hand for company, and they make great gifts.  Grab a pack to leave at Grandma’s!  Grab a pack to give to a friend!  Shipping in the U.S. is always FREE!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

You know DrinkBands are a favorite here on Raising Arrows, so how about a giveaway?!

I’m giving away the DrinkBands shown above – a 9 Pack of Regular and a Party Pack (including the new Funky Tie Dye band!)  Enter the giveaway below (click here if reading via email):
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{GIVEAWAY} Kings of Israel – The Cooperative Board Game Your Entire Family Will Enjoy!

Kings of Israel Cooperative Game - Review & Giveaway on RaisingArrows.net

“This game is awesome!”
~Blake (17)

About a year ago, I asked you to help fund the Kings of Israel board game.  Today, that board game is available, and yes, it IS awesome!

Let me tell you a little about how the game works…

First of all this is a cooperative game, meaning you play against the game and not each other.  For our family, this means a couple of things.
1.  Our 14 year old daughter will play the game because she really detests competitive games…and
2.  Our entire family can play together (with help).
Note:  Kings of Israel is a mentally involved game where strategy is important.  Because of this, it is geared more toward teens; however, with a little help our elementary aged students have been able to play.

KOI4

 

In the game, each player is a prophet of Israel trying to build altars to destroy sin as the team works together through the the timeline of the Kings of Israel.  Each player draws a card at the beginning of the game to tell them what special action they have that will help the other team members out.  (For instance, you might draw a card that allows you to destroy all sin in an area every time an altar is built there.)

KOI1

There are 4 things you do each turn, and every player plays every round.  Sin builds with each round.  Where you are on the timeline of kings determines what kind of cards you draw that round.  The game is ever changing, and difficult enough that you will not win every time you play.  Because of the adaptability of this game, it will be a family favorite for years and years!

This has become a game Blake enjoys playing with friends.  He even took it with him on a recent trip!  The other children enjoy it a lot too, but Blake is definitely my kid with the strategic mind. 😉

As a mom, I am pleased with the quality craftsmanship.  I am also impressed that the makers of Kings of Israel (Funhill Games) have created a Biblically-based game that is intriguing, interesting, and intelligent.  I am always pleased when I see Christians working hard to create top-of-the-line products.  

By purchasing products like Kings of Israel, you are helping to support and promote these types of endeavors by fellow Christians.  And stay tuned to Funhill Games…I expect even more great things from them in the near future, including a Kings of Israel video game version!

Kings of Israel Coupon Code

Use coupon code: KINGSPRO when you buy from Amazon and get 20% off retail price.  This coupon code will expire on April 16, 2015. (affiliate link)

>> CLICK HERE TO ORDER <<

ANNOUNCEMENT:  The coupon code is not working properly on Amazon, so Funhill Games has reduced the price there so you do not need a coupon code.  When this issue is resolved, the price will go back up and the code will work.

Funhill Games is also generously giving away 3 Kings of Israel games here on Raising Arrows!  Follow the directions below to get your family entered into this giveaway.  Winner will be announced here on Friday!  (Reading via email?  CLICK HERE to enter.)
(Note:  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only due to cost-prohibitive shipping prices.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway