I posted this a year ago on Facebook and thought y'all might enjoy reading it as well. The Vine can speak to you in mighty ways...
I have a muscadine vine in my backyard. It was here when we bought the house, but it is my pride and joy! I dream of having a garden one day, so I just pretend with this precious grapevine.
The Lord has used this to speak to me in such an impactful way. Just a couple of months ago there wasn't a leaf on it. There was, however, a leafy green something growing on the top of it. Not knowing much about plants, I asked a friend what it was. He told me it was a weed. To my untrained eye, I had no idea. The vines had no leaves, yet this weed was flourishing.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now have an abundance of leaves and a little bit of flowering has started. Last week I noticed that there were a couple of jack and the bean stalk-looking swirly things springing up about a foot above the top of my vine. They looked pretty, vibrant, and green. I thought perhaps they were new vines so I asked Richard and guess what? They were weeds!
Today I purposed to work on my vines and get rid of those bright green WEEDS. As I took my shears back there and began to work, the Lord began to speak to me. At the base of these "vibrant" weeds were large thorns. Way too many to count and they ranged in size from my thumb nail to smaller sizes. The base was wide, thick, strong, and thorny. What appeared as vibrant, green new growth on the vine was actually a weed stifling the vine's growth and stealing nutrients from the soil. On the surface with the other leaves, it was beautiful and interesting. On a deeper and closer level, it was just the opposite- ugly and a nuisance.
As my daughter Ava was helping me, it brought to mind her starting to build relationships with people now and in the coming years. She is young, naive, and impressionable. She may only see the surface level charm and beauty, and she may miss the heart of the person. This is what I have to guard her from... to teach her about...to give her scripture to reinforce.
The Lord called to my mind Matthew 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
This can be a warning to any degree on the character of people, ourselves included. Even the weeds flower and bloom, but guess what, they do not bear good fruit. They have no good thing to show from it. Let me tell you, it was WORK to clean up these vines and there is still work to do. The weeds act like vines and wrap themselves around the healthy grapevines to blend in. I have to literally rip and tear them off of each other. They are trying to become one.
Surely this sounds familiar to someone... Relationships can be life giving or exhausting. They can take from you and never replenish your soul. The Lord knows that! He warns us of these. What does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? Who could love like that? Who gives, requires no work from us, and simply asks us to accept this gift? Jesus. God sent Him just for that purpose, so that we could abide in Him. Think about that.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:1-4
As a mom, do you ever look at your precious child(ren) after a looooong week, or day, or, let's be real, hour, and think, "What can I do with you?" The kind of question that really means, "Mama's bout to lose it if we don't find a new happy for you my sweet child!"
...I know I do! I love my children. All three of them. In different and unique ways, they shape me. But sometimes I just want to say, “Lord, I think I'm in good enough shape for today! Thank you!”...You know what I mean?
But speaking of shape, y'all it is a new year and aren’t you SO excited about the guilt of New Year’s resolutions? I’ve never been a resolution maker, but I sure have been on the side of feeling less than because I wasn’t doing some drastic change in my life, career, or relationships. So here’s what I’ll say to that: Put Jesus first and then, girl, you do you! Resolve to make changes that are reasonable and DOABLE for you and your family. Not everyone has 27hrs a day (see what I did there) to dedicate to the gym, or making homemade organic EVERYTHING, or homeschooling their children, or climbing the career ladder to success when quite frankly, they’re afraid of heights! So again, you do you. I am a firm believer that we add stress and concerns to our lives that the Lord never intended for us. Then days, weeks, or months later, we are at the throne of God BEGGING for Him to help us. Hello. He never intended for you to have it to begin with. Seek Him first…sound familiar? btw this is 100% the Lord speaking to my life right now… What am I adding to my plate that the Lord knows I have no appetite for? Think on it.
Ok back to our precious children. We love them, but sometimes we feel crazy in the role of mother, am I right? Not to mention when we have the roles of wife, housekeeper, entrepreneur, doctor, policewoman, peacekeeper, cook, interior designer, gardener…I know it’s not just me, y’all! Some of us have a lot on us. And if we don’t have a lot, the little we do have keeps us plenty busy. But let’s remember to keep those roles in check and prioritized. First off, we have to remember our role as daughter to the one true King, the most high God, the good good Father. Forgetting that or failing to acknowledge that by spending time with Him daily will result in an unraveling of all other roles. We will seek fulfillment from a source other than Him, and that’s putting pressure where it was never meant to be. Our fulfillment is found in Him. Everything else is just added blessings.
Okay, onto our other roles! Next we are loving, respectful wives to our husbands, and grace-giving, merciful mamas to our sweet babies… Guess what? It was super easy to type those fancy adjectives that describe our roles as a wife and mama, but, y’all, it is a hard walk! Our sin-nature mixes the order of these roles, and our sin-nature does not like all this love, grace, and mercy. But that’s when we remember whose daughter we are…that’s when that primary role becomes most important! When we walk with Jesus daily, when we know His truths, when we pray them over our families, we become the likeness of Jesus to our spouses and kids. Yes, we make mistakes, but that’s because we become like Jesus, but we are in no way Jesus, and we need to make sure we keep that in line. Pride, arrogance, self-righteousness- these are nasty little things that can get the best of us and render us useless or worse, harmful to our families. Seek Him first…do I hear an echo?
"When we walk with Jesus daily, when we know His truths, when we pray them over our families, we become the likeness of Jesus to our spouses and kids."
So in an effort to bring some peace to your sweet but tired mama-mind, remember this…whether it’s your resolution, the moment to moment rambles, or your roles that have you feeling in over your head…take a deep breath, step back, and seek the Father. He wants to be a part of our lives and help us get out of the crazy that we put ourselves in…and also, He has a pretty good sense of humor and sometimes just wants to be along for the ride!
With love & laughter,
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Today in Tot School the great ideas continue! I hope you are enjoying using these and all the other learning games Allyson and Titus are sharing with us. I know I am.
On this day, Titus had fun making shapes with purple Playdoh and building purple towers with Legos. Allyson had also picked up a book about the color purple called Harold and the Purple Crayon. You could also use The Purple People Eater book or one of my personal favorite purple books is I Love You The Purplest. (I have used lessons out of that book many, many times throughout child rearing years to boost my children's confidence in how much and for what reasons Greg and I love them! Sometimes children just need to be reminded.) I'm sure there are many, many more appropriate "color" books as well.
"Every day you have with your children is a gift you can never repeat. Laugh often, snuggle much..."
Here's a lesson you may want to use:
Tot School continues with the number "3". This week they sorted blocks into 3 different containers. They could review some previously talked about colors and numbers as they worked with their blocks. Of course, you could use anything to sort... toy cars, their own shoes, Goldfish crackers, crayons, etc. If your child loves outside like Titus does you can even use rocks or sticks. If your daughter likes to pretend to cook in her little play kitchen, you could sort the plastic fruit or spoons into pots. The ideas are endless so whatever captivates junior is the perfect thing to use! The only requirement is to just write the number "3" on a piece of tape, paper or container (as Allyson did above) so they will associate the symbol with the correct number of objects. It's going to be a fun day for you!
We are already at the end of WEEK 2. Time has certainly flown!
Here's what Allyson had on the agenda for today:
Titus used his train to stimulate learning for "i" as in the "ice cream" that you see adorning his train. Then they used these great alphabet books as well. The ideas are endless. Chances are you also have lots of toys and items around your house that either directly stimulates for a specific letter or you can use to make up a learning game to correspond with what you are teaching. Build an "igloo" out of blocks, act out being an "indian" or count the "ice" in a glass.
We will be posting more of Allyson's ideas on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week with Friday being a blog in which Allyson gives some great advice to wrap up of this portion of her series on Tot School. If you are a young mom (or even an older mom with young moms you love), i don't think you'll want to miss it. Keep looking for more of what has proven to be a very popular idea page for young mothers and after next week we will look forward to catching back up with Allyson and Titus after they welcome baby Max into the world! Have a great day with your precious little ones and enjoy being moms who are in the process of building the next generation of great cathedrals for Christ.
Allyson, thanks for sharing a little of yourself with all of us!
Walking the road with you,
Here's an additional Lesson for Tot School:
Allyson picked out some great books for Titus to stimulate for the letter "D". Dog books were always a favorite and how much do you think Dad loved having a book about him and his favorite little guy! (Especially one by Jimmy Fallon! You know it has to be hilarious!)
Playing a "drum" was great for Titus but we aren't sure if that was one of Allyson's favorite days because the noise level may have increased just a L-I-T-T-L-E.
She also wrote the letter "D" on paper and let Titus trace with help. Then he got to color it in, well, kinda. Don't you love it!
Titus is off to such a great start in life thanks to mom's love and a little creativity.
We would love your ideas in the comment section below. Have a great day.
This day looks really fun using "YELLOW" as their target goal.
Here's what went down in Tot School on this day:
Allyson's creativity even excites taste buds. Titus had a yellow snack, did finger painting with yellow paint, made yellow lemonade, played with a multitude of yellow toys, and read books in which they pointed to yellow items as they read. Simple tasks with already available items. Just raiding your child's toy box and the pantry can give you an unlimited supply of ideas! So easy for your child to be learning when they think they are just having fun with mom!
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed:perplexed, but not in despair: persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body" -2 Corinthians 4: 7-11
"Let's just admit it. As moms we definitely don't have it all together. All of our power to love and mother our children comes from God." -Allyson
So... you are back in a routine after the Christmas sugar high, right? You saw on our last Mom2Mom post that Tot School can be fun and really very simple. We would LOVE for you to send us an update as to how you may have adapted Tot School to your little guy or gal. Readers are eating this stuff up! You can easily do just that under the "comment" section below. Who knows, maybe your household will be featured in week 3. If you include your email we can work on getting pictures of your Tot to post as well! As promised we have a sample of what Allyson and Titus did for week 2.
Here's what they did...
Monday: "B" I wrote the letter "B" on a piece of paper and included different words that started with "B". I had Titus repeat the words after me. We also explored a bucket of objects that started with the letter "B".
Tuesday: "blue" We built a blue Lego tower, made blueberry muffins together, created “blue foam” and searched for blue items inside of it, and read our Little Blue Truck books.
Wednesday: "2"- For the number two, I tried to pair objects that we were already playing with and while continually touching them with our index finger we counted “one, two.”
Thursday: "squares"- We used the same Playdoh from week 1 to create squares. I also drew some squares on paper and held Titus’ hand on the pencil as he tried as well.
God orchestrates everything that happens in our lives to somehow work for our good when we love him and are called for His purposes. His goal? ... to conform us and our children to the image of Christ. (See Romans 8: 28-29) Our job as parents? ... to allow Him to use us in reaching that goal. There's no better legacy that we could leave to our children. Enjoy your day!
As promised our friend, Allyson Sons, is sharing her "Tot School" ideas with you! Through these ideas, you'll clearly be able to see the passion she has for children and the love she has for the Lord.
Allyson developed her version of what she terms "Tot School" for her now 21 month old ball of energy, Titus. She and her husband, David, recently relocated to Lexington, SC to begin a new milestone in their ministry and at least for the time being, Allyson will be a stay-at-home mom.
She is always thinking of ways to stimulate Titus and excite him in the learning process as she prepares for her new little fellow, Maximus, who is due in February. It's so true that pictures speak a thousand words and you'll certainly be able to see and feel the love she puts into her time with Titus through each of them. Who said learning couldn't be fun!
Here's her story:
My name is Allyson and I am a new stay at home mom. I have 4 years of teaching experience that does not at all involve anything like Tot School! I taught 4th grade reading most recently. Titus is 21 months and an absolute wild man. Staying home with him has been an absolute joy but I found that, at times, both of us were bored. If I’m being honest, I also struggled early on with finding the value and worth in staying at home, feeling like I needed to do more. After all, I don’t have any test scores or reading levels to measure whether or not I’m doing a good job as a mother.
As I’ve talked with many other stay at home moms, I know that I’m not alone in this feeling. Before we get into the logistics of Tot School, let me encourage you, Moms, the work that you do each day is invaluable and is a high calling from the Lord. I’m reminded of this calling often when I read the book of Timothy. One of my very favorite and most encouraging pieces of scripture is found in the book of 1Timothy when Paul notes that Timothy saw his mother’s faith modeled before him in both his mother and grandmother. What a challenge for me to model my faith in Christ before my children.
I also love that we see a promise for us tucked away in Isaiah 40, “He will gently lead those that are with the young.” So, however you decide to structure your day at home with your little ones, remember that you are serving and working for the Lord. Tot school is simply a way that I structure my time at home with Titus.
The teacher in me decided to make a plan for some fun learning activities each week. Since my husband and I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling, I figured that starting a very simple type of “school” might aid us later in our decision-making. Because Titus is quite young, I really do the bare minimum for Tot School each week and look forward to being able to plan more for him next year. I chose to use a very basic plan that I can keep up without becoming overwhelmed.
On a week where we have minimal play dates and other events, I typically do Tot School lessons 3-4 days that week. Some other weeks, we may only get two days in. I make the letter days and the color days the priority on short weeks. This is simply my preference and also what I have the most age appropriate activities for.
My basic plan is as follows:
Mondays- letters (We started with "a" and learn a new letter each week)
Tuesdays- colors (I started with red and blue, the colors that I knew he was already familiar with, I’ve been choosing at random after that).
Wednesdays- numbers (numerical order)
Thursdays- shapes (I’ve been choosing at random).
I usually try to have 2-3 very brief activities planned for each day. Titus’ attention span is VERY short and all of the activities and learning combined last less than an hour. Some days this takes place in one consecutive time period and some days we do a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon.
A few pieces of advice: I’ve found that the most important thing is to plan activities and lessons around things that “fit” your child’s personality. For example, Titus loves to be outside and to run. Anytime I can teach something outside, I do. He really does not like to sit still or get his hands into strange textures. Therefore, finger painting is not something we do often. Since he is still very young, I want these experiences to be enjoyable and stress free for him.
Secondly, use things that you already have or that you can purchase inexpensively. Very rarely do I buy anything for our lessons.
Finally, our Tot School day always includes A LOT of reading. I try to match up at least one book for the day’s lesson but usually we take time to read many more than the one that I picked out. Because I am a former reading teacher, my biggest plea to Moms is to read to their young children. I will almost never turn down Titus’ request to read a book. Here's how we began:
Monday: " A " – We drew an “a” together and talked about words that we knew that started with “a.” I did most of the talking and Titus did most of the coloring.
Tuesday: "red" - We made red homemade Playdoh, explored a bucket of our red toys, and glued pieces of red construction paper onto a heart.
Wednesday: "#1" - Today, I just constantly counted with Titus. I also held up objects throughout the day and would show him that it is 1 item. I used his Legos and would ask him to find me 1 red Lego. We then had lunch at Chick-fil-a, so I told him that we would share 1 ice cream.
Thursday: "circles" - We drew some circles on our etch-a-sketch, recreated the shapes on paper, and then we used our Playdoh to make even more circles. This was Titus’ favorite day. He absolutely loved the feeling of drawing a circle. He still asks almost everyday to draw circles. I just put his hand on the crayon and then mine on top to help him draw.
**For Moms with older kiddos: There are some great free printable sheets on Pinterest for kids to color, write, or draw on (for shapes, colors, and numbers). Also, try going on a mini-scavenger hunt to find the different colors and shapes around your house! Most importantly, just have fun with it.
*More of Allyson's ideas to come in PSF's next Mom2Mom post! Check us out!
I'm a grandparent and I would LOVE this as a gift! (Hint, Hint!)
blank canvas frame
green acrylic paint and brush
small red Christmas balls
pretty ribbon of your choice
black paint or marker
paint sealer such as an art fixative spray or Mod Podge
Paint green paint on you child's feet (one at a time). Blot on paper towel to remove excess. Press onto the canvas. Repeat with other foot. Tie and attach the ornaments to the ribbon and bow with hot glue. Write "Mistletoes" on the bottom. Watch the hugs and kisses come your child's way!
Have fun with your child!
(Thanks Jenny for sharing this cute idea!)
Mom 2 Mom
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