Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day Three: Conception and Birth

12 Jul

We’ll begin by saying the entire Apostle’s Creed together.

 

birds apostle's creed

 

Today, we’ll be talking about the following phrase.

 

conceived by the holy spirit

 

Luke 1:26-38: English Standard Version

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

This is going to be a little more difficult to explain to children. They don’t exactly know what “conceived” or “virgin” mean. You can go with my version, or with your own, whichever you’re more comfortable with given the age and maturity of your children.

Jesus wasn’t just another baby being born in Israel. His mother, Mary, wasn’t married yet. This baby, Jesus, was the Son of God. He grew in Mary like any other child- he was fully man. But he was also fully God. The Son of God became a little baby inside Mary’s tummy. He grew there like your grew in your mommy’s tummy. He was born like you were born. He needed His mommy like you needed yours. But unlike you, Jesus’s father was God, not a man. The sinless Son in Mary- Emmanuel- God with us!

Activity: Mystery Revealed! For this game, you’ll need a bag that you cannot see through and a few objects. Place an object in the bag, now let the kids ask questions about what is in the bag and see if they can guess what the object is. Once someone guesses the object, remove it! Mystery revealed! (If your children are too young or aren’t seeming to follow the clues, you can let them reach their hands in the bag and guess by feel.)

Art: O Come O Come Emmanuel Coloring Page.

Art: Jesus and Mary Coloring Page.  Please note: this is an icon. If you don’t like icons, use the other coloring page. It is interesting to note that the hands of the infant Jesus are held with two fingers up, a symbol of the two natures of Christ. (Son of God and Son of Man) Icon simply means “image”. There is a lot of fascinating symbolism in these art works.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day 2: And in Jesus Christ

11 Jul

We’re going to begin the same way we began yesterday, by saying the entire creed.

 

birds apostle's creed

 

Today, we’re talking about the beginning of the second paragraph.

 

and in jesus christ

 

John 3: 16-18: English Standard Version

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 14: 1-7: English Standard Version

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Sin had entered the world. We were all going down with the dead. Then God, our Maker, did something incredible. He sent His only Son. C.S. Lewis said, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” He came for you. He came for me. The name Jesus means “God is Savior” or “God is Deliverer.” Matthew 1:21-23 tells us about the angel coming to Joseph, telling him the promised Immanuel was coming very soon. “Rejoice, o world, your Savior has come!”

Activity: We’re talking about God’s only son coming to us! Immanuel- God with us! Even though it isn’t Christmas (or it isn’t when I’m writing this), let’s sing a few of our favorite Christmas songs.

Art: John 3:16 Coloring Page.

Art: God with Us Coloring Page.

 

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day One: God The Father

10 Jul

Let’s start our devotion today by saying the entire creed out loud.

 

birds apostle's creed

 

Today, we’re looking at the first piece. “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”

 

God the father almighty

 

Genesis 1 (entire chapter) – English Standard Version (ESV)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”  And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

The very first chapter of our Bible reveals God as Maker, Creator. He made everything. What about polyester? Cars? Plastic? you ask. Well, God made the universe, the atoms, the very people who created those things. Polyester wasn’t invented out of nothingness. It was made by a person who was created by God with materials created by God. The atoms didn’t poof from nothing. They were there, because God made them. God created. He said “Let it be” and it was. Something from nothing. Our best creative efforts are only a shadow of what God the Father is- Maker.

Activity 1: “Let There Be”- This is a game like “Simon Says” but instead of saying, “Simon Says” we’ll say “Let There Be”. (Repeating phrasing used in the Bible gets those words into our children’s minds.) So, take turns being Maker. “Let there be DANCING!” (And there was dancing!) “Let there be HOPPING!” (And there was hopping.)

Activity 2: In The Sculptor’s Shop: This game is more of a pretend game, so it may not be the best for littles. (Which is why there are two options.) One person plays the Maker. The others get to be sculpted into whatever the Maker desires. (Make sure Mom & Dad are playing, too! Making Mom & Dad do silly things is so much fun!) The Maker will make you stand on one foot, raise your hands in the air, flip your hair over your face, place a book on your head, etc. Try to stay still while the Maker creates! Make sure each kid gets a turn to be Maker. (If you’ve got an even number of people, you can pair up to make the game move a bit more quickly.)

Art 1: Grab your clay or Play-Doh and let your children (and you!) experience the joy of creating. Create anything you wish. You could each choose a day of Creation and create a sculpture based on that day. (Good luck on creating light.)

Art 2: Coloring Page.

Prayer: God, thank you for your awesome work! I enjoy the world you made and I am grateful I get to experience the beauty you created. Thank you for taking me in as a child of God. Thank you for being Father, Maker, and Almighty. Amen.

Author’s Note: Entire books have been written about God the Father, The Sovereignty of God, and God’s Creative work in us. Clearly, this one day lesson is not all encompassing about what it means that God is Father. It isn’t even all of what it means that God is Maker. In this short devotional format, I cannot go into all of what that means. In my life I cannot fully comprehend all that means. I could write forever and still not completely encompass “God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” If it is something your children show particular interest in, feel free to park it here and explore what it means that God is Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional

9 Jul

birds apostle's creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

(This is a fairly modern translation of the Apostle’s Creed.)

Three paragraphs. Christian belief at its core. If you’ve got negative opinions of the creed, let’s check those at the door and dive into this. Many people dislike creeds because they are mechanically parroted. But how amazing of a tool is it to teach your kids what we believe in a short, concise way that they can remember? Let the creed mean something to you. If you’re new to it, great! You’ll view it with fresh eyes. If you’ve had it memorized since you were four, amazing! You’ll find new life in teaching it to your children.

We’ll be going through the Apostle’s Creed step by step, disciple by disciple. The legend is that each apostle added a piece of the Apostle’s Creed, dividing it into 12 parts. We’ll keep those 12 parts as we travel through the creed with our families. Though the division is legend and isn’t likely factual, it’ll make it a fun way to divide it up for the kids, anyway.

Each day, begin with reciting the whole creed. It’ll get it into everyone’s mind. Maybe by the end you’ll find your children (or even you) have memorized the creed. You can print out the image I am providing to go along with this devotional series. I promise, I don’t mind. You could begin by making your own artwork for your house with the creed displayed on it. Whatever you do, keep this creed in front of you as you go through. Don’t think you agree with all the parts, keep reciting them anyway. We’ll pull this all together by the end.

All activities are optional. You may find your kids like arts but not games. They may love games but not art. They may be old enough for discussion, debate, and question and answer sessions. The core is the Scripture, the creed, and the lesson. The rest is just fluff. Use however much of the fluff you want.

For my family, we’re doing a devotion a day for five days a week. So, the 12 devotions will last about a week and a half. I’m also offering some incentive (prize, bribe, whatever you want to call it) for those that can memorize the entire creed by the end. My children have heard the creed before, so I expect this to be no problem for them.

 

Hand Embroidered

3 Jul

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I hand embroidered an adorable shirt for Topher’s first birthday party. Hand embroidery is so easy. Really. No rules and counting like cross-stitch. Just draw or copy a picture and embroider on top of it. Easy. I call it drawing with thread.

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I printed out a gnome from my Doodle Stitching Motif book. This was not a gnome party, so I had to transform him into a lumberjack. I rounded the hat, added legs, added a belt, added an arm with an axe. made the shirt plaid, and called him a lumberjack! Ta-da!

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I printed out the Impertinent Birch free pattern from Wild Olive. Isn’t it cute? I made the face match in style to my lumberjack.

I transferred both onto the shirt, embroidered, and had an adorable shirt for an adorable baby! ( I also used backing and hooped it, both are easy.)

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If you’ve considered taking up hand embroidery, do it! It is a cheap craft. It is appropriate for kids who are old enough to be trusted with pointy things. It is so much fun! You can draw anything you want and then embroider it! Fabulous! I really think hand embroidery should be way more popular than it is. Try it.

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Large Family FAQs

26 Jun

 

First, I don’t necessarily feel I have a large family. I don’t know when I will think that title fits, but it was bestowed upon me by the general public when we had three kids and now, at five, I still don’t feel it fits. Larger than average, I’ll admit, but not yet large. Maybe I will never feel like it fits.

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People ask us these questions. Sometimes, they are genuinely curious about what it is like to be inside one of *those* families. Sometimes, they are being butt heads. Sometimes, they just don’t know what to say and feel like they have to say something.

 

1. Are they all yours?

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Yes, they are. No one in their right mind would round up the neighborhood kids for a trip to Costco. Clearly, they all look similar enough that it is safe to assume they are, indeed, siblings. But yes, all ours.

 

2. Are you done?

Well, the baby won’t be moving out for at least 17 more years, so it is safe to say we’ll be in this parenting gig for at least that much longer. So, no, not done.

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3. Are you going to have more?

See, I think this is what you meant in question 2. The honest truth is that we don’t know. Given my age and health, I’d say it is likely that we’ll have more, but who knows? We do not plan our family. Yep. You read that correctly. We see the eternal impact of whether or not another soul exists as being slightly above our pay grade. So, we leave that in much more competent hands, God’s. Feel free to ask him. “Dear Lord, will the Godbold family have more children?” Let me know what He says.

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4. Did you plan to have this many?

We do not plan our family. That is not to say each child is an “oops”. We don’t believe such things either. We are open to God’s blessings at any time and we fully participate in His creative work in our marriage.

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5. Yeah, but, did you want this many?

We accept what God gives us. Right now, that is five. And each of them is very much wanted and very much loved. Do you want God to bless you and work in your life? We see this as being part of that.

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6. Did you always see yourself having a large family?

When we were in pre-marital counseling, The Pastor said he wanted 2, a boy and a girl. I told him I wanted 10. I didn’t say that because I actually thought we’d end up with 10 kids, but because I am an anarchist at heart, so when the culture tells me 2, I feel the need to show them up. I didn’t really SEE myself with any kids, or even being married, though I was getting married. My mind just never works like that. I hope for the future, but never actually see it unfolding inside my brain until I am there. I’m weird like that. The Pastor said 2 because at the time, he bought that cultural lie that 2 kids was perfect. He should tell you about that inner change in him sometime over on his blog.

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7. Did you come from a large family?

No. The Pastor is an only son of an only son of an only son. He has one sister. I have two brothers.

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8. Do you know what causes that?

Actually, we do. And I think if more people thought about the creative work of God in their marriage a little more, they’d be far less stressed out and likely have a few more kids, too. In marriage, we find that God creates new souls through love. How amazing is that? I feel very honored to be a part of something so eternally significant. We choose not to separate ourselves from the procreative nature of God in marriage. We leave ourselves open to allowing God to bless our union. (Please know that I am not saying the only purpose of sex is procreation.)

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9. Do you need a hobby?

I have plenty, thank you.

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10. Are you against birth control?

“Birth control” is such a broad term. Here is where I stand (and The Pastor has his own thoughts on this, his are more philosophical. Maybe he’ll share them with you sometime.). Hormonal birth control (pill, patch, ring, embedded in your IUD) kills women. Strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, murderous rage (kind of joking on that last one). It isn’t good for you. It isn’t worth the risk to me and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. You take it if you want, but seriously, read up and know the risks. It isn’t even all that effective for those risks. No thanks. So, what about copper IUDs? Nope. They kill babies. I believe life begins at conception, so clearly I would not choose an IUD. (And don’t be delusional about Mirena IUDs. They combine the bad of a regular IUD with hormonal birth control, so you’ve got double trouble going on there.) (And yes, I am aware not everyone is on board with the life beginning at conception thing, but we’re talking about me and my choices here.) What about condoms, spermacide, sponges, films, diaphrams, etc.? Sometimes we try to contol nature to such an extent that it begins to control us. But no, I am not using any of those or okay with using any of those personally. What about natural family planning? I would say this would be the best option across the board, and the one I would recommend to women who come to me asking my opinion on the subject. (Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an excellent book about NFP or FAM, whichever you happen to us. NFP= No intercourse on fertile days if you are avoiding pregnancy. FAM= using an alternative method like condoms or sponges or voodoo on your fertile days if you are avoiding pregnancy.) But for us, the conversation usually goes something like this:

“Do you want to avoid getting pregnant this month? My fertile days are coming up.”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“Well, I think it’d be nice to have more space between babies. But what if I miss my window? What if these are the last months of my fertility? What if we miss out on the kid that could possibly be this month? What if this kid is the next John Wesley? Or Mother Teresa? Or he is just a really awesome cook? What if we never have anymore and we never get to do another first birthday party or see a first smile or hear a first word? What if the baby days are behind us?!”

“Uh. So you want to try for another baby?”

“I never said that. Having a baby hurts. But what is some pain in relation to an eternal soul in existence? But we’d have to pay for another birth! And we’ll need a bigger car! And I’m pretty sure our baby swing has forever bitten the dust.”

“So…?”

“This is above my pay grade. Seriously. Let’s just forget this whole conversation ever happened.”

“Okay. Not trying. Not preventing. Sounds good to me.”

“Good. Planning is too stressful.”

imogene 1 magic

 

11. Are you Catholic? Mormon?

I find it slightly sad that we assume only those two religious groups might have a larger than average family. We are Evangelical Christians, Protestants, Methodists, Free Church Wesleyans, Wesley Armenians, Holiness People. I know many of my Protestant brothers and sisters do not like to think about the ethical or moral implications of birth control. I know many of them don’t l ike to think, period. (A jab, I know. I’m sorry. Not sorry enough to delete it because I do think you need to think more about what you do and what that says about your faith and your Lord.) We believe children are a blessing. (And we really believe that, we don’t just say it.) We choose to remain open to God and allow Him to bless us as often and much as He so chooses. Not sure why you think you have to be Catholic or Mormon to have that kind of faith.

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12. Are you trying to be like the Duggars?

No. I’m also not trying to be like my neighbor, my friend, or some random actress I’ve never met. I’m sure I’d get along fine with the Duggars, but every family that is larger than average is not trying to emulate a TV show family. Every blended family is not trying to be The Brady Bunch. Every stay at home mom is not trying to be on Desperate Housewives. Every mom of multiples isn’t trying to be John & Kate Plus 8. Just because some portions of our lives are similar, does not mean we want to BE them. I haven’t watched enough 19 Kids and Counting or even read Michelle Duggar’s book to even know how much of our beliefs are in line. Good for them, though, being willing to accept the blessings of God despite the critical and hateful toward families culture we live in.

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13. How many do you want to have?

Again, not a planner. I’m not trying to achieve some perfect collection of little people who look slightly like me but more like The Pastor. I’m not aiming for a baseball team or a football team or any other kind of sport’s team (though a family folk band would be pretty awesome, gotta admit). We will have however many children God gives us. That might just be 5, and I am cool with that. We’ll talk in 20 years when my childbearing days are behind me and we’ll see how many we ended up with. (I should also note, our openness is not limited to biological children. We would happily take in foster or adoptive children if the Lord laid that on our hearts.)

I’m going to get even more personal here for a minute and share with you our story. We tried for 2 years before having our first child. After a year, we began the whole slew of fertility testing. In the end, the doctor we were seeing told us we needed to decide how far we were going to take this medically because the next step was IVF. We prayed. We had prayed and cried out to God for 2 years to give us just A child. All numbers were forgotten and we would have felt blessed to just be given one. We decided not to go the IVF route. We absolutely felt that for us it had become an issue of who we would put faith in, God or man. (I am not saying this becomes the case for everyone and know some very faithful couples who have conceived their precious children through IVF. But for us, it became an issue of faith and we knew it.) We decided to trust God. We decided we were done with trying. We began looking toward adoption, thinking maybe a closed womb was a sign that God had a different path in store for us. Boy did he! In July 2005, I quit seeing my fertility doctor. I quit taking my fertility meds. And we up and moved to Mississippi for The Pastor to go to seminary, since clearly we had some time before becoming a family with children. In August, I got pregnant. No drugs. No doctors. No “trying” really. (Some of you understand the land of OPKs, pregnancy tests multiple times a day, and obsessing over every twinge and half symptom.) Once our beautiful baby girl was born, how could we then say, “Thanks God for this blessing. We’re so glad we trusted you. Now we’re done with that because we don’t trust you to give us a reasonable number of children in the timing we deem reasonable.” We couldn’t. We left it in His hands. And 15 months later, He blessed us again. And 22 months later, again. And 23 months later, again. And 24 months later, again. He gave us the child we so desperately longed for and then multiplied it by 5! From infertile to 5 children, why would I take back over when He is clearly doing a much better job than I was? And how could I say, “Thanks for all you’ve given me, but enough. I’ll take it from here.”?

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14. How do you feed them all?

With food. *chuckle* We go to multiple stores. We take advantage of Costco a good bit. Amazing deals to be had at Costco. We also take monthly trips to Trader Joe’s. I wish they’d build one closer because they are amazing! We used to make weekly trips to Trader Joe’s, but it got to be a little much for us. I also shop at Kroger and Whole Foods. Whole Foods has an amazing bulk section. Dried beans of all varieties, rice of all kinds, spices at unbelievable prices! You’d be amazed. Once upon a time, I coupon shopped, but I find it more expensive than just making most things from scratch and using Costco. Convenience foods are mostly out. A single box of PopTarts is one breakfast here. A box of Little Debbies is one snack. Making your own is healthier anyway. Plus, have you ever tried to flip through coupons with 5 kids in a grocery store? Here are a few recipes and cookbooks to check out. You can also follow me on Pinterest for more recipe ideas. I usually double recipes, though sometimes a single recipe will make enough for all 7 of us. (Since 5 of them are children, after all.)

Bean by Bean.

Pioneer Woman Frito Chili Pie.

Pioneer Woman Cajun Chicken Pasta.

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15. How do you afford them all?

There is this crazy belief in our culture than children are ridiculously expensive. But really, they aren’t. Other than his birth, the baby hasn’t cost me anything. I breastfeed, which is free. I use cloth diapers, which I hand down from kid to kid. (I pay roughly $300 for diapers every 3-4 kids.) Sure, my grocery bill is higher, but it is still well within the reasonable realm. So, we may have to be vegetarians 2-3 nights a week. It is better for our health anyway. Really, I sometimes wonder how people without 5 kids can justify certain purchases. $200 on a car seat isn’t so bad when it goes through 3 kids. $100 on a 16” bike, then $100 on an 18” bike, then $100 on a 20” bike- not so reasonable with one kid. When you know 5 will go through them, not so bad. No, our children will never have huge trust funds and a free ride to college (on us, at least), new cars when they turn 16, or 5 gaming systems. But they exist. And they are loved. And that is enough, I think.

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16. Where do they all sleep?

People think we must live in some mansion. We don’t. We have plenty of room in our 4 bedroom (3, actually. A basement room 2 floor from a bathroom hardly counts, folks.) 2.5 bathroom rental house is plenty big enough for us. We have the master bedroom where The Pastor, the baby, and I sleep. We have a crib in there, but honestly, he never sleeps in it. Imo has her own bedroom, being the only girl, but Ransom usually sleeps in her room because the boys bother him. (They talk while they go to sleep and they get up 2 hours before Ransom likes to get up.) And then we have the boy’s bedroom, where we have two twin beds and a toddler bed (because I did not plan ahead). Eventually we’ll put two sets of bunks in there, but right now, we’d prefer them to be closer to the ground. Closet space is really what you should be asking about! That is what large families have so little of. Finding places to sleep is easy. Bunks, trundles, triple bunks, day beds- you have plenty of options. Closets are where we are lacking. Of course, you know how kids are- you put them to bed in their bed and they end up on one blanket on the floor, sleeping under the bed, in a siblings bed, or in my floor. I think they’d be happier if I just lined some mattresses up along the floor for one giant kid bed.

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17. What kind of car do you drive?

This is why I think we’re not a large family yet. We still fit into a mini-van. MINI! That should say something. A large family cannot fit into a MINI van. We have a Dodge Caravan- I think it is Grand. The Pastor went and got it from a used car lot with zero input from me days before the third was born. (Likely because I had a massive freak out, crying that the baby had no where to sit to come home from the hospital, since we had a 4 passenger Honda Element at the time.) I have 2 booster seats and a Sunshine Kids (now Diono) Radian on the back row and a Sunshine Kids (now Diono) Radian and a Combi Coccoro in the middle Captain’s Chairs.

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The trick to maxing out a minvan is in narrow seats (Combi Coccoro, Diono Radian, Evenflo Amp, Britax Parkway) and seat belt extenders. (We bought ours from the company More of Me to Love.) Seat belt extenders make buckling the booster seats in possible. Is this ideal? No. But it works and is reasonable safe. If you want to comment and tell me how I shouldn’t be using these, feel free to donate $30,000 and we’ll happily accept and purchase a larger vehicle. For now, this works well for us. Now, should God bless us with a sixth, we’ll have to be van shopping.

I do have a few complaints for car companies. First, why do you put carpet in a minivan? You know we’ll be tossing goldfish crackers, french fries, and chocolate milk back there. You know crayons will drop between the seats, suckers will fall from tiny hands, and dirt will be caked onto cleats. Why torture us with the carpet? Check out the Honda Element’s flooring. That is what minivans should have! (2) Why only 3 LATCHES and why the ridiculous one in the back BETWEEN two seats? How hard is it to just put a LATCH on each actual seat? Why the strange between two seat LATCH? Torture. Again. Think things through guys! Hire a mom to help you plan these things out.

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18. Do you just love kids?

I think all children are a blessing from the Lord, but I am not, at all, a “kid person”. I like MY kids. Liking my own children is much different than saying I like ALL children. All children are a blessing and I do my very best to treat them like the little people made in God’s image that they are. I’m actually pretty good with kids. But I am not a kid person. (And I have met a great many “kid people” who are not parents.) You don’t have to have the gifts and disposition of a preschool teacher to be a mom to many. You just have to treat them as people, love them, and be yourself with them. I am a mother. I am not a collector of children. I do not long to be a preschool teacher or babysit the neighborhood.

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19. Do you have a TV?

Yes. Not a very large one. And no cable, but we have Netflix, Amazon, and some Roku channels. I’m not sure what TV has to do with the number of children we have. Do you regularly substitute TV for intimacy with your spouse? How is your relationship?

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20. How do you do it?

I usually want to tell you about the birds and the bees when you ask this, but I know that is not what you’re getting at. I did not wake up one morning with 5 kids waiting to be fed in my kitchen. They came to me one at a time with time to adjust and prepare and learn as I go along. I have not always been a patient person, having five children will teach you something about patience. I have not always know how to let go of small things that don’t matter, having five children will teach you about letting go of the small stuff. I am not super humanly organized, though I am more organized with five than I was with one or two. One by one, these kids are teaching me to be a better person. I am grateful for that. Parenting is a 24 hours a day gig- be it one kid or 10. Yes, we learn better how to fill and balance those 24 hours as we go along, but we are all putting in our all 24 hours a day. (Even when we are sleeping! My brain sorts some burdens out for me while I sleep quite often, so I consider that productive time. Plus, I’m on call.)

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21. Don’t you need to rest between babies?

I’m never sure how to take this. But to answer you, these are my childbearing years. All the years of my life will not be like this. I maintain my health, and I accept and embrace my role during this phase of my life. These are my years to bear children. One day, these years will be passed, and my body will rest- well, not really, it’ll simply move to the next phase. But bearing all these children is actually medically beneficial to me! What?! Having 5 has lowered my risks of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding 5 has lowered my risks of breast cancer. This is what I was made to do. To quote Ina May Gaskin, my body is not a lemon. My Creator is not some careless mechanic. When my body is ready to bear another child, it lets me know. I ecologically breastfeed- meaning I feed my baby around the clock and bed share with him. When he stops eating so much at night, it send my body a message that he no longer needs me so much, and we are ready to carry another. It is amazing how God created us. While my little one needs me, I don’t cycle. They naturally space themselves.

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22. Were they all born naturally?

I understand the curiosity people experience when wondering if moms of many have these super easy pop ‘em out kind of deliveries, but this question still always confuses me. I never know if you’re asking if they were born vaginally or if they were born without intervention or if they were born without pain medication or if they picked their own birthday. So, the confusion on my face with this one is usually because I don’t know how to answer. All their births were different, and what I chose for the first two may not be what I chose for the next two. Their just different. And one person’s version of “natural” isn’t another’s. So, here is the birth scoop on my five.

Baby 1: I was told childbirth was going to really hurt. And that I could not prepare for it. And that while natural sounds best, most people just can’t do it, so have a back up plan. I was seeing a hospital based OB group. I didn’t consider a birth with anyone other than an OB in a setting anywhere other than the hospital. I was going to “try” naturally but get an epidural if I just couldn’t do it. At 35 weeks, my water broke on its own, an hour later contractions started, an hour later I was in the hospital checking in where they told me I would need to request my epidural in advance since no anesthesia was on duty, an hour later I requested the epidural after I was told 5 times I needed to ask BEFORE it started hurting “too bad”, 45 minutes later the anesthesiologist arrived to place my epidural, 15 minutes later the baby was born. The epidural was placed but not even test dosed. It was removed immediately after she was born. She was held in the nursery for 5 hours due to her size (5lbs2oz) and gestation. We stayed in the hospital for 4 days.

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Baby 2: At 35 weeks, they found the baby to be breech (butt first). I wanted to try a vaginal breech birth, but the OB practice I was with did not do them nor did anyone in the area. At 36 weeks, an ECV (external cephalic version- they try to flip the baby from the outside) was attempted in the hospital. It did not work. At 37 weeks, my OB checked me and I was 4 cm dilated, so they sent me up for a c-section. I did have pain medication. (You’d be shocked at the number of people who ask if I had pain medication for my c-section.) I had a spinal and some IV pain medication. It is major abdominal surgery. Medication isn’t an option- you have to have it. He spent 10 days in the NICU with fluid in his lungs as a result of the c-section and not being squeezed in labor. (Labor is beneficial! Who would have thought? Those contractions are prepping the baby for life on the outside.)

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Baby 3: My original OB did not do VBACs and became insistent on tying my tubes during my repeat c-section. I asked for the opinion of my perinatologist and he did not think tying my tubes was necessary. (I have a uterine anomaly. It isn’t very common or studied. So, my OB at the time thought I should not take the risk of the unknown and should end my childbearing. After all, who wants more than 3 kids?) I lost my trust as the OB continued to push for tying my tubes and I was not comfortable letting her cut me open, not knowing if she’d even listen to me saying no. So, I found another doctor who did VBACs. He was not scared of my uterine anomaly or of VBAC. And I had a successful VBAC with him. (Link to birth story.) I had AROM (artificial rupture of membranes- the use a sharp crochet hook looking thing to break you water in hopes that the extra pressure of baby on cervix without a cushion will speed up labor. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It has its risks that you should definitely look into before agreeing to it.), membrane stripping (where they sweep their finger around the inside of your cervix in early labor, or sometimes before, in hopes to get labor going better), and a heplock. No pain meds. But the interventions were hardly natural. But the baby did come out vaginally. Put that in whatever column you think it belongs. We stayed in the hospital 5 days, thanks to an over zealous NICU.

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Baby 4: Same OB in a hospital. Second VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Same interventions. Membrane stripping, AROM, and helplock. No pain meds. Hired a doula this time- made a huge difference in the experience. Stayed in the hospital 10 days because of a NICU with a god- complex.

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Baby 5: Homebirth. It just made sense. No NICU to deal with. No where to go in labor. I had skilled midwives (one CPM, one CNM) come to me. No interventions for the actual birth. My placenta had to be manually removed, and I did have meds for the bleeding after, since the placenta got stuck. I took some Ibuprofen after he was born.

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23. Are any of them twins? Triplets?

I hate disappointing people and telling them they are really just meeting 5 siblings, no multiples. People get so excited about multiples. But no, no multiples. They are 15, 22, 23, and 24 months apart in age. That does give me Irish twins, but not actual carried-at-the-same-time multiples. ` Sorry to disappoint.

 

IMGP0883Questions I did not cover? Leave them in the comments! Questions you get asked? Leave them in the comments or over on the Facebook page!

 

 

Hands Free Mama: A Book Review

19 May

 

 

2 out of 5 Stars

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I wanted to like this book, really, I did. It came so highly recommended, I thought it’d be life changing since so many other moms were saying it changed their lives. It was not life changing. In fact, I found the entire book useless and obnoxious.
So, hey, you decide you want to live “hands free” and put down your phone and computer and really be present. So, what is the first thing you do? Start a blog? Start a Facebook group? Write a book? No? Oh, well, I wouldn’t either, but this author did just that. Took a personal conviction and made it into a movement. Still not sure how that freed up her time. I guess she just felt less guilty about writing a book about limiting her commitments than she felt about the previous commitments. Baffling to me, really.
A lot of this stuff just didn’t apply to me. Not that I have it all going on, we just don’t all struggle in the same ways. I’m a homeschool, stay-at-home-mom. Clearly her drive to school issues will never be my issues. Clearly her “spending time with the kids” issues won’t be my issues. So some of her advice would just be bad advice to someone not in her predicament 100%. Example: She scolds herself/you (hard to tell with this one) about turning on music in the car and wanting to not talk to the kids in the car. She decides to be the “fun mom” and make every drive an opportunity to exert herself in entertaining and engaging her kids. Whatever, it works for her. It would not work for me. #1- I’m not a fan of distracting myself while driving around a full van of kids. #2- I don’t feel the need to entertain my kids in the car. #3- I spend plenty of time connecting with my kids, since mine are with me and not at school the majority of the day. #4- There is zero guilt in turning on some relaxing music and letting the littles just nap in the car.
She used the phrase “If there is anything I have learned…” a million times. Well, it was short of a million, but enough that it started driving me crazy every single time I read it.
Several of her good points were not original. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter were better than anything else on the pages. And much of the decent, worthwhile advice, I am certain I have heard in other places.
This book moves so slowly. For someone short on time, she really does use an awful lot of unnecessary words. She waxes on and on about the same dumb point endlessly. Honestly, the whole book could have been broken down into maybe a couple lengthy blog posts. She spends an awful lot of time just talking about nothing at all, it seemed.
She places significant pressure on moms to make everything for their kid magical. Life just isn’t like this. Sometimes chores and just chores and there is no bubbly musical montage moment in there. A lot of Mommy guilt could be heaped upon my head for having a less than Disney Magical Moment multiple times a day with my kids. In fact, most of this book is a giant Mommy Guilt bomb.
I tried to keep in mind where she is in life. She’s a mom of 2 out of the home schooled kids. That isn’t my life. She isn’t juggling the needs of 5 kids. She isn’t juggling a toddler or baby right now at all. Her perspective was simply a lot less helpful for me than I anticipated.
She is super sappy. Ridiculously so. Many, many pages of stories that are just dripping in saccharine sweet nonsense. She also seems to live her life in a very terrified place. “My kids may never walk back in…” “I may never get the chance to hug them again…” Is this some kind of new Mommy YOLO that I’ve not been privileged to encounter?
She kept saying, “The truth hurts but the truth heals.” However, she wasn’t offering much truth. In her over sentimentality, she lost almost everything she was trying to say. Most of the book was just fluffy vagueness.
“Is there anything that can’t wait until Monday on your schedule?” Well, actually, yes. That is why we have a schedule. Ballet only happens on Tuesday. The kid’s birthday only comes one day a year. Church happens to never fall on a Monday.
I understand that we need to live for today. Much more eloquent people than I (and Mrs. Stafford) have said that better. But there is a major fault in only living for today. In always living thinking you’re going to loose everything at any moment. You can grasp the thing so hard you crush it. Mrs. Stafford, I think, was heading in the right direction in her thinking, but came to all the wrong conclusions and sticking points. We need priorities. We need to live intentionally. Mrs. Stafford is all hung up in the nit-picky little details of it all and is still stuck in the web not seeing the big picture. Rachel Stafford needed to be present in her life, but she also needs direction. You can be busy without ever really doing anything.
You don’t get bonus points for doing what is needed when your kids are sick, hands-free or not. We all have to stay up all night with a sick kid sometimes. That is no indication of being on the “correct” path or journey.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. I would hardly call the author an expert on what she’s written. She wrote a book based on her popular blog and stuck and cute Pinterest worthy cover on it and now you buy it and she gets money. That is about all there is to this story. The book makes several contradictory points, mostly because, I assume, Mrs. Stafford’s head is full of these same contradictions. This is a book of someone who has been through this trial of being overly distracted. This is a book about someone who is still sorting this out, and missing much in the process.

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