The 8 Best Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

8 Best Things about having A Bunch of Kids

I guess I might as well come out with it.

I’m the mother of 8 children. And I love it.

This often surprises people when they learn that I have all these kids. They’ll say things like, “But you don’t look like a mother of 8 children!”

And then, occasionally,“Do you actually like having so many kids?”

I’m never sure how to answer that first one (Thank you…I think?).

The answer to the second is easier, Yes, I do.  I love it! Which some people seem to find interesting.

I could write a long list of all the things I love about having a bunch of kids, but here are some of the best . . . . 

The Best 8 Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

1.   I love the joy they bring. How their sweet faces look up at me with so much love.  The hugs. The laughter. The fellowship of family.

2.   I love all that I learn from them. They remind me to stop and wonder. They ask good questions and challenge me to think.They reveal areas in my life that I – apparently – need to work on. Ouch.

3.   I love how they have built-in friendships. If you’re bored or lonely, there’s always a buddy nearby. Someone to help with the work or someone to play a game. Someone to talk to or someone to snuggle.

4.  I love watching the older ones care for the young ones. How the teenagers get the opportunity to be selfless and put aside their own plans. The chance for them to look after the interests of these little guys—and their reward of smiles and sticky kisses.

The 8 Best Things about having A Bunch of Kids

5.   I love that I still have a young ones at home. Even if their older siblings have left home to pursue their own calling (Why do they grow up and go off on their own anyway…??).

6.   I love how much fun they are! Let’s face it, there’s nearly always a party going on around here. The little boys wake up ready and raring to go and the older girls look forward to the late-night thingYawn.

7.   I love how the little ones look up to their older siblings. For instance, our oldest son is something of a celebrity – a basic rock-star –  to our young boys whenever he comes back from college. Thankfully, he walks with God.  Could be worse, I figure.

8.   I love how they can reach the world. In ways that I can’t. Children seem to have this ability to soften even the hardest of hearts. There’s something about young people that breaks through the toughest barriers. They’re a bright light in a darkening world.

8 Best Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

So however many children you have – whether one, four, eight, or twelve – they are a gift from God, aren’t they? Children are truly a blessing.

*I’d enjoy hearing those things you love about being a mom to your children too! Share?

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

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Chasing The Perfect Life {When What You Really Want is Peaceful Living}

Chasing the Perfect Life

Last week I had a mini meltdown because I was overwhelmed by everything that I felt was not perfect in my life.

The never ending laundry, messy rooms, messy bathrooms, missing trim around a door, dirty carpet, debt, not enough time in my day, an older child who asked how to spell “hello”!!!, and my own character flaws.

It came down to the fact that I want my life to be perfect (at least perfect in my eyes) and I was tired of the fact that it wasn’t.

But chasing perfectionism is like chasing a phantom.

You can’t catch it.

Perfectionism, as we desire it, does not exist. Yet we spend hours, days, years, and tears chasing this illusive dream.

What does Chasing the Perfect Life lead to?

I have found that chasing after the perfect life does not lead to joy. Instead it leads to frustration, guilt, poor sleep, anger, and bitterness.

Have you experienced this too?

The quest for perfectionism is a lonely quest. It stems from selfishness and therefore we end up striving alone.  We try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and think that if we just do better, work harder, fill our week to almost bursting, and stay up later we can achieve all the things we feel pressured to achieve, for ourselves and our families.

Having a neat home is a good thing. And it is admirable to work at getting out of debt, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, teaching our children manners (or spelling), and being involved in extracurricular activities. The problem comes in our relentless pursuit of these things as if by them we will be made whole.

I promise you that chasing after perfection will wear us out, rob us of joy, stress our families, and lead us to forget God.

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
Eccl. 1:14

Chasing the Perfect Life

What Should We Chase Instead?

Jesus!

I know this answer may seem like a trite, Sunday School answer, but it’s the answer to all of our hopes, dreams and problems. When we pursue Christ all other things begin to fall into place.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

We find Jesus and his righteousness in the pages of a book that  is often neglected. If we would only remember how powerful and life changing this book is, we would treasure it so much more.  When we hold our Bibles we are holding a weapon stronger than anything man has ever made–”the sword of the spirit” which is the word of God.

This sword reaches deep into our hearts killing the lies that the world feeds us and tearing down the idols that we build. Our minds are renewed and our hearts are filled with truth. Truth that shows us that we have value beyond measure, love without ending, and acceptance no matter what our home looks like or the status of our bank account or the behavior of our children.

Our desire for perfection is fully met in our perfect Savior. He was perfect in all He did and part of our salvation is the imputation of his righteousness to us.

Chasing the Perfect Life

How Do We Find Peaceful Living?

If we want peace in our circumstances, fruitfulness is our work, and the achievements of our goals, then we need to look to Jesus. He not only saved us  from sin, death, and hell, but also from a life of worldly-mindedness and our attempts to make ourselves perfect. This is grace upon grace.

The temptation to find perfection in this life is real and it is persuasive. Combating this desire for perfectionism is a spiritual battle that is waged by faith in the truth.

I am learning that while I will not find perfection in this world, I have found it in Jesus. And that is a better kind of perfection. One that I cannot lose.

*Let’s talk: Have you ever experienced this vain pursuit of the perfect life? How did it affect you?

Blessings,
Jen

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

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Loneliness: 3 Surprising Truths That Can Change Everything

Loneliness: 3 Surprising Truths That Can Change Everything

I’ve been there more than once.

Unknown.

Aching.

Lonely.

I’ve heard the enemy whisper that I’m the only one in a dark empty corner. That this kind of pain isn’t fair. That if anyone really cared, they’d try harder to reach me.

Lies, all of them. But believed by so many of us.

The truths about loneliness might surprise you. No, they’re not easy to hear, but these three truths just might change everything for you.

1) Loneliness is not about your circumstances.

But I hear you. When you’re single, it’s so tempting to believe your pain would be alleviated by a soul mate. Divorced? Widowed? As you mourn the loss of love, you live in a place the rest of us dread. And some of you are married, yet completely alone emotionally or spiritually.

Then there are friendships. Or the lack of them.  But no friend can meet the deepest needs of the heart. Even the best friend forgets to check on you during the worst week ever, becomes enamored with a new friend… a new job… a new baby.

Do you see it? Loneliness finds its way into every life. New circumstances only bring new corners into which it can settle.

Ever since Adam and Eve chose their way over God’s way, loneliness has been the condition of the human soul. It’s not about our circumstances; it’s about our soul’s hunger for God.

2) Loneliness, like pain, is a gift — a symptom that alerts us to the real problem.

Medical studies prove the value of physical pain. Not only does it alert us to life-threatening danger, it also signals our brain to speed the healing process.

And loneliness is the symptom of our soul’s need for Jesus. It urges us to run to Him.

Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.  Psalm 62:8

He alone knows when you come and go, when you lie down and rise up. He chose you, formed you, knit you together and knows your inmost thoughts. No other friend will ever be so interested, so eternally invested.

Our spouses, our friends, facebook, chocolate . .. . none of them will fill the cracks of our hearts.

So stop. Stop for a moment and allow yourself to feel the ache of the loneliness. It’s telling you something. It’s pointing you to your true refuge.

Without loneliness, that gut-wrenching despairing kind of lonely that catches up to each of us eventually, we could never know God as our all-sufficient friend.

3) The ball is [almost] always in your court.

There are times when there is no choice. There is simply no one with you besides God. And in those moments, God will be enough.

He is enough.

But when you have a choice, remember: We are part of the Body of Christ. We weren’t meant to go through life on our own.
And while we’re quick to agree that we were meant to live in community, we’re also often slow to make the first move.

But do it.

You might be new to your community, your church, your ministry, your job. All those “settled” people around you should be welcoming you, embracing you, taking you into their lives and homes. (“Settled” friends, read this.)

But the chances are pretty good that they’re not. That’s how it often goes. I’ve been there.

So pick up the ball that’s in your court.

Make the first move. Make the second move. Make the third move.

It’s hard to break into what you see as a “clique,” I know; but don’t let bitterness, shyness, or awkwardness rob you of the joy of life in the Body.

In swallowing your pride, in humbly opening your life to those who haven’t yet really seen you, you bring Christ to them, and set yourself up to see Christ in them.

Loneliness - 3 Surprising Truths That Can Change Everything

Don’t believe the lies, my friend. You aren’t the only one feeling alone.

And your loneliness is not a curse, it’s a gift, reminding you that your eternal best Friend longs to meet your needs.

May He give you peace and also grant you courage to make the first step, the second step, and the third step toward a new friend.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.    2 Corinthians 13:14

*How have you seen the Lord use your loneliness to work good in your life? And how can I pray for you today?

Blessings,

Jennifer

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

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Chocolate Snickerdoodles with White Chocolate Chips {& the Gift of Encouragement}

Chocolate SnickerdoodlesIn our women’s Bible study at our church, we just finished reading the book of Job.

Prior to this study, I hadn’t read that particular book before, and now we’re headed into the book of Hebrews, another book that I haven’t read!

As I was reading through the first two chapters of Job, I was just struck with such a deep sympathy for this man.

He lost everything!

And then his friends traveled from afar to sympathize and comfort him, and they sat with him in silence for seven days and seven nights. Then, Job opened up to his friends and what he received for his honesty was not pleasant at all.

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

His friends judged him, blamed him, and rebuked him.

My heart broke for Job, and (on a far lesser scale) I was reminded of when I suffered a miscarriage several years ago. My heart was broken for the child I lost. I was so confused as to why it happened and if I could have somehow prevented it.

I had people in my life who were judgmental.

Instead of offering encouragement, they offered words that left me feeling even more broken, helpless, and confused. (Matthew 15:11)

The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,” is the worst saying in history (in my opinion – maybe a slight exaggeration there!) . . .

Because words stick to your heart and mind like glue and have the ability to poison your thoughts –  which then can potentially poison your actions.Chocolate Snickerdoodles

But God is so good, because he did provide us (Josh and I) with friends we could turn to. A beautiful meal was brought to us and while Josh and our friend’s husband stayed downstairs and talked and counseled, his wife found me upstairs curled up in my bed crying.

No words were exchanged.

She just hugged me for the longest time. And let me talk. And talk. And talk. And cry in between talking. (Galatians 6:2)

It was just what I needed in that moment. And two months later, God blessed me with another pregnancy which resulted in my middle child, Eden.

Encouragement and compassion comes in so many varieties.

It can be as simple as sending or bringing flowers to someone, sending a thoughtful card, bringing a meal, an encouraging book with a box of tea, or dropping by with a listening ear and a plate full of cookies like these ones.

These chocolate snickerdoodles with white chocolate chips are such a fun twist on the classic cookie.

They are comforting, chewy, and oh yeah, . . . chocolatey!Chocolate Snickerdoodles

A simple gesture of giving your time to help someone in need is such a small thing to the giver, but it means so much to the receiver.

I think at one point or another we’ve all been on the receiving end, and we can all testify how much the thoughts and actions meant to us.

*What has someone done for you that left you feeling greatly comforted and encouraged?

~ Chels {Catz in the Kitchen}

Chocolate Snickerdoodles with White Chocolate Chips
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen cookies
 
Everything you love about the original classic cookie, but with chocolate!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • Topping:
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray or line baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract/
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, tarter, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gradually beat in dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in fridge for 30 minutes. While the batter is chilling, prepare the topping and set aside.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough out and roll into a ball in the palm of your and and then roll it around in the cinnamon & sugar mixture. Place rolled cookie on greased cookie sheets 2" apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Keep dough chilling in the fridge in between cookie batches.
  8. Allow cookies to cool 2 minutes before removing them to wire racks.

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Finding Hope & Healing {A Book Review & Sweet Giveaway}

Finding Hope and Healing

You’re wondering why I was weeping on the flight back home.

I think the elderly gentleman in the seat next to me was wondering the same thing. Crowded close together on that small airplane.

Besides, how can you help but notice when the woman next to you has tears streaming down her cheeks, splashing the pages of the book she holds in her lap?

I tried to look up at him and give a polite smile, so he would know that I was really okay.

And I was okay. Just moved. Deeply moved.

And it was all because of words written in this book . . ..

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty

Words like this:

I’d known the pain of loss, the pain of not-yet, but I hadn’t predicted the pain of motherhood’s mundane demands.

I felt as if I couldn’t possibly find peace, here, stuck between the numbing repetition of caregiving and the pandemonium of grown life, but could these moments, too, be purposed for great glory?

And this:

My figurative position of confidence before Him, as a daughter in whom He delighted, was one long exhalation of relief. I didn’t earn this position; I inherited it, and that made my safety all the more secure, no matter His response. 

Sara Hagerty gently, thoughtfully, shares a message of hope and grace-filled healing—whatever the difficult circumstance you’re walking through. A message both soothing and challenging. Sara leads us to that lovely place where – truly – every bitter thing is sweet. 

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. ~ Proverbs 27:7

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet by Sara Hagerty

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet
by Sara Hagerty
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 7, 2014)

From the publisher:

In Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, Hagerty masterfully draws from the narrative of her life to craft a mosaic of a God who leans into broken stories. Here readers see a God who is present in every changing circumstance. Most significantly, they see a God who is present in every unchanging circumstance as well.

Whatever lost expectations readers are facing—in family, career, singleness, or marriage—Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet will bring them closer to a God who longs for them to know him more. What does it look like to know God’s nearness when life breaks? What does it mean to receive his life when earthly life remains barren? How can God turn the bitterness of unmet desire into new flavors of joy?

My Personal Review:

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet is both a well-written true story (Sara has the most lovely writing style!) and a compelling invitation to know our God in a deeper way. Inspiring, convicting, and touching. I highly recommend this book! ~ Lisa Jacobson

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Now I’m very excited to introduce to you the author and my gracious friend, Sara Hagerty—a lovely lady and a gifted writer. You’ll absolutely love her! And you’ll be seeing more of her around here as she recently came on as one of our Club31Women Contributors. I pray her words minister to your heart as much as they have to mine. ~ Lisa

A Beautiful Invitation

by Sara Hagerty

We were made to crave — God. Even out of the darkest, hardest, most perplexing places of our lives. Especially out of the darkest, hardest, most perplexing places of our lives.

Because He shows up beautifully in our dark.

Yet, so often we wrestle through finding Him in the dark, alone.

But what if we didn’t have to?

What if we wrapped our hands around one another’s stories and whispered – into that dark – He is good. You’re gonna find Him here. You might even fall in love with God, here.

What if we could find voices – telling each other about this God and His Word – voices that made a music that slowly began to drone out the years of lies and loneliness and empty wrestling?

What if you didn’t go through your search for God alone?

What if you found others, perplexed by life’s circumstances, but who said “Let’s get near Him. Together. Let’s give ourselves permission to hunger in a way that’s maybe not 21st century normal, but is what the deepest parts of us know we want most.”

‘Cause the broken, the bone-tired, the perplexed – who let all that ache turn into hunger – those are the ones who find Him.

The beautiful God.

Want this fusion of hunger for God and life-ache and friendship for yourself?

What if you didn’t wait until it was the perfect set-up, or the perfect potential people, or the safest-by-your-standards environment … but just took one little step?

How about this for a start:

You’re welcome to download this gift of a Book Club Discussion Guide HERE:

~ Sara Hagerty

Six Book Giveaway!

Ready for a sweet deal? (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

Sara is offering  a copy of her book and 8 jars of honey (see? sweet!) to SIX book clubs! 

So why not gather a few friends together and start a small book club? Doesn’t have to be fancy or formal, simply invite some friends – people you already know or maybe would like to get to know – and see what God does!

If you plan to be a part of a book club that cracks open Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, enter your name below to win a copy of the book for yourself (or someone in your group) and honey jars for your whole crew.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now for one more wonderful option? You can also join my dear friend, Joy Forney, over at her Reading Cafe Online Book Club!

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet
Sara Hagerty’s book is available for purchase HERE:

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

 

So grab a friend or two (or more!) and hunger for God together. Our hope and prayer is that you might truly taste the goodness of Him in all things.

In His grace,
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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right

Club31Women.com_9 Things I'd Say My Mom Got Right

I hesitated before asking him.

He was only home for a week after all. Just a single week over the Christmas holidays. Only one week gathered together as a family.

The rest of the year our 20-year-old son lives, works, and goes to school a few thousand miles across the country from us. Not that we don’t keep in close touch—because we do. But still . . . it’s not the same as sitting on the same couch together and everyone all talking at once.

And so it wasn’t until the end of the week that I ventured to ask him. Somewhat hesitant.

Makes a mom feel rather vulnerable to ask her oldest son such a question.

You see, this was our first-born. Our experiment. The one with whom I’d messed up and made the most mistakes.

Stressed over.

Cried over.

Prayed over.

So I honestly didn’t know what he’d say now that he’s all grown up and gone.

9 Things I'd Say My Mom Got Right

What really matters and what makes a difference? What would you say to a mom? . . . to me?

He said he’d think about it and get back to me. I opened up his email a couple of weeks ago and here’s what he said:

9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right

The following is what I remember – what I loved and what I needed. 

1.     My mom was the one who listened to my hopes and dreams – my heart.

In my life Dad played the role of pushing me to succeed, but my mom was the one who let me just talk. She listened to me share the contents of my small undeveloped mind and heart.

2.     She allowed me to love her.

As I got a bit older my mom was the only woman I ever really hugged. Sure, I hugged my sisters here and there, but generally my mom was the only one who I would go up to and randomly hug. She did not pull away or make a face—in fact she loved it (or at least I think she did).

3.     She encouraged me to play for hours.

Literally countless hours. Hundreds and hundreds of hours. I played – key word here – OUTSIDE all the time growing up. Yes, I had homework and chores, but outside was where I spent my extra time. Those moments are some of the happiest of my life. I have heard, “Go play outside,” about a billion times and 99.99% of them came from my mother.

9 Things I'd Say My Mom Got Right

4.    She gave me the chance to read.

On top of chores, schoolwork, and playing outside, I also spent endless hours reading. I was a relatively late bloomer when it came to reading, but once I started, I read A LOT. My mom often let me off the hook from other tasks ;) when she knew I was reading.

5.    She took the time so I could play with friends.

I still remember when mom would take us to the pool. I remember how she fit in times to hang out with other families. She was willing to drive and move schedules so I could be with kids my age and further stimulate that little brain of mine.

6.     She let us build forts in the house.

And sleep in them. I have built a number of forts in the Jacobson house (along with my ever-willing sisters). Together we built huge blanket forts, pillow forts, cardboard forts—I think we even set up an entire tent in the house once. We read, ate, listened to stories and slept there. It was awesome.

9 Things I'd Say My Mom Got Right

7.     She didn’t let me fill my mind with garbage movies or technological entertainment.

This wasn’t something that I appreciated then, but looking back I certainly do now. Like every kid I wanted to play games or watch movies, but for every time I got to do something in that category there were plenty of hours spent outside or reading. I am certainly much better for it and if you need professional proof – consult any study on the matter.

8.     She never allowed me to disrespect her.

This fits more into the “what I needed” category. My mom never let me hit her or really be anything but loving and gentle with her. That does not mean she had a bad attitude about how rough or just generally boyish I could be—just as long as I treated her respectfully.

9.     She sacrificed for me and loved me with her actions.

I am telling you, there is nothing like a mother’s soft hand on a young boy’s neck and back. I vividly remember one time when I was sick and miserable, burning with fever. I went to the couch and lay down, quite miserable and now lonely. However, only a minute or two later my mom was by my side with a cold wet rag touching my neck and face. A small gesture that still stays with me.

She sacrificed for me time and time again, caring for me with her actions and doing it in a loving manner.

~ Britain Jacobson

Britain JacobsonBritain Jacobson is in his junior year at Patrick Henry College where he is studying Strategic Intelligence. When he’s not busy with classes, homework, or working at one of several jobs, he enjoys reading books, playing soccer, or catching up on current events. Britain is also the well-loved big brother to his 7 younger Jacobson siblings.

So If You’re A Mom….

Those small acts of sacrifice? Those moments of standing strong? Those prayers cried out on your child’s behalf?

Now we know.

They really do matter and they do add up.

You got it right!

~ Lisa Jacobson

P.S.  If you’re wondering if I cried the first time I read this? Why, yes, I did. Sobbed, actually.

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).