Writing a Family Mission Statement

The year we had family portraits taken at the beach was the year each picture perfectly captured one child pouring sand over the head of a crying brother. Yes, there were tears–salty, wet tears. My frustrated husband looked like he was about to blow in each pitiful frame. Then there was me, trying to hold it all together, forcing a smile.

A year later we went with a rustic barn theme. The sunflowers I brought for the children to hold were instead used as swords.  And there was spitting. That’s right, all three of our sons spent the hour spitting on one another. Again my husband looked frustrated and I looked…pathetic.

And let us not forget the time I dressed them in coordinating argyle sweaters.  The weather was perfect, the trees were changing colors, I’d finally lost all the baby weight and my hair looked phenomenal. The planets had aligned and I was sure we would finally have frame worthy portraits. Then this happened…

family portraits

The littlest arched his back, the middle son made monster faces, and the oldest spent the afternoon biting on the inside of his lip. Needless to say, it’s been years.

Then this past fall I decided it was time. I wanted something special, a portrait that would do more than document what we looked like. I wanted to remember our interests and the way we spent our time together as a family. As the day drew near I became giddy at the thought of having a keepsake that represented more than just our physical attributes at this specific stage in the boys’ lives.

Our family is an artistic bunch. We love to spend time together at home with music pumping loud through speakers. The boys connect with their dad in the backyard over stringed instruments plugged into amps, and I show my love by serving platters of fun food amidst these impromptu jam sessions. And so the next day at dusk, when our photographer arrived, she walked through the house and out into the backyard to find each of the boys with an instrument in hand.

And yet, there is more to our family than guitars and s’mores – more to us than simply what we enjoy doing together.  Our family has values that a camera’s lens could never capture.  You see, over the years, as the boys learned not to spit and throw sand at one another, I prayerfully crafted a Family Mission Statement.

A family mission statement sums up what we believe and how we choose to live, giving clarity to children and parents alike.

Writing a Family Mission Statement via The MOB Society

Here is ours:

WS-About-FamilyMotto

When I first penned these lines, we hung them on the wall beside our kitchen table.  As we committed them to memory, we talked our way through each attribute, sharing verses that supported each important aspect of our lives together.  Here are a few examples:

We Honor our Parents – Ephesians 6:1-3, Deuteronomy 5:16

Prefer our Brothers – Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3

Encourage Others – 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 10:24-25

Always Serving the Least of These – Matthew 25:40, Proverbs 19:17

One at a time we went through them this way – always pointing out the right behavior when we saw it in the everyday lives of our children.

Jot down a few thoughts of your own.

  • What is most important to you, regarding how you want to live as a family?
  • Is fellowshipping with friends at the heart of your home? (Hebrews 10:25)
  • Spending time in God’s Word together? (John 17:17)
  • Orphan care (James 1:27)
  • Respecting elders (Leviticus 19:32)
  • Honesty (Proverbs 20:11)
  • Displaying the fruit of God’s Spirit in the way you treat one another (Galatians 5:22)

Choose three or four attributes, pray through them, support each one with scripture and then write them down to share with your children. Implanting noble, Godly virtue in their little hearts at such a young age is both pivotal and powerful.

And one day, we will look upon the men they’ve become and see the portraits we always prayed for. 

Going Deeper:

– One of the most treasured Bible verses parents claim for their family is the exclamatory promise found in Joshua 24:15b. “As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.”  But how are you going to take your family from a well-intentioned Bible verse hung over the mantel, to lives that actually live it out?  We need a plan, and a Family Mission Statement can help you develop one!

Prayer:

Dear Lord, Your Word promises that You are making all things beautiful in its time.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We want to partner with you willingly in this beautification process.  Please speak to our hearts about the values you want flowing from the lives here in our home.  For Your Glory alone! Amen”

Wendy SpeakeWhether she’s with loved ones in her actual Living Room, alone in God’s Living Word, or speaking to a room full of women, Wendy Speake is inspired to share life and faith with others in creative ways. As Jeremiah had fire in his bones, she too feels compelled to share the Gospel of Jesus – she just does it with stories that probe the glorious and hurting places of life, pictures of faith lived out in her home, and recipes purposed to inspire hospitality. You can connect with her in her virtual living room — WendySpeake.com

15 Creative Ways to Contain Your Boys’ Lego Collection

As a mom of one or more boys, you will likely encounter the craze of Legos. Legos are awesome! Legos entertain, spark imagination, leave trails of little, stabbing things all over you house, messes everywhere…well, let’s talk about containing Lego pieces and how we can not only contain the Lego mess, but actually get those boys to clean them up! There’s bound to be at least one of these ideas that you can use for your son’s Lego collection, since I’ve come up with 15 very, creative ways to contain all the Legos!

15 Creative Ways to Contain Your Boys' Lego Collection via The MOB Society

1. Basic, but functional you can organize your Lego pieces in a store-bought, plastic drawer unit. Sort by color and/or style.

2. If they love those mini-figures and want to display them but still use them, this creative shelving unit is perfect for just that!

3. An all-in-one book shelf can hold everything in just one area so that the mess stays {hopefully} in one part of your home instead of scattered everywhere.

4. Incorporate the design into their closet with a display shelf and bins to throw them all into.

5. I love the idea of using a tool box to contain the Legos by color – not only is it creative, but kinda manly too!

6. If you have a large, plastic, snack container you can make the cutest Lego storage box with a little spray paint and creativity – and for almost no money!

7. If you’re a mom like me, you might things to always look aesthetically pleasing around your house, but super functional. This Ikea Hack of the Lack table turned Lego table is awesome!

8. This dad built a rolling storage box to slide under his son’s bed for all his Legos! Super smart and keeps them completely hidden!

9. If your boy likes to take his Legos outside or next door to his buddy’s house, how about a portable tray to hold and display your Lego collection?

10. Grab a wooden box from Hobby Lobby and turn it into a travel Lego Box in just a few easy steps to take on a car trip!

11. I love the idea of having a mat on the floor, but then grabbing all the Lego pieces up in a bunch when you’re ready to go. You can make one, too, just like this Mom did for her son’s collection.

12. Another traveling Lego case is this plastic case one Mom made for her son’s Lego collection for about $10 and some glue!

13. Maybe you need a desk AND a play table for your son’s Lego collection – well, this Ikea Hack worked so great because you can simply move the counter up or down to adjust and the storage is on the sides!

14.If you’re a big fan of labeling and organizing by color, this sliding, organized system will probably be your cup of tea!

15. If your boys like to keep all their Lego instruction books, they can get torn and messy. Make an organized notebook to hold them neatly and keep from losing them.

However you get the Legos organized to begin with, my advice is to keep after those boys and enforce rules that make them clean up after themselves and to be considerate of others. Designating a “Lego building area” may help you to keep from stepping on them with your bare feet or vacuuming up little, critical pieces! Teach them to clean up after themselves and be consistent, while allowing for creativity. Have your boys gone Lego crazy? At what age did you see it start?

Becky BarnfatherBecky is blogger, speaker, piano teacher, wife and mom to two children – her son is 15 {he has autism} and her daughter is 10. She is passionate about motivating women to organize and have a relaxed and calm home {as much as possible}. She’s not OCD and not a perfectionist – just a girl who loves to organize. You can find her blogging atwww.OrganizingMadeFun.com

School Options: Your Way or God’s Way

You name it—educationally—our family has experienced it in some way.

My husband and I grew up attending public school.

I went to a Christian college; he didn’t.

I’ve taught homeschoolers, part-timers, public schoolers, and Christian school kids.

Our boys went to the Christian school where I teach, but participated in activities with kids from home school and public school.

What have I learned?

Parenting is full of decisions that rest between your family and God. What the culture says is irrelevant.

School Options: Your Way or God's Way via The MOB Society

Maybe your culture says, “All my kids go to ____________” (insert a schooling choice).

Is that what we’re called to?

We’re called to follow God’s leading in our lives, not to follow culture blindly like sheep. Look at each of your sons, individually. See them separately from one another and separately from your friends’ children.

We must be open to God’s leading about our boys’ needs. Are you seeing stress connected to your current educational situation? Is it healthy stress—just the product of growing up and learning that your son needs to face? Or is it unhealthy and unproductive stress?

A good friend of mine has three children who all have different needs, different strengths, and different weaknesses. Although the culture around them supports attending the school her husband graduated from and the pressure is great, she says, “They may all graduate from different schools. And that’s just fine.”

Pray, asking the Lord to open your eyes to your sons’ needs and to give you the flexibility to respond.

Schooling decisions aren’t forever.

Things change; kids change. Yes, you may have entered homeschooling thinking it was for your family, but the Lord may be calling you elsewhere. Be open; be flexible. Go where God leads.

If God is prompting you to consider another type of schooling, take stock of what’s out there. Options abound! From traditional public and private school to charter school to homeschooling and virtual schooling, there’s a menu of choices. And don’t be afraid to consider a blended approach. Some private schools will allow your child to enroll part-time; homeschooling co-ops are another idea if you don’t want to go it alone.

Pray, asking God to lead you to the right people and situations your family needs.

Don’t Get Caught in Expectations.

No matter what schooling your son is involved in, you may have expectations you’re not seeing fulfilled. Maybe he’s not Ivy League or Major League material—let go of those expectations! Do all you can, then accept the best your son can give. Search for other areas of success. Find his loves and talents and capitalize on those, always reinforcing the value of a good work ethic. In all things, he can “…work at it with all [his] heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” (Col. 3:23).

Pray for the ability to see your son as God created him and the wisdom to guide him to what God has in store.

Help End the Mommy Wars 

It’s hard enough being a Mom—we don’t need to be fighting each other. You may be sold on your brand of schooling, but please understand it may not be for everyone. God uses all kinds of situations for good in our lives, even when we don’t expect it. Have confidence in what God has called you to do with your family and stay open to His leading. Befriend the moms around you; we’re in this boy-raising thing together, and we need each other.

Pray for understanding for other moms, especially the moms you may not see eye-to-eye with. Ask God to give you a glimpse inside their hearts and to soften yours.

This decision isn’t about doing schooling our way – it’s about schooling our sons God’s way. Open your heart and mind to what He’s saying to you about your sons and their education.

Looking for more resources about your boys and school choice?

The Moment I Knew My Son Was Okay… – MOB Writer Amber Lia’s personal anecdote about her family’s educational journey

 Keeping First Things First by Meg Meeker, M.D. – a post about school and beyond with your boys

The Me I Want to Be (Student Version): Becoming God’s Best Version of You by John Ortlund – a book to help your preteen and teen boys know who they are in Christ

Laura Lee GrovesLaura Lee Groves is the mother of four sons and the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, in addition to Pearl, a novel about international adoption.

Want to learn more about Laura? Make sure to…

Embracing Your Family’s Story

My husband and I were both raised in rural towns, went to public schools, and did a variety of team sports throughout the year. I loved the rhythm and routine of the seasons and the regular schedule. I liked the comfort and security of the way I grew up, and I really hoped to one day raise a family the same way.

Embracing Your Family's Story via The MOB Society

But something happened when my husband chose to do his medical residency in Hawaii. We fell in love with a new way of life. Before we knew it, we moved to the country. We started homeschooling. And suddenly I found myself living anything but the traditional life I had always imagined. Our boys began to surf and skate, but we don’t have many team sports even available to us. This was all at once lovely and completely uncomfortable to me.

One of my boys is a competitive surfer, so our days revolve around the waves and year-round contests. For him this life is great, but sometimes I worry about the other boys. I imagine that my middle son especially would thrive in a more traditional school setting, doing traditional sports, living more of what I always imagined to be a traditional life. If I start to compare our life to the lives of others, I can get anxious and worried. We simply don’t have all of the options that we would if we lived somewhere different. This leads me to wonder–
Am I giving all of my boys enough? Would they be happier in a traditional school setting? Will I ever regret this life we have chosen?

And the truth is, I’m not certain about any of that.

But here’s a few things I have learned:

1. No two families will ever be alike. It is useless to compare your family to your neighbor’s family, your cousin’s family, or the family you were raised in. Comparison is a trap that will only zap your joy.

2. For every opportunity your family experiences, there will be a few downsides. Face these downsides bravely. Challenges will be part of your story and in the end, they will bring God glory.

3. Teaching your family to link arms and walk through life together, despite differences or challenges will be the bond that keeps you all close.

4. Finding something special for each child may take some creativity, but it is absolutely possible, no matter your circumstances.

I often think of Bethany Hamilton’s story in the movie Soul Surfer. Her brothers were her biggest support system, both before and after her shark attack, and they still are to this day. What an amazing role they have played in her life and what a great example they have set for other families.

Today my middle boy is involved in our church youth group, which gives him a healthy social outlet. He is becoming a talented guitar player and he plays in recreational sports when he can. Do I still wish there was more for him? Yes, but we stay connected and as of now, he’s a very happy kid.

All of the brothers are great fans of the competitive surfing brother…who hopes to one day commit a big trophy to his family, who he knows have been the support that has allowed him to achieve his goals.

Regardless of your family’s situation, or circumstances, I encourage you to embrace your story, and create something beautiful with what you have!

Suggested resources:

The Family You’ve Always Wanted: Five Ways You Can Make It Happen
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board
And Ode To Surf Brothers

Monica-SwansonMonica and her husband Dave are raising their four sons on the North Shore of Oahu. They home school their boys who are also surfers, skaters and basic beach boys (“groms”). Monica shares the adventure and comedy of their life, and all sorts of other things Hawaii-related at www.thegrommom.com.

 

Why Our Family Believes in Dadventures

A cry of joy escaped the snorkel tube as my four year old jumped over the side of the low bamboo boat. His flippers carried him off behind Daddy before the two disappeared deep into coral, far beyond my reach. Memories of my own near-drowning at Jacob’s age kept me fastened to the bench, taking my inner cautions captive so my boy could discover a whole new world on his Dadventure. It’s not just okay to make room for Dadventures in a boy’s life; it’s good.

Why Our Family Believes in Dadventures via The MOB Society

Our family believes in Dadventures. Since my husband has an adventurous spirit, I should’ve known our kids were destined for lessons in reptile captures and starting fires with flint. My accident-prone childhood left a deep sense of caution in my gut, but before our littles were out of baby backpacks, I choose to embrace my husband’s contributions. After all, boys watch and listen to mom’s attitude about Dadventures.

When they’re little and their world hinges on mommy, they listen to see if she believes in daddy, trusts him, and respects him. Does she embrace male/female differences by encouraging masculine parenting? Sons need deposits from dad as much as from mom. Single moms work hard to compensate and invite godly men to make deposits into their sons. Dad can give what I don’t have to meet needs I can’t. A son is the product of a partnership.

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)

While I bobbed on the surface over the coral canyons, Jacob discovered a whole new world, a new side of his Creator, and a side of his dad he never stopped admiring. They explored the world without me, and I was grateful. Let your boy discover the world with dad.

Discoveries of heartache and loneliness had followed by the time our boy weighed his backpack for a canoe trip with a crew of dads and sons and no cell coverage, updates, or moms. There would only be ebony skies with the Northern Lights, crying Loons and high cliffs begging boys to jump into take-your-breath-away water. He wanted to go where I was not invited or prepared to follow. This Dadventure bonded them tighter and moved our son one step closer to the man-circle, which might be why my stomach felt so empty when they drove away. If he was to grow in trust for his dad, I had to make more room for Dadventures. I had to let my boy follow his dad into the world.

God gives gifts to our men to give gifts to our boys.

From the cabin window, I saw angry clouds claiming the distant peak where they climbed. From the safety of my porch, I could only wonder and pray. Three days later they told stories of sheltering in a crevice and crossing chest-high, glacier-fed streams.  They still call it “the epic hike.” It’s not merely okay to make room for Dadventures in a boy’s life; it’s good.

I am certain my boy will face challenges, so he needs to learn to face them as a godly man. Let your boy learn to overcome the world from dad.

Dadventures

Mom isn’t called to curb dad’s contribution in the name of concern and caution. We may be tempted to keep our man-cub close to home where we feel in control. Our mom-ways can rob our boys of opportunities to grow into young men, especially if we stifle their father’s part in their progress. Instead of expecting dad to choose mom-approved activities in mom-preferred ways, let’s embrace our men influencing our boys as they are wired to do – as men. When your boy’s older and his world is wide open, he’ll listen to see if mom believes in him, trusts him, and respects him like she did for dad.

  • Let your boy discover the world with dad.
  • Let your boy follow dad into the world.
  • Let your boy learn to overcome from dad.

A mom’s contribution can’t be overstated, but a dad’s contribution can’t be eliminated. Embrace the Dadventures in your boy’s life, and he will learn to discover, follow, and overcome as the man God calls him to be!

  1. For a daughter’s perspective on The Epic Hike & how it impacted her, read here.
  2. Read about The Involved Father & what he is like here.
  3. Check out the chapters Baby Takes TwoBaby Talk About Daddy in my book Expectant.

Julie Sanders

God winked when He joined accident-prone Julie with risk-taking Jeff. Together they’ve parented two kids (including a climbing boy!) through serving, reading, and adventuring around the world. While she lives where tea is sweet and grits are cheesy, Julie loves to teach God’s word to women in her hometown and across the globe. She is a Women’s Ministry Leader and author who is also passionate about fighting human trafficking. Check out Julie’s blog home Come Have a Peace (www.juliesanders.org) and Marriage Mondays to find reasons for peace and information about speaking.

 

 

 

When You Parent Differently Than Other Christians

My sweet Christian friend pulled into her driveway and I shifted uncomfortably in the passenger seat. She had just asked me point blank about one particular view of motherhood that I knew we differed on, but that I didn’t think we needed to hash out–mostly because I knew that my choice was different from her choice and no matter how nicely I explained my position, she would take it personally.

When You Parent Differently Than Other Christians via The MOB Society

Sure enough, though I tried to explain gently why I believed what I did, she just nodded her head, and headed quickly into her house.

It was the last time I saw her.

In my mind, I had no problem with being friends with someone who holds different views from me. I tried to reach out to her about 6 months later, but she kindly let me know that she “wasn’t ready” even though we were sisters in Christ.

You know what? I respect her for that.

It hurts and I don’t agree with it, though I do respect it.

But here’s the thing, moms–I long for the day when we can parent differently and even have opposing beliefs about parenting Biblically in the church and still love one another in unity.

Opposing parenting styles should make us varied, not villains.

I have friends who homeschool and some whose children attend private schools. My kids go to a public charter-school.

Some parents in my circles won’t have a television in their home. My husband and I work in entertainment and we let our kids watch a wide variety of shows.

Some families at our church only allow courtship. I think my boys should date a variety of girls under our careful supervision.

Some moms I know think it’s best to shield their boys from anything close to immodesty when it comes to girls.  I want my boys to be able to approach a girl in a bikini and not think twice about it so I don’t even discuss modesty with them.

Some of my friends believe in spanking as a regular form of discipline. We have a more grace-based approach where we avoid most traditional forms of training our kids.

But parents, these are all secondary issues when it comes to the Bible. Primary issues like the way of salvation, and the Deity of Jesus are non-negotiable. But when it comes to “gray” areas and personal freedoms to make choices that are not black and white in the Scriptures, they shouldn’t be things we separate over:

  • Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
  • Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16
  • If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Moms, it’s okay to go against the flow of Christian culture, or the culture in your small group at church, or the culture in your extended family. What matters is that you stay true to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life as a parent.

Never allow the culture of your moms’ group to decide the condition of your home life. And on the flip side, love the women in your circles that do things differently than you do.

May all of us respect one another and give lots of room in our lives for the Holy Spirit to lead us-and our friends.

Motherhood is multi-faceted in its challenges. May we be singular in our efforts to parent as we feel led and let others do the same.

RESOURCES:

  1. You can read a little bit more about our grace-based parenting style in this post, “We Ditched The Time Out Chair For A Mercy Seat.”
  2. I love this encouraging book for moms that leaves lots of room for the Holy Spirit to guide us in our parenting choices! Sally Clarkson’s, The Mission of Motherhood
  3. For anyone feeling a little friendless, this article will encourage you when you feel alone in your life as a mom.

Amber-LiaA former high school English teacher and budding novelist, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 3 little boys under the age of 6. She and her husband Guy answered the calling to start Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach in Santa Monica, CA or baking her famous Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at www.MotherOfKnights.com

The Parenting Playbook via The MOB Society

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