Friday, April 17, 2020

Changing The Rules

       Hi Mommas! I’m honored to be able to share some thoughts on what we learned while watching Erin Loechner speak. In the video we listened to Erin speak about changing up the rules. I have not ever really been a fan of change, but the change Erin talks about I’m definitely willing to make some changes in that area of my life. Erin starts off by saying we need to tear up the rules about being picture perfect mothers. I'm definitely guilty of trying to be “the perfect mom.” I’m sure many of you can relate to this feeling. We are not going to say every word perfectly, make it to events or appointments on time, have stain free clothes, and be able to enjoy a nice warm shower with no interruptions. It’s just not possible and you know what, it's ok. I know it might be hard to arrive at MOPS 15 minutes late, but hey you made it and that's all that matters. We are all struggling in different areas and none of us should be judging our fellow mammas. We need to be a support team for each other!

       Like Erin said in the video, there is no encyclopedia of what a picture perfect mom should look like. One of the things that Erin said that really stuck out to me is that our God is not a checklist kind of God! God’s charge for us is freedom. Isn’t that incredible?! God isn’t sitting there checking off what we are doing right and wrong as a mother. God loves us unconditionally, no matter our faults! He died for our sins and as we just celebrated Easter Sunday we celebrated this truth! God has released us from the chains and we need to stop chaining ourselves down! As moms we want the best for our children and it’s easy to get caught up in trying to be the perfect mom and then that causes us to take our focus off of God. If we are in His word constantly, having that intimate relationship with Him, teaching our children to follow Jesus, and going to church to be spiritually fed we will be able to be the mom that God wants us to be. Another great point that Erin said was, "We don’t need more information, more ideas, or more perspectives! We need to live as if the rules were torn up with the flesh of our Savior because they were!" That last sentence just speaks such peace and for me takes so much weight off my shoulders. When Jesus died on the cross for us, these rules died with his fleshly body. We have such a loving God that He sent His only son to die for the past, present, and future sins of this world! I know there is not one human being on this planet that cares for us as much as God cares for us. The powerful love for our children is just a glimpse of the love that God has for us!

       As Erin said in the video, "We all may have different ways of mothering, but we are not all that different." We all have the same goals as mom, to feed our children no matter if its by breastfeeding or bottle feeding, no matter if we co sleep or our babies sleep in their cribs, we are giving our children a safe place to sleep. Whatever way you are mothering you are doing a good job momma! Now that we can all see each other as equals we need to tear up the rules others have given us and as Erin said, and run our own race!

      The last thing that really stuck out to me in this video was knowing the difference between guilt and conviction when it comes to advice, a book all your mom friends are reading, or something you see your favorite mom blogger post on social media. The difference is guilt comes with the word ‘should’ and conviction comes with the word ‘could’. The part I loved the most that Erin said was this, your answer to the question is YOUR answer! It’s based on YOUR own limitations and YOUR own family’s uniquely and perfectly knit needs. It is rooted in what the God you follow has equipped YOU for. Guilt gives you a gut punch, but conviction gives you a gut check. Erin’s words in these last few sentences spoke wonders to me! It definitely helped me get a better picture of the two and it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders. If only I had heard this sooner, but now I know and I can move forward! Erins words of wisdom helped me realize that just because I didn't get to breastfeed as long as I want to or if my child doesn't have the same bed time as my friend’s children, that doesn't make me a bad mom. It’s what works for my family and our needs! I hope this brings encouragement and I hope you mommas know you’re not alone in these feelings! God bless you all and keep running the good race!

 Best Wishes,
 Caleigh Stai

Monday, March 23, 2020

Beauty From Ashes

It was a true gift to hear Kim Nowlin tell her story of Beauty from Ashes. It happened to be the 28th anniversary of the traumatic event of her life that she shared. Her ability to deliver her story with such eloquence and grace really speaks about the peace given to her through Jesus. It is clear that she has done plenty of healing + forgiving by understanding the Lord will use all things for His good as the bible says in Romans 8:28. She reminded us of the importance of embracing our stories and claiming that crown of beauty given to us through the manure we may go through.

Her powerful testimony had me in tears more than once. I am a cryer so that’s not untypical. But if I’m being honest, Kim’s testimony hit pretty close to home for me. I have only told my own story a handful of times and I am positive it was a mess each time. (Like I said, I’m a cryer.) But if Kim is right and telling my story can bring healing, I know I need to embrace it so that someday my testimony would reflect more of the peace I have + the growth I have made rather than a sloppy trainwreck.

I truly believe that anything that is not from the depth in me will not reach the depth in others. That means being vulnerable and boy is that hard for an introvert like me! So in the spirit of living authentically and fearing less, here we go: I was sixteen years old when an ex-boyfriend attempted to kidnap me at gunpoint. I wish I could say it was the first incident, but that would be a lie. What I can say is that I was delivered from death very literally in the sense that his loaded revolver malfunctioned instead of firing in my face. It was my junior year of high school and it changed my life.

That following year was rough, and also full of light. I had to face my perpetrator in court and deal with the public humiliation in my hometown. Sure I lost plenty of relationships, but I found a new identity in Christ after a friend invited me to bible study. I actually don’t remember much of my first bible study session because I undoubtedly cried the whole time. (Hey, some things never change!) In the end, the ex-boyfriend pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison.

One thing Kim said that struck me was “things don’t always happen for a reason but God brings reason to everything that happens”. Amen. I whole-heartedly agree. Some say that hindsight is always 20/20 and in this case I believe it’s true. I can look back and see how I was set apart my whole life. Before I knew Him, He still protected + pursued me. It took me sixteen years, but I finally surrendered to His relentless grace. I now understand that certain things happened in my life because that’s just the way it HAD to happen. Let me explain: I could have not survived or even have a completely different life- a life that I KNOW would not have been as fulfilling as the one I’m living with Jesus. I wouldn’t have been through the counseling or the mentoring. I wouldn’t have known that the way he treated me or the things he said were abusive. I would probably still think that was “love” and never know of true, unconditional love. I definitely would not know my worth. I had to learn those lessons early otherwise I would have ended up more like my mother- still in a cycle of unhealthy relationships with loser men and seeking attention from all the wrong places. So I forgave him years ago. I had to. (As Kim said, forgiveness is not for them.) I just never got the chance to thank him. Thank him because beyond the manure he put me through, I found Christ.

I have always been hesitant to tell my testimony to anyone that didn’t specifically ask. I think because of embarrassment- I am almost ashamed to have ever allowed someone to treat me that way. Embarrassment also because I had to experience something traumatic in order to come to Christ instead of my faith being inherited by Christian parents, like most of my friends. (I know, silly right?) I also never wanted to be labeled a “victim”. But does it really matter when my heavenly father ultimately labeled me “saved”? To live in His truth means to own my story- the good, bad and the ugly. What kind of witness would I be if I never shared the victory that Jesus claimed in my life so many years ago?

Sisters, bad things happen. That’s almost promised in John 10:10 when it tells us that the enemy comes “to steal, kill and destroy”. But that’s not the end of the verse OR the story. If we have accepted Christ we know redemption is possible because He came so we could live life ABUNDANTLY- Not in the shadows. Not in fear of judgment or embarrassment. And definitely not in isolation. Satan would love nothing more than to have you think that your story is too disgusting, or embarrassing, or [fill in the blank].... Especially if that was your journey to salvation!

If you’re dealing with deep hurts that you’re not quite at peace with, girl you are NOT alone. I so wish I could convince you that sharing your story can bring healing but I understand just how personal it is. Do me a favor and stop identifying yourself by how much you have been hurt and instead start identifying yourself by how much you have been saved! The past may seem dark, but the devil can no longer control it once you bring it into the light. Don’t be afraid to let someone [a friend, family member, counselor, even a fellow mama] in so it could feel a little lighter. Let them hear of His works in your life. I promise God will find a way to restore those tender pieces of your heart. It will remind you of how far you’ve come and remind others just how great God is. It can be messy or even a little painful. That’s okay. Just know how beautiful those ashes will be once you embrace your story.

Whether your testimony was a radical and extreme event or a quiet and calm profession of belief, it is beautifully powerful because it is the story about going from death to life. And guess what, it’s not even over! You’re still alive and breathing. You’re still making that daily commitment to follow Jesus. You were entrusted with the highest calling of motherhood. It certainly is a gift that can sometimes feel like the heaviest responsibility, especially in these uneasy days. But take heart! Those are His babies too and He cares for them insurmountably more than we could ever imagine. The best thing you can do for your children right now (besides keeping them clean + at home) is to secure their foundation of faith in Jesus. Encourage them to have a personal relationship with Him but also show them what that means by your own walk. Your children will also experience challenging times and they need you to exemplify how to prioritize Him throughout those circumstances- let them see you get on your knees to pray. Let them witness you diving into His word and hear you singing gospel songs. Let them watch you take care of yourself- mentally and physically- as an act of worship. Teach them kindness and grace. Show them that struggling is just a part of the story, but He is greater and His grace is always sufficient.

Kim reminded us that every relationship worth having is worth fighting for. It would be foolish to believe that a relationship with the King wouldn’t also ebb + flow. And let’s be honest, times like this could really test ANY relationship. We live in an uncertain world but don’t let that shake your faith. Keep the news off and the worship music up. Cling to Jesus, love those babies with all your might and count your blessings. Disconnect from the fear because you have a SAVIOR and He has never lost control. Rest and be still. Spend time with + lean on Him. Things may be scary but you know what is after this life- we get to go home! Never forget that we are in a win-win situation. Our hope is not in the government or the media or our stockpile of toilet paper. The coronavirus is just a piece of our testimonies, not the death of hope.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to grow with each other- as mothers, as families, as neighbors. Socially distant does NOT mean isolation or disconnection. We are in this together, even if we cannot physically be together. If you’re having a difficult time coping, please reach out. That’s why we have MOPS, to commiserate! Just kidding. It’s to steer each other toward Jesus and remind ourselves what He has done for us. Hasn’t He always proven to be faithful and take care of us? Let’s count the victories, big and small, together. Now more than ever, we all could stand to listen to some stories of hope and courage and love. Perhaps share your story- you never know, it could be the encouragement someone needs to hear.


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Mentor Mom Panel

I do not know if you all realize the huge blessing we have at mops. We have mentor moms! Our mentor mom panel was amazing this year (and every year, really), but I feel the need to write how truly blessed we are that God put in their hearts to pour into our lives. The Bible instructs that spiritually mature women (mentor moms) have the responsibility to mentor those women who are less mature (us), and that we (less mature) are to accept training from them (the more mature). Titus 2:3-5 (verses referenced throughout the newsletter are shown at the end). So, if up-to-today you haven’t taken advantage of the huge role they can play in our lives, I urge you to stop and listen, pray for them, and thank them because they make sacrifices for our good. (I am pretty sure they have other things they could be doing on a Tuesday morning other than being there for us!)

I took A LOT of notes on the panel and kept thinking, Man, how can I possibly write about the mentor panel since I am such a mess and have so much to learn! So I decided I am just going to share my notes (with some added commentary). You may know that Heather Weinert is both a note-taker and appreciative of wise instruction, so she has added in some of the notes she took, as well. Here you go!

This is a public blog, so to keep their privacy, I am making their responses anonymous. Things shared at mops stay at mops! If you have questions about a response, reach out to them!

What were your favorite go-to family meals?
Tuna casserole, cracked wheat chicken, and taco casserole.

How do you not lose yourself in being a mom?
Do what you can to keep up with your passions, interests, hobbies, or even career to still be learning while you are a mom. Read books about the interests you have apart from your kids. Try to find a sport or hobby that you can do with your kids. Train others in an area you thrive in so that your kids can see you as an expert that others respect. Keep having fun (I love how they tied it into our theme!) The mops book “What Every Mom Needs” was referenced.

What did you think you did well as a mother?
Figure out the personality of each child; you don’t have to do the same thing with each child because they are all different. Celebrate everything (decorations, food shaped/colored for the theme); life can get boring so make an effort to celebrate (HAVE MORE FUN).
A mentor mom read the entire Bible with her kids. Read a Proverb for each day. Promote humor to express themselves, and let them experiment with it. A mentor mom made her kids learn Latin!(LATIN! How awesome is that? If your household speaks a second language I highly encourage continuing this; it opens so many doors in their lives.)

How do you deal with a pushy mother-in-law?
Don’t give into her way; she is not in charge. If she is in charge, then that's your fault.
One of the mentor mom’s in-laws lived 3,000 miles away! She made it a point to honor her mother-in-law when she visited; this was a way that she blessed her husband during these short visits.
One of our mentor moms said she had a great relationship with her mother-in-law (goals! Gives
us hope it is possible).

How do you keep the spark alive in your marriage?
Put kids to bed early. Date nights once a month and Sunday afternoon “Naps” (I loved this). Shower together with the fan on! Flirt calls (her husband traveled a lot). Spontaneous surprises. Let go of fear and let others take care of the children so you and your spouse can get away together.

Speaking of fear, how do you let go of fear that the kids will turn out ok?
Children belong to God. Trust God with everything that gives you anxiety. 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-8. God loves our kids more than we do. Keep giving my worries to God. He is able. If you are high-strung, work at being peaceful. Pray for them when you put them to bed. They make choices that hurt our hearts. Their story is not over, and God can use that story. Do not let the devil paralyze you with fear.

Teenage years advice?

Be available and be very present. Don’t trust them too much, even if they are good kids. Keep them busy so they have less time to do bad things. Question them. Have the hard conversations. Talk with them even if they are bored. Let them know we’re ok with them apart from the pride we have about their good grades/accomplishments/sports. Get to know their friends. Be the house your kids’ friends want to be at; provide good food and snacks. Be suspicious, be alert, and pray!! We have to be able to have heart conversations with them. If they are involved in an activity that is not bringing them joy, let them quit (even if they are good at it), and let them find their joy.

What is the biggest mistake you see young moms making?
Phones are an addiction! And fads; feel free to let them pass. Sleeping with children interferes with intimacy; children at some point are capable of soothing themselves.

How do you keep yourself from losing your temper?
Stop their behavior before you lose your temper. First time obedience (Growing Kids God's way class at BVG breaks this down. Online: We say it once, the next time there’s a consequence.
1, 2, 3 -- If we get to 3 then there’s a consequence.
Balance in protecting without overprotecting
Pray and leave them to God. One of our mentor moms shared she struggles with OCD, so letting them get dirty was a struggle, but she realized it is good for them; getting dirty (even germs!) helps them not to grow up with fears.
How did you find work that matched your kids’ school schedule?
It is important to have some sort of outlet for yourself. Great options for while kids are in school include: a part-time job, selling things from home, teaching, or substitute teaching. Now there are also lots of opportunities for us to take online education courses and to work at online jobs (in education, for example) so you can work at home. Another option to stay at home is to live more simply, barter, grow vegetables, can fruit and vegetables. We can also homeschool other kids and provide after-school care at home.

How do you combine fun with applying discipline?
Discipline is not fun, it does not have to be fun; you don’t have to be their friend. Every child is a sinner, and sin needs to be tamed. Children need healthy boundaries or they get angry.
Incentive charts help make chores a habit. Make them work for something; teach them a job. Work teaches them that good things happen when we live within boundaries.

Going through rough seasons
One mentor mom mentioned that she prays most mornings with her husband, and this has helped her go through rough seasons. Praying together can help to bond with your spouse and to work through resentments from differing roles in the family.
Marriage has seasons; ride the waves and do not jump ship, it does get better. Use resources around you to reach out when you are in a time of need, such as Bible studies, mops, women’s retreats, Promise Keepers, counseling, etc.
Success is being peaceful. (Romans 12:18)

How do you slow down when there is so much to do?
Kids need time to stretch out their imagination and not be busy all the time. If you realize you are too busy then you need to slow down. We, the adults, are in control! Be intentional to slow down and say no to things. Avoid a lot of extra-curricular activities; stay home. Boredom is a gateway to imagination, exploration, and creativity. Unplug and go camping! Camping gives everyone time to sit around and look at the campfire. Don’t listen to music when you go on a walk, instead download your mind.

One thing we should be asking but we didn’t?
How to overcome grief from a miscarriage. (This was not answered but an invitation was given to reach out if you are struggling with this and talk to someone. Please reach out to any of the leadership team or mentor moms and she can put you in contact with someone who can walk with you through your grief journey.)
Biggest regrets?
No regrets! Don’t feel guilty for what you do or don’t do! Do not dwell on mistakes you have made or think you have made, but look towards the future. Ephesians 1:11, Philippians 3:13.
Project a positive self-esteem about yourself; your kids are watching you! Don’t shame myself in front of them; they hear how we talk about ourselves and to ourselves. Accept compliments with “Thank you.” We have the most effect on our children of the same gender.
Go on your kids’ field trips, including their Washington D.C. trip.
Tell your kids, “You are kind, smart and important.” Hug and cuddle more and give yourself grace.
Only Jesus is perfect, and He came to forgive us. Don’t be hard on ourselves--we love Jesus and we love our kids.

Thank you, panel mentor moms Vickie, Kristin, Wendy, Janet, Michele, and Trina!
Verses referenced (ESV)
Titus 2:3-5 -- “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to
much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their
husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to
their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
1 Peter 5:7 -- “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Philippians 4:6-8 -- “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything
worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Romans 12:18 -- "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

Ephesians 1:11 -- “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according
to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will”
Philippians 3:12-14 -- “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press
on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider
that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward
to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ

~Alis & Heather ~

Monday, February 24, 2020

Fear Less and Find Your Peeps

Hi Mamas!Happy Galentine's Day!
Raise your hand if you have this whole Gal Pal thing figured out?
Guess what neither do I.
If you know me you may be shocked by that because I am pretty gregarious and I like talking to people. But friendships are like the other Ships in our lives, Relationships. They aren't easy and natural, they take time and effort. It can be a tricky thing to make a new friend.

This morning Rocky reminded us of one of our sub themes for MOPS this year...Fear Less and Find Your People. 

She reminded us how easy it is to isolate and encouraged us to meet new friends and make a date to get together with someone we normally don't hang out with. Rocky is so right as Mom's it is easy to isolate. Our main jobs, as moms, is to take care of our kids which means taking care of our homes too. It is so easy for me to want to stay home, because I want to clean my house and I want to plan my day to work out exactly how I want it to. I'm a planner and a bit of a control freak. Shocker!!!
But this morning I came to mops and left my house a mess, and I am so glad I did.

Rocky had us speed date for Mom friends. What a great idea. We were to pick someone from our table first and then other moms whom we didn't know.

I spoke to 4 amazing women.
The first gal I spoke to is at my table and we have something in common that I would have never known about had we not done this challenge. She is a very kind person, and a little on the quiet side,
but we both love to act. Yay a fellow thespian friend!!!

Next up was a sweet Mama with a toddler and a newborn and her husband is going back to work tomorrow. I have seen her at MOPs and we have had small conversations here and there but I am so glad I got to speak more with her.  

The third Mama I spoke to was also an acquaintance,  we have had some conversations but never a nice sit down chat. She is a working Mama of 5 and she impressed me with her warmth and joy. She was so easy to chat with. 

Lastly I spoke to someone whom I have always admired her style from afar, she reminds me of Grace Kelly,  but haven't really had a deep convo with yet. Well today we started a great conversation about postpartum depression, I had it with my last one and she just came out of it, and we are going to continue the conversation Thursday with a playdate. Yay!

Rocky you are a genius for coming up with this Friend Speed Dating Game!
You never know what will happen when you come to MOPs.
Well you know you will eat good food and get a kid break, but you never know who you'll connect with.

You may find someone in the same spot as you, you may meet someone totally different. One thing is for sure we all need friends and if you're willing to be a little bit vulnerable and put yourself out there, you will probably make some. 

A Friend loves at all times!
Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Money-Smart Kids

         Ladies, God has not been silent on how we are to handle the money that He has entrusted us with. Money is mentioned more than 800 times in the bible. Money is kind of an important part of our lives. But, let’s face it, we are sinful and selfish. We mess everything up if left to our own devices. The use of money is certainly no exception. Now, remember, money is not good or evil. It is simply a tool. How you use the tool determines the outcome. That is why God talks about money so much. He wants to make sure that we use the tool correctly so that we can further His kingdom. You see, when we submit to God and give of our income, we develop spiritual discipline. It’s not about the money. It’s about our hearts. God doesn’t need our money. He’s God. He can do as He pleases. But God wants us with our hearts fully committed to and tuned into Him. It’s our job as parents to raise our children up not just to be money smart, but to have hearts that are disciplined to live out ‘Not my will but yours, Lord’. I think that having financial discipline is really a spiritual discipline. It is in fact the Lord who has given us the instructions for how to manage money.

    I know that y’all are waiting for me to get to the part about kids and chores and commissions. It’s time to train yourself out of a job, huh mom?! Well, we’ll get there. But we must ask, why is there this perception that the young people of this generation are so inept with money? It starts at home. It starts with mom and dad.

       I have found that, not surprisingly, people tend to avoid talking about money and the state of their personal finances. Spouses are not communicating with each other about money and parents are talking to their kids about money even less. How can we expect our kids to understand the value of their toys, their clothing and shoes, family car, etc. if we don’t discuss money? How can we expect children to be grateful to their parents and to God for what they have if they don’t understand the cost of their possessions? My husband has a quote on a sticky note of his computer monitor at work that reads, “A heart full of gratitude leaves no room for discontentment.” I love that. Gratitude comes before contentment. Mom, teaching our children about money is character-building. Don’t neglect it. Weave it into your conversations. Weave it into your grocery shopping, your mail-opening, your family game night, your math lessons, your gas stops, your clothes shopping. I mean, really! This list is endless!

 Here are some practical tips for raising money-smart kids:
  • Read the bible in front of them. Read to them. Ask questions. Teach your children to read the bible. That way they can find out for themselves what God has to say about money. I just found this website that references money matters as discussed in the bible. It is called Another good way to get started reading the bible with your children is to read a proverb a day. There are 31 proverbs so simply find the proverb that corresponds with the date. 

  • Explain to your children what happens when mommy and daddy don’t work. What happens to the heat and AC? What happens to the food supply? What happens to the house? These are real life things that kids need to be taught. 

  • Teach your children to participate in household chores. (discuss personal vs. household chores)

  • Give them opportunities to EARN money. Commissions; not allowances ahem entitlements.

  • Encourage your kids to be creative and start a business. 

  • Give your younger kids a give, save, spend piggy bank. Great tool. Kids are usually ready for a divided piggy bank around six years old. 

  • Encourage older kids to operate within a budget. Maybe that means you deposit into their account the money that you would usually spend on their clothes and activities. Have them manage it with your oversight. When they start working, they can incorporate giving, saving, transportation, and discretionary spending into this budget.  When they go to college, they will be experienced and ready to add in housing, utilities, food. 

  • You will be surprised by how generous your kids are! I have personally found that talking to my kids about money has led them to be both great savers and givers. They are very cautious and discerning spenders. I must remind them that they have spending money for purchases. I do recommend that they wait overnight before making a purchase. 
      I do have some specific tips pertaining to college and older children. Let me start with a few statistics though so that you will understand why I made a point of discussing this.
In the United States alone, there is more than $1.7 TRILLION dollars in outstanding student loan debt.
65% of students graduate with debt.
The average amount of debt that students graduate with is $35,000!

Practical Tips for college and older children:

  • Include older children in the monthly budget meeting. 

  • Read Smart Money Smart Kids by Rachel Cruze 

  • Read Debt Free Degree by Anthony O’Neal

  • If you are married, you and your spouse need to sit down and talk about what you can afford to spend on college. Then discuss the cost of the schools that your child is interested in with your child. 

  • Help your child choose a school! Don’t leave the decision up to your super wise 17 or 18-year-old child. Discuss the cost of tuition, living, transportation, food, etc. Choose a practical, in-state school. 

  • Choose a marketable degree. College is not just for funzies. It costs some serious money and kids need to understand the gravity of that. Their priority should be in the classroom-not on the beach. 

  • If your children insist on a school outside of your budget, make them pay the difference. Offer to pay for 4 years of in state tuition and let them come up with the remainder. Maybe their priorities will change, or they will really learn to work hard and appreciate mom and dad’s money.

  • Make your children apply for scholarships. Rachel Cruze tells an awesome story about a single mom that couldn’t afford to send her daughter to a 4-year school. She made her daughter apply for two scholarships a day. The daughter had average grades but was able pay for 3 years of college from the scholarships she was awarded. The hard work is worth the FREE money! Free money, people. 

  • Have your children work part time while in school and work over their vacations. It’s good for them. They won’t break. They’ll learn to be good stewards of their time. 

  • Avoid student loans at all costs. Parents, DO NOT cosign loans, take equity out of your home, or borrow from retirement to pay for college. Sally’s college degree is not worth risking your house and financial security. Find another way. 

  • One last tip for parents of younger children… Open and start contributing to a 529 plan. In addition to getting you prepared for college, it will give grandparents and other family members an opportunity to give a practical gift. 

What should be paid vs unpaid chores?

    I expect my children to make their beds, tidy up after themselves, and clear their places at the table after a meal. Sometimes I ask for help setting the table too. I give commissions when my children do an extra task with a positive attitude or volunteer to help me with household chores. Miscellaneous chores are good for commissions too. Dusting, cleaning baseboards, sweeping the porch, and washing windows are great commission chores.
I will give you a few examples:
  • Jacque gets up early, makes her daddy lunch, and empties the dishwasher.
  • Charlotte offers to help me make my bed or help with the laundry.
  • Lizzy helps assist Mommy or Sister with chores.
        If any of the girls do a chore without asking and out of the goodness of their hearts, I am happy to pay a commission. I want to reward positive behavior!

     We don’t have a household chore rotation. I think we might get into that in the next two years or so. For now, I prompt the girls when there is a chore that needs to be done that is age appropriate. My 6 year-old is great at taking out the trash and setting the table. My 8 year-old is perfectly competent at emptying the dishwasher and making a simple meal. My 3 year-old can help set the table and put shoes away and is learning to clean up after herself.  I still do the mopping, vacuuming, and bathrooms. However, if one of the kids is careless, I expect them to clean up after themselves. Even if that means mopping or vacuuming. Also, if I ask for help, I expect my helper to cheerfully assist me. I would consider these unpaid chores. It’s simply your contribution to the family.

     If you want to assign above and beyond household chores, I would recommend using a magnetic white board with magnet clips. You can clip money and an index card on the board showing the chore. Once the task is done, Mom checks the work and the child can collect payment. It makes it upfront and simple. The child can see that work pays off.

I also have some momma budgeting tips for you!

  • Learn how to operate with cash. Real money. 

  • Track your spending so that you can create a budget. 

  • It usually takes 3 months to get it working properly. 

  • Stick to the plan. Reference the budget that you created. It’s not a trophy or wall-hanging. It’s a tool. 

  • Make coffee at home. 

  • Cut back the eating out. 

  • Shop at the unglamorous grocery stores. 

  • Buy in bulk and freeze items.

  • Set aside a little extra for when your favorite item goes on sale and stock up!

  • To make cooking at home a little more enjoyable and save money eating out, opt to make your favorite meal at home instead of going to a restaurant. It might mean you buy more expensive ingredients than usual, but it still doesn’t compare to the cost of going to a restaurant. 


Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Smart Money Smart Kids by Rachel Cruze
Debt Free Degree by Anthony O’Neal

Growth Group at Tarah's

Saturday, December 21, 2019

4 days 'till Christmas!

       I have really enjoyed getting those weekly texts from MOPS international, specially the very last one it said “Xmas is in 8 days. Pick your battles, say yes to cake for breakfast! Whatever does not get done, its OK. You’ve got this mama (aka Santa)!” Like it literally cracked me up because that day I remember trying to make Christmas cookies with my girls and it was complete chaos like flour battleship attack/forgot to add ingredients to the recipe chaos. I was about to quit and just throw away the stuff when I saw the smile on my girls with fingers full of raw cookie dough and my little one literally licking the mixer beaters ( I was not done mixing) straight off the bowl. That Is when memories are made when you stop and really breath in all those little “wonder faces” that will soon be gone.

    I love our mentor moms they bring so much raw wisdom to our meetings. Do what works for you this holiday season it will probably be different each year. Some you will feel like you are rocking it and some you won’t (probably most lol) but that is OK! So today is 4 days until Christmas and If the elf forgot to move itself last night its OK, bought cookies instead of making them its OK! (probably better anyway) if you didn’t get to do Christmas cards its OK, if you are not done Christmas shopping its OK, if your house is 50% gift wrap 50% clothes all over the place its OK, just remember you are not alone.  So with that said, I have officially lowered my expectations for this holiday season and the future ones coming of my role as “Santa” and will be more forgiving on myself of those disaster memory making attempts of traditions we often attempt to conquer remember your kids will love you anyway even if you did not get to finish marking everything off your list.

Disclaimer: If you got Christmas cookies from me this year I am sorry! ( just kidding they actually turned out pretty good to my surprise and don’t worry I did wash their hands and mixer beaters haha!)


Thursday, December 5, 2019

What type of friend do you want to be?

         I have always admired the way little kids make friends.  I took my girls to the park the other day and there was this other mom at the park with 2 other little girls and in a matter of 10 minutes my girls had each made their new best friends. They were planning playdates and their next outing to the park, while their mom and I had only politely said hi to each-other. 

        Many of you know that I did not grow up in Modesto. I moved from Guatemala when I was 15 years old, right at the middle of me trying to “find myself and find my people,”  but even then friendships were hard. I was bullied most of my elementary years. Yes, I was that kid that ate her lunch inside of the restrooms because I wanted to just get away. Then boom! I moved hundreds of miles away from those toxic relationships to a foreign country and no friends. I pretended I did not speak English for the first year of high school. I used to say it was fun to pretend not to understand, but really I was just afraid of getting hurt. My second year of high school was some-what better, I was able to find 3 nice girls that were part of my high school years. In a blink of an eye we were seniors and we graduated high school and life changed! 

           When I got married, I didn’t even want to have bridesmaids just thinking of not having who to ask made me think, “friends suck!” can I just ask my mom to be my maid of honor? Because she is pretty amazing! Then as a new mom seeing all these put together moms at story time going in groups and talking, socializing with each other made me feel very sad like why can I keep a decent friend around for longer than a year? 

           Throughout these drastic life changes I came to realize that yes friendships do come in seasons, but it really is up to us to put the heart and time into our relationships. I truly believe mops helps you find those women who truly have your back! The kind that would totally stop what they are doing to listen to you, stop and pray if needed. I want to be that kind of friend. I started to focus less on the kind of friend I wanted to have but focusing more on the type of friend I want to be. I want to be able to give hugs without expecting one in return. Most importantly, I want my girls to see that person and for them to want to be that type of friend as they grow up. 

                The video we watched last week was like a big slap in the face, like I have been looking for a friend without first examining myself of the type of friend I have been. Yes, its true my life has had some crazy drastic life changes that have made it extremely difficult for me to keep friendships. I have also been around friendships that are toxic and better left to be a thing of the past, but if we are being totally honest, I think there have been stages in my friendship life that I could have tried harder, I could have kept trying, I could have hugged more, I could have been there more, or I could have said sorry and forgiven as well.  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor “9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Lets be the type of friend that lifts each other up. I want to be that friend that If you fall I fall and we get back up together. Lets all strive to have friendships to the full. 

    Today, as I have been reflecting on my friendships I can for sure say I am in a different season. Mops has been a great part of that, and only time will tell where these friendships blossom but I do feel more prepared to be a better friend. I can tell you that I am still “finding my people” so far I have been able to meet a great group of ladies that love Jesus, they encourage me, and challenge me to be a better friend and I want to be part of that. I encourage you today to be a bolder friend, a more loving friend, a friend that is just simply there.