Introducing Your Children to Jesus

I’ve been struggling for about a year on how to start talking to Salem about Jesus. 

I’m pretty firm in my belief that I want my children to understand that having a relationship with God is on them. My faith will not save them. Their dad’s faith will not save them.

It is entirely their responsibility to pursue God. They’re responsible for their own sin, and the consequences, until they give it to God. My job is to teach them, but it is their choice to remain teachable. 

I cannot force them to believe what I believe, but it my ongoing prayer that they will experience God’s endless love for them. 

They will have seasons of doubt, struggle, and lies. It cannot be avoided. And I want the door to remain open so that they know we can talk about it. They should never feel intimidated by my beliefs nor should they feel they need to feel embarrassed or shy about their intimate thoughts with God, be they love or doubt. 

But he’s turning 4 in October. So where do you start? That is a whole lot of deep theology to push onto a 4 year old who simply wants to watch toy story and put his underwear on backwards. 

I sat in silence waiting for God to answer my question. “Show me how to teach them to know you.” 

Silence.

I have to admit, I kinda got nervous I was the idiot in that joke, waiting on the roof top in a flood when God has already sent 3 means of rescue and I didn’t understand and I die. 

Today, my prayer was answered. 

I was feeling really discouraged. Every morning I fail to wake up before them. Every evening I fall asleep waiting for them to sleep. I couldn’t find a spare minute to sit down in silence with God. I was so ready for quiet devotional time. 

Well, today I boldly pursued him in the presence of my children. I shared a picture on my Instagram (honorableliving) stating this:

“When I was little, someone told me I should sit down with God in the morning or in the evening. When the world was still quiet. I took that as a Biblical truth, and for the last almost 4 years of motherhood I was discouraged. So discouraged. I was failing. But then, the last few days I realized my quiet time was never coming. It’s now or never. And Jesus gave you all this noise surrounding you and he can sure as heck talk over it. So, amidst the joyful squeals of toddlers playing and occasional cries of babies, I sat down with Jesus. There’s a real possibility quiet time is never coming, and if you keep telling yourself tomorrow you’ll wake up early or tonight you’ll stay up late, you’re making real excuses and missing out on really good truth. So sit down in the commotion and read through the chaos. Because He doesn’t mind interruptions.”
Well, shortly after I posted the photo Salem came to me and said, “you talking to Jesus! You reading Jesus book!” With a proud grin.

At first I thought, “where did he hear that?”

And then I recalled.

Last Monday, Salem was falling asleep and I came in beside him with my new devotional books. He stirred and said “whatcha doin, mama?”

I said, “I’m reading about Jesus, Sal. Sometimes mama needs to talk with Jesus. Do you know Jesus loves you and wants to talk to you? Jesus loves me, too.” And he didn’t say a single word back. 
It didn’t even dawn on me that was like the other times I teach him something new. Sometimes, when Salem sees something and says “what’s that!” I answer. His reply is often silence as he processes and learns. 
So today, when I felt bold enough to do my devotions with a wild rumpus about, and he said that, I realized, how much better for them. To see their mom actively pursuing God. There is a time and place for intimacy and privacy with God. But I am not finding that in this season of my life. And His goodness can be found by my children if I choose to share those intimate moments in front of them. 

Today, God showed me how to teach them about Him. He showed me that the best way to teach is to do. If they cannot see me doing what I tell them to do, why would they ever do it? If they don’t see my struggles and shortcomings and the grace and love God shows me in spite of all that, how will they know to want that, too.

Having a quiet moment with God IS important, and for many, that is the right way to pursue knowing Him. But it’s not the only way. And if you’re like me, making excuses, tomorrow, tonight, later, because you’re simply too worn out to make it happen if those moments come up…

Sit down now and have a moment with Jesus. Wherever you are. Who cares if someone sees you? The best thing that could happen is that they ask,

“What are you doing?”

And you can answer them with the gospel.

Advertisements

I am not enough

Motherhood is a strange form of masochism.

We continue to do it every day even though it brings about pain and humiliation. 

I know some of my readers chuckled a little and thier brains proceeded to justify the horror we live through daily.

 “Yes yes, it is so hard, but it’s so very worth it when they smile/laugh/hug me/etc.”

Let’s talk about the hard seasons though, can we? 
The ones where every day with our toddler is a fight.

The ones where our 7 year old says “you say no every time! I never get to do anything fun. I hate you.”

Or maybe the ones where our teenagers say “mom you’re so boring. Why can’t you be more like so-and-so’s mom”

(Let’s take a pause. Do not discredit me for my eldest being 4. It was not long ago I was the ungrateful teenager above. 6 years ago. My memory is still sharp.)

Now I’m on the mommy end. Now I lay in bed at the end of each day, staring at my ceiling, going over and over the plays of the day. I think to myself, tomorrow. I will be different tomorrow. I will not yell. We will peacefully enjoy each waking moment of family life. 

You too? Something about those quiet, dark moments while we plead for sleep to come. We sit and think up all of the ways we’ll be better tomorrow. All of the ways we will be enough for our kids. We’ll make a healthy breakfast and we’ll play with them for hours, building the same incessant block tower. We’ll cuddle and watch movies. We’ll put our phones down when the going gets tough. Most of all, we’ll be enough. 

Can I tell you the truth? 

We can’t be enough for our kids. We are sinners and they are sinners. We get mad and they get mad. Everybody wants his or her own way.  It’s the same lesson I teach my toddlers. Every time you take a toy, someone else is doing without. There is never a winner.  And the fact of the matter is, when it’s all about us, someone has to lose, right?

You will never be enough. 

Before you hurry out of this screen, there is hope. 

What if we stopped trying to be enough and gave it all to God? 

I thought I understood that question a week ago. 

It doesn’t say, try your hardest and then God will fill in the rest. 

It says “stop trying and give it all to God”

I spent a lot of time and energy going through the motions every day. Breakfast, dishes, pick up, laundry, pick up, lunch, dishes, naps, laundry, pick up, play, dinner, bath, bed, dishes, pick up, trash, maybe shower, and flop onto a bed in pure exhaustion and defeated. 

In between all of that I had little patience left to give my children and little time. 

I convinced myself that my kids would find God somehow in all of that and He would make up for my failures. 

This past week has been a good one for me. I learned my worth and in that, I learned that it isn’t about me and it isn’t about me being enough for anyone else. 

The truth is, I am enough for God, and in that, I will be enough for the work He gives me to glorify Him and His kingdom.

My mornings are a little different now. I haven’t had much sleep this week. But then I have seen the sun creep over the mountains each day. The light pours across the wood floors. I see the tiny detail in each plank on the floor and I am reminded. 

He took the time on those details. 

He took the time on your details. 

He took the time on each of my 4 snotty nosed, giggling, tired and sweet babies’ details. 

I am reminded that today is not about me.

It is not about my children and whether or not I do enough for them. 

Today is about doing God’s work and glorifying Him.

Give it all to God. Before you lift a finger, let Him know that you know that today is His. 

Remind yourself your work is for Him. You are serving Him.

When your focus is on serving God and basking in His sacrifice for you and less on serving “ungrateful children who genuinely have no idea what you’ve sacrificed” little things tend to upset you less.

And you are enough to serve Him.

When you know that, the rest will follow.

Does that mean your kids will stop fighting? That your day will go smoothly with no traffic, lots of tips, and no flat tires.

Nope. 

Nowhere does God promise easy, fortune, and the perfect American life. 

But He does promise us peace. (Phil. 4:7)

He does promise us strength (Phil. 4:13)

He promises that he’ll never leave us nor forsake (renounce or give up) us. (Deut. 31:6)

I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds like all I need for breakfast to get me through the day. 

Peace, strength, and a God who is always with me and will never abandon me.

And He promises us so much more, if we only set aside our selfishness to accept a better eternal future than we could have imagined.

Broken Me

I never had the exciting revelation when hearing the gospel. My dad was a pastor when I was small, and I always knew of God. I never doubted his existence, his power, his knowledge. I knew the Earth was his, I know I am his. I know he gave me the Bible, which he spoke and breathed, and I know it to be true. 
When I was 17, my church back home taught me something new. There’s knowing of God and there’s knowing God. I was taught that we are called to know Him. To have a relationship with Him. So I set out learning who He was, because that’s how we know people here. We learn who they are, what the believe. 
When I set out to know my husband, I wanted to learn what traits he had. Most of that was expressed through his likes. He loves to read translates to he pursues knowledge. He loves calculus and chemistry and physics should have translated to, he’s too smart for you and you have nothing in common. But it didn’t, it just told me he is smart. He loves music told me he was going to have a tricky time telling me how he was feeling but I could check out his last listen on Pandora and I might be able to figure it out.

What did I know about God? What could I discern of His character from the Bible?

Omniscient 

Omnipresent 

Infinite

Wise

Sovereign

Holy

Faithful

Love

That last one caught me. It’s a tale as old as time. God is love. We teach our children “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.”

I didn’t believe that. I couldn’t sit here and tell you I did. It would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told. I did not believe that a God who could be described as all of those things could possibly in his right mind love me. Me. Broken me. 
Sermons were preached of grace and redemption. My cleanness. My newness. But I didn’t feel that. Because I wasn’t. In order to be those things you have to believe the Gospel. I didn’t. I believed in God. I believed Jesus came and did miraculous things like die on a cross and come back to life. But I didn’t believe He did it for me.

 I believe He made me and knew me before my parents could hear my heartbeat. But I didn’t believe that He could love me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned at the church we go to here in Hawaii(I’ve learned a lot), you have to believe it all. You can’t pick and choose what the Bible has to say. You can’t make it say what you want. It says what God wants and you have to find a way in your own heart, soul, and mind (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to believe it to be true. Because it is true. And I am not.
Then i started to read a devotional. It shed light on something I never noticed before. It took me to creation. When God created, what did he say when each creation day was complete. 

It was good. 

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

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬
He described the oceans and mountains and stars in the sky as good. He described majestic elephants and beautiful oak trees as good. And He gave it to mankind to care for and called it very good. 
He trusted mankind with this precious Earth. The mighty sea and the glorious mountains are mine to take care of, I inherited it, the Bible tells me so. This task was passed on because The male and female He created in His likeness are from whom I descend. 
He called Earth and the Universe Good.

He created Me in His image.
Mankind fell from grace, which puts me here, where I am now. Struggling to understand how a perfect and beautiful God could love my brokenness. 
But I have one truth now to help me see that love. It’s in creation. I was designed for perfection. Not in the world. But I have a divine promise of that beauty and grace. I have the keys to the kingdom if I can believe that He loves Me. 
The next truth I found was in John 3:16. A bible verse I memorized for a jolly rancher at Awana at Grace Bible Church. Mr. Rotteire I took Gods word and hid it in my heart and it’s here still today. 
“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not parish but have everlasting life”
You probably went into autopilot reading that.
Me too. 
Read it again. Slowly. 
For God so loved the world that he gave STOP
I’m a mom now. I wasn’t when I learned that verse. And I don’t think you have to be a mom to understand, because you have one. 
I grew a person. Hands, heart, brain, eyes. All those miraculous things that just work. I grew 4 persons. I have lines on my tummy to tell you so. And I have shadows under my eyes to tell you so. I have spit up on my shirt to tell you so. And tears on my fingers. And germs on my lips from kissing owies. 

My body gave to grow them. I gave them life, quite literally. With help, of course, from my husband and a divine creator. 
I gave them food from my body. I give them hugs and kisses everyday. I give them direction and guidance. I give them an ear when they want to tell me for the 400th time that there’s a lizard (or a wizard, depends on who is doing the talking) on the ceiling. 
I give to them with no intent to receive anything back.

 I cannot guarantee that when they’re grown they will love me. I cannot know that they will speak to me on occasion or daily. I cannot know that they will forgive me for every failure they witness me perform. 

They will know that when they’re grown I love them and have always loved them. 
They will know that I want to speak with them daily, if they choose.
They will know that I forgive them for every failure I witnessed them perform. 
I should know that God loves me and has always loved me. 

I should know that He wants to speak with me daily, every moment, if I so choose.

I should know that He forgives me for every failure He’s seen me perform and every failure He knows is coming. 
How much more beautiful is the last set than the first. The love a mother has for her children is iconic. It’s used over and over to show selflessness. Unconditional. 
It was designed by the Master. It is modeled after the most divine design. 
For God so loved the world he gave.
With no intent that He should receive. 
That’s Love. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. 
He wants us. Whether or not you’ve experienced a healthy relationship with your mother, (she can’t know that you’ll forgive her for all her failures), a relationship with Him is perfect. There is no flaw from His end. He didn’t fail you. He gave without expectation. He loves you. 
And me. 
Broken me.

Thankfulness is a Lifesyle not a Season

Every Thanksgiving I see my social media fill up with a month of thankfulness. It’s beautiful. To see the glory of God shine through numerous optimistic and joyful posts is moving. It’s my favorite time of year to be on Facebook and Instagram. 

That being said, I want to participate this year, but I want more. I want this month to create a habit that roots itself into my soul. I want to be thankful every day in everything. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Last year, on this day, I was staring at what seemed like an endless amount of days before my husband would hug me again. He was deployed. Every day seemed like it was getting harder, not easier. I felt like I was suffocating. 

The biggest lie I was ever told was that deployment gets easier. You get used to it. 

I will never get used to it. You can’t get used to missing someone you love with your whole self. You can’t get used to watching your kids lash out and get upset because they don’t understand what’s happening. 

You can be thankful in everything. 

I have the benefit of having a woman in my life who knows the Lord and has served in the navy for twenty years. 

“Let him grow you. Don’t fight it. Feel the agony, let him take it from you. He will heal you and you will grow.”

I have this image. You’re rolling out dough and it’s fighting you. What a miserable experience. Even if you manage to make it into a sloppy loaf, it will look awful, have tears, cracks, and be dry. 

I imagine this to show how we should let God shape us. If we fight him, the end product will be the same, but with unnecessary damage. It was preventable. If only we let Him work. 

What if we moved where He moved us, stretched where He pulled, let Him roll out the imperfections, the air bubbles, the things that will make us less appealing. How magnificent a loaf of bread we would be. 

Deployment is something for which we should be thankful. It opens us to our deepest emotions and gives us the best opportunity to know them and to grow them. 

A year ago, I was not thankful. I was bitter, I was angry, I was lonely, and I was impatient. I wasted a lot of time and energy hating our circumstances. I wanted someone or something to blame.

I came out of deployment an imperfect loaf of bread. I still grew, but I slowed the growth because I was not open entirely to letting God work through me.

Every day, He still uncovers parts of deployment that I carry with me. Not as battle wounds. He uncovers the pockets of perfectly baked bread. The parts where I listened. 

I am thankful for a God who makes me stretch. A God who showed me the beauty in pain. A God who brought home a husband, safe and changed for the better. A husband He picked, shaped, and grew just for me. And a God who brought us full circle, a year later, looking at a holiday season spent together. For Him I am thankful. For all these things, I am thankful. 

Why I Don’t Believe in Mommy Wars and Who I Believe in Instead

It’s a hot topic. Moms are feeling judged everywhere in every decision they make from food to diapers and everything in between. I’m sitting, quietly reading and observing. I get the hot bubble in my chest, the one I got before my car seat blog. I want to say something, but I can’t. People are going to be offended. I’m too afraid to lose friends. And then I heard the voice.
That’s not who you are. Since when are you afraid to share your feelings? 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Mommy wars aren’t real. There. I said it. 
The roosevelts were on par with this topic. 

Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy”

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no on can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

People are going to have an opinion on your bottle choice, just like they have an opinion on your short choice. Sure, in the normal world, when we didn’t have kids, nobody shared their judgement. They kept it to themselves, annoyed by your short-shorts quietly until they could go find someone else to talk about it with. 

The trouble with “mommy wars” is that people share their opinions. However, when we sit around here telling them to keep their pro-breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering choices to themselves, we are doing something else. We are returning the “judgement and shame” and, chances are, we’re still going to travel on our merry way to our best friend’s house to talk about that mom and her alternative parenting. 

First, lets pin point a few topics that the Bible doesn’t share. It doesn’t tell us to find parents who are likeminded. It doesn’t tell us we need support from other parents. It doesn’t tell us that there is a right way to feed, clothe, or travel with your child. 

It does tell you a few things that are right:

 Psalms 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:16 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

That tells me my job as a mother was given to me by God. That I should train my children in the ways of the Lord. That any advice on parenting I share should be done in love. All the other stuff doesn’t matter in the end, so long as they know Him. 

That being said, knowing who we are in the Lord helps us make those daily decisions. If your confidence is lacking in a parenting decision, did you pray about it? Or did you lean on your own understanding? 

When I look at choices I face in caring for my children, I kneel first at the feet of the Lord. Then, I stand confidently in my decision, which is rooted in Him. 

2 Corinthians 10:12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

Knowing who I am in Christ is the only way for me to parent. Without Him, I’m lost, insecure, confused, and judgemental. 

And with that peace that passes understanding, I humbly request advice daily. I am not above asking for help. From my mother, from another mom at church, from a mom who has a child the same age at the playground. If we remove the right for other parents of all ages to share their understanding of parenthood, we lose a valuable asset. God uses anyone and everyone for His will, and if I shut out people, I could be shutting out Him. 

The power of prayer is a beautiful thing. Let us lean on Him in parenthood, because without Him, we are nothing. 

It’s time we stopped recognizing mommy wars. It’s time we took control of our feelings, because they are the greatest liars. No one can make you feel anything, so own your insecurity and heartache, and bring it to God’s feet. God gave me my children just as He gave you yours. Your needs and their needs are different from ours, and only God truly knows them. 

Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Windows Wide Open

I have shared on how I keep my children’s toys organized (by spending 15 minutes a day picking up). 

There’s more to keeping my home clean than toys. I have three children. All three sleep in diapers at night. I have two dogs, a husky/malamute mix and a lab mix. I also have one {Foster} cat. 

The very worst part isn’t even all that when it comes to cleaning my home. That is all weekly cleaning. A quick vacuuming every few days. Mopping once a week (realistically every ten days). Laundry one-two days. All manageable. 

The worst part is that we live on the base of a mountain where almost 20,000 people pass us at least every morning and every night to live their daily lives. There are only homes, schools, and churches on this mountain. Every grocery trip, beach going, work headed car passes us. The worst part is our backyard backs up to the one road for those 20,000. 

The very best thing about our single wall home is that we have no air conditioning. You read that right. We have no temptation to lock up our windows and run the air. We get Hawaiian breezes day in and day out. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. It took adjusting, but we live in a beautiful, breezy spot and the weather is always perfect. 
Except. For. Cleaning. It’s so hot cleaning here. With windows open all day every day, all that car exhaust flies it’s way into my home. First, the screens catch some. Then the blinds. And then all the nearby surfaces. Which means cleaning has to happen. And not all that light vacuuming and hanging laundry on the clothes line. Wall washing, window cleaning, surface scrubbing hot, hard work cleaning.

  

I dust when I get a spare minute, which, as you can guess is few and far between. And I just couldn’t keep up. I was scrubbing my blinds every few weeks. Wiping black film off of bookcases and tables. And the fans. Ohhhh do we have fans. Just. Covered.  It didn’t matter! It looked like I never wiped down anything.

Something has to change. I simply cannot keep this place live able and keep my kids entertained. I need a way to make the frequent clean ups faster. 

Then, I remembered. This very wonderful woman I met at our previous duty station. I caught her one day, mid chores, to drop off a book I had borrowed. She was cleaning her blinds with a tube sock up her arm.

I poked fun, but she taught me the cleaning hack that just changed my homemaking world. 

“Puppet show?” — I try to be funny.

“No! Getting ready to have my windows open for the summer!” 

Okay, not following. Which, she saw my face. 

“I clean my blinds with a sock..? I can grab both sides and wipe; the weave of the fabric is narrower than cloths. It picks up everything. Watch.”

And I did. Her little tube sock picked up allll the dirt. 

“But why the tube sock?”

“So the water doesn’t tickle down my arm!”

She had thought of everything. My nose tipped me off that she was using vinegar and water, so I asked and she informed me her solution was half vinegar and half water. 

“Why not dish soap?” 

“Because it leaves a film that needs to be wiped clean with just water. And if left, all the dirt still sticks to my blinds.”

Ok. I’m sold. Definitely the easiest way to clean your blinds, but let’s face it, who has time to do that all the time? I’d rather just close up the windows, right? 

“Do you do this often? You have quite the science going.”

“Nope, once at the beginning of summer, once at the end.”

“Don’t they get filthy a few weeks in..?”

Lo and behold. She held up STATIC GUARD! 

She just sprayed the screens (after vacuuming with a brush attachment) and sprayed the blinds (after the sock-vinegar-water and drying). And everything just comes right off. All summer long. She just wipes and goes on her merry way to the next, non-disruptive, quick and easy chore. 

At the time, we were far away from knowing Hawaii would be our next home, but I’m so thankful for her today. I’ve been working through my home, scrubbing for the last time, and happily using static guard to help the time between wiping grow! The best part? The static guard makes cleaning my fans a *breeze* 😏 just scrub (or vacuum) off the caked on dust, spray with static guard, and suddenly the dust upkeep dramatically decreased!

My parents also found some screens for us to try out that catch even finer particles and allergens! Once we try them, I’ll be sure to come back here and share!

What sort of cleaning tips have great homemakers shared with you? 

Coming up: 

Getting tough stains out of cloth diapers

I was organizing baby clothes all wrong

How my mom saved us money monthly

Parenting Doesn’t Come with a Manual, but Car Seats DO

I am in total awe of the overwhelming support and encouragement from my previous blog post. I’m hopeful that when parents see it, minds are opened, and better decisions are made. Like so many of you say, “When we know better, we do better.”

Like I said before, and many others have said, parents make mistakes every day. We have to hope for a little grace to make up for our short comings. Parenting doesn’t have a how-to. Lucky for us, car seats do come with a how-to!

  
I wasn’t alone in thinking my one-year old was AS safe front facing, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and cautiously assume I’m not the only 22 year old mom who thought warning stickers and manuals are there to protect companies from being sued.

Window screens tell you not to let kids lean on them because toddlers have fallen out. Cribs tell you to have a certain size mattress because babies have suffocated. Swings tell you to use child restraints because children have gotten hurt without them. Toys come with “small pieces” warnings because babies have choked.

Car seats come with manuals so that WHEN accidents happen, children don’t have to get hurt or lose their lives.

I’m going to stand up on a soap box here and tell you, if you’re reading this, you’re trying to do better. That’s wonderful, but I’m not your car seat manufacturer. I’m not a car seat technician (yet, but maybe soon). I’m a mom who used the internet to learn and I’m passing down what I’ve learned onto you.

However, go above and beyond.

Get up now, and go find your manual.

In your manual you’re going to find things that surprise you. I did!

We own two Clek Foonfs, and I love them. I’m not getting paid to say that. These car seats rock my world. They’re space ships. 45-pound-each crash cages. I trust them to save my children’s lives.

Right on the first page they included a checklist for me. The next page is a table of contents. I can find any and all information I need to know about properly using, cleaning, and traveling with my car seat. On the very back, they have a phone number listed. So in the instance that I have a question that their manual doesn’t answer, I can Call THEM. They know their seats better than anyone else. Utilize that.

  

This blog post is a quick list of things that are commonly unknown about car seats. In the instance that you don’t have your manual with you, because in today’s modern world you could be reading this anywhere. (Hopefully not while you’re driving. Or while your kids are playing). Maybe you’re in line at the bank and holding your three year old’s hand and you see something you’ve installed incorrectly or been doing wrong all along. This list is for you.

It’s not your car seat bible. That’s what your manuals for, okay? So read it.

  • Rear Facing is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics until at least age TWO, or until they have MAXIMIZED their seat’s rear facing requirements. Here
    • In Sweden, which has very low child-passenger injury and death rates, children often ride rear-facing up to 4 years of age.Here
  • Children should be in a FIVE POINT HARNESS until at least age FIVE, but in reality, most kids aren’t ready for a booster until ages 6-7! Here
  • American Academy of Pediatrics also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. Here
  • All children aged 12 and under should ride properly buckled in the BACK SEAT. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag. Here (EDIT: Emily in the comment below has brought to my attention that if the air bag is disabled, there are circumstances that the front seat is still an appropriate location.)

Above are my laws for my car. I’m the grumpy car seat lady. Know better, do better.

For rear-facing infant carriers remember to lower the carrying handle to its resting position, unless your seat specifically states it can remain up. Leaving the handle up can interfere with the function of rear facing seats and/or shatter into the child’s seat. Check your manual. Here — thanks Sandy And here

Strap-Did-You-Know?

  • Rear Facing shoulder straps should be at or below the child’s shoulder. Forward Facing shoulder straps should be at or above. (DOUBLE CHECK THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR MANUAL).
  • Crotch buckles should be at or behind the child’s crotch. I use cloth diapers, which means added bulk. To satisfy my concern, I place my child in the seat diaperless and adjust the buckle accordingly.
  • Car seat straps should never be submerged in liquid. Never use abrasive or harsh chemicals when cleaning your straps. These weaken your seat’s integrity.  — No Really. READ YOUR MANUAL
    • “Surface wash straps with a damp cloth and mild detergent” — Clek Manual, page 95

If you didn’t know and you made this mistake, PLEASE contact your car seat manufacturer. Chances are, they’ll send you a replacement hassle free!

  • If your straps show wear from age, CONTACT YOUR MANUFACTURER. They usually replace them free-of-charge (with the exception of seats not registered with their company and EXPIRED seats)

You read that last one right.

  • YOUR CAR SEAT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE. Most car seats expire in 6 years. The only way to know for sure is to FIND THE STICKER. If your seat doesn’t have a sticker, you don’t know the model number, and you’re not the first owner, TIME TO REPLACE IT!

Not the first owner? Do you KNOW your car seat’s history?

  • Only buy car seat’s from trusted a friend or family member. Car seats are designed for ONE IMPACT ONLY. If you are the original owner and you’ve been in an accident, Replace it! If you get in an accident, my prayer is that you most certainly never do, but if it happens, your insurance company *should* reimburse you up to the value. This depends on your insurance policy.
  • IF YOU HAVE CHECKED YOUR CAR SEAT TO AN AIRLINE WITHOUT THE PROPER PACKING FROM A MANUFACTURER, YOU DON’T KNOW ITS HISTORY. — Have you seen airlines load cargo? This one is the reason we replaced our infant seat… << I MADE THIS MISTAKE.

ON ANCHORS AND BELTS

  • “Unless you have a Nuna Pipa base or a Forward Facing Clek Foonf, (do not use anchors and belts together).” Here
  • Anchors have a WEIGHT LIMIT.  “If child weighs more than 40 lbs, this seat must be used with a lap belt,” Clek Manual, Page 1!

Emily has also brought to my attention that your vehicle has its own weight limits for latches. Read your car manual.

WINTER COATS

  • NEVER ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO REMAIN IN THEIR WINTER COAT IN THEIR CAR SEAT. Here
    • to test this, put your child in their seat wearing the coat, buckle them, pull tight, unbuckle, remove the coat, and try again! WAY too much excess!

We’re going to finish with the checklist:

  • Your car seat straps should NEVER be twisted. They can’t be tightened enough.
  • Pinch the strap at the shoulder, if there’s no excess, the seat is tight enough. Here
  • Check your manual’s requirements for the head rest!!
  • NEVER use after market products. They haven’t been tested with your seat in a crash.
  • If your seat wiggles less than an inch side to side, it’s good to go! Here

I basically just summarized my manual. MY manual. Not your’s. So in case you didn’t catch the hint, READ YOUR MANUAL. 

Keep your manual in your glove compartment (cleks have a spot in the car seat!) It’s as important as your title, registration, and insurance.

Contact Manufacturers. Call Highway Patrol in your state. Contact a local car seat technician.

I’m more than happy to make edits. PLEASE correct me KINDLY. Add additional information in the comments.

In closing, Please find a location to recycle your car seat (expired, prior accident, unknown history)!

Here< For Clek Users

The Day A Friend Corrected Me

 I’ve been thinking about this blog post for months, the problem is, every time I start to write it, another friend chooses to forward face their child and I don’t want them to think I wrote it because of them. Here’s the thing: if this post convicts you, maybe you’re feeling convicted because you reasoned the same way. To some extent, forward facing your toddler is a preference. Statistics, and in some states, laws, recommend AT LEAST 2 years, but most states, despite American academy of pediatrics research, recommend (not require) AT LEAST 1 year and 20 pounds (minimum. That’s minimum.) 

Look up your state’s laws here. If you’re unhappy with your state’s decision, contact your local state representative. It’s also beneficial to contact car seat manufacturers, they are very supportive in lobbying for these changes. — thank you Krystina.
I’m writing this post not to make other parents feel guilty. If you feel guilty, deal with it on a personal level. This post is how I decided to extend rear face, not why you should. If you’re reading this and my reasons are your reasons, then do what you want with the information.  –

  
 I am as human as the next person. Moms and dads make mistakes everyday, and I was making one that could have cost my son his life. 

Above is Salem. Salem has always been in the 90th percentile for height/weight and between 75-85th percentile for his head size. As a first time mom, I was so proud of how big he was and by his first birthday, I just couldn’t wait to turn his car seat around. 

So I did. I shared the photo. A friend of mine commented, “just because he’s big enough doesn’t mean he should be!” I shrugged it off. This was a MILESTONE. Don’t ruin it, lady. 

Then I posted sleeping Salem. And she wrote me a book. 

“Listen, Candace. Hear me, please. Salem’s car seat straps are incorrect. The manual states he needs to have his chest buckle at his arm pits. In an accident, that buckle would dig into his soft stomach and cause serious damage to his organs, his upper body would have no support, flinging his so sweet and adorably large head so hard, that he is guaranteed to have serious spinal, nerve, and brain damage.

That is 100% the only wrong thing in the photo. (EDIT: a reader has brought to my attention “His straps were too loose and they were coming from behind his shoulders when we know they need to be at or above for forward facing. Now I know! It’ll be awhile before we are FF though 😏)

However, I need to address extended rear facing with you. Most states recommend a MINIMUM of 1 year and 20 pounds. While Salem meets that, it’s really best if he rides out the maximum rear facing seat requirements. I own that seat, they are 5-40 pounds and 40 inches rear facing. Meaning, he should be rear facing til about 2, which is what AAP recommends. Please consider turning him around?”

Crap. I’m so humiliated. She’s right. 

But rear facing is awful. I can’t see him. He whines. It looks uncomfortable. Plus, it’s SO OBNOXIOUS AND INCONVENIENT! 

Wait, what self? If you got in a wreck and you lost him, would any of those reasons stand a chance. 

Never. 

Not. One.

So I researched. I read every article on car seat safety. I joined Car Seats for the Littles on facebook. I asked my pediatrician. 

She was 100% RIGHT. 

Toddlers vertebrae aren’t connected by ossified bone; they’re connected by cartilage. Meaning it’s easier for serious damage to occur, ESPECIALLY in a car accident. HERE

Rear facing is 5 TIMES SAFER, 500%, for your child. HERE

And in case you came up with plenty of other myths to try one last time to keep forward facing, JUST LIKE I DID, Here.

A letter to myself: 

My child’s life is priceless. (As is your child’s.) I get one shot. I can’t put a price tag on it. I can’t put convenience ahead of it. I’m happy to share the information with you all and I will not be made to feel guilty. (Because I was you.)

I don’t care if you know you’re a super incredible safe driver. The car next to you isn’t. Don’t trust them to put your car seat to the test. 

If your child has outgrown their rear facing limits and you can’t afford to purchase one with higher limits, you shouldn’t feel guilty. NEVER FEEL GUILTY. You are educated and you are doing the best you can. 

  • This post is for the me’s out there. 
  • Front facing isn’t a milestone.
  • Front facing isn’t as safe. (With the exception of cars that don’t allow for proper rear facing installation).
  • Pride. Isn’t. Worth. It. 

Please consider Extended Rear Facing. Please.
 

If my post changed your mind (like many emails I’ve received!) or you already ERF your littles, post a picture on Instagram and

 #rearfacingforwardthinking 

It takes a lot to swallow our pride as moms. It’s ok to change our minds. Let’s support each other.

I have compiled more research, information from comments, and common car seat mistakes Here

Cameron’s story can be read Here

Here I Raise My Ebenezer – Three Weeks With Three Under Three

I have a confession. Despite the encouragement from many loved ones during my pregnancy with Marvin, I convinced myself I couldn’t handle three under three.

I received so much wonderful advice and encouraging stories about the third being the easiest transition. I told myself they knew nothing of my circumstances. No one could know what horrors I was about to endure.

All that negative Nancy attitude got me was the difficult transition I imagined. The first three weeks with three under three have been spent in fear and anger. Fear to go out on a limb. To take a risk, experience life and the chaos that we have. To enjoy the tears, as they’re inevitable. Anger with toddlers who don’t understand why they’re upset. Anger when people who are only here to help me make one small mistake that effects nothing but my own OCD tendencies.

The worst advice I received was from strangers during my pregnancy, “Wow! Three under three! Well, God will never give you more than you can handle.”

This advice set me in a downward spiral. I was obviously given more than I could handle. I was failing. I very clearly did something wrong, being punished, but that can’t be right because the Bible specifically calls children blessings. God doesn’t give people babies as a punishment. So we’re back to me failing, I’m obviously not doing enough, or making the wrong choice in life somewhere.

Finally, I sat down with my devotions two days ago, and Beth Moore relayed exactly what God needed me to hear. (These quotes will be coming from Beth Moore’s Believing God Chapter 15)

She used Joshua 10, when the five kings of the Amorites bound together to defeat Joshua and the Israelites. They marched all night, surprising the army, and with God promise of a victory on their side, the armies were defeated.

Joshua faced a lot of opposition, the odds were not in his favor. They were outnumbered, they committed to the battle before God promised them victory, they were up all night, and they marched uphill. 4000 foot ascent of rough-terrain marching!

This story is familiar to me. It’s used frequently as a miracle story, usually with the illustration that these men defeat the odds with God on their side. As a mother, wife, and homemaker, I see something a little different. It wasn’t so quick. As a child, I saw the 5 minute battle scene Hollywood gave me. Now I see an all night struggle, an uphill March, sweat, tears, fear, and committing to something before you know everything’s gonna be alright.

Sounds like my life. No, I don’t mean I’m all armored up and sliding a weapon into people’s bodies.

My battle is different. I am outnumbered, I am often up all night, my March feels long, rough, uphill, and I usually have my arms full. I also committed to loving these tiny people no matter the outcome.

These soldiers didn’t get handed a battle field of already slain men upon arrival, they had to work for what they wanted. Sure, they had a promise of victory, but they had to earn it themselves.

“Fighting the good fight of faith takes energy. So do self-pity, anger, un forgiveness, and self-loathing. Decide where to put your energy.”

That was humbling. I have most certainly spent the last three weeks putting my energy into the latter half of those.

The part of the story I never noticed was the verses where God threw large hail stones from the sky, killing more men than the swords of the Israelites.

Then, Joshua realizes the sun will set before the battle is won. He prayed that the sun and the moon would stand still. “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down a full day.”

“A perfect set up for catastrophic defeat is also the perfect set up for miraculous victory.”

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Let’s go back to that bad advice. God can, too, give you more than you can handle. I believe God gives us situations that require our all, and sometimes, that’s still not enough. These men were required to give all of themselves. They still only won because they called upon God.

I believe that sometimes, God gives you more than you can handle so that you stop taking credit for the beauty of your life, the hard work you put into it, and look around and say, “I have this because of God.” He gave me these children, these exact little people that He created before I knew what their names would be, and He knew that I could not be their mother without His help. Thank goodness for His grace to redeem my stupidity.

“When God requires much, he’ll do even more.”

“To whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48

Now, looking back at those miracles I never noticed. Hailstones large enough to smash people, and He literally stopped the Earth on its axis.

He required a lot from those men, and He also gave two science-defying miracles.

That is not to say that God answers every prayer with miracles, or with the answer that we predetermined as right. But He does sometimes. He did for Joshua. If only I can remember to pray big prayers and give God the opportunity to give me back big answers.

“You don’t have to do it His way. You can choose bitterness, resentment, carnality, or mediocrity. Or you can go for it with everything you’ve got. You can experience the unmatched exhilaration of partnering in divine triumph. The stakes are high. The cost is steep. But I’ll promise you this: there is no high like the Most High.”

I need His help. Every day. I can only think about the next hour, because much else is too much. And the next hour can only be accomplished with His help. I want to partner in divine triumph.

1 Samuel 7:12 “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood

I never understood why “ebenezer” was in that hymn, but now I do, and I’m going to go find a rock, set in on my counter top, and when I see it every day, I will remember how I made it to that moment.

“Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

I encourage you to sit down and read her book. You can purchase it HERE