What “Being Christian” Means to My Family

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! Continuing our guest posts on the topic of Religion & Family, we have the wonderful Gina Carlisle, of ‘Mom Explores Orlando’, with us today. Please drop her some comments below, and check out her awesome blog! Thank You for letting us peek into your family life, Gina!
By:Gina Carlisle | Mom Explores Orlando

My husband and I grew up practicing the same religion differently. We both considered ourselves to be Christian, but my family only attended church sporadically and he was a devout churchgoer – driving 45 minutes each way every week to attend a small but tight-knit church. Despite these differences in practice, we were both raised with Christian values.

It wasn’t until I started studying religion and attending church regularly when I was in college that I really formed my own ideas. My parents both felt pushed away from the church when they were young because of ideas of how things should be done that were not based on scripture. I distinctly remember a story my mother told me about when she was a child and my grandmother missed church on Mother’s Day. My mom was told that her mother was going to hell. How awful that must have been to hear as a child (not to mention that nowhere in the Bible does it say “Missed church, go straight to hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200”)!

I’m not one to believe that you have to go to church in order to be a good Christian and I feel that my parents instilled excellent values in me without taking me to church every week. That being said, there is a community aspect to church that I’ve come to realize is increasingly important to me, especially raising my son. Being able to meet in a safe place where he can learn and make friends and ask questions is such a big deal and will shape who he becomes.

In trying many many churches as an adult before finding the right fit for our family, it’s become most important to me to instill in my son the importance of following Jesus and generally being a good person. The biggest part of this, in today’s world, is not passing judgment on others and bringing a “come as you are” attitude to the table, regardless of whether he’s in the company of Believers or not. Jesus loves everyone. Period. He doesn’t just love the people who do good deeds, or believe certain things, or are Christians. He loves everyone. It’s a difficult concept for some adults to understand, because there’s so much “gray area” in our lives as we get older, but it’s a concept that is infinitely easier for children because it really is just that simple.

As we’ve begun the journey of imparting these values to our son, we’ve done so in simple ways that he will be able to understand. We’ve started by saying grace when we eat dinner together and we say a prayer before he goes to bed. At 15 months old, he’s gradually started to understand that there’s some significance to what we’re doing and he tries to participate – holding our hands and saying “Aaaaamen!” when we finish, with a big smile on his face. It’s my hope that as he gets older and begins to have questions and wonders where he fits in to this world, he’ll have a solid foundation for knowing that he is loved by his Creator and that he can do so much good in the world by showing others the same unwavering love in all circumstances.

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Bio: Gina is a work-at-home mom who taught high school history until her son came along. A native Floridian, she enjoys sharing about her life, motherhood, and adventures in her hometown on her blog “Mom Explores Orlando”. When she’s not wrangling a toddler or working on her blog, Gina often dreams up new recipes to try out on her husband and plans vacations she won’t take for years.

What "Being Christian" Means To One Mom & Her Family

Bruce’s Birth Story

Today, June 30th, is my little boy’s birthday. I can’t believe a whole year has gone by! His birth isn’t much out of the ordinary, but it’s one I’ll never forget…especially since you were a week past your due date! Continue reading “Bruce’s Birth Story”

When ‘Me’ Time Becomes “All The Time”

We all need alone time…

There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some much needed ‘Me’ time, as a parent. But when does ‘Me’ time, turn into ‘All the Time’?

Now I cherish the short amount of time I get with my husband, or even just to myself, without the kid, as much as the next parent. it’s opportunities to catch up on work, relax a little, or (god forbid) even get to go out and have a little fun with friends during dinner. But my son is always first priority, and I’m usually more inclined to spend a night reading to him than dancing at a club with my girlfriends. Why? Because the club is always there-my son’s time as a little guy is getting shorter with each day. He’s almost a year already and I feel like I just brought him home! But if he’s visiting grandma, and I can get away for an hour or two, of course I’ll join a friend for a birthday celebration. Even let my husband take me out for dinner, which we never do anymore.

When is there too much “me time?”

But I know some parents who are able to find babysitters every weekend, and go out whenever they want. Envious? A little. But I still wouldn’t change my mind, even if I had the flexibility. I don’t want to miss out on that much time with my child. Is is a judgement on their parenting? Not at all-if it works for you, go for it. Some parents can, I’m just one of the ones who personally cannot.

But I’m bothered by a select few (who I’m sure everyone knows types like this) who are hardly ever spending time with their kids as a family. Who are always leaving them with a babysitter every chance they get, to party, to hang out with other adults. Who choose to forgo an opportunity to take their child to the beach, over going with friends to the beach. Who choose a night at the movies with girlfriends, over watching their kid in the school play. I was shocked when a friend of mine openly admitted she “didn’t have time for (cheerleading) practices”, but yet is at the club every weekend instead. Equally as shocked when learning that some of the parents I know won’t allow their son to play football, because it cuts into their time doing some other activity for themselves.

Again, I’m not judging their ability to wipe noses, kiss their kids goodnight, or provide for them the necessities they require for survival. But one thing I learned when becoming a mom, was that as the saying goes, “It’s a time to put away your childish ways, for your child’s ways.”

Parenting Isn’t Easy

Being a parent requires a certain level of sacrifice. I sacrifice sleep, time to use the bathroom alone (or at all), hair appointments (yes, I rock Mom hair, no shame), and a lot of other things, so I can devote more time to my child. I’m not saying cut out all of your hobbies and pleasures altogether. That’s where time management comes in. But it saddens me when I see parent’s choosing themselves over their kids like this. Yes, my son might only be 11 months old, but when it’s time for him to want to play a sport, there’s no question which will come first: Baseball, or my spin class. If they are scheduled at the same time, guess what I’ll be doing? Spinning my little car to the diamond field so he can practice pitching. When he has the lead in the school play, or even just as a member of chorus, I’ll be there at every production – happy hour or not. And if all my friends, childless or not, are going to the beach? Move over so my little boy can get in between us and build a sand castle.

It saddens me because our time with our kids is so very limited. They are only children for so long. And they have lives, too. Lives that are better enriched by activities. It shouldn’t be a hard choice to pick your child over your own social life. Your work schedule is a different story, but when it comes to “Personal Me Time”, I don’t think it should be more than the time you spend with your kids. And I don’t think they should suffer because their lives conflict with yours.

Family is what really matters

Sometimes my husband and I do things for ourselves as a couple, or we separate and do things as individuals. But it’s seldom. It’s not at every opportunity to dump the baby at Grandma’s. I’m not saying anyone is a bad parent for doing these things, but this is how I look at it; those club nights add up. The missed after-school activities add up. The chances to go with Mommy and Daddy to the theme park, add up. What do you think your child will remember most?

I don’t want my son to remember that he didn’t get to participate in karate, because it conflicted with my yoga class. I don’t want him to recall growing up spending every non-school night at his aunt’s house because “mama needed to get her drink on.” I want him to remember that not only did he get to play sports, but I was there for every game. I want him to remember the time I declined girl’s night, so me and his father could go out to a family dinner and movie date.

I don’t want him to ever think that “Mommy’s time” was more important than he is.

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Broke – When Priorities Override

“Broke” is a matter of perspective

There’s a difference between being broke…and struggling.

My responsibilities to my family come first, before anything else. Before I became married, and a mom? Totally different. I could be ‘selfish’ and spoil myself. My bills were small, and it was no big deal to drop hundreds of dollars on shopping sprees, hair and nail appointments, and drinks at the club.

“Want to go to a concert?” You bet your butt I do.
“$150 for a pair of ripped up jeans?” Shut up and take my money.

But your priorities change when you start a family. And while spending money (and time) on yourself isn’t a bad thing to do, I tend to think about the “what if’s” of the future, and I don’t do it that much. Spoil my husband and child, yes…but you won’t find me at the nail salon that often anymore.

Finances take a new priority

My husband is a stickler for finances (well, it is one of his majors). He has goals and plans to set our family on a good path. And I completely agree with those goals. And even if it might annoy me on nights when I don’t necessarily feel like cooking – I love how he’s able to point out things like, “We have that at home. We don’t need to go out.” Because after the meal, (it’s always after, when I’m not hungry) I always kick myself for eating out when I realize I could have saved $20, $30, $50 dollars by just staying at home and not being lazy. But he’s right – as he puts it, “Just because I have money to spend, doesn’t mean we need to spend it on everything.”

That’s what annoys me when people assume that I’m flat dead broke if I don’t accept offers to do certain things. Be it trips to the spa, or group movie nights, if I don’t see a necessity to spend money, I don’t anymore.

Your idea of “expendable income” changes

This month we have a lot planned. Pre-scheduled  outings to theme parks with family, birthday parties to attend, birthday parties to plan, family to visit out of state…these things are more important than something silly, like spending it on something temporary for myself only.

Don’t say, “Oh, you don’t have $10 to get in?” if I decline an offer to join you somewhere without the kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t have money…that means I’m declining your offer to spend that money on myself. 

And when I say, “I’m kinda broke right now,” that doesn’t mean I’m hurting for necessities. That means my refrigerator is full of food, my bills are paid, and what I have in the bank, I’m saving for an emergency-not an excuse to blow what’s left in my account on just whatever comes along.

Maybe I’m getting old, and thinking too much, but if anything does arise, I’m always the one kicking myself for even spending that small ten bucks on something stupid when I could have saved it.

It’s important, especially once you’re a mom and you never treat yourself, to actually do that once in a while. But if I decline an invitation to do so, please don’t think my struggle is that real…I’m just keeping my priorities in check.

When your family's priorities change your perspective on finances

Don’t Let Them Steal Your Joy

Motherhood is full of Joy, and Doubt…

One thing no one ever tells you, when becoming a first time mother, is the amount of criticism you will undoubtedly face on a day to day basis. And parenting is full of it! Continue reading “Don’t Let Them Steal Your Joy”