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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

June 23, 2012

This has been a trying month! And it is not over yet. Some days I find myself simply praying for enough self-control to get to bed time. At the end of the day I sit down and think ‘I must be doing something wrong.’ Maybe I could have a Biblical Super Nanny film an average week in our home and then come and tell me where things have gone wrong. Then again, maybe not.

Somewhere in the midst of trying to finish school, sort through our belongings accumulated over the last seven years in anticipation of moving, hosting Much Beloved Cousin for a week, and planning three birthday parties, I forgot to be a Godly example to my children. There was yelling, sarcasm and general leave-me-alone-I-don’t-feel-like-dealing-with-you. We had our good moments but I would have to say they were outnumbered by the bad.

When the children would interfere with something I was doing I’d tell them to go away instead of finding a way to include them. When they were fighting with each other I would yell and punish everyone instead of helping them to resolve their conflict. And when they were just plain annoying I would echo back their words with mocking instead of taking a deep breath and lovingly deal with the issue.

As my attitude and behavior remained negative those of my children were worsening. As their attitudes and behavior remained negative mine worsened. We were on a downward spiral. If I didn’t change soon complete chaos would soon rule our home. That is when I purposed to push the reset button and begin again. That night I threw up my prayers to God and asked Him to help. The next morning I posted my plans with my accountability group and we were off to the races.

It has been almost a week and things are beginning to improve. I haven’t yelled…too loudly. I’ve taken the time to listen to them and work through whatever bothers them. And we take a time out to reconcile after fighting. But what I have found most helpful is asking my children to do something instead of demanding they do it. 

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24

AT'TITUDE, n. [L. actus, ago.

1. In painting and sculpture, the posture or action in which a figure or statue is placed; the gesture of a figure or statue; such a disposition of the parts as serves to express the action and sentiments of the person represented.

2. Posture; position of things or persons; as, in times of trouble let the prince or a nation preserve a firm attitude.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Second Mile Club

June 18, 2012

While at the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania’s (CHAP) convention this year I stumbled upon a daily devotional for children formatted like Our Daily Bread. I had started reading devotionals from Our Daily Bread to the children over breakfast but stopped because they simply were beyond their ability to understand and relate to. I missed that time together and I found that without starting our day in Bible study and prayer we do not have the proper mindset to get through it. So I’ve been looking. I didn’t want a full-blown Bible study program (we are going through Doorposts’ Plants Grown Up and Polished Cornerstones – so that was covered (more on that later)). All I wanted was something I could do in five minutes while they ate their cereal.

Enter Keys for Kids. Now each morning we gather on Daddy’s & Mommy’s bed and read our devotional, discuss the questions and say a little prayer asking God to help us fulfill His will that day. I love having that time back and the kids love the interactiveness of it.

The devotional the other day was entitled Second Mile Club based on Matthew 5:38-42. We happened to have the much beloved cousin staying with us for the week so it was good for her to hear The Word too. After reading the passage, the short story, discussing the questions and praying, I asked each of the four children what they could do go the extra mile. Much beloved cousin was going to sweep the floors for her Mom. My son was going to get his sisters’ blankets in addition to their chairs the next time we settled in around the computer to watch a “God video”. And the girls, well they are still working on it. I congratulated each on their excellent idea and was getting ready to hop off the bed and get on with the day when further discussion among the children brought me back. They wanted to start their own Second Mile Club. What a great idea! We discussed what that would look like and decided we would look for opportunities to put our plan into action.

The rest of the day was filled with four children not only cooperating with each other and Mommy; but, going the extra mile. I’d like to say the idea took hold but the next day while shopping I had to remind my son that he was now a member of the Second Mile Club. His response? “I quit”

Oh well, we’ll keep praying and practicing.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” – Matthew 5:38-42

ENDU'RANCE, n. [See Endure.] Continuance; a state of lasting or duration; lastingness.
1. A bearing or suffering; a continuing under pain or distress without resistance, or without sinking or yielding to the pressure; sufferance; patience.
Their fortitude was most admirable in their presence and endurance of all evils, of pain, and of death.
2. Delay; a waiting for. [Not used.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sharing In Others Happiness

June 8, 2012

We were all seated on the floor in the girls’ bedroom settling in for our evening devotions with the children before tucking them in for the night when Daddy said “I have something for the girls.” As he got up to walk out of the room a sourness came over our son. His arms crossed in front of his chest. The corners of his mouth turned down and his brow furrowed. “What about me? Why don’t I get something? Why do they get something?”

This is not the first time this “fairness” doctrine of his has reared its ugly head but it is the first time I purposed to disciple it instead of chastise it. I put fairness in quotes because much like its real world counterpart the fairness only runs one way; when it benefits him or punishes his sisters. “Son, why can’t you be happy for your sisters? Daddy has gotten them something special and we should share in their excitement.” My question was met with a look of utter confusion. What? Be happy that their getting something and I’m not? What kind of crazy world do you live in? Were all thoughts conveyed by the look in his eyes. He was working himself up to quit a snip and it was really starting to get on my nerves.

We have been struggling with his selfish, self-centered, greedy, demanding, controlling spirit for most of his life. Ok, who am I kidding, ALL his life. As a baby he had to be held all the time. I got virtually no sleep for two years. He screamed from the moment you put him in a car seat until the moment you took him out. As a toddler if he felt you were not paying adequate attention to him, he would interject himself into whatever you were doing. Driving became an exercise in guess-what-son-wants-now as he pointed out the window and grunted.

But I digress.

“Son, look at me.” Yes grudgingly meet mine. “This attitude of yours is not right. Christ wants us to put others before ourselves. He calls us to esteem others higher than ourselves. That includes your sisters. You should want your sisters to be happy and receive blessings. You should rejoice is their good fortune. You should share in their excitement. Why would you want to ruin this moment for them?”

Unfortunately, he was not able to respond because Daddy was back with bag in hand. As he pulled two pairs of swimming goggles from the bag you could see the joy enter my son. You see, he already had a pair of goggles and has been sharing them with his sisters for over a year. I wonder if his joy over their gift wasn’t motivated by his selfish desire to not share his stuff? I’m choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The moment passed quickly but I pray the seed was planted and the next time either or both of his sisters receives a blessing he will genuinely be happy for them.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." – Luke 6:38

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." – Romans 12:15

SELF'ISH, a. Regarding one's own interest chiefly or soley; influenced in actions by a view to private advantage.

UNSELF'ISH, a. Not selfish; not unduly attached to one's own interest.