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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

Bride And Groom Funny Clipart Pictures
Clipart found on
So we’ve been struggling with the question of whether we’re getting through to our children’s hearts. Do they really hear what we’re telling them?

One of our goals is to teach our children the sanctity of marriage. We believe God made one woman for each man and that He will bring the two together when the time is right. Toward that goal we have been teaching our children that they belong to their spouse right now. And that they must keep themselves pure both emotionally and physically. There will be no dating in this house. But neither will we arrange their marriage (though I do have a candidate in mind for each-I can’t help myself!).

And so we have been planting seeds. We’ve been instructing them on the roles of a spouse according to Scripture. What does God demand of a husband and father? What does it look like to be a Godly wife and mother?

Well the other day the children were playing a game when I heard Little Big Boy Man asking Sweetie Pie #1 if he could marry her. TEACHABLE MOMENT! My husband was right on it. He called the children to his side and ran through what should happen. He told Sweetie Pie #1 that if any man approaches her and wants to spend time with her or asks to marry her, she is to say “Go talk to my Dad.” He told Little Big Boy Man that if he is ever interested in spending time or marrying a woman, he must first come to us and then to her father. He then proceeded to pepper Little Big Boy Man with questions about his relationship with God, his family, his ability to care for our daughter, and why he wanted to spend time/marry her.

Naturally, he had no answers to these questions, so my husband began to tell him why these things are important. We talked about guarding your heart, preparing yourself for marriage and family, and the realities of family life. I will admit that it could have been more information than was needed, but if only a small portion sunk in right now I’ll consider it a job well done.

Now when we hear “Can I marry you?”, we also hear “Go talk to my Dad.” Then Little Big Boy Man dutifully presents himself before my husband.

Once, when the scenario was playing itself out, Little Big Boy Man refused to come speak to my husband and instead insisted she marry him anyway. Sweetie Pie #1 went screaming from the room!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stressed and Anxious

August 31, 2013

Have you ever stood in the ocean with the waves crashing in on you every other second? By the time you caught your breath from the last wave you had to prepare for the next. It eventually leaves you so tired you feel that you must either succumb to the waves or leave the beach entirely. Either way you must give up. That is, if you haven’t been knocked down and dragged out in the undertow.

That’s a little like we feel right now.

So much has been happening to our family this summer that we have started to sit up and take notice. The waves of difficulties have been non-ending. Just as we think we’re getting back on our feet, here comes another wave! You tell yourself it is just for a season. But you find the words ringing hollow after a while and you wonder if it sounds like a lie to everyone else too.

What do the difficulties of life have to do with discipling?

A lot actually.

How our children see us handling the hardships of life testifies a lot about our relationship with God. Is there worry? Fear? Stress? Anger? You betcha there is. But there is also faith, trust and assurance. And God has brought us to a place where we have stopped focusing on what is going on here and started focusing on what God has for us at the end of this time.

Our children here us talk about the problems that have been coming our way. They’ve heard us talking about how we’re going to fix them. And now they hear us talking about what God is trying to teach us through all of it.

They see us counting our blessings even as the cursings keep coming. But we are not perfect people and at times we can also be caught complaining too. And as we struggle to deal with everything some things are falling through the cracks.

Schooling has been one of those things. I sat down the other night to get the paperwork for our first week of school printed out and lesson plans completed and realized I am grossly unprepared. I had fooled myself into thinking just because I had been planning (albeit in my head) I was ready.

Panic started to set in. I immediately went into ‘How Am I Going To Fix This’ mode. I stared blankly at my computer screen, wrung my hands a few times, I think I may have even paced a little. Finally, I put my head down and whispered “I give up”.

Then God spoke. He had probably been speaking all along, but I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts to hear Him. “Take a look at your plans again”, he was saying. “So what if you don’t have language arts scheduled. So what if you don’t have science and history planned out. So what if you don’t have the math curriculum you wanted. Look at what you DO have.”

And what I had was a 32 week plan for studying the Word of God. Scripture verses for the family to memorize. A calendar full of Jewish Holy Days and festivals to learn about and celebrate. What I had was a plan for teaching my children life skills (a loose one but still a plan). And what could be more important.

Once again I am reminded that if we take care of the God thing, He’ll take care of the rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Do Unto Others

photo from:
July 17, 2013

Our family has been going through one of those seasons of life. It’s just one thing after another. And in the midst of that it has been all too easy to let discipleship slide. I looked at my kitchen walls today and realized I haven’t been dealing with my children according to the rules we established.

There are two things hanging on the wall of our kitchen. The first is a Computer Time chart. This chart lets the kids earn tickets for exhibiting certain desirable behaviors that they can then redeem for computer time. This is not the only computer time the children get, but it is time they can do whatever they want (with Mommy’s & Daddy’s approval) for the time they choose to redeem.

The second thing hanging on our wall is the If-Then chart we received from Doorposts. This chart list various behavioral infractions, Bible verses related to the infraction, and a consequence. The consequences were carefully researched during Bible study time and decided upon by Little Big Boy Man who also took the time to color each cell.

I haven’t been consistently handing out computer tickets. Nor have I been consistently meeting out the agreed upon consequences. The result? Unruly children. And I only have myself to blame. But one issue I have been consistently cracking down on is their treatment of each other.

Three strong-willed children under one roof 24 hours a day is bound to end in conflict. But what I want my children to learn is that their siblings can either be their best friend, or their worst enemy, and it all depends on how they treat each other. So I am quick to jump in with encouragements like “I know you want your sisters to play your way, but you cannot use force to make them do something. Handle it better.” Or, “I know that belongs to you but maybe you can share for a little while and everyone will be happy.” And “God wants us to treat others the way we would want to be treated.”

Somehow, Little Big Boy Man has latched on to the last one with a slight modification. It has now become “She treats me this way, so I’m treating her like this.” I used to simply reply that we do not return evil for evil. But now I add that the command is not one of reaction. It is a command of action. So no, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is not the same thing as ‘Do unto others as they have done unto you’.

It is a hard lesson to learn.

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." - Luke 6:31

Sunday, June 30, 2013


June 30, 2013

Sweetie Pie #1 is LAZY.

There’s just no denying it any longer. I tried.

Some children are slow to the start. It takes them awhile to get moving. And when they get moving it’s at a snail’s pace. And that’s ok. Not everyone can be the Tasmanian Devil, flitting from one thing to another in a mad flurry of activity.
The problem is neither the snail nor the Tasmanian Devil ever get anything done. There is a complete lack out activity on one hand, and too much activity one the other hand, both resulting in nothing getting done.

So I prefer the Tortoise approach. Slow and steady wins the race. You don’t have to sprint through your day but you do need to keep moving if you want to get anything done. And that is where my dear little Sweetie Pie #1 falls short.

I send her to her room to clean up and she scampers away to get the job done. Ten minutes later, NOTHING has been put away. Somewhere down the 12 foot hallway she lost her drive to do her chore. What I find is a beautiful little girl sitting on her floor, or on her bed, looking at the mess.  Or, I find her actually making more of a mess.

She would rather lie around with her thumb in her mouth and her blankie wrapped around her body then pick up a dirty sock and put it in the hamper. But I think I stumbled on the solution this weekend.

Sweetie Pie wanted to help make her sister’s birthday cake (well actually she wanted to eat the icing). I wanted her to get her things out of the kitchen. In her typical fashion she stuck her thumb in her mouth and just stood there. Now I’m trying to turn over a new leaf in my own life so instead of getting angry at her disobedience and yelling or spanking I just ignored her. Sure enough she thought she won the battle. She climbed up on the counter and proceeded to help “make” the cake. I picked her up put her on the floor and told her again to put her things away. Second chorus same as the first. After three rounds she looks at me and says, with tears in her eyes, “I want some icing.” So I looked back at her and said “And I want your things out of the kitchen.” Light bulb moment. Sweetie Pie picked up her stuff, put it away, and came right back for her icing which I gladly gave her.

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work , neither should he eat .” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10

So I’m going to take the ‘You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat’ approach. No yelling. No threatening. And no food. I figure if it works with chocolate icing it should work with lunch and dinner. Of course the draw of chocolate icing is stronger than that of brussell sprouts so this plan may backfire. We’ll see.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” – Proverbs 6:6-11

1. Disinclined to action or exertion; naturally or habitually slothful; sluggish; indolent; averse to labor; heavy in motion.
2. Slow; moving slowly or apparently with labor; as a lazy stream.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Learn Something New Every Day

Image from
May 24, 2013

We’ve had some insights into Little Big Boy Man’s personality this past month; which, though not earth shattering, have turned on some proverbial light bulbs.

Lesson Learned #1

We moved in October. No big deal. It was a house our children were familiar with and have actually spent quite a bit of time in. Outside of the normal stresses of moving a household (as well as some self-inflicted ones – read about them here) I thought thing went well. But as time went by Little Big Boy Man became increasingly emotional. It was not uncommon to have him say how much he hated the new house, or how he wanted to go home.

We would try to point out to him all the benefits of moving to our new house and that home is where the people who love you are. Have you ever tried to be logical with an emotional 6 year old? Yeah – don’t bother it doesn’t work. Then one night after a particularly bad emotional outburst my husband sat with our son and talked and listened (mostly listen) and it was finally revealed what was going on. Through tears our son explained that no matter how he arranged his room, he could not get it like it was in our old house. His walls were the wrong color!, the light coming in the window was not the same!, and his blue rug was gone!

That weekend we bought paint and went to work on his room. Little Big Boy Man supervised the whole process. At one point my husband reports that he actually sighed and said “My walls are blue” in a whisper. Things are still not exactly like they were in our old house but we no longer hear how much he hates our new home.

The lesson learned: Our boy’s feelings of safety and well-being are tied to tangible things. He does not handle changes to his world well. Things that are the normal flow of life for most devastate him.

Lesson Learned #2

Just last week we were finishing up our afternoon of school. We were on spelling and had just gotten started when out of the blue Little Big Boy Man throws a world class temper-tantrum. Fists clenched, face red, body writhing, tears flowing. Emphatic statements that started with “You never…”, “You always…”, and my personal favorite “You treat me like a slave…” came spewing from his lips. After 45 minutes of talking and time-outs (for me, not him) things finally calmed down and we were able to complete the assignment.

I had texted my husband to let him know we would be home when he got home because of the fit. (Normally we go to Tae Kwon Do). Over dinner the normal “how was your day?” became “So what happened today?” And just as calmly Little Big Boy Man said “I didn’t want to do spelling.” That’s it! All that drama over 10 little spelling words.

The lesson learned: our son masterfully uses temper-tantrums to avoid doing things he does not wish to do but knows he has to anyway. When this would happen in the past, I would go into worry mode. I would engage him at the level he was at. I would cajole, reason, and often yell back.  Solving nothing and making everything worse. After my light bulb moment, I have found that if I don’t engage him during those times he will usually give up the fit and talk to me instead.