My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chore Swapping

Sometimes, around our home, things that are supposed to be done regularly don't get done. I have some expectations of my kids and I find myself, more often than not, being a nag.

"Clear the table, please." (10 minutes later...)
"Hey, you didn't clear the table yet. I want you to do it right now." (5 more minutes go by)
"Please put down what you're doing and go and clear the table! I told you 3 times already. Please do it now, and no more delays!" (3 minutes later...)
"How many times do I have to tell you to CLEAR THE TABLE??!! Do it NOW!" (10 seconds later....)
"THAT'S IT! You are losing all of your privileges for the day. I told you too many times and you..." blah blah blah.

Does this sound familiar? Don't get me wrong. I have great kids and I love them to death. And they are actually not the problem here, although it does seem that I am complaining about them. They are just doing what they have learned to do, from me. See, I don't require them to actually listen to me, so they don't. That's a perfectly normal response. If nothing is expected of me, I am very likely to do nothing. The real problem in this situation is me. I am the one at fault. After reading John Rosemond's "The Well Behaved Child" and Danny Silk's "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" and Kevin Leman's "Have a New Kid by Friday", this is what that scenario looks like now:

Me: "Hey, Sweetie :) I have noticed that the table doesn't get cleared or wiped very regularly and that is something that I expect you to do after every meal. I want it to be done right away, as soon as we are finished with the meal, every time. I won't bother reminding you anymore, so just make sure it's done...Oh, and if it's not done, from now on, I will just go and do it myself. Thanks for what you do around here, it's really a big help :)" (Said with absolutely no sarcasm. Just sincerity and love is communicated)

Kid: "Really?"

Me: "Yup."

So guess what happens after the next meal. Nothing. The kid walks away to go and play cuz they want to see if I'm really going to do the chore for them and not nag.....I wait a few minutes, see that they're not doing it, say nothing, and go and clear and wipe the table....

Later that day....

Kid: "Hey, mom! Can I go over to my friend's house?"

Me: "Sure, honey. Just as soon as you have finished cleaning the toilet and wiping out the bathroom sink."

Kid: "WHAT???!!! Why do I have to do that?! That's not my job!"

Me: "I know, honey, I usually do that job, but earlier I had to clear and wipe the table for you so I didn't have time to get my job done, too. So now you will have to do that for me. Thanks, I'll come and check it when you're done." (said with love and compassion)

The kid looks baffled.
Kid: "But you didn't tell me that I would have to do that disgusting job if I didn't clear the table! It's not fair!"

Me: "I know, I but I did tell you that I expected it to be done right after the meal and that it's your resposibility. Things still need to be done even if you choose not to do them. Someone will end up doing it, so it's only fair that you take over the job I didn't have time for. I'm sorry, I know it's not a fun job, but the toilet does need to be cleaned. Next time go ahead and do your chore and I'll do mine."


Me: "Ok, sweetie. I won't do your chore ever again, as long as you do it. Let me know when the toilet is cleaned and I'll come take a look at it. Then you can go have fun at your friend's house."

This has been a LIFESAVER for me! And my kids. In "Have a New Kid by Friday", Kevin Leman suggests paying a sibling, neighbor, or yourself to do a job that's left by one of the kids, and the money comes out of their allowance. After all, that's the real world. If you don't want to do something yourself, you have to pay someone else to do it. And if you don't give your kids allowance yet, well, it only makes sense that they would take care of one of your chores. The trick is to make sure it is something they won't want to do again. It doesn't need to be a huge job, just an unenjoyable one. There's always a toilet to be cleaned, or a pet cage or whatever. You know the jobs nobody wants to do. Personally, I would rather clear and wipe the table...and I think the kid would, too ;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stubborn Sins

All my life I've been baffled as to how to stop in my tracks when it comes to certain sins. You know the ones that you just can't seem to stop. I would determine that I would never again do such and such. I would pray hard about it. I would talk to other christians about it and they would offer the advice: "You have to stop trying to do this in your own strength and lean on God's strength." Then they would quote the verse in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Ok great. So then I would go on my merry way, happy that I was going to no longer be weak in this area of my life. Except that I would dive right back in the next time the opportunity came along! What!? So then the previous scenario would play out again....over and over and over. I felt weak, I felt like I was a bad christian, I felt like other people were better than me, stronger than me. Why couldn't I overcome these things? I really wanted to!

Sometimes, I will be sitting in church or wherever and an inappropriate thought or memory will pop into my head all of a sudden. I will desperately try to stop thinking about it. Remove it from my mind. The more I try not to think about it, the more I think about it. I just can't make myself "forget". It's bizarre and it makes me feel guilty. Why am I thinking thoughts like this?

 But how does one "do things in Christ's strength"? What does that mean anyway? If I am to try to stop sinning in my own strength, does that mean I stop trying? Won't I then do whatever it is even more often? Won't that be worse? The answer was a long time coming, but this week my eyes were finally opened. So what does all that mean practically? Here's the how-to to stop those troublesome and stubborn sins in your life. Recently I read the book " Just Like Jesus" by Max Lucado. It had quite an impact on me. Then the other night I was reading in Colossians 2:20-3:5 which says,

"Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

Well I've read that a hundred times in my life, even memorized it and it never had the impact on me before that it did this week. This is what it said to me. I have been so focused on not doing this or that. To stop sinning. I have been focused on the sin. Obsessed with stopping a behavior. These verses say that that is false humility, self-imposed religion, and neglect of the body. My focus should not be on the sin but needs to move upward. That means giving my thoughts to God. Thinking about Him and what He does and who He is. Bringing my focus and thoughts to God every minute of every day. Max Lucado quotes Frank Laubach, a missionary to the illiterate,

(from his journal) April 18, 1930
"I have tasted a thrill in fellowship with God which has made anything discordant with God disgusting. This afternoon the possession of God has caught me up with such sheer joy that I thought I never had known anything like it. God was so close and so amazingly lovely that I felt like melting all over with a strange blissful contentment. Having had this experience, which comes to me now several times a week, the thrill of filth repels me, for I know its power to drag me from God. And after an hour of close fellowship with God my soul feels clean, as new fallen snow." (emphasis mine)

By being in constant conversation with God, by looking into His eyes and seeing the world through His eyes, by praising and worshipping Him, having a close close relationship with Him, everything that is displeasing to God will become disgusting to me and will fall away. Without my effort to stop sinning. So instead of focusing on the sin in my life, I am now going to focus on God and His amazing glory. A friend recently said, "We need to take that sin to the foot of the cross and leave it there." That in itself is the secret to living a life free from the burdens of sin. Will I still do things that are displeasing to God? Sure I will. But it no longer has power over me. We are human, but by gazing into the eyes of God, we can become more like Jesus. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Say it Once

I've read some really good parenting books lately and I would like to very highly recommend them to you. The first one is by John Rosemond and is titled "The Well Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works". It is a no nonsense book of strategies and game plans to put you, the parent back in the driver's seat. What this book did not address was the relaionship aspect of parenting. So then I read "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk. It is a very good book about building relationship with your child and really getting to know their heart. It talks about giving your kids age appropriate choices to help them learn responsibility and how to manage freedom. It had some very good stuff in there that was worth the read, but I also found it a little confusing after reading the John Rosemond book. When I read the Rosemond book, I was still in the "control my child" mindset.

Silk's book made me realize something very vital and that is that we control ourselves. I balked at this at first. What about submission to authorities? What about God controlling us; us controlling our kids? I've been able to make sense of it though. All my years of parenting I have tried my best to control my children and not myself. Parenting was based on mood. If I was in a bad mood, my kids wouldn't get away with much. If I was in a happy mood, I'd let more slide. I was not controlling myself. So what does this look like? It means that I tell my child to do something in the most loving tone. Then I walk away. Turn my back and do something else, not checking to see if they are going to do it. Not reminding, not threatening, not getting mad if it's not being done, not warning. I will know if it is done or not. Later, that child will ask me for something or to do something. And the answer will very lovingly and quietly be, "No, we are not going/you may not." Etc. "But why?" will come the reply. "I asked you to do (whatever it was) and it did not get done."

They don't like it, they will pitch a fit and be mad as h___. But you do not change your mind. If they appologize, you accept it and forgive. But you don't change your mind. If they go and do the chore, you do not change your mind. Why not? Because the offense was that they did not do what you asked the first and only time you said it. They are not missing out on something because the chore didn't get done, but because you told them to do it and they didn't listen to your word. This only works if you do this every time. As Kevin Leman says in his book "Have a New Kid by Friday", "B doesn't happen until A is completed." Over the next several days or weeks I am going to post more on this topic and some stories of success from our experiences.

But for now, when you want something done, say it once, say it quietly, say it with love in your voice, and say it with a sweet smile on your face. And if you're not heeded, that's ok. The next thing that comes along gets crossed off the list. No matter what it is. Oh, and don't bother telling them that their next request will be met with a "no." Say nothing and act normal and lovingly toward the child. They'll figure it out. This sounds harsh, but it is natural consequences. This is the real world. Why do we think that we can "silver platter" our kids their whole lives and give in to their every whim and then expect them to be good adults? That doesn't make any sense at all. It's like taking a carpentry course when you plan on becoming an accountant. Huh? If we really love our kids, we will be kind to them and let some of the consequences come their way instead of fixing everything for them. That way when life dishes out some tough situations, they will be properly equipped to deal with it well. They will feel competent to face life's trials. It's ok for them to figure it out if they miss the bus. If they ask for our help, of course we will be there for them, but that doesn't have to mean fixing the problem for them. Let them learn. They need to. And love them through it!

Remember: When faced with a disobedient child, you don't have control over what they do. But you do have control over what you do. And they will come around, try it and see :) No more fights, no more arguments, no more trying to make that kid do something. If he doesn't want to, ok, well I'm sorry, but I am not taking you to the basketball game today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


    Sometimes I am offended or hurt by the actions or words of others. If it's my kids, well, it's pretty easy to forgive them, to move on. If it's a close friend, the hurt seems deeper and harder to forgive or forget. If it's family, it can seem unforgivable. The way I want to respond is to get defensive. Throw something back at them. (Not literally, of course) It's so easy to shift the blame, or make someone else look worse, justify my actions. "I am not the one who started this. I would never do that to someone I cared about. I ...I... I...  I don't feel that I'm in the wrong maybe, so I want to make myself look better than I really am and make them look worse than they really are.

When someone hurts us, sometimes, we say we'll forgive, but can't forget. I think that it is impossible to remove a memory from your mind, but I think that what forget really means is that our actions and words towards that person in no way reflect past hurts. Forgetting just means acting as though it never happened. It doesn't mean you can't remember. It's a choice, just like forgiveness is. Forgiveness is removing your hurt and their fault as far as the east is from the west. But, oh, it is so much easier to hold it over their head, right? "But I'm not at fault, I'm not the one who lied, cheated, I've done nothing wrong. They should pay." Jesus paid the ultimate price for us by willingly being slain for the sins of the whole world. He had done nothing wrong. He was sinless. We should have paid for our sins and been thrown into hell. That's what we deserve. But he showed love and forgiveness and suffered the shame of all our sin, removing it from us as far as the east is from the west.

    So you're not at fault? So? Neither was He. In his book 'Just Like Jesus' Max Lucado says, "Only one was worthy of having his feet washed and he was the one who washed the feet. The one worthy of being served, served others. The genius of Jesus' example is that the burden of bridge-building falls on the strong one, not the weak one. The one who is innocent is the one who makes the gesture...More often than not, if the one in the right volunteers to wash the feet of the one in the wrong, both parties get on their knees. Don't we all think we are right? Hence we wash each other's feet...Relationships don't thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful." Well said. Foot washing was the job of the lowest servant in the house. And Jesus volunteered for the job. Our King, our Father, the Son of God washed the dirt off of our feet and the stains of sin from our hearts. To be just like Jesus, we need to step up and volunteer forgiveness and mercy and kindness, not just to those we love but also to those who hate us. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fixing the gutters

Today, I went outside and "braved" the "cold" (+5) lol to fix our gutters which were dripping all over the deck and driveway. For those of you who know me well, this is note-worthy. I am a bit of a homebody and venture outside only to go to my vehicle or, every other week, to take the garbage cans down to the road. It's so bad that we could have a new truck/trucks in the yard for a few weeks before I will notice them there! So for me to go outside to do much else (when it's not summertime) is a big deal.

So I had cold water dripping/pouring on me and I also learned that I need new boots as my feet got quite soaked! It took probably about 30 minutes or so of trying to get the drain pipe-thingys to fit together properly and not come crashing down on my head. I am feeling rather proud of myself right now, I must admit :) I mean, no one asked me to fix those gutters, I just saw something that needed to be done and did it. I am sitting here, hoping that Matthew will notice, of course, when he gets home, and that he will be impressed and thank me for taking care of that. All normal thoughts and expectations, right?

Well, this has brought something to mind. For all of us who have husbands, brothers, and fathers who usually take care of all of this sort of stuff - we need to take notice and thank them. We come to expect them to do these things and so when they do, we say nothing. I don't know if it matters to them or not that we don't notice their hard work and weird jobs they take care of, but I assume it does! So take the time to thank the guys in your life for all they do for you. We all want to be appreciated. This week I am going to look for opportunities to thank Matthew for the things he does for us :) Cheers!