Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #42– Dropping Opportunities

Fiestas_Patrias_Parade,_South_Park,_Seattle,_2015_-_090_-_child_picking_up_candy_(21574028625)-1As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 42 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

There are so many of these “dropping opportunities” if moms just look around. It helps to start this one way before your kids are big enough to participate. It’s just courtesy, kindness and deference to others and it will come naturally to teach this to your children if you begin practicing this on your own before it’s time to teach them. Just watch for people, especially older people who drop something. Sometimes she knocks items off of a  grocery shelf. Sometimes she inadvertently leaves a coin purse unzipped and coins roll all over the parking lot as she unlocks her car. Sometimes it’s someone younger and her baby drops a sippy cup or a pacifier from the stroller or grocery cart. A grocery list, a walking cane, a pencil, a kleenex, a pair of sunglasses…even a communion cup from a shaky hand—someone is always dropping something and dropping times are stopping times for moms who want to put service in the hearts of their kids. When your kids get big enough, make it a contest to see who can calmly and safely be first to pick up a dropped item for someone while you are out today. Kids who smile and speak (without a reminder) to the person who dropped the item as it’s returned get an extra point. If the returned “stuff” requires “catching and/or gathering” from the ground, that’s another point.

I know. This is common sense. But common sense about courtesy is becoming less and less common as we incorporate our families into an ever busier and isolated world. This is a simple way to help us preserve the vestiges of courtesy in the places where they are precious to Christian families; most especially our homes. 

Finally, all of you, have… a tender heart, and a humble mind. (I Peter 3:8)

Sister to Sister: Lads to Leaders–Not the Convention, but the Conviction

 

12524410_10153354725341384_2141875503953047451_nWe’re on our way to the Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville today, where we will witness boys and girls from pre-K through twelfth grade participating in Bible bowl, displaying artwork and scrapbooks, reading scripture, leading songs and speaking (girls to girls’ audiences only), debating, being awarded for memorizing a hundred of verses from God’s Word—and so much more. Boys will be awarded for learning how to be protectors and providers for their future homes and girls will be awarded for several categories in which they are learning to be keepers at home. One young man I know who participates has been raised in a home where his mom lives with her lesbian partner, but he plans to be a gospel preacher, thanks to faithful people who have taken an interest in him. He is faithful and will attend a Christian university this fall to get the training needed. But he is already preaching on many Sundays. Two young siblings I know lost their father this year. He was a missionary and now that they have moved almost around the world, they are carrying on his tradition of being in the Word and working to promote the church for a whole new generation. I heard them Sunday as they practiced and prepared. At least six that I know have lost grandparents this year and another young man I know has been working to be a good example to his father who is not a Christian. I know one young man from a single-parent home who’s been working pretty hard this year to help his mom regroup after a big life transition. They are all just kids, but they are adapting and making the most of some pretty challenging times as they grow in the Lord.

I recall one incident in which a young person was practicing his Lads speech, in which he boldly explained what the Lord would have us do to be saved. At the end of that particular practice round, a “mentor” from his small audience said “I need to be baptized for the remission of sins. I  have become aware and convicted by what this child has taught me today.”

I praise God for these young people. We are taking 115 people to this amazing and encouraging event. But I remind myself constantly that it is not the convention that makes the difference for the Lord’s church. It is is the conviction. The preparation, practice and the whole process puts conviction in their young hearts.

There are three children, now adults, who grew up in the program who are very important to me. They all spoke convicting messages to groups of adults this last weekend. Two of them do this  every weekend, and lots of times in between.They are all mentors in the Lads program now and two  of them are raising my grandson to use his talents for the greatest cause on earth. Let me tell you: I would not trade our time spent using the valuable Lads to Leaders tool for anything in the world. I’m praying for every child who participates this weekend—for safety, for boldness as he/she participates. Most of all, I’m praying for their futures and the seeds planted this year for the harvest in eternity.

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #40–Attention to Cleaning Detail

child-cleaning-roomAs you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 40 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I know you’ve already noticed it’s a lot easier to do the vacuuming yourself than to take the time to be sure your  child does it correctly. You’ve probably had a curtain sucked into the vacuum cleaner, a breakable destroyed while a child dusted the desk, and multiple streaks have always remained all over the curio cabinet glass or the deck door.  Little helpers are rarely ever really that. It’s important, though, to remember that keeping a pristine house is a distant second priority to keeping clean little hearts devoted to service and submission.
So let them clean. But don’t overwhelm them. A big job like “Go clean your room” may be just too big for a four-year-old, while “Let’s clean off this shelf” may be a lot more reasonable. Thus, a cleaning rotation for little ones sometimes works better. Once you’ve picked out a doable job, then show your child, in detail, giving step-by-step directions and checking each step before proceeding to the next step.
For instance, actually cleaning a shelf might involve these steps.
1. “Carefully lay everything that is on this shelf on the floor and come get me when you’re done with that.”
2. Brag on the completion of number one. Then say, “Go through all of this stuff on the floor and pick out what you think we need to throw away.” Then show me that pile.
3. Make sure that pile has been reasonably assessed and then instruct him to get a bag, put the stuff to discard in it, and take it to the trash.
4. Give your child a dusting glove or rag and instruct him to wipe every spot on that empty shelf. “When you are done, come get me.”
5. Then instruct him to dust each item that’s going back on the shelf. Check each one of these steps behind the child.
6. Then have him make piles of like items before placing them back on the shelf. For instance, a pile each of books, action figures and money.
7. Give the child appropriate containers in which to place the action figures and the money.
8. Give the child praise each time you check his work.
9. Ask him to line up the books on the shelf. Then check those and help him, finally, to arrange the containers on the shelf.
10. Talk about how good it feels to finish a job.
I know that this post seems very elementary and that I have insulted your parental intelligence. But, because I have recently been involved in talking with a good family whose house has a very hard time functioning due to an extreme lack of organization and common sense about cleaning, I wanted to put these suggestions out there for servant development. I was one of those unwise moms who would ask my very young children to go and clean their rooms.  (Translate that “rearrange                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the clutter, the dust and the random old snack foods.”) Because I learned the hard way, I want to be sure to say that servanthood best grows in an arena of self-confidence. Thus, assigning tiny phases of bigger jobs and paying attention to the details of their completion helps kids learn to organize tasks, categorize belongings,  and assess progress (all of which, as a bonus, by the way, are preparing them to use the scientific method in doing research later on.)
Again, I know you’re exhausted by the time you get that one shelf cleaned off. But you are preparing your child to serve others in the very most selfless and thorough way possible. You are teaching him or her the concept of Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men…”  You’re also teaching a big chunk of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. And, one day, when they are teens, this laborious kind of teaching will pay off. They will actually know how to help you keep your house ready for service and hospitality.

Sister to Sister: About that Spanking (Part 2)–A Sneak Peek from “Women of Scandal”

12642739_10154934105087588_4663197017850762678_nRespect for God’s authority is not nurtured in an environment in which there is no respect for parental  authority. This snippet (part two of two short posts about child discipline) is taken from a lesson about Mrs. Phinehas from I Samuel three and four from the new book Women of Scandal, and gives four things not to do when encountering situations in which your kids need to be punished.   The target date for the book’s release is late March. Many thanks to Publishing Designs (www.publishingdesigns.com) for the excellent and tireless work they are doing at the moment to publish this and so many other books for the family of God.

Don’ts:

1. Don’t yell. You do not want your children to obey you because you are loud. You want them to obey you because you are Mama!

2. Don’t abuse. We really do know the difference between anger induced lashing and gentle, but firmly administered discipline. We know that one is of God and the other is a sin of the devil. Never leave any red marks on your children that will remain there for over fifteen minutes. Never bruise, burn, squeeze or immerse in water. I suggest that you use your hand to pop your children when needed rather than other objects. You really know the force with which you are touching them when you use your hands (plus your hands are always “handy”…right there when you need them).

3. Don’t lie. Whatever the good thing you promise your children, break your neck to keep your promises. But make the same commitment to your word when you promise a spanking “…if you touch that again,” or “if you say one more word about that.” This gift of  your word’s reliability is huge in developing trust and respect in your children. It is also huge in the development of their own integrity as they travel to adulthood.

4. Don’t count. I was recently speaking with a grandmother who spanked her small grandson when he blatantly disobeyed her. He whirled around to her and exclaimed, “Why Grandma! What are you doing?” She calmly explained that she was spanking him because he did not obey her. “But Grandma!…” he wailed, “…you didn’t even get to one, much less two or three! What are you thinkin’?” God doesn’t count for us when He commands. He expects our immediate attention and obedience. That’s respect. Sometimes mothers teach counting and even fractions (“two-and-a-haaaalllf…”) during attempts at discipline, but fail to teach respect.

 

Sister to Sister: About that Spanking (A Sneak Peek from “Women of Scandal”)

12642739_10154934105087588_4663197017850762678_nToday I am in prayer for more than one friend who is doing battle in some arena in our permissive society for the children. There are many children who are literally suffering due to a lack of  parental discipline. This problem is exacerbated by “professionals” in fields of social work and psychology who are touting “new” methods of dealing with behavioral issues that involve taking the authority from the adults and “talking out” the offenses and any consequences with the offenders…basically letting the rule-breakers and their peers set the standards of behavior.

Respect for God’s authority is not nurtured in an environment in which there is no respect for parental  authority. This snippet is taken from a lesson about Mrs. Phinehas from I Samuel three and four from the new book Women of Scandal. The target date for the book’s release is late March. Many thanks to Publishing Designs (www.publishingdesigns.com) for the excellent and tireless work they are doing at the moment to publish this and so many other books for the family of God.

Now, about that Spanking…

He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24).

Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction (Proverbs 19:18).

(Under the law of Moses, consistently rebellious children were to be put to death, so in this proverb we see that parents were not to give up hope for rebellious children too soon; they were to hope and trust in the effectiveness of corporal punishment; i.e.. spanking.)

I suggest that spanking is one appropriate and very Biblical method of discipline. While I am sure it is not the only good method and that positive reinforcement for good behavior rather than punishment for wrong doing is smart and effective under certain conditions, I still believe that spanking, administered lovingly and in measured doses, is, hands-down, the simplest and most effective form of punishment. May I offer, from the realm of judgment, some do’s and don’ts of effective punishment?

Do:

1. Be consistent. Whatever was wrong yesterday needs to still be wrong today (no matter if you are stressed or experiencing PMS today). Whatever exacts a spanking at any particular time needs to always exact a spanking.

2. Spank for outright disobedience or verbal disrespect every time. Be sure you understand completely that there was intentional disobedience or disrespect. Once you determine that, a spanking is in order.

3. Practice discipline. You are probably thinking, “What does she mean? Isn’t that the whole topic of this part of the lesson?” By “practice” I mean practice like a drill or a repetitive exercise. When you give your young child a command—say… to stop playing with the kitty and climb in the high chair for lunch—and the child continues to play with the kitty, you may, in the hurry of events, want to give the toddler a swat on the bottom and pick her up and put her in the chair yourself. That’s not a terrible choice, but a more effective choice is to give that child a swat, and then say, “Now let’s try again. You play with the kitty.” She complies and then you give the command again. Command-swat-repeat…until you get the desired result. This is both laborious and loving. I once did it for forty-five minutes with a strong-willed 13 month-old. Let me just say that it was both excruciating and rewarding.

4. Be sure that you, as parent, always win in any war of the wills. When you begin this very effective battle of the wills on any occasion, you have the potential to make great progress in the long-term molding of your child’s view of authority. If you surrender in the middle of the battle and let the child have his way, you are eroding, rather than building respect for authority.

(Catch the next Bless Your Heart for the “don’ts”.)

 

Survival Lessons for Kids in 2016

 

11357838_112293442443658_745312663_nIt’s New Year’s Eve and the blessings to our family have surpassed our hopes. We magnify Him for the opportunities and challenges, for Ezra and the joy he brought to this year from start to finish. We praise him for our children and for the doors he has opened for them to do His will. We are thankful for our parents who are still living and enjoying a measure of health (and, of course, for the continuing influence of my mother, who waits in glory).  Especially, as this year closes, we are grateful for our new daughter-in-law, Rebekah. She is the answer to many prayers and we will forever be thankful for Heaven’s response to those fervent daily prayers.

In this, the dawn of 2016, I’ve been thinking a lot about those who are younger parents trying to raise children for heaven in the present American culture. I know many of them who are doing a better job than I could ever do. But still, the mentality of the day is to ‘live and let live,” to deny the existence of truth and to, thus, affirm all beliefs and lifestyles. It has a strong undercurrent of  seeking human approval and material success.  So, it takes a lot of parental stamina to keep battling the devil as he tries to normalize behaviors that have, throughout our nation’s history, been considered shameful and diabolical. We try to battle on  while insuring that our families are seeking first His kingdom.

Here are five important lessons for the hearts of children in 2016.  I threw in a few examples from scripture in case you’re making a template for Family Bible time this year. Of course, there are many more examples in each case.

  • We will NOT always be like everyone else, but we will always be kind to everyone else (Joseph’s treatment of his brothers in the last chapters of Genesis, Israel clamored for a king in the early chapters of I Samuel, The one grateful leper in Luke 17).
  • We will love our country, but we will keep in mind that it is not this country that will abide forever (Paul turned to the Gentiles in Acts 13, Jeremiah—the weeping prophet, Hebrews 11 and the “better country”).
  • We will keep in mind that the most important things are not things at all (Esau’s bowl of stew in Genesis 25, Achan at Ai in Joshua 7, The rich fool in Luke 12).
  • We will put the Kingdom of God first in every decision this year (The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6,7, Hebrews 10:25, 26, Stephen in Acts 6).
  • We will take every opportunity to tell people about Jesus (Peter and John in Acts 3-5, Paul’s sufferings for the gospel in II Corinthians 11, Paul and Caesar’s house in Phil. 4:22).

 

The transference of faith from generation to generation is not accidental. In a year that promises to be hostile against Christianity and a time that is certainly an era of “taking offense” (everybody is offended by everything and political correctness has thwarted rationality), it will take diligence to put conviction in our kids.  I’m praying today for Christian moms and their New Year’s resolutions!