Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #41–Cleaning for Elderly

imagesThis one’s fairly obvious, but it has multiple benefits. if you find an elderly person who needs help with housekeeping and then take your children over to clean for a couple of hours, you’re doing several important things at once:

  1. You’re better equipping your kids to clean their own houses. This is training that will save you, their mom, time in the long run because you will have housekeeping helpers.
  2. You are helping the elderly person in a big way. Old bones, eyes, hands  and muscles often aren’t able to even keep a place sanitary, much less neat and orderly.
  3. You are preparing your daughters to be the kind of wives and homemakers that will bless the lives of their husbands one day.
  4. Unlike some of our suggestions, this one will likely be a grungy job—the kind of job that makes for humility and instills the spirit of each esteeming others better than self (I Cor. 10:24).
  5. The influence of elderly Christians is almost always beneficial to children. Just the time spent in that home will have an effect on your kids, for good.
  6. If you invite other children to go clean with you and your own children, you will be impacting those young hearts for the Lord, too.

Don’t forget the March podcast is this Thursday night. Holly Smith will be joining me. Details are on the “Digging Deep in God’s Word” Facebook page. It’s a great study of the weeping prophet and the persecution that discouraged this great man of God.


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: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #39–The Gift Closet

target 75As 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 39 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”.

The Gift Closet

It’s been fun to watch my daughter transition into her own home with her own family and continue the “gift closet” tradition. Throughout the growing up years of our kids, they always knew there was one closet that was always stocked with little gifts for those times when someone needed encouragement: a thank-you, a prize for winning the family devotional Bible game, a welcome gift, a good-bye gift, or when your whole Bible class had earned a reward. Everyone needs a gift closet, pantry, or cabinet.

Right now, mine contains some Valentine vases, an Easter bunny book, some Bath and Body 75 percent off items, some monogrammed Christmas ornaments, some candles, some clearance toys, some bed linens and some made-to-order graduation gifts personalized with a popular university logo (bought in bulk)…just to name a few things. The plusses of a gift closet are obvious: 1)You save money because you buy at deep discount prices and save gifts for when you need them. This is good stewardship. 2) You can give more because giving is easier. 3) You can have fun Bible Time rewards for spontaneous games. 4) Your kids start to think in terms of the joy of giving because they see it happening so much. (They start asking if they can have something from the stash to give to people who can use encouragement.) 5) Your kids grow up and continue the tradition.

My favorite gift closet memory includes a Saturday when two well-known preachers were unexpectedly visiting in our home, along with our collegiate children. Our kids had been expecting to have a little holiday celebration for some minor holiday. (We celebrate everything!) Well, we just went on and played our holiday game (“Let’s Make a Deal” as I recall) with the whole gang. It was the best time ever, to watch those guys trying to win those little prizes from one another. One of the folks there had just attended the funeral of a dear family member who had passed away in a tragic accident and I remember him saying “This has been fun. It has helped me to think about something other than the horrible events of the last few days.”

If I’d only had the closet for just that one day, it would have been worth it!


Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #38–Communion Cups

DSC_2270As 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 38 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”.

Communion Cups

All kinds of lessons come to those blessed children who are assigned the task of collecting the used communion cups after the worship service is completed. The first is that they see their name in the bulletin under “PICK UP COMMUNION CUPS”. There’s something that says “You’re an important part of this family,” when our kids see their artwork and chore list on the refrigerator at home. There’s something that says the same thing when they hear their question discussed from the pulpit on Question-and-Answer night or when they see their name beside a “chore” in the church bulletin or on the church website. It’s an important feeling of belonging.

The next big lesson, of course, is service. It’s not necessarily the cleanest job. When it’s your child’s turn, you will want to be sure she is not wearing the heirloom dress that Aunt Betsy smocked. (Grape juice is very hard to remove.) You will want to get out the hand sanitizer when she is done. But even those precautions say to your child “We want to get to do the jobs that are not as glorious and beautiful as some other jobs might be. You know Jesus probably didn’t feel so glorious when they stripped off his clothes and nailed Him to that Roman cross. That’s what we (the adults) were thinking about when we drank from these cups, you know.”

Then there’s the benefit of learning to smile and greet all the people all over the building who are “in their way” when they are making the pick-up rounds (rather than running over them). There’s a lot of good training in that little lesson. Kids learn to wait patiently for elderly people who are leaving their pews and to be kind to them as they exit. And, hopefully, elderly people show kindness and gratitude to the children for the job they are doing. It’s a kindness builder.

When you put two children on the job each week, they learn cooperation skills and division of tasks and they build camaraderie. When it’s time to empty, wash, dry and store the pails, they learn to follow through to the very end of a job. (Help them, but don’t do this part for them.) They are making memories in the Lord’s service. I’m glad we went to congregations in which my kids got to fill up the pail after the worship services were concluded. They looked forward to seeing if their names were in the bulletin!

So, go ahead, save a couple of ice cream buckets and get going on this one.

Happy end-of-summer and back-to-school! Look for the back-to school special from The Colley House next week!

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #37–Saturday Night Sleepover

2299_49517086383_5114_nAs 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 37 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”.

This one is difficult. But most things with tremendous results take a lot of effort. This is one that potentially can yield big dividends.

It’s simple. You just strategically have those little friends from preschool or kindergarten or elementary school over to spend the night on Saturday night rather than on Friday. As I looked back over the Sunday morning ready-to-go-to-worship pictures that we took almost religiously to document childhoods at our house, it really surprised me how often there was an extra child or two in those photographs. Visiting the services once can turn into semi-regular attendance, which can slowly evolve into curiosity and visits on the part of parents. It is not unusual for a sleepover to lead to a  personal Bible study with a child’s parents. As you know, there are plenty of well-intentioned parents out there who are not attending any worship services anywhere, but yet will give their permission for their children to attend with you following that Saturday night sleepover.

Of course, you have to put some safeguards in place, but this is a tried-and-true method. It is an evangelism starter kit. Trust me. I have worked this system.

Here are a few obvious measures you will want to take:

  1. Start the “party” early so the kids will have time to play before an early bedtime.
  2. Be sure ALL movies, activities are characteristic of faithful Christianity. (Remember that Jesus lives at your house.)
  3. Be sure you have your Family Bible time every Saturday night and that guests get to participate and learn.
  4. Be sure you get permission from parents to take their children to worship with your family.
  5. Be sure the bedtime is reasonable, but early enough for the kids to be fully awake and happy during Bible classes. (We found that nine or ten o’clock worked.)
  6. Follow all safety measures with visiting kids. (Buckle up, car seats, allergy rules, etc…You do NOT want to jinx a study by messing up on the comparatively little things.)
  7. Be sure there’s never any displayed anger or unnecessary negativity (especially about the church) in the ears of your little visitors.
  8. Make sure you pack the take-home materials from class in your little visitor’s backpack. You want him to discuss with his parents.
  9. Take the kids for treats after the worship sometimes. You are not bribing. You are enhancing the experience.
  10. Pray that your efforts will evolve into parental interest.
  11. Occasionally, send a loaf of homemade bread or an apple pie home with your little visitor.
  12. Be sure she knows you will stop and pick her up if she wants to come on Wednesday nights, too.

You can do this! The gospel often goes right through the heart of a child to the mind of that good mother who is raising him. You will see!

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #36–Serving the Intellectually Disabled

imagesAs 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 36 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”.

Today’s suggestion is simple. Find ways for your children to be around and serve people with intellectual disabilities. Whether it’s elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s or younger people with any number of challenging disabilities, your children will grow leaps and bounds in servant-heart development if you will be sure they attend to the needs of those with challenges of the mind.

Some of the most memorable rides home from worship that my children experienced in their young years were on the days when we stopped to pick up “Crippled Danny” and take him to the store or to his little apartment in Jasper, Alabama. Now I know that it is not politically correct or perhaps even kind in today’s climate to refer to a man as “Crippled Danny.”  I’m keeping it real as I confess that this is what we called this friend. It was his nickname in town and it did not occur to us, at the time, that this nomenclature was not the best.  I can recall Glenn and I talking often about the fact that it was a good thing for our kids to get to know Crippled Danny.  It was good for them to sit beside him in the back seat of our car and laugh with him about the things he had been doing as he hobbled around the town that day. It was good for them to help him get the things he needed at the store and to get back safely to his apartment. It was good to talk to them about how that Danny’s little legs were underdeveloped, but that his greatest disability was in his mind; that people who could never think like grown-ups would always be around us and they would always need our help. It was important to talk to them about Matthew 25 and how serving people who cannot think “right” (you have to put it in the vernacular of kids)  is every bit as important as serving people who cannot walk, talk, see or hear.

As your kids grow there will be lots of opportunities to minister to people with challenges of the mind or emotions. They will be on the pew in front of you, in the grocery line behind you and on the bus beside you.  (If you don’t find them there, check out a local Alzheimer’s care facility or nursing home.)

One more of our most precious opportunities was to have a sweet association with one of our brotherhood’s great elderly preachers during his recent years of  mental decline. Sometimes his wonderful caretakers, his daughter and her husband, would need a day or a night out of the house or even out of town. A time or two it worked out so that we were in town and privileged to have this wonderful servant of God stay with us. What a privilege for all of us and especially for our teenagers to be able to hear the same stories again and again and watch the same magic tricks over and over. I can remember one of those weekends having a large group of Freed Hardeman University students spending the weekend at the same time that this friend was spending the night. It was the most precious thing to watch them listen and laugh with him patiently and then to watch him sing along with them till about two in the morning. It was a joy to think about the transference of this beautiful singing to that place around the throne where there will be no debilitating differences in age, stamina or ability. (I remember the elderly gentleman enjoying this singing so much that he just did not want to go to bed. I told him that he needed to go ahead and take his night-time meds because his usual bedtime had long since passed. His reply was “No, I take my medicines when I go to bed and I am not going to bed yet.”)

So go ahead and make sure your kids are serving and enjoying some people who have memory or intellectual challenges. Do it early in their lives so they will never develop or recognize any stigma attached by peers to associating with these wonderful people. Loving the Lord our God with all of our minds means sharing those minds–gifts that we deserve no more than those who are handicapped–with those who may need extra help. When we love Him in this way with our minds, we are guaranteed to love Him more every day with our hearts, souls and strength, too, because this kind of sharing is both selfless and demanding. Your kids will be better for it.