This One Thing I Do

As I think about the Apostle Paul’s qualifications and calling (mentioned in Philippians 3), I’m encouraged and humbled. He had so much of the world’s accreditation. A pharisee of pharisees would be the equivalent of “professor of professors.” He went to the best school – studying under Gamaliel, came from a notable family line (of Benjamin – which King Saul came from), and had been given authority over even the lives of others, politically. In the world’s eyes, he was a success.

How often I am distracted by the expectations of this world and become intimidated by other people who seem to be successful.  I feel very small. While there have been some notable people in my family line, I am not one of them. Ralph Waldo Emerson is an ancestor. I’ve done some writing… but cannot compare myself to him. I’ve done teaching, but don’t have a masters or a doctorate, though my father and grandfather had those achievements. I have some ability, and have created some original things. But in these also, am not recognized by those beyond my small circle of influence. By the world’s standards, there is little to recommend me. I can look at that – and be stopped in my tracks from pressing on.

The Apostle Paul was an achiever of achievers. But he considered all the world’s accolades as “dung,” that he might have something better.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  Phil. 3: 7-9

He fixed his eyes on that prize..

  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  Phil. 3:12-14

The author of Hebrews encourages me too. The audience we run for are those who have gone on ahead, in the Hall of Faith not the Hall of Fame.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3

Both forgetting past victories and failures, with eyes on Jesus and what He has done, not on self, my confidence is  in Him and His ability. He has also promised to finish the work He began in me. Phil. 1:6 says, For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. I can have hope for success in the eyes of the One who really matters, and not be distracted by the praise or the put-downs of this world.

It isn’t always easy. The voices of the world are pretty loud. This is why it is important to be careful what voices we heed and believe what God says is true about us, instead of what the world thinks. Then – our praise will come from God. Then – our success will be lasting. We can have hope in His ability working through us.

 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”   1 Corinthians 1:25-31

May He who gave us life renew our sense of purpose!

1 Thess 5:24 “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it!”

 

Running the Race and Finishing Well


The Apostle Paul compares the life of a believer to “running the race.” It is a marathon that takes character qualities of endurance that sprinting doesn’t. Each mile provides the opportunity for developing the character for the next one. Each person’s run looks different. There will be a variety of terrain and different runners alongside who either encourage or discourage us. We run as wisely as we know how, but our race could be cut short because of unexpected tragedy or illness. So it is important to run well, while we can and be ready to cross our own finish line when the LORD brings us in.

How do we run well?

“Run the race set before you…” We cannot choose to run another’s for them. God has given us each a calling that is unique. As we fulfill His purpose for us – not someone else’s, not our own, but His – we begin well. Choosing which course to run begins with knowing Christ. By exchanging our own plans for ourselves for His and receiving His power to go on. As we run, we fix our eyes on Jesus who stands at the finish line, while His Spirit runs alongside and fills us with hope and strength.

Because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, when difficulties come, we are more than conquerors. If we choose to look at our own feet and become discouraged at our own ability, or compare ourselves to other runners, we will stumble. Perhaps we will fall. He is there to help us back up and get us on track – if we will let Him.

Running the race well does not mean never stumbling, but it does mean always getting back up. It does mean keeping our eyes fixed on the goal of our salvation and not becoming distracted with other goals of the world. Many start the race well, but not everyone will finish well.

Our God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith and run the race with endurance. Let us encourage each other as long as it is called today to run well. At last, we shall meet each other at the finish line and be welcomed home with the words, “Well done.”

Understanding God – Is it Possible?

Did you grow up in church hearing the same Bible stories every year? I did. In fact, kids get little else, from preschool through 6th grade. Afterward they are thrown into Youth Group where they tackle tough issues, with very little intellectual ammo. They are admonished to “just believe.”

Now, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), but without an understanding of His Word, what is our faith in? Are we doing our youth a disservice by not equipping them with more than Bible Stories? Is the study of God only for theologians? (Theology means the study of God.) Is it only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary?

Some may assert that it’s impossible to really know God.

“He is so far beyond and above us!”

We shouldn’t try to understand, just believe.” And they call that, faith. But is that what the Scripture teaches? Let’s take a closer look.

The Word admonishes us to seek to know Him and grow in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. The prophet Jeremiah expresses this well.

Jeremiah 9:23-24
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

But if “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts,” how can we say we understand Him? What about that verse?

The context is Isaiah 55 and the LORD is reaching out to and calling those who are disobedient and unbelieving, to repent and come to Him.

Isaiah 55
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the
Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the
Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, the wicked man’s thoughts are far beneath God’s. But does that mean ours are at the same level as God’s? We should not assume such a thing! God is holy and we are human. His creation.

We who have the Spirit of the Living God indwelling, have a supernatural ability to know and understand the LORD. That this is not our own ability, but His, working in us.

1 Corinthians 2
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The LORD calls us to know Him, and enables us to know Him. And it is our prayer to know Him, better, every day.

Ephesians 4
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to tthe unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to itheir hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greed and the practice of every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, is the study of God only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary? While we are to grow in both grace and knowledge and not remain infants – God has called the children, the uneducated, and the underprivileged to sit at His table and learn from Him. If it were not so, we would have something to boast about. But in fact, this kind of grace comes to those who humble themselves and receive what God provides, not exalting in our own ability or wisdom. The world’s wisdom is insufficient.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

And 1 Cor. 2
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26
Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

He has revealed Himself even to little children.
Luke 10:21 (and Matt. 11:25)
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.

Those who fear the LORD and serve Him, have the privilege of knowing Him.

Psalm 25:14
The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.

2 Peter 3
17 Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. 18 But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forevermore. Amen.

10 Ways to Inspire Young Learners

How can we inspire young learners? Here are 10 ways parents can develop a passion in their children for life-long learning.

 

 

1. Love learning, yourself. Be an example by spending time reading and studying what interests you. Explore things you don’t know yet and nurture your own curiosity! Your kids will see this and be curious about what excites you. When you explain it to them, use analogies or explanations they can understand at their level. If you use complicated vocabulary they will feel this knowledge is beyond their reach and become discouraged. The basic concepts of the new learning come first. As they seek to know more, you may introduce the vocabulary before delving into more complicated principles. Whenever possible, create a link from the new knowledge to something they already know. This will help them remember, understand, and be able to apply their knowledge.

 

2. Be interested in what interests them. Step into their world. If we want our children to care about our interests, we need to also care about theirs. As we step into their world of play, we gain understanding of their own learning styles and of how they process the world around them.

 

3. Take time for the rabbit trails. Sometimes the rabbit trail turns out to be the main thing. Following interests once in a while, off the preplanned lesson, may open their eyes to their own calling and gifts. Most people follow a textbook and echo back what someone else’s thoughts are on a subject, on test day. But thinking new thoughts, examining new finds, this is what creators and innovators do. Go ahead and follow the rabbit trail sometimes, and see where it leads. To never do so is to kill curiosity.

 

4. Show the integration of subjects in real life. History does not stand alone as a subject. It is dependent on geography, religion, sociology (cultures) and philosophy. Art, music, literature and culinary differences are also part of history. It’s not all about battles and conquered lands. The same can be said for other subjects as well. They are intertwined in life, so it’s a good thing to show how the subject matter you are studying crosses into other disciplines. Taste the food! Listen to the music. Create the artwork. It will make learning a richer experience.

 

5. Invite them into your world. Kids want to be like us. They want to do adult things from an early age. So let them! As you do the budget for shopping, let them see how you do it. Take them to the bank and explain the process there. When you change the oil, they can assist – measuring the levels to see how many quarts are needed and learning how to pour it in without spilling. They can learn (while you are gardening) which are weeds and which are flowers. They can learn order and structure as you clean and sort, putting things away by category. Doing real life things together is far more inspiring to a child than being sent off to do chores, alone. It also can become an opportunity for the important talks you would otherwise miss.

 

6. Make it multi-sensory. Not everyone learns well by listening, though much childhood learning is structured that way. Lifestyle learning involves all the physical senses as well as internal questions to wrestle down. When knowledge touches their emotions – reaches their heart – it will stick.

 

7. Let learning be its own reward. Stickers are fun, but should never become the motivation for learning. Neither should money. This reward system has been found to be a disincentive to learning. Eventually the child becomes trained not to care unless money is involved. Not good.

 

8. Welcome friends into the experience. Let friends of your children participate in real-life lessons too. Your own children will enjoy the lessons more and you have widened your circle of influence for good outside your own home. Often, when I wanted to teach my children something extra, I knew I probably wouldn’t get around to it or stick with it to the end. My solution? Invite other friends to learn with us. It created an accountability to finish what I started, and my kids got the extra electives they would have otherwise missed.

 

9. Let your children teach you too. Ask your child to teach you a skill they’ve learned elsewhere, tell you about a story they’ve read, explain how to construct a Minecraft world…

Teaching solidifies knowledge in their own mind and develops communication skills that will serve them all their lives. They can now teach their own friends new things!

 

10. Let them shine. When they have completed a project, post it for all to see. You can create a web page for them to display their work. You can include video recordings of their explanations and demonstrations of projects and accomplishments. If they write a story and illustrate it, you may be able to create a book of their very own to donate to the local library! Whatever they do, when they have done well – let the work speak for itself. They will be motivated to try and to excel in their work.

 

As you look through your curriculum this year, see it through your child’s eyes. What would intrigue them? What would help them understand the more difficult concepts? How can you incorporate the fun in learning and hands-on activities? Jot down the ideas you come up with, in your planner. If it will help, invite others to join you.

At a Classical Conversations practicum I heard this quote, “Children are not only minds to be taught, but souls to be nourished.” That is quite true. We want to teach and train the whole child, not merely the intellect. We don’t teach the textbook, we teach the child. It comes down to the golden rule. Do for your children what you would want done for you. Perhaps your own parents did give you this kind of opportunity and support! Pass on the blessing. As they grow up with this kind of affirmation, it will not only benefit their lives, but future generations as well.

 

Taming the Tattling Tongue – 7 Rules for Friends

Nobody likes a tattletale. Tale-bearing breaks trust in friendship and damages the reputation of both parties. But is it always right to be silent when you see a friend doing something wrong? Here are 7 rules for friends that will clear up the confusion.

1. When they are doing wrong– (or if they are thinking about doing wrong) talk to your friend first. If you can persuade them to change their mind or make amends for their behavior, there is no need to tattle. We all make mistakes. Everyone deserves a chance to right their own wrong.

2. When it is unpleasant – if it is only something YOU don’t like them doing, but it isn’t actually wrong, let them know how you feel without blaming them. Perhaps they will be gracious enough to stop doing whatever it is when you are around if it makes you uncomfortable.

3. When they aren’t doing what you want to do – you can offer a better suggestion or just go along for now and do what you want to do later. However, if it isn’t something you want to participate in at all (a game you don’t like, or a place you don’t want to visit), politely excuse yourself and go do something else after letting them know the reason. “I’d rather not go (or play this right now), but I’ll play with you later when you’re not busy!”

4. When a friend has hurt your feelings accidentally – let them know. Again, do this without blame because they may not have been aware of it. “You may not be aware of this, but it hurt my feelings (made me sad) when you said ____.” This way, they can apologize.

5. When they hurt you on purpose – by gossip, cruel teasing or setting up a trap that caused you to be hurt, draw the line. Let them know you didn’t appreciate what they did and that you can’t allow them to treat you this way. Keep your distance until they sincerely apologize. Allowing someone to deliberately mistreat you does harm to yourself and your soul. If they continue to think this kind of behavior is okay, it will also ruin them. If they don’t repent of their behavior at this point, they were never really a friend.

6. When they are doing something to harm themselves – convince them to stop it immediately, if possible. If the threat of self-harm is serious, quickly go to their parent or a trusted adult that can really help. Let your friend know that you will be doing this. They may be upset and say they won’t be your friend anymore but a true friend doesn’t watch someone else destroy themselves, in peace. Later on, they will realize your intentions. A threat to do harm to themselves is really a cry for help.

7. When they are threatening to bring actual harm to others – Sometimes people are just careless with words and say things like, “I’m going to kill you for that!” But knowing them well, you know if they really do intend to bring harm. Violence isn’t always preplanned. Sometimes it erupts from rage. If you perceive the threat is real or could be real, run to tell others. If they are in the process of planning to bring harm to someone (bringing a weapon or planning a trap) Parents, teachers, or authorities need to be informed. If you see danger coming and don’t warn others, you are partly responsible for the harm that comes to the innocent victims. It’s time to tattle. (Ezekiel 33)

Scripture has many wise words on friendship. Here are a few on choosing and dealing with friends.

Proverbs 27:5-6  Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 12:26   The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Proverbs 13:20  He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 22:24-25  Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.

1 Corinthians 15:33   Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Proverbs 14:6-7  A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Proverbs 27:17  Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.


With thanks to my mother in law, Nancy Clark, for the valuable lessons she taught me when I had four-in-a-row and didn’t know how to manage them! Your words of advice have been the saving of my family.

10 Commandments for Childhood Friendships

My granddaughter is in 5th grade now.

I remember 5th grade was hard. Every day on the playground, girls who were friends the day before had “unfriended” their bestie and had a new BFF. It was a minefield of competition and uncertainty!

While middle school was hard, and junior high was miserable, I had figured out how to get along with most people by high school, and let go of those who just weren’t interested. I learned to be okay with myself. Confidence over the years helped me become a better friend and also make wiser choices when selecting friends. I’m in the process of teaching what I’ve learned to my granddaughter as she navigates the rough terrain of emotions, dealing with conflict between friends.

The following are 10 Commandments for Childhood Friendships. Though these are not in order of importance, they make a good standard for relationships at any age.

1. Do not assume your friend is unhappy with you, just because they want to spend time with someone else. When they call again, don’t even bring it up! Holding on too tightly to people can become uncomfortable, and giving your friend the freedom to be alone or spend time with another friend will make you all the more welcome, later.

2. Be a caring listener, not just a talker. Friends that last are those who show interest in others, and don’t only want to talk about themselves.

3. When you disagree or feel hurt, don’t make it personal. Present your concern as an objective thing you can work on together. Assume your friend didn’t mean to be hateful. The Bible says,  “love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” and “a friend loves at all times.” Words like, “You never…” or “You always” are both harmful and untrue. It is fine to say, “I felt sad when you said/did that.”

4. It’s probably best not to borrow things that are special to your friend. But if you lose or ruin it, replace it or make amends. Don’t make excuses, just apologize.

5. Never talk about a friend’s weaknesses or tell their secrets to someone else. When you are away from your friend, talk about their strengths and things you enjoy about them.

6. Work out problems before they become too big. Don’t let lies complicate matters, either.

7. Be the kind of friend you would want to have.

8. When they visit your house, they are your guest. Find out what your friend wants to do and spend at least part of the time doing that!

9. Respect other people’s things. Treat them with value and don’t use anything without asking.

Economic Life Lessons For Kids

10. Be encouraging! Tell your friend what they mean to you, and what you appreciate about them.

I’m finding I need to be patient in training and not assume one correction will be sufficient! Our human nature can be so petty, but we have to overcome it. Kindness becomes a habit over time, with practice. The effort taken now will pay off in the end.

Who Am I Writing For?

In the 1990’s I began writing children’s books. At the time, I was acting President of the North East Mississippi Writer’s Forum and had access to lots of professional advice and knew a few publishers. One children’s book publisher, who also happened to be a Christian, was interested in a new story I’d written, called “The Tattle Snake.” She asked to hold it for 6 months to consider it. As she was a brand new publisher, she wanted to be sure that the first books she published were going to do well in the marketplace.

Since this was a book I had both written and illustrated, I had high hopes for its publication. After six months passed we met over coffee. She told me that she still loved the book but wanted me to make a few changes. I had mentioned “Creator” in the story, and she thought it would be more marketable – I would have a wider audience – if I took out reference to God. She also didn’t like the way I chose to portray my characters.  “Kids won’t want to read a story about snakes,” she said. “What about using something friendlier, like rabbits?”  I was crestfallen. She was suggesting I rip the heart and soul out of my book and start over. The purpose of my story was to show the foolish tendencies of siblings to battle for position and treat one another as enemies. The entire story was told in rhyme using the S-sound to mimic the snakes. Since the Creator’s words resolved the problem, there was no way I could remove the reference. Nor, did I want to.

I wasn’t writing this book to become wealthy. I was writing it to instruct young minds in an engaging way and to honor God in the process. The story was filled with truth, and it needed to stay that way. That afternoon I made a decision to begin self-publishing. I’d also heard that children’s book authors rarely get to select their own artist or draw their own illustrations. Since my daughter loved to illustrate, this would also give her an opportunity. Thus began “Carrot Patch Productions” (named after ). “The Tattle Snake” was the first of three stories that I’ve self-published. I still have three more that need to go to press, including “Once Upon A Carrot Patch.”

Who do I write for? I write for the Lord, and I write for children. As one who was foolish, I wanted to share the wisdom that I had discovered. As one who was lost, I wanted to give direction that I had found. Sometimes, I write articles for their parents. My heart’s desire is to teach and encourage through my writing, to the glory of God and the building up of the saints. It may be that some of my work has an appeal to a wider market, but I don’t care if it does or not.  Some compromises are just not worth taking. For me, self-publishing wasn’t about vanity (some call this vanity-publishing). It wasn’t about making a lot of money. If someone couldn’t afford the book, I gave it to them. The Lord is my supply and money is a small issue compared to the great treasure of influencing a generation for good. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart give Him glory and bless many. It is my hope that my blogging and future video and downloadable products will do just that!

Economic Life Lessons For Kids

While math concepts may seem obscure, kids have no trouble understanding money; at least the spending part! The more difficult concept is the true value of money. Each dollar spent represents someone’s work and time invested in what was purchased.

So, how can we teach kids to appreciate the value of money? From a very early age, we can begin by not automatically replacing what gets broken through carelessness. The child should work to earn its replacement. Though this is a hard lesson, it is best learned early.  If they break something of someone else’s, they should work to earn the replacement item, without receiving any other compensation. This will teach them respect for personal property.

Private Property 

In order to be consistent with this, children must be allowed to keep treasured items (such as a new birthday present or special toy) only for themselves. If forced to share, the lesson of private property’s value is undermined. Sharing only really counts when it is from the heart anyway. Doing so always brings a risk.

The Scriptural lesson, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” means that we need to honor their things as we hope they will honor ours.  But will children ever learn to share this way?

As they see our example of generosity in giving and of sharing our things with them and with our friends and taking a risk that the item may not be returned or may be broken – we can also teach that a heart of love will share, not expecting anything in return. This is what love does. However, you cannot force love. For our part, we will always either return what was borrowed or replace it, because it is the right thing and the loving thing for us to do. Leading by example is much better than forcing them to share their things and possibly causing the opposite effect than you desire.

Thankfulness for gifts and for opportunities to earn money should be taught very early. Seeing the world through eyes of gratitude can transform the character of a child. Our example of gratitude both to God and to others that bless us can guide them.  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you.”   1Thessalonians 5:18.

 

Earning Opportunities for “Wants”

Chores do build character, and some should be done without pay. Certainly, those that have to do with the child maintaining their own room and hygiene should be. But if they work for someone else, you have the option of giving them some income from it. If they have a wish list, they can begin a savings account and watch the balance grow toward their short-term goals. It’s best to start with shorter term goals so they can have the satisfaction of seeing them achieved. It will inspire savings again. As they get older, they can handle longer term goals.

Entrepreneurship

Finally, they can start up a small business of their own. Our homeschool group has had “market days,” where the kids bring in crafts and creations and baked goods they make, to sell. Everyone brings their spare change or dollars to take turns seeing what all their friends have made!  Lemonade stands, mowing lawns, pet care, babysitting or housecleaning for a neighbor – are all good early jobs for kids. Encourage them to track their expenses as well as their income, to see what the profits are. How can they improve the profit? Advertise? Cut costs? Improve the quality of their product so more will sell?  All these questions help children to understand the value of money and see how time is exchanged for it.

Allowance or Stewardship?  

I don’t like the idea of allowances. Many people do give them, but to me, it smacks of entitlement. If you do delegate a responsibility that requires funds, that is different. A stewardship is something that will need to be accounted for later and brings good lessons with it. If your child is able to do what has been asked of them with the money provided and has some left over (because of wise choices – not from purchasing low-quality things), they may be allowed to keep it as a reward for a job well done. Handing over some household management in purchasing (as they are getting a bit older) is also a great way to help them develop confidence. Stewardship is a Biblical concept that can be reinforced through this practice. We are given much by our Heavenly Father to manage here. When we do well, He will say “well done,” and reward us. We can be imitators of Him in this way too, as we train our own children.

5 Things A Parent Should Never Say

It doesn’t matter how old we get, the words of our parents carry a lot of weight. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, said: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Prov. 18:21  Our words can build a child up with hope for the future, or destroy their spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul said that love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails.  We are entrusted with these little ones for a short time and someday will have to stand before our own Father in Heaven who entrusted them to us. How will we fare, then?

“You will never amount to anything.” In The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, you see the destructive power of a father in Denethor’s harshness toward his younger son, (Faramir) while praising his older son.  The idea, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” also comes across as a wound that is incurable to the soul. One child cannot be like another. They are their own selves with unique gifts and personalities. All through Scripture we also see how favoring one child above another causes family discord and even hatred between siblings. One example in Scripture is that of Joseph and his brothers. They were so jealous of their father’s special treatment that they sold their brother to slave traders! If we can learn from other’s mistakes, and treat each child as a unique but treasured gift, we do well and may save the soul of a child.

What can we say instead?  “I see so much potential in you! You have gifts and talents different from your brother and I look forward to seeing what God does in your life.”  Love believes all things.

“I wish you would just go away.” Sometimes it feels like our child or our children are the problem. Their needs can seem overwhelming. Exhausting. This is especially true if they have special needs we feel incapable of meeting. We may feel our own inadequacy so keenly that we lash out at them, as though they are purposefully denigrating us.

But through God, we can do all things. Though some children are more challenging, they are still precious to God, as are we. This is where we as parents and caregivers need to put our own inadequacy into the hands of our great God and Father and remind ourselves that He can use all things for our good. Even our weakness is a means to prove himself strong on our behalf.  It is true that sometimes we need a break. Take a walk or go out to dinner and have a few moments of normalcy to recover from the stress, leaving the child in the care of someone who is trustworthy. Our children should never have to bear the weight of our difficulties or feel responsible for us! We must be the adults.

Instead of dumping on the kids we need to let them see the love of Christ through us so they know their value. To wound one of these little ones who trust in him is a very serious matter. Remember, that no matter how young or old they are, our children have hearts that can be hurt just as ours can. We need to see them as our Lord does. Believe God for the strength and love that we need. Save the angst for prayer. He can handle it all.  We can be a blessing to our children this way, overcoming our own weakness in the process.

“You’re stupid. ”  Though my father never actually said those words, I felt it in his looks and impatience. If I couldn’t figure something out, he would give up on me. I did hear that kind of teasing from other kids and believed it, reinforcing my fears and insecurity. It made me afraid to try new things or ask a second question if I didn’t understand something. “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Proverbs 12:18. If a child doesn’t know something they ought to know, this only means they need to be taught. It isn’t that they are stupid, but they have been deprived of knowledge. And that is easily fixed.

Foolishness is another matter entirely. It is choosing something harmful when you know better. For that, there can be discipline. But even discipline should be with a view toward bringing them back to wisdom – not a final verdict on their future.

“Ugh. Just look at you!”  Our culture is so appearance based that we can easily fall into this. We can think our children’s appearance is a reflection on us. But when they become old enough to make their own decisions about hair length or color, style of clothing, etc… we need to give them the grace that we give ourselves to choose what we like. Parents can often speak damaging words about a child or adult child’s worth in regard to their appearance. Perhaps they are overweight or have a physical flaw that we would fix if we were them. “Maybe you should get plastic surgery/have your teeth whitened/lose a few pounds/change your hair…”

If it were up to us, we would do that for ourselves. But respect and grace must be given when there isn’t a matter of sin. If you want a relationship with your children as they grow up, you have to let go of controlling their appearance. Very young children need guidance. Young adults need to be able to make these choices for themselves. If you don’t like it, keep your opinions to yourself unless you want to create a rift between you and them. Is it worth it to lose the person? If you have raised them with guidance, they already know what you prefer. It may be a test to see if you will accept them for their own choices, or perhaps they really prefer another style.

As children grow, they need more and more room to make the decisions that concern their own life and direction. As parents, we need to love them for who they are, give them the grace to grow, and keep our opinions between ourselves and God. God will give each of us the eyes to see what really matters and the ability to love them, as he does.

 

 

6 Steps to Orderliness

Training children through housework  bring so many benefits! Implementation of these skills can make their lives less stressful (no more lost shoes or game pieces).  Also, the skills they develop will bring greater understanding academically while developing character.  Sound hard to believe?  When the following steps are consistently implemented, the difference will be life changing!

It seems we often don’t “see” our surroundings until company is  coming over. In order to handle such a large load of responsibilities,  we shut out what is right in front of our eyes, in order to focus on the task at hand.  But much study is wearying to the body, for both parents and kids. When you take a break, do something physical. And while you’re at it – create order!

Before Jesus fed the 5,000 the first thing he did was instruct his disciples to create order. He ordered them to have the people sit down in groups and in sections, because he would be passing out food soon. To try to hand out bread and fish in an unorganized crowd would be chaotic and distracting! Our God is a God of order and peace; not of confusion.  As his beloved children, we can imitate our Lord’s example and follow in his steps.

In the same way, with our young disciples, we can “line up our ducks” before we begin to work. It really streamlines the process and gives more of a sense of accomplishment as you see smaller tasks *done* section by section. Each task completed creates its own mental reward! There are a few secrets to efficient cleaning, and as you are teaching your children, give them these gifts of training with the  Steps to Orderliness!

1. Line Up Your Ducks

Before I wash dishes, they are stacked according to type – so I can load the dishwasher more efficiently – seeing how to best use the space available on the rack.

Set aside regular times for maintenance so the job never becomes too overwhelming. You know best when friends are most likely to knock at the door. You may want to post a note on the door saying, “Come back at 3:00,” for instance, if your children are particularly easily distracted!

Create a cleaning caddy to carry from one bathroom to the next so you have all your tools with you, as well as cleaning gloves for everyone.  Make sure it has trashcan liners in it.

Be sure to eat something before you start – so hunger pangs don’t pull you away from the task, half-finished!

Be dressed for the work you will be doing; hair up and out of the way and clothes that can get dirty, will be needed.

2.  Think Categorically

Whether the task is schoolwork such as organizing an essay or doing complex math problems, or you are teaching your children how to sort and fold laundry, put away groceries, or pick up a messy bedroom – the key skill for any organization task begins with categories.  Sort them according to kind, then into sub-categories within that group as needed for the purpose you have.  Not every task requires as much scrutiny (lest we develop OCD characteristics!).

In the refrigerator you would keep uncooked meat separate from fruit or cheese or leftovers (for health reasons). In a bedroom you would want to keep toys separate from clothing and books. For a very young child, you may not want to be more specific than that. But as they get older and lost pieces could bring tears, you will want to keep sets together. Games should be kept with their pieces. LEGOs all in one box, or (if your child is concerned about it) each set in their own box. It becomes a greater task when they get older and for this reason, start as young as possible with this training so it doesn’t become overwhelming later.

When your children learn to help you with household tasks, you are not only training them but providing valuable opportunity for important talks about life. As they become adept at the skills, still work with them when you can so this opportunity isn’t lost. The work will be done more quickly, as “many hands make light work!”  My granddaughter and I sometimes put on the radio and dance while we clean too! It makes for great memories and takes the drudgery out of housework.

If it is still just too much, you may want to think about thinning out and donating some of their stuff. With ownership comes responsibility. They need to care for what they have, in order to gain more. If you can’t bear to give it away, pack away some things for a while, as they learn to be faithful with a little.

When you have many young children, turn picking up toys into a game.  Remember Mary Poppins? Definitely use music, challenges and races to accomplish a task! It may come undone in a minute, but they will still be learning something in the process.

Someday, when the science teacher begins to explain Genus and Species, your kids will have no problem understanding that concept!

2. Top down

Yes, you dust before vacuuming!   When washing or dusting, the rule is begin at the top and work your way down. Ceiling fans or light fixtures first (with an extending duster), tops of window frames and door frames, then pictures on the wall and any cobwebs, before bookshelves and tables. Finally, the baseboards (if you have them). Otherwise the dust or dripping dirty water will cover your finished work! Do it by example and have them follow your lead. When done, be sure to carry your supplies out of the room and put them away (or to the next room to clean). The task isn’t done until the supplies are away.

3. Line upon Line

Working in rows is not only neater, it shows you where you’ve been. Wandering in circles can lead to wasted time. After categories are organized or the room is picked up, vacuum in rows. In the lawn, mow in rows. In the garden, work weeding in rows (from the back to the front). When washing a floor, mop in rows from the back to the front – leaving yourself an exit!  No need to walk back across a clean floor to rinse the mop, bring the bucket with you and work yourself out of the room.

Clean windows, one pane at a time, in rows (from the top down), ending with the sill from one side to the other.  As you create trash with your cleaning, have a bag handy to catch it so you don’t create more work for yourselves on the floor. Show the kids how thinking ahead like this and working in an orderly fashion saves time. You may want to “do it wrong” once and have them time you, before doing it right.

Washing cars has the same principle. From the top down, in rows. It’s an easy and repeatable concept.

Have small boxes or bags for items that need to be transported to another room. After finishing your present task, drop off the bag/box of items at the door of their proper location. The owner of that room will need to put things where they belong before play-time.

4. Clean, dry, and serviceable

In the Air Force, we were instructed to make sure our area, ourselves, and our clothing were all clean, dry, and serviceable. This is when you know you are “done.”  Years later, as a mom raising four young kids, I had to take smaller victories. It is good to voice your satisfaction as small task is finished and the tools are put away. Taking a moment to revel in the accomplishment will model this for the kids! They will learn to delight in a task well done, too.  This website has some great organizing solutions!

5. Anticipating messes before they happen.

Before taking out the Lego set, put a towel or other cloth underneath for the “play space.” When they have finished, they may display their work on a shelf – but the sundry parts and pieces can be easily swept back up into the cloth and deposited in the LEGO box!

Put an empty laundry basket or box on the inside of the front door, if you don’t have a mud room (or even if you do) for shoes that are just coming in. You may, as the Koreans and Japanese do, have slippers just inside the door to put on. This does keep a lot of dirt from being tracked through the house and lightens your work load, as well as theirs.

Keeping an artificial grass-type mat or other door mat outside will scrape off most of the dirt on visitor’s shoes. You can also have a softer mat on the inside of the door to get finer dust/dirt off.

Put a few extra shopping bags  (a bag in a bag in a bag) attached to a seat handle and centrally located, in your car. These are ready to receive trash after a drive through meal. Once you arrive home, have one of the kids grab the inside bag to throw it away and you have an empty trash bag in your car! It’s a good idea to keep a hand-held mini vacuum in the car stored under a seat (that can plug into a cigarette lighter) for quick clean ups, too. Before entering or exiting, make sure all coats, shoes, and books – etc – come out with the kids and make it to their destination before they are released to play! Your home and your car are places you live in. You don’t have to allow such disrespect of your living spaces and you can instill this situational awareness quite young, without having to yell.

When your child is brushing the dog or cat, have them do it outside if possible. At least on a hard floor that is easy to sweep.

Ask your kids to be detectives and find ways they can “save work”!  Be sure you brag about them to their dad at dinner, when they do.

6. The Big Reward: Projects

Paying your children for doing a task well is surprisingly unmotivating. Nothing gives a return as much as satisfaction of a job well done. Once your children have mastered (or are on the way to mastering) these skills, they are ready for bigger things! Projects.

Painting a room, building a shed, landscaping, bike or car repair, sewing or cake decorating, they have qualified to take the next step into the adult world of quality production!  Celebrate every accomplishment along the way, with gentle reminders of the Steps to Orderliness – so they become second nature.

Now, I’m off to practice what I preach.  Blessings to you and your family, today!