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Learning to Listen to God

14 Jun

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Looking into my child’s eyes, with his cheeks resting in the palms of my hands, I answered the question – for the third time. “Each time you asked I replied, but you weren’t listening.” I continued, ” You need to learn to be still for a moment and listen!”

I stopped and reflected on my own words. How am I doing on listening? How many times do the children speak before I hear them? Do I quickly take care of something my hubby may have asked me to do, or do I procrastinate?

Mark repeatedly has done a character study with the kiddos, beginning when the older were the younger…

Part of it includes something like this:

True listening means paying attention with your ears, eyes, mind, and hands.

1. Ears: Try to block out any other noise, and focus on what is being said.

2. Eyes: Give full eye contact, not looking away, distracted by something else.

3. Mind: Embrace what is being said, thinking it through. Mull it over in your mind.

4. Hands: Put into action what you have heard.

In my recent post In a world full of contradictions… , I referred to gaining wisdom by seeking God. Learning to listen to God can be just as hard as teaching our children to listen to us, but it doesn’t have to be. The same principles apply to both situations.

1. Ears: Take time to be still, quiet before the Lord. (As a busy mother of young children, sometimes the only semi-private moments are in the bathroom!)

2. Eyes: Take time to read the Word of God, even just a verse or two if time is short.

3. Mind: Ponder what you have read, applying it to your daily life.

4. Hands: Don’t just forget and move on. Put it into action.

These are lessons I am still learning. In fact, I am sure it will be a lifetime of learning. But, I have seen that the more I practice listening – and put in to practice what I have heard – the better listener I become.

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mercy triumphs over judgement

1 Jun

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Listening to an audio version of a book while I scrubbed my bathroom, I was struck by these words, “mercy triumphs over judgement.” I played the section again… “mercy triumphs over judgment.”

The thought has lingered in my mind as I have gone through the day. How does that play out in our marriage? How about in our relationships with our children?

Judgement always drives a wedge between, killing intimacy – showing a lack of understanding, a lack of forgiveness, a desire to withdraw.

Mercy, unmerited favor, reveals an unconditional love – strengthening a transparent, secure relationship where honesty is encouraged.

May our household be filled with mercy!

mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13)

A Late Night Run to the Coffee Shop

31 Jan

We just completed the last week of our 21 day habit forming project: keeping  bedrooms clean and neat.  It was fun to watch the kids work together to gain points.  I thought it might turn in to more of a competition, but instead the children ended up helping each other out.  Yay!

The bait on the end of the hook was a trip to Starbucks with Dad and Mom.

As the final week went on, three of the kids had an even amount of points, but my littlest princess was lagging behind a bit.

    “Hmmm… maybe I should mess their areas up a bit! ” she schemed.

Fortunately, her siblings had a more gracious approach and encouraged her to find some extra areas in the house to straighten, in hopes of gaining a few more points.

I love the fact that they all wanted to go together!

So… last night at 8:00 we all left the house to have a late night run to the coffee shop and had hot chocolates for everyone!

A special thank you to Uncle Mark and Aunt Merry for the Starbucks gift cards!

Will the rooms be forever clean now???

I think not, but no doubt, we have raised the standard for what is acceptable.

the good, the bad, and the ugly

11 Jan

The target area I chose for my positive “molding experiment“, was the children’s bedrooms.  Yesterday I told you we had instant success, and that is true, but you would think I was crazy if you actually walked into their rooms.  The bedrooms were ten times worse than before we started!!!  I tried not to laugh as I looked for something to complement them on. They were so excited!

I had given them each 5 focus points on their chart.   So, each evening they have the potential of filling all 5 squares.  The challenge is for 21 days, but to keep them motivated, I broke it up into 7 day sections.  Whoever has the most points after the first 7 days gets to make a dessert of their choice.

1. Beds

2. Clothes

3. Toys

4. Closets

5. Bathrooms

I assumed they would try to conquer all 5 areas right away to receive 5 points.  Instead, they simply made their bed look great! Then… started emptying closets.  Today the little girls were so excited to show me their clean closet.  Beautiful! They had done a super job, but boy oh boy, the floor was a disaster! The boy’s room was very similar; they also were digging deeply. Unfortunately, I couldn’t give them a point for a job half done.  I made sure to notice the nicely made beds and let them know I was confident they would achieve a full closet point tomorrow after they put away all the things they pulled out of the closet! In a house with a bundle of kiddos, a bit of competition also comes into play.  Their enthusiasm is contagious and is motivating me as well!

Hats off to all of you that have picked up the challenge!

a little experiment

9 Jan

One of the things I love about young children is how mold-able they are.  It’s true that some children may have a stronger will and more determination than others, but that’s not all bad.  They need to be guided in positive ways.

Anyone up for doing a “molding” experiment with me?

I am going to try to help a few of my kiddos change some negative habits that  have been forming. My goal is to make it fun and help them catch the spirit.   Charts and stickers have worked well with my little ones,  so that’s the method I’ll use and extend it for 21 days.  Supposedly that’s how long it takes to make or break a habit.

I’ll let you know how the progress goes.

Resource:  “Children are Wet Cement”

Does your Family- Love your Government?

14 Jul

When your daughter thinks she wants her ears pierced, your 7-18 year old wants to go out running alone, or your vulnerable youth is pressing you for his or her personal autonomy, what happens in your home? What is your response? What is their reaction to your response?

Kudos to you if your children are even asking you, as opposed to just telling you their intentions or showing you their decision, after-the-fact. If you’ve had the benefit to discuss, consult, advise and examine these interests of your children, are they/you encouraged with the exchange, as it takes place? Or, are you frustrated by having blown your cool, at the first mention of the “absurd” desire?Furthermore, are you indignant believing you never had the opportunity to come alongside your child, because these things are beyond your control?

I have experienced these emotions, among many varied exchanges, while dealing with our children’s expressed desires.  I confess to having reacted poorly, as in, “how could you even contemplate such a stupid notion! Absolutely NOT, under no circumstances- my answer is NO! In fact- our discussion is ENDED!” My fears expressed accordingly- that my progeny would even think long enough to have the poor sense to ask, I and they leave each other knowing this was no conversation. Thus, I have reinforced the setting up of a cycle or culture not at all conducive to better and more constructive opportunities on another subject/day.

How do we get to the place where we are renewing daily our opportunity to speak into each others lives? How do we and they want to be spoken and listened to? I have without exaggeration dozens of opportunities, from just the last few days, as examples to share.  I’ll describe just a few.  But first, I have dozens of examples because I spend a delightful amount of time with my kiddos! We are devoted to spending time together.  This environment has been erected over a lifetime of loving to be together. Household culture #1- devoting ourselves to each other, with time, over time, all the time. This is now a universal cornerstone for our family because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It takes a lot of time together to build re-pore. If we are never together, we have an impossibly hard time gaining this essential family commodity of re-pore.

An adult daughter of mine, asked just this morning- “dad, what would you think of my getting my ears pierced?”  This was not the first time we had talked this over… why, as an adult is she even asking me? My reply was- “of course, if this is what you want”.  I had many years previously asked her to consider waiting awhile to see if she still had the desire, after the passage of time. I didn’t think it would be six plus years between asking. I had simply stated previously that “these days a girl with out pierced ears sure stands out”. My daughter will always stand out because she show’s a lot of respect to her dad, family, and others. Secondly, she governs herself well in self discipline and accountability. This would be household culture#2– governing of ones-self according to Godly principles, by knowing we are all for one and one for all! Understanding that we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves according to that good instruction and example.

If the first order of government is self government by the individual, it behooves us to, by the earliest of ages, to train with example by instruction, counsel, and consequence. Meaning, when the children are very small, after …counsel comes their decision and the consequence. Let them fall …and rise. For while young, they don’t fall as hard and far. They get up, gain insight, greater trust, and responsibility. Another of my teenage children was allowed the opportunity to remain at home, with the older siblings, when we were away for a short trip. During a hike he, against counsel of the older siblings, decided to separate himself from the group.  This caused consternation, along with potential danger, for the older crew left in charge. For too long, they were left looking for him. When we arrived home we did not let this slide but had extensive conversation over the group’s predicament. Consequences for the attitude leading to this decision and for his poor choice and lack of understanding, in leaving the group, were discussed by me and a few of the others involved. To his credit, he did not want to remain ignorant to the effect of separating from the group.  Life lessons like these are good opportunities for growth and incentive to change course, in the future.  There’s always a risk with giving autonomy but the greater risk may be having no breadth of occasion for children to experience, grow, and make decisions, good and bad. I have noticed more good judgment through many experiences over time.

We have another principle that is bedrock to our family.  As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord (Jesus Christ). Leading to household culture #3- Dad is in Charge, and mom is his number one backer (and btw- mom has a lot of responsibility and the authority to wield it). The Caveat which brings this full circle is dad answers to God, which seems to bring some humility to the whole family paradigm, in living alongside each other in peace and harmony. First and foremost Dad loves Mom- the kids see it all the time. Secondly, Mom respects Dad A LOT (more than is deserved), btw- this makes it really quite easy for me to love her, because I have great joy and confidence. Mom even respects dad when it’s hard, and says that this is made easier for her, knowing all she does is for her Lord (Jesus Christ) anyway. So the glue that holds it all together is~ …our youngest daughter just came in with an iced coffee and handed it to mommy saying “here- this is from God, I mean Yetta…” giggling. ~What we do is serve one another. The family is the perfect place for practice. Principles guide us- not our feelings. But our feelings have grown for each other over the years. We are devoted to one other out of  love for Christ. We have benefited beyond explanation.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

a win, win, win situation

11 Jul

Listening from the kitchen, I could hear the conversations taking place in the next room among the children. The older team was sending their younger brothers and sisters out to do some collecting.  They had gathered together discussing the differences between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.  After a few instructions, the hunt began.

This summer, my 8th and 9th grade  daughter and son have the responsibility of teaching a science course to their younger siblings.  The curriculum is called Considering God’s Creation.  Filled with creative projects and coloring pages, the children have fun learning about the universe, earth, plants, animals, and so on.

Not only does this help take pressure off me, but it also enhances the course experience for the children.  One of the best ways to nail down understanding of a subject is to teach it.  As the younger children are learning, the older two are getting an excellent review in preparation for their more difficult courses in the fall.

Although  this method does not come without obstacles, the intrinsic growth by interaction,  family relationship, and practicing communication skills far out weigh the object lesson. First of all, the younger siblings don’t naturally want to give the young and inexperienced “sister and brother teachers” their attention- but what a better way to learn!  By staying close, yet out of sight, I am able to help monitor and listen for behavioral issues that need tending, stepping in, only if needed.  In addition, the “teachers” have a great opportunity to work on developing their own skills (building character all the while).  It takes work and practice to be able to hold the young students attention and present information in such a way that they understand and retain.

With enthusiasm, the kids came running back with their chosen rocks and sorted them into various piles.  They examined each one, and I could hear the ” oohs” and “aahs” from their supportive siblings as they took note of the unique characteristics of the rocks they had compiled together.

You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to try this.   Nurture the ability to learn from each other!    Every age thrives on having responsibilities and being a much needed part of the team.