Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shepherding a Child's Heart

"That's mine!"  "No! It's mine!" "No!" "Yes!"

Ugh. Sound familiar? The selfishness buried in all of us comes out so evidently from our children. Our first impulse as parents, when we have to deal with scenarios like this one, is to referee the situation by being fair.

"Who had it first? Alright, then, you get it first and then we'll take turns."

Hmmm... but does this solution really deal with the heart of the issue... that both children are selfish and not putting the other before himself/ herself?

Ted Tripp, in his book, Shepherding a Child's Heart, opened my eyes to the ineffectiveness to this way of parenting. Remember, we're all about proactive parenting, and if we want to raise generous, selfless children who consider others before themselves then we must get to the heart of the matter. And by doing that, you are dealing with future issues as well!

The child who takes a toy his brother is playing with is selfish. The brother who refuses to let his sibling have it is selfish. They're both selfish. The selfishness of both children must be addressed.

The parent in the above scenario certainly should hear out both sides of the argument but separately speak to each child during a time out. The first sibling may not just grab a toy someone else is playing with. "You are only thinking of yourself here. You did not think about your brother at all. You should ask him politely and say, 'When you're done with that, may I have it, please?' " The second sibling must also be thinking of the other child. "Sure, you may play with this toy. And when you're done, I'd like it back, please."

I tried this out with my kids one day when they were fighting over who would get which seat in the van. "I want to sit here!" "No! I am sitting here!" "I want the good seat!" "No!" "Yes!"  Ugh. "Children," I said, "Stop. You're all being selfish. You're only thinking of yourselves here. You should be arguing, "You sit here in the nice seat." "Oh no, I insist, you have it today." "Oh, please, you have it first and I'll have it on the return trip."  Well, they laughed at this and it certainly diffused the situation and got the point across. Often after this I rewarded the child who selflessly put the other sibling before himself/ herself.

And now for a refashion...

I spent $17 on this top from a store in the mall just 1 year ago and accidentally threw it in the dryer. Yikes! I still tried to wear it because I love the color, by putting it underneath a jacket but it wasn't a pretty sight! And honestly, the elastic was very uncomfortable. Should I just send it to the thrift store?

What does a refashioner say?  Nooo! You just cut off the elastic and add a piece of fabric from your scrap box!

At least my dog liked it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


The first time my first baby had snot coming out of his nose I thought, "Dang, my baby's not perfect!" Isn't that a ridiculous thought? I confess I thought it. My baby was producing junk from the nose and other unmentionable places. His teeny tiny body had already succumbed to the ill effects of the environment and the sin nature he was born with. My children would not be perfect because I was far from it.

As I am sharing tidbits of parenting advice with all of you out there I thought I should put out a disclaimer. I was not a perfect parent. My children were not perfect. Nor did they turn into perfect adults. I was a sinner raising sinners and turning them into sinners.

It is important that I tell you this. I don't want to uphold my kids as super examples of the results of great parenting. That's too much pressure. My kids are PKs - pastor's kids and that was enough pressure as they were growing up. People have illusions that PKs are proper examples of good behavior.

The truth is I didn't raise them perfectly. I can look back (I'm in my 3rd year of the empty nest) and see where my flaws have shown up in their adult weaknesses, where I didn't say something that I should have said, where I said something that I should not have said, where my behavior negatively influences them, and where I blew opportunities. They have also made sinful choices in their adulthood that had nothing to do with my parenting at all. They are sinners in their own right.

This is why I need Jesus. I need him so much! "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3: 22-23).  God wants us to trust Him to fill in the gaps of our bad parenting and to enjoy the fruits of our good parenting, and to praise Him for His work in our children that have nothing to do with our parenting at all! God is at work. Alleluia!

So as I "regail" you with my "wisdom", it's out of experience both positive and negative. And that "wisdom" might not be the wisest course for you! So please accept it as an offering of suggestions born out of trial and error and tested on four unsuspecting guinea pigs. But let me just tell you that in spite of our flaws, I think my kids are pretty awesome.

And now for a refashion...

This is a hand-me-down from my sister. I have no idea how old it was before she gave it to me about 10 years ago, but the boxy bodice, shoulder pads, and shin-length tells me it probably goes back to the 80s or early 90s. I wore it many times but finally realized it was out of style.

I cut off the sleeves and shortened it by about 8 inches. Easy peasy.  A new dress that cost me nothing but an hour or two of time.

The total reason I've kept this dress for so long is the back! I just love the criss-cross back.

Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Get Your Kids to do Chores

Chores. They're a necessary part of life and should be a necessary part of childhood, but how do you motivate your kids to do chores?  Remember my post on the number one task of parents with children under the age of 12? Yep. The obedience thing. You start 'em young, that's how.

Very young children can help put away toys. And when they're 5 or 6 they're actually helpful! That means when they're 1, 2, 3, or 4 they aren't very helpful but think they are. And so you want to make sure you keep the delusion going by affirming their efforts!

I am certain I'm not the only parent that once thought, "Ugh. It would be easier if I just did it myself!" Although that's certainly true, you want to keep a team spirit going by saying things like, "That's teamwork for ya!" and "Good job, Joey! Let's keep doing this! We're almost done!" Chores should be a regular habit... not something you ask of your kids when you're in the mood or when company is coming. They should be doing their chores every single day.  Habits are best learned when children are very young.  And although it takes much longer to coach and supervise the work it ends up a blessing in the long run when your teenager offers to do the dishes without being told!

Here's a list of ideas that worked for us:
* Keep a small bowl handy and every time you see good work happening you drop a marble in the bowl. When it's full the child gets something special (go out for ice cream, breakfast out with daddy, etc.)  Remember - children learn by reward!

* Play "Mary and Martha". Tell the kids the story of Jesus' friends named Mary and Martha. Martha was the woman who worked hard preparing the meal and cleaning the house while her sister Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to him. Call out "Martha!" and the children scramble to put away the toys. Call out "Mary!" and the children sit down and listen to Jesus for a moment. Then call out "Martha!" again and the kids scramble to clean, etc. (This worked great until my daughter had a friend visiting and the two of them trashed the bedroom just so they could play "Mary and Martha".)

* Draw sticks. With a marker write one chore on a stick. Have enough sticks for all the kids. The kids take turns drawing sticks and reading what the chore is they must tackle. We did this with after-supper chores (clear table, load dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe counter and table, etc.). Everyone around the table had to draw a stick. We even had a stick that said, "Help Anna" who was the youngest and too little to put dishes away, etc. Whoever drew that stick had to help her with whatever job she picked, and if Anna drew the "Help Anna" stick she could help anyone of her choice. We did this everyday and it was a routine.

I'm sure you have brilliant ideas that have worked for you! Please share your ideas!

And now for a refashion...

I went through my material stash and picked out remnants that I thought might make a fun dress.

I had seen a dress in a magazine that I thought I could make with my scraps. I cut out 2 rectangles and cut 1 foot length lines from the bottom edge, with the plan to sew godets (triangular contrasting pieces that flair out) inside each slit.  By the time I was done it looked hideous. So I made a refashion out of my refashion....

I cut off the bottom (godets and all) and made a top. It is sort of a peasant style. Sometimes things don't quite work out the way you expect! But I was pleased with the final result.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Number One Task for Parents With Kids Over 12

The last blog was about the number one task for parents with kids under 12 and that was to teach them to obey. But by the time they are 12 they should no longer require punishment for bad behavior... because in theory they are obeying you! However, they still need discipline, communication skills, love, a listening ear, quality and quantity time, and encouragement.

James Dobson, in his book Dare to Discipline wisely said, "Children learn by reward, adults learn by information, but teens learn by relationship." How true! Teens who have a strong bond with their family will face life with security and stability. And how do you develop a strong bond? By spending lots of time together! And certainly that means limiting outside activities and crazy scheduling and instead choosing family time. The biggest recommendation I have is to ALWAYS have dinner together. Guard that time as much as possible. This is where conversation happens, dreams are expressed, ideas are brainstormed, plans are made, problems are discussed, etc. Another idea is to take your teens out individually where they are free to communicate with you openly.  These are precious years.... once they hit high school it's a slippery slope out the door! Enjoy every day! And laugh your way through the teen years. Teenagers are soooooo funny!

So the number one task for parents with kids over 12 .... is to relate!

And now for a refashion....

This was actually a long, loosely fitted maxi-dress from the nineties (came down to my shins). So I cut the bottom to make a high-low top and added lace. It looks nice with leggings.

If you're curious about the necklace I'm wearing then check out this close-up shot.

Yes, that's a real fish. When I was in Florida back in March, it washed up on shore among a bunch of shells. So I took it, dried it out with salt (yes, it was already dead) and then placed inside a shell with liquid resin. I added a fake pearl from an old necklace and the resin dried to a clear solid. Then I drilled a hole at the top and added a chain. When I wear this to school all my kids love to see the fish!