Awhile back I asked my friend, Jennifer Bristow, to write a piece to teach me how to play with my kids without loosing my mind. She was excited for the opportunity to share with us mommas her expertise in therapeutic play. Enjoy! Continue reading
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalms 51:2
B: Gretchen Speer
We are not big car wash people. My van is almost always dirty, both inside and out, and I’m okay with that. That’s just how we roll…literally. But, after a quick trip back to visit family and several stretches on country roads you could hardly tell what color our van was. I tried to convince my husband that the muddy brown hue complemented the blue, but he wasn’t having it. So off to the car wash I went.
Somehow I ended up running this errand alone (Which is odd because my kids LOVE the car wash!). As usual, as I sat in the quiet, the Holy Spirit began to speak.
“Does this process seem familiar?”
“Yes, I’ve been to the car wash several times before……….ahhh. My heart needs this process just as much as my van does.” Continue reading
“A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” Proverbs 15:18
By: Gretchen Speer
A few weeks ago we moved into a new house. Along with a play room and a man cave, we now have an intercom system. How to work this intercom system is still a bit of a mystery to me. We looked up the manual online, but I’m not much for reading manuals. I’m more of a mess with it until you figure it out kind of person. About a week after we moved in I decided to break it in; I mean, really-I broke it in. My kids were upstairs fighting. My littles were screaming every two minutes. I could hear them running all over the place up there-which is a big no-no at our house. I intervened several times, but the chaos continued. The more they screamed and tattled, the more frustrated I got that they were screaming and tattling. So, I got up and stomped over to the intercom and pushed the talk button. Only, I didn’t start talking. I think barking and growling would be more accurate descriptions of what I did. I went on and on…and on. There was some laying down of laws, some threatening of coming punishments, and plenty expressing of frustrations. When I was done, there was silence for a whole two minutes, and I reveled in it.
Later that day I was upstairs putting away laundry in my older DS’s room. I needed my younger DD to come up stairs so I hopped on my trusty intercom and called her up. My DS giggled to himself. “What are you laughing at?” I asked him. “You know that’s really loud outside don’t you?” he says. As all the things I said earlier are running though my mind. I called for my husband to go outside and listen as I said something over the intercom. Sure enough, it was fog horn loud. It was also beautiful outside, and many of my neighbors were in their back yards grilling and such. Ugghh.
In that moment my puffed up pride and self-indignation just deflated. Knowing that many of my brand new neighbors likely heard my rant certainly brought some perspective. I think this is why accountability is so important, because without it I find that I get caught feeling I own the right to be angry sometimes. I had quite a bit of accountability that day, and it brought me a much needed check!
I find it no coincidence that in the two weeks following this instance I have heard both my Pastor and Michelle Duggar talk about anger. It was also covered in the bible study that I’m going though right now.(Beth Moore’s James study). Each of their messages came from different perspectives, but carried similar themes. Here are a few things that stuck out to me:
- Anger clouds your judgement. (Proverbs 16:32)
- Anger is a secondary emotion. When you find you are feeling angry a lot, ask God to reveal to you what is at the core of the problem. (ex: guilt, lust, jealousy, pride…)
- Anger-An inward alarm system revealing personal rights which we have either not given to God or have taken back from Him. (See Ephesians 4:26,31.) *This definition was offered by Michelle Duggar.
What I’m finding more and more in conversations with other moms is that anger is a pretty common struggle, yet we don’t talk about it. It’s shameful to admit that we yell at our kids. I was more than a little embarrassed when I realized that my neighbors most likely heard me, but I was also thankful that I could tell several moms about this and not be judged. They met me with grace and understanding…and a little laughter:)
My prayer for you today is that God will bring someone into your life whom you can be open with about the things that you struggle with. A person who offers you grace and accountability and not judgement. And as always, we would love to pray for you! Leave us a message if you wish for your prayer request to be left private, or a comment if you want it to be public.
“If you love me, keep my commands….Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. “ John 14:15, 21
Maybe it’s because of what God is doing in my family’s life right now (you can read about that here), but I have been thinking a lot about obedience. Specifically, I have been thinking and praying about how to encourage my children to be obedient. As a family, we talk a lot about how we have decided to become missionaries because we love Jesus and want to be obedient. We hope our children catch a glimpse of what that really means as we continue to move forward and press on in obedience even when it gets hard. Interestingly, while talking to them about what the Lord is requiring of us, I feel like the Holy Spirit has been convicting me a little bit about what I expect from my kids.
Because I have studied it more than once, I know there are different theories on moral development and the reasoning stages children go through. But I’m not going to get all Piaget and Kohlberg on you. I will just say I don’t want my children to get stuck following the rules because they are afraid of getting in trouble or because they think they have to look and be “good” for me to love them (or for God to love them). Just like God wants our obedience to overflow from the love in our hearts for Him, I want my kids to obey me because they love me and know I have their best interest at heart.
Something I have come to realize lately is that when I get frustrated with my kiddos for being disobedient I’m not sure I always do have their best interests in mind. Because of that, it’s really important to check myself and the situation. Yes, I want my children to obey; but I have become aware that the things I demand of my children can sometimes be unfair, premature, selfish and prideful. In light of that, I have been learning that it’s important for me to differentiate between behavior that requires grace and behavior that requires discipline. Recently the Lord has been laying the following two areas that require grace on my heart:
Public Embarrassment – the “what will people think” behaviors
We’ve all been shopping at Target or Walmart and our kid is doing something like singing gleefully at the top of his lungs. It could be “Twinkle-Twinkle” or “Jesus Loves Me”; but whatever it is, it’s loud and jubilant and a broken record. As people’s smiles turn to glares your body temperature starts to rise and you begin to shush your soloist to no avail. After unsuccessfully trying to persuade him with the promise of a treat and asking him to stop five times, you realize it doesn’t matter how much you threaten. Johnny just doesn’t understand why singing loudly in public is not appropriate and isn’t going to stop. You are angry and feel like screaming. Why? Because what Johnny is doing is wrong or because you are embarrassed and fear people will think you are a terrible mother who has no control over her child?
Now, this might seem like a silly example, but if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that about half the time I get frustrated with my kiddos in public it’s because I’m afraid people are looking at their behavior and judging me. That’s when I have to stop and remind myself that my most important audience is not all the strangers watching me, but the little ones watching who need my love and acceptance along with gentle instruction after we leave the store that perhaps exuberant singing is something we save for home and church.
Developmental Ignorance – the “you’re acting your age” behaviors
Another situation in which I often fail at showing grace is those times when my kiddos are doing something that is annoying, but developmentally appropriate. We would never in a million years get angry at our infant for putting his favorite rattle in his mouth and drooling all over the place. So, why do I get frustrated with my three year old when he destroys the train track I painstakingly worked for a half hour to build? Or, why do I find myself wanting to shout at my six year old for wasting hundreds of pieces of paper for drawings and “stories” that she writes? They are just acting their age.
My husband and I discuss this quite frequently. When our kids are doing something that seems silly, before we get upset we must always ask ourselves if they are just being NORMAL. If they are, they don’t need our condemnation. They just need our love, and possibly a clear explanation as to how they might do things better.
I am so grateful that we serve a God who demands our obedience but also earns it by the unconditional, grace-filled love He shows. That’s the kind of mom I want to be and am praying we can all be today. If you’d like, please join me in praying this prayer:
“Father in Heaven, thank You for the tremendous blessing of being a mom. Forgive me for the times when my demands for obedience have been selfish or unjustified. Please help me to love my children like you love today. Guide me in my discipline and correction. May it be grace-filled, life-giving and obedience-provoking, with Your help. Amen.”
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
By: Gretchen Speer
For me a chore chart is not just about teaching kids how to help around the house, it’s also an opportunity to reward responsibility and iniative. I have been using chore charts for almost 5 years now and have never made the exact same one. The kids seem to really like the change up of different responsibilities and different kinds of rewards. You can make it in excel if you want it to be extra neat, but I like to make them using cardstock paper and sharpies.(I take any opportunity to use my sharpies!) Today I am going to give you 5 tips for getting started, then I’ll give you 5 sample chores for kids ages 4-8. I start my kids at age 4 so that’s why I’m starting there.
1) Consider age and personality. The most important thing to do before making a chart is to consider your childs age, ability, and personality. What are they really ready to take on? Will the responsibility of cleaning their whole room send them into melt down mode? For my kids it’s been interesting to see how their personality really comes into play. My older dd is naturally good at cleaning up and organizing. Since she was 4 she could make a twin size bed perfectly, you would think an adult did it. So, I knew she would be ready for more than my older ds was at 4.
2) Think outside the “chore” box. Like I said before I don’t see chore charts as something that should just be used for learning household chores, although mine certainly include those too. Consider using these charts to help your kids develope good habits. I have always put saying memory verses every day on my kids chore charts, and they are worth the most points too. For one of of the charts I did, I gave them a point for every verse they could say every day. I was shocked by how quickly they were able to memorize verses, and there were a few that I learned myself in the process!
3) Keep it Real. Real realistic that is. For the first few weeks this chore chart will most likely add work to your day rather than ease your load. If this is the first time you are doing something like this there will need to be some quality time of instruction and plenty of overseeing to make sure that your kids understand how to do their chores. I take the time to do this b/c they need to learn how to do it right. Toys, clothes, and who knows what else shoved under the bed doesn’t qualify as a clean room for us, and my kids know that because we have spent a lot of time going over how to clean their room.
Quick Tip: Post a list for them (and you) to refer to. Example for clean room: Make bed, put shoes in the closet, put dirty clothes in the hamper, put toys in the toy box. Even for kids that aren’t reading this can be helpful for you to at glance.
4) Encourage! Your kid may or may not be gifted in the neat and tidy department, either way be sure to praise their efforts often. I like to keep their chart where they can look at it and see how many checks or stickers they have gotten.
5) Decide on a reward system and stick to it. The best layed plans are a waste of our time if we don’t follow through with them. You will be shocked by how quickly your responsible, motivated child becomes discouraged and resistant if you consistantly forget to reward them. How frustrating would it be if our bosses forgot to pay us for our hard earned money! (I only say this because I, myself, am a little forgetful.)
Here are some ideas for chores. I usually pick 5-7 chores to put on my kids charts. We talk about which ones they need to do every day and which ones can be every couple days. I usually do a point system so that they earn a certain amount of points for each chore completed. That is usually a motivator!
Age 4: Keep it simple!
- Put dirty clothes in laundry basket
- Put toys in toy box
- Memory verse (something short)
- Help with laundry (They can pull it out of the dryer for you and scoot it into the living room. They can also fold small towells and washclothes, and help sort socks. Some kids are ready to learn how to fold bigger towells too.
- Sweep up the crumbies after dinner
Age 5: Add a little more detail.
- Straiten Bed (They may not be ready to fully make their bed yet. For this chore you can show them how to pull the blankets and sheets up while they are still in the bed. They can also straiten their stuffed animals, and clear off anything else that doesn’t belong there.)
- Memory Verse (Make it a little more challenging. We usually will try to do 1 every week for a while and then have a time where we just review all the ones they have learned.)
- Laundry Chore (Have them take their dirty to the laundry room and sort it. I also give my 5 year old a basket of towells to fold a couple times a week.)
- Bathroom Chore (Put everything on the counter away, shake out the rugs and put them back where they go.)
- Homework(If your kids are in school then you will probably have homework for them to do once or twice a week. If not, this is the time for mommy school! Give them handwriting to work on or a worksheet out of a kindergarten work book. The sooner they learn how to do focus on school work at home the better!)
Age 6: Ready for some responsibility!
- Bathroom Chore (The same as listed above, but add emptying the trash and wiping down the counter with a wipe-I keep these things everywhere!)
- Laundry Chore (The same as above, but add puting away their clean clothes too. I usually leave stacks for them to put away-play clothes, underwear, socks. I do still hang up their nicer clothes though, since they aren’t quite tall enough to do that yet:)
- Memory Verse
- Dust(They can use a swiffer duster or just put a sock on their hand. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and give them specific areas to work on. Walmart has a great little tool for cleaning shutters and shades, and that is usually what I have my kids work on.)
- Wiping down walls and baseboards (They are shorter so it doesn’t seem to be such a big job for them. I do the same thing as with the dusting-set the timer and have them work on a specific area.)
- Set the table (My son like this because he likes to get the inside school on what we are having for dinner. Hang a checklist for your kids so they can make sure to put out everything that will be needed)
- Homework(By this age they probably have homework a few time a week anyway. On the days they don’t I like to have them read or work something they might be struggling with in school. I award points for time spent doing homework whether it’s for school or just for home though)
- Memory Verse (I list this everytime because it’s top priority for my chore charts)
- Clean out the Car (Send them out with 2 wal-mart sacks. One for trash, and one for stuff that needs to come inside. They will most likely have to make several trips. Make sure to check their trash sack before they throw it away!)
- Helpfulness (When I put this on the chart I just let my kids know that I will give them points when they go above and beyond their duties. My kids are really helpful, so that I thought this would be a good way to show them that I appreciate it)
- Clear the table after dinner(I have my kids put the dishes by the sink, the napkins in the dirty clothes, and then put the dressings and condiments in the refridgerator)
- Pick sticks and trash up out of the yard (Send them out with a wal-mart sack. They may end up needing a few!)
- Reading (It’s just such an important thing, so I put it on our charts a lot. This is also a chore that I will let them do more that once a day-earning twice the points. Outloud Reading is also a good thing to do. Sometimes my son will read to me while I’m cooking dinner.)
- Wash the dishes(Start out with a few non breakable dishes and go from there. It seems easier to teach this in steps-wash, rinse, put in drainer.)
- Quiet Time (I’m excited about this one. My son asked Jesus into his heart a couple years ago, and we have been doing a lot of memory verses since then. Now, we are going to start walking him though how to spend time with God though prayer and reading the Word on his own. It may seem odd for it to be on a chore chart, but I’m trying to help him make it a daily habit. The chore chart will serve as a reminder,and a positive reinforcement.)
Quick Tip: I add bonus chores sometimes. These are usually worth a lot of extra points, but can only be done if all their other chores have been completed.
Like I said before, all kids are different. These are just examples of what have worked for my kids at these ages.