Messages on Monday

I have listened to two great messages on parenting recently and have decided to share those links here on my blog. Sometimes I will listen to a message from another church when I am working in the kitchen, sitting on the porch or driving in the car. It’s a great and easy way for me to learn and grow!

One of the messages was from Newspring Church in Wichita, Kansas, (this is my sister Jamie’s church) titled It’s Apparent: You Can’t Do That. A few takeaways for me from that message were:

  • …bring them UP in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
  • We as parents can be so bold and confident in some areas of our lives and yet sometimes have a hard time talking to our kids about crucial matters.
  • We need to discipline our kids while we still have a chance. Indulging them destroys them. Proverbs 19:18
  • No discipline is enjoyable while it’s happening – it’s painful…heavy…sad. Hebrews 12:11 When we are off track, God is heavy in his heart, but we may not be…so God will bring us discipline to bring that heaviness to our hearts. The pastor does a nice job talking about this.
  • Many of the guardrails of previous cultural norms are down today. We get almost no help from the culture today, in fact it can almost feel like the enemy. (I believe this is true.)
  • We need to ask ourselves this question ~ What do we really want as we discipline our kids? Ultimately, it is an ordered life – not a chaotic life. Peace comes from being in right order. We want our children to have peace…peace with God, us, their siblings, future mate, peace within themselves.
  • It’s never too late to parent.
  • Ephesians 6:1~ We gain a peaceful heart from right living.This was a really really good, insightful message. I definitely recommend it. You can listen to it here. (May 20, 2012 It’s Apparent, You Can’t Do That)

The other message was from my pastor, Stan Buck, at Sonrise Church. His message on parenting is titled Imagine the End. (Interestingly, it was also given on May 20, 2012!) Here are a few bullets I wrote down from that one:

  • Fight for the heart.
  • Focus on what matters
  • We sometimes make the mistake of putting our kids first…the order actually is God, marriage, kids.
  • We are here to serve God…not you.
  • Our goal is not to make our kids happy, our goal is to make our kids holy and complete. (Good, good stuff.)
  • It really doesn’t matter what our kids know if they don’t really know what matters.
  • LOVE this one: What I give to my children and do for my children is not as important as what I leave in my children. (That needs to be splattered all over our mirrors and calendars, and should be texted to us daily!)
  • Train a child in the way that they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6Stan also gave several very practical parenting tips that they used while raising their daughters…I really recommend listening to this – especially if you have older children. You can listen to that message here. (May 20, 2012 Imagine the End)

I really appreciate hearing from different pastors – if you have a message you have listened to that you want to share, you can leave a comment below or send me a message using the Contact Me page. Thanks!



Goal: Avoid the Child

A parenting strategy – avoid the child who is causing you the most aggravation. How’s that sound coming from a former Young Mother of the Year? Let me explain…

Kyler has been making progress these last five weeks, and one way I believe I can support that progress is to drive him to school each morning. I tried driving him to school at the beginning of the year, but he wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t get out of bed, was defiant and ornery – so after a few days of that, he was back on the bus. Neither of us needed to begin our day that way.

But after the Christmas break, in which the door to healing seemed to open, I decided to try again. I asked Kevin to ask Kyler if he wanted to take the bus or have me drive him. He said he wanted me to drive him. I thought if he made the decision to be driven maybe it would go better. It didn’t. He didn’t get up in the morning and had a rebellious spirit when Kevin did get him up. But I had a plan – I stayed in my room – cozy in my bed – until it was time to leave.

At 7:06, I got out of bed, put my slippers on, grabbed a cup of coffee, my keys and at 7:08 said, “Let’s go.” About half way to school, I turned off the radio and prayed for him – out loud. A heartfelt, prayer to my Father to use His Holy Spirit to protect and guide my boy through-out the day, against every temptation to think and do wrong. By the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in submission, truth and freedom. To remember he is loved, forgiven and strong by the name of Jesus.

That night I asked Kevin to ask Kyler again if he wanted me to drive him – Kevin was surprised as he figured Kyler was back on the bus since he didn’t get up that morning. But I explained to Kevin that I had determined in my mind to drive him every day for a week, no matter what he did.

My strategy was to completely avoid Kyler each and every morning until it was time to walk out the door so that I would not become overwhelmed with frustration towards him. So that evening Kevin tucked Kyler in and asked if he wanted to be driven again or take the bus. He said Kyler was very surprised by the question, but said he wanted to be driven.

Day 2: I’m sure you’re thinking he got up. He didn’t. When Kevin did get him up he was ornery and rebellious in his spirit again. But the strategy was in place; avoid all interaction until 7:06. Coffee, keys, “Let’s go” drive, pray, drop off. Check.

Day 3: He got up – 10 minutes late, but independently.
Day 4: He got up on time.
Day 5: He got up on time.

I am now into my fourth week of avoiding, getting coffee, praying and dropping off. It’s working. The mornings he is ornery and not pleasant, Kevin deals with it and then I enter fresh and ready to go.

I share this because I am guessing I am not the only mother who has a child who challenges her every last nerve. I am certain there are some trigger points during the day for others as well and maybe hearing this might spark an idea for you to try in that situation. Is there a strategy you could try, or is there a source of reinforcement for you?

I thought I was weak because I struggled so much with Kyler’s attitude and actions each morning. But now I feel strong and fortified, and Kyler is beginning his day with a prayer from his mom, who is a warrior, with a cup of coffee.

The strategy to avoid is working, and now…we are coming together.

Set Apart

Set apart from the everyday dishes

God has a thing about setting people apart by His grace and for His work. But I don’t think its exactly easy to be set apart – especially for our kids. I remember being a teenager, it was all about fitting in and not standing out. Being set apart can feel like being left out, and yet this is what I want for my kids.

During the course of their day, temptations and shifting boundaries are constantly in front of our kids. Using foul language, disrespect, cheating, ignoring or making fun of others, pornography, drinking, sex, lying, and more are coming at our kids constantly. I want, and expect, my kids to resist each of these. I don’t think it’s easy. I really don’t. I believe this is a hard road sometimes. In fact, my oldest has shared that having different standards has, at times, been very hard indeed.

Courtney’s Dishes

So I talk to them – a lot. We have spoken about pornography at our dinner table. I hate that. But we will talk about tough subjects until they become easy to talk about. I don’t want my kids to wonder where we stand on these subjects and I want them to be clear about our expectations. I want them them to know they have a purpose; that I believe God himself has set them apart.

Erin’s Dishes

One of the tools I use to let them know they are set apart is china. When each of the girls entered high school I gave them each one place setting and wrote a letter about being set apart. I knew these years would be increasingly difficult. In the letter I told them about attributes I see in them already that indicate being set apart. I remind them that practicing boundaries now will help them be more confident later in saying no. I gave them verses from the Bible regarding being set apart. I explained that the dishes were special – like them – and would not be kept in the kitchen with the everyday dishes, but would be set apart and kept in the oak hutch in the dining room.

I let them know that they can get these dishes out anytime they want, that they can use them for dinner, a snack, cereal, or even ice-cream. They can use them to remind themselves of their value and purpose. I also told them that sometimes they will find their dishes at the dinner table, that I will set the table with  them as a reminder that I am thinking of them.

Zach’s Dishes

I wondered what to give Zach, I wasn’t sure he would appreciate a set of dishes, but this summer I changed my mind, and I picked up one place setting of “manly dishes”. I decided that he should have a set too because one, I love the symbol that I can easily put in front of them, and two, I know the girls appreciate when they come to the table and find their special dishes at their place. I use these dishes as a quiet way to say I love you. I’m thinking of you. I think you’re special. I’m proud of you. I believe in you. Be encouraged, you’ve been set apart intentionally.

I can’t remember where I got the idea for the dishes, but I thought I would share it with you as it seems to be one my kids really appreciate. Feel free to share your ideas about how you remind your kids that they are special!

Another Request Presented

Our baby girl sat us down for her first presentation the other night. She wants a Facebook, which we have said she could have when she reaches high school (in the fall), but she is advocating for permission to get one now.

So she gathered her thoughts, put together a PowerPoint, sent it to her sister for initial response, and then asked for a specific time to meet with us for her presentation. The more times we go through this process the more I am convinced this is one of the best parenting tools to utilize.

We learned a lot through her presentation. We learned that her strongest reason for wanting to get one now is that she has five friends moving out of state this summer and sees this as a way to keep in touch with them as they each already have Facebooks.We also learned in this culture many invitations happen through Facebook and she misses out on some stuff because of this. Hmmmmm….I didn’t know this.

She walked us through the privacy settings she plans on putting in place – it was good to know she had thought about this part of the process as well. She said she would give us her password, and follow the guidelines we already have in place for her older siblings.

She told us she didn’t need a Facebook to know how many friends she had or if she was popular or not, and that her goal is not to see how many friends she can get. She is so wise. She also said she knows other friends get together outside of school without her so she is prepared to see pictures of her friends together, without her. Again, so wise. Some of us adults would do well to really think about the pros and cons of Facebook and decided if we are mature enough to handle the status updates, pictures and other social dilemmas that social networking brings.

If you have never asked your kids to present their requests to you in a well thought out format, I would encourage you to consider it. We have been impressed each time with how much thought our kids have put into these requests. And maybe, just maybe, its possible that the act of having to gather their thoughts to present their requests makes them more intentional and causes them to think beyond simply getting what they want. And maybe, just maybe, we can be convinced to change our minds.

Click here and here to read more about Presenting Your Request.

There’s the Money!

I told the kids in my group (see “Where’s the Money?” below) to consider going home and asking for time to talk with their parents about what they learned this day. With their new awareness of how to set a budget, the time seems ripe for them to practice this new skill. I told them to ask their parents to consider giving them a monthly allowance; from this allowance they would set their own budgets for the month. Imagine your kids not asking you for money for every little thing. Imagine kids who enter college knowing how to budget, save and not go into debt. Imagine a next generation of leaders who understand living within their means.
Kyler’s Budget System
For over ten years our kids have been receiving these funds. When they receive their budget amount they have to sit down and put each dollar into envelopes or categories. When they were very young, the categories were simply Tithe, Saving and Spending. The tithe was to go to the church. The spending was at their discretion – if we were checking out at the grocery store and they wanted a pack of gum, they could buy it with their money. The saving was long term, we told them once it entered the saving envelope it wasn’t coming back out, it was to go to the bank for their future education and vehicle. Any additional income from babysitting or lawn mowing must go through the budget process.This system has given our kids freedom to spend and responsibility to save.

Today, Kyler still keeps envelopes, but the other kids have evolved to budget spreadsheets. Their categories have expanded beyond the three basics, they now include categories such as:

  • Vacations – for their own discretionary spending while on family vacations.
  • Presents – for friends.
  • Football – we allot Zach an amount each year to spend on new gear, because his taste is of the very high end, the amount we provide doesn’t meet his wants. He saves some of his money all year to supplement what we give him for football.
  • Shoes – again, we allot an adequate amount for new shoes each year – if they want $100 shoes, then they have to make up the difference.
  • Lunch – I budget an amount each month for school lunches, if they want more than that, they are responsible for that amount.
  • Clothes – this also allows them room to spend beyond what I budget for them. Recently we were at the Chris Tomlin concert and Zach and Erin both wanted a t-shirt, neither asked if we would purchase them, they simply bought their own.
Erin’s Budget Spreadsheet

A few years ago Zach decided we should have a PlayStation 3; we have a PlayStation 2 which worked fine. So he added a PS3 category to his budget plan and one day approached us to ask if he could purchase a PS3; the answer was yes. Erin purchased her own i-Pod last year, and after six months of saving, Kyler is $23 dollars away from purchasing a DS for $129.99 (plus the $9.00 in sales tax).
I am passionate about teaching our kids how to budget. I don’t want them to live under the oppression of debt (as Kevin and I did early in our marriage). I want them to be wise with their money today, and more importantly ~ tomorrow.

The Power of the Presentation

Kevin and I received a PowerPoint presentation the other night from Courtney. She is planning her second year of college and wants to move to a new dorm…which will add to the college bill. While she is responsible for a portion of her tuition, we pay the balance, so adding to the bill without a discussion would certainly lead to a discussion!

She texted us to ask that we jump on Skype. Once we were all on, she pulled up a PowerPoint and walked us through each slide. I have shared previously about the process of presenting requests, (see link below) and once again I was made aware of why I think this process is valuable.

  • Articulating what you want is a foundational skill to have ~ in a family, friendship, marriage or the work environment.  Her presentations have always begun with what she is trying to achieve and why.
  • Presenting an understanding of what it will take to achieve your desired outcome is also an important skill to have. This helps you create a plan for yourself, and if it involves others, it shows an understanding of the cost or consequence to them. It has meant a lot to us that she has been able to see beyond what she wants and consider our perspective.
  • Putting together a written plan for achieving your outcome is an invaluable skill. It is what will propel you forward. Her plans reveal that she doesn’t feel entitled to the outcome for which she is hoping.
  • Concluding and waiting for a response is also valuable. Although our culture is an instant, I want it now, I don’t have to wait culture…giving time and space for processing allows for a more thoughtful response.

I am sharing this here because as parents, it is our greatest honor and responsibility to guide our children into being responsible, mature adults. Personally, I sense much of the younger culture feels more entitled, less responsible, more independent but less able to stand securely on their own. I believe our process is a tool we use to fight that.

I also believe this process creates a broader view and understanding of desires and helps our children become responsible for moving themselves towards their goals…whether that is getting a pet, going on a trip with friends, or moving to a new, more costly dorm. As our oldest, Courtney has been leading the way in the area of presenting requests and she has blazed the trail in a manner worthy of following.

So Erin, I know you are waiting for this summer (the summer before high school) to get a Facebook page, but instead of just getting one, I believe you will have to gather your thoughts and present your request.
Love, Mom.
P. S.You’re welcome.

Click here to read “Present Your Request”

Parenting Tools / continued…

I’m excited about the parenting resources you are leaving here! Resourcing each other is a great way to get excellent, tried and true tools in our hands!

I really want to hit the mark of 25 resources here – so far we have 7. I thought about settling for less, but believe in this case, more is better…which is why I am also increasing my offer. I will now give away 2 different resources to 2 different readers (I will send the winners their book via Amazon, so your location doesn’t matter!)

So if you have not left a comment with a book or other resource, please do so so we can all be enriched, challenged and taught during our season of parenting! Here is the link to Intentional Parenting, the post below, of which I am speaking.