A Praying Mother

I do my best to educate myself on mommy things. I read, I research, I talk to other moms, I have mentors, I even attend seminars. But sometimes a situation arrises with a child that I have no idea what to do about and no book or friend or mentor or seminar has the answer I need. In these times all I can do is pray.

I had the opportunity to join a prayer group for our school this past year. This was my first time in a group like this and it was so encouraging to me. It was nice to get together with other mothers who believe in the power of prayer and have the same desires for our school and children that I do. Coming together to kneel before our King and ask for his guidance and protection together felt so much more powerful than me doing it alone.

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Being a part of this group also opened my eyes to what I can pray for for my kids too. That sounds funny, but for me sometimes, I’m not sure what exactly to pray for my kids. It’s usually, “Lord, please help me. I have no idea what I am doing. Give me guidance and patience. Amen.”  But I found some scriptures that gave me some much better ideas on how to pray for my kids.

You can pray that your kids will:

Know Christ as Savior early in life. (Psalm 63:1, 2 Timothy 3:15)

Have a hatred for sin. (Psalm 97:10)

Be caught when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)

Be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, and physical (John 17:15)

Have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships. (Daniel 6:3)

Respect those in authority over them. (Romans 13:1)

Desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (Proverbs 1:10-11)

Be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

Be kept pure until marriage (as well as the one they marry). (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all things. (James 4:7)

Be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)

Be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them. (Hosea 2:6)

Oh, some really good stuff in there, right?! I created a little card out of these to keep in my Bible and by my bed.

Here are some printable versions for you:

Kids Prayer Card

Kids Pray Card with Scriptures

I have been thinking about it for a while, but I am finally going to start a prayer group for mothers. I am hoping it will be a place where we can share our needs, and pray for each other’s families while we watch the power of God work in our lives. If you have a burden for this too, I encourage you to do the same thing. Invite some friends over for an hour, mingle, pray, and then chat a little more. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see our families and communities transform just from us asking – together.  

“Where two or three people meet together in my name, I am there with them.” Matthew 18:20 [NIRV]

 

What if heaven really is for real?

Would it change the way you live? Would it change the way you think?

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I read the book Heaven is For Real a few years ago. The book is about a 4-year-old boy who had a near death experience and went to Heaven for a short time. The book recounts the stories he told after the fact leading his parents to believe he had really been there. He knew things about them he wouldn’t have know and he told them about things he saw while he was there. His family wrote the book to share their story.

Last weekend some people on our street got together to watch the movie “Heaven is For Real”. Something in the movie struck me differently than when I read the book. The father of the boy is a preacher and is really wrestling with his faith in God but his disbelieve that his boy could have really been in Heaven for a time. In the movie he asks his congregation, “What if heaven is for real? Would you live differently?”

I believe in God and Jesus and heaven, but this question made me think. If I believed that Heaven was really for real. Every day. I think I would live differently than I do. Pondering this question myself made me realize how thin my faith really is.

If I believed heaven was really for real I would:

Feel safer
Revelation 21:27 “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Have more joy on a day to day basis knowing where I was headed
Be more excited to get there
I Corinthians 2:9 “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””

Realize I have no idea what real beauty looks like
Revelations 21:21 “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.”
Revelations 21:19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,

Be more thankful
Revelations 21:1-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””

Be less stressed

Be more humble and reverent toward God

Worry less about the stuff in my life.

Be more proactive in telling others about Jesus

So if I profess to believe in God and Heaven, why don’t I live like I do? No matter what you think about stories like this – if you do believe in God this is a good question to ponder for yourself. Do you really believe Heaven is real? And if so, do you live like it?

Trust Without Borders

I love the song Oceans by Hillsong right now. Below is a link to a video from a conference in Sydney where they performed it last year. The venue is amazing and the number of people worshipping together is moving.

Please click on the link below and take a few minutes to listen to the song while you read this today. The link will open in a new window so you can come back while it is playing and read. Please note there is an ad at the beginning of the video that you can skip after five seconds and then the song will begin playing.

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Hillsong UNITED

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Oh to have trust in God that has no borders. To fully put my life in His hands and trust that He will make good of all things that happen. To trust that even the painful parts of life are meant for my good. The things that happen to us that hurt beyond imagination are meant for good.  The Bible says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. Lord help me to trust deeply in that promise and live life trusting you without borders. Help me to not run when things don’t go as I want them to go but to trust that you are in control even when it looks like no one is.

Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.
Lord, take my life and use it for your good. Speak to me and tell me where you want me, where you need me. May I be willing to go wherever that is. Lord use me in great ways to glorify you and spread your love so that the pain of my life will have purpose and not be in vain. Lord, may I be willing to let my story be used to tell of your amazing faithfulness and love. May I not run and hide because the pain to too much to relive but may I follow where you lead and may you give me the strength to do what you ask of me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.
Pursue me and draw me deeper in a relationship with you where I will experience you in great ways. Where I will see your work and your faithfulness. Where I will feel your love and your grace. And Lord help me to seek you as much as I am humanly able. My feet wander, my mind wanders and I am easily distracted by earthly things. Take me deeper with you into the life you have for me. Lord may my feet follow as you guide me. Lord give me the strength to follow when it is hard.

And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.
Let it be so, that as I deepen my relationship with you my faith with be stronger. Lord I confess that my faith is so weak. When life hurts, I take my life in my own hands fully trusting only myself. Myself that only sees things in the present not as you see them with the perspective of eternity. May I learn to trust deeply. May I encounter the joy you have for me when I learn to trust fully. And Lord forgive me, for I will fail. But thank you for knowing that and offering me your peace, love, joy, security, forgiveness anyway…for I deserve none of it.

Lord help me, for I want to trust you without borders. I want to go where you call me, I want to go deeper with you so my faith can be made stronger. Lord I want my life to have purpose, I want the pain of my life to not be in vain. Lord give me courage, strength and purpose. I am willing.

How To Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores – Part 2

CHORE-TIME

Well, one thing is for sure, you have to keep track or you will have no idea what’s going on. Those little sneaky sneaks will tell you they definitely made their bed every day this week and you won’t have any idea if they are telling you the truth or pulling one over on you. You got to keep track.

However, I find that all systems begin to tire over time and stop working. They stop working either because you get tired of filling out the charts, or the incentives aren’t incenting anymore. One way or the other, it becomes old and boring, so you have to keep things fresh.

Here are some things if have tried over the years and liked. I will return to these periodically as we tire of the old system. Or if I start to slack off and then realize things are getting out of control, I will switch systems overnight to give us a fresh start.
Before I show you my sad little systems I have a few things to say.
1. You will not find any elaborate, crafty, Pintresty systems here. Anything I do has to be easy and duplicatable 5 times over. Five elaborate systems would take over the house so I don’t do them. If you are looking for something creative and really fun, try Pinterest, you will find a gazillion.
2. Please, if you take one thing away from this post let it be that no strategy is a permanent fix, we all fail at keeping up with these. So don’t get down on yourself, or your kids, when your strategy quits working. Just mix it up again and keep going. And if you need a pick-me-up or booster shot, email me and I will tell you that you have not failed, the system has. Get up tomorrow and start anew.
OK, now here are some of my chore tracking devices I have used, or am using now:
Chore-Chart
1. Printable chore chart. This was my original plan, back when chores were new to my kids. I made these cute little sheets and printed a bunch out. I filled them out for each kid weekly. The pros, you make up new chores weekly. Cons, you have to fill a new one out every week. This works really well for those kids who like to mark things off. My older kids and my son are like this. Also, you can use crayon, markers or have lots of fun with it if your kids like stickers. Click here to download my printable chore chart.
Chore-chart
2. Dry erase chore chart. We had these from Board Dudes for a long time. They worked well for us. They come with magnetic stars that you put in the square when you have completed that chore for the day. The kids really liked these and they held up for a long time. The biggest problem with them was the smalls walking by and pulling all of the stars off so you had no idea what anyone had done that week.
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3. iPad chore chart. Our favorite is Chore Pad HD. I believe it costs $5.00. You can set up rewards inside of it, so when your kids do so many chores they reach awards. You can set up a different amount for each chore, so some are worth more stars than others. It allows you to go back and check their chores and deduct some points for sloppy work or give bonus points for a job well done. Also, it dings and applauds for you when you check off your chores. It’s quite the production. You will earn trophies when you have completed x number of chores and you can view your award chest anytime to see what you have racked up. Lots of fun and a good system. Chore Pad’s reign ended in our home when I found someone cheating the system by going back and checking off all their chores hey hadn’t completed in the past – giving themselves the highest prize unfairly. There’s always one.
4. No chart. Sometimes I abandon all tracking devices and pick a time of day when we do chores and I just divvy them up as I see fit at that time. I look around see what needs to be done and ask them to get to it. I use statements like this to make this work, “You are welcome to go play with your friends once your chores are done.” Lots of time this is instituted on a day when our house has been ransacked by a few or I’m in a bad mood and need some quick peace brought into our home. That’s just honest.
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5. Morning and evening five. These are little sheets I post on their doors with the 5 things they need to do before going to school and the five things they need to do before bed. This worked for a short time, when the kids were little, but I found I needed something more enticing than going to bed to motivate them to get the chores completed as they got older. You know what I mean? My kids would be more than happy to put bedtime off. But for the younger crowd it is a good visual to help them remember the few things they need to do to start and end their day well. Click HERE for printable Morning and Evening 5 charts.
As always, I would love to hear your ideas, please leave me a comment!

How To Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores – Part 1

CHORE-TIME

Bribes, threats, punishment, rewards, treats, money, toys…I have tried it all to get my kids to happily do their fair share of the household work. But the fact is, I don’t always do my chores with glee either. And, like my children, I have been known to procrastinate a less-than-exciting task hanging over my head.

So, we should understand when our kids don’t run toward the chore-at-hand with dancing feet and smiling faces.

Dirty-Dishes

The goal is to teach them how to be a part of a family. We all pitch in to do the work that has to be done, so we can do the things we want to do. That’s why I do them. Because If I don’t have clean towels, I don’t enjoy my shower nearly as much.

I used to really dislike going to the grocery store. I had panic attacks in the snack isle and broke out with hives in the frozen food section. But it is a chore that has to be done. So I used to treat myself with a home magazine after I finished a big grocery run. After I had put all of the groceries away I would allow myself to sit down and peruse the pages getting inspiration for my next project.

Maybe my kids are the same way. And maybe they deserve a little treat at the end of their most disliked chore too. It doesn’t have to be food, just something to look forward to.

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After taking all of this into consideration I did away with the threats, and bribes and sympathetically approached this as a fact of life. These things have to get done and as a family we all pitch in.

First, I divided the house into similarly sized areas. Each child was assigned an area, or areas, they need to clean. One child has the front living room, another the family room, another the sitting room. Then I divided the basement, where all of our toys are, the same way. One has the kitchen area, another the dress up area, another the bins, etc. And each child is responsible for their own bedroom and bath.

Second, I divvied up the after dinner chores: everyone takes their dishes to the sink, one wipes the table, another sweeps and so on.

Now, here is how I ask them to get them done. While these techniques aren’t perfect, it enables me to stay calm while allowing them to take responsibility for their part.

alarm-clock

Chore Time. With the younger kids, ages 5 and under, I use a time technique. I tell them that 4:30 p.m. is chore time. And at 4:30 before I start dinner we clean up together. Since they require more supervision this gives me time before I am elbow deep in dinner prep. Often I will take the mail with me and sort through or read the latest catalog while I watch them cleaning. Otherwise, I help them out. Once they are done, and in order to keep my house from getting totally trashed again, I put a show on for them while I make dinner.

Chore Deadlines. With the older kids I give them a little more autonomy to choose when they do their chores. They have to have their areas clean before they can go out to play after dinner. This gives them all day to decide when to do them, but a firm deadline with incentive following the deadline.  For the ones that put off their chores until after dinner I like to use statements like, “feel free to go outside and play once your chores are done.” or “you are welcome to play with your friends as soon as your chores and completed.” So they have a deadline, but room to choose – now or later. There is incentive to complete them with the opportunity to play after dinner. And there is a consequence of not getting to play after dinner if they don’t get it done by that time.

Of course I always have to check, because they never get them done well, never. My husband and I share the checking responsibility and sometimes I will have them check each others work. If I don’t have time to check and they did a bad job, the next night they don’t go out at all.

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5 Minute Clean Up. There is one other technique I use now and then. I call it the 5 minute clean up. I use this when the toy room is really messy and no one wants to touch it. On these days I grab the kitchen timer, or the iPod and put some fun tunes on. Then we all clean as much as we can get done in 5 minutes. Then we stop – and leave it. We can make some decent progress in 5 minutes and the next day it isn’t as daunting. I just did this one the other day and we had the entire basement cleaned up in two evenings of 5 minute clean ups.

What do you do?

Chore List by Age

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Our second child was born only 16 months after our first. And I don’t have to tell you that I was stressed. But I will. With two babies I couldn’t get anything done and the dishes and laundry were piling up. I needed some help, somewhere.

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Around this time I was reading a parent magazine (probably in the doctor’s office because that was the only place I had the time or ability to read anything). Anyway, I ran across an article about kid’s chores. My stomach leapt with joy when I read that a 2-year-old could take their dishes to the sink after a meal by themselves. Seriously, I could expect #1 to help out that soon? This was good news. No, this was fantastic news. I had no idea I could expect them to do things this early. I read on. I asked friends. I found out all the things a 2-year-old might be able to help do and I started implementing them.

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I had visions of sitting on the sofa watching HGTV while my 2-year-old cleaned the house and made dinner. Well, it’s not quite like that but it is an important part of learning how to be a part of a family. Here you see #1 feeding #2 some of her water. A little for you – a little for me. Well, now I know she can give the baby a bottle in a pinch. I’ll take it.

So, here is a list of chores by age.

Chores-by-age

TIP: I give “promotions” once in a while from one chore to another. The kids love it and it’s fun to see the pride on their faces when they realize they are being given a “higher” responsibility.

Click here for a free printable version of the chores list by age.

Table Talk

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It isn’t hard getting conversations started at our dinner table. In fact we usually have about five going on at the same time – with me alone. But sometimes we need some direction to help us share in one discussion. You know what I mean, the entire family all participating together, listening and only talking when it’s your turn. I was in need of some dialogue tools at my table so I went looking, online of course. I found lots of resources and compiled some of my favorites into little cards that I put in a glass jar and keep in the kitchen for nights when direction is needed. I have also created a printable for you in case you want them too.

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These are conversation starter questions. When you need to reign in the table talk at your house grab one of these and go around the table taking turns answering it.

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Click here to download your table talk free printable.