Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaching Kids Good Work Ethics

"These boys amaze me.

Each morning they seem to have grown taller than they were when we said good-night the evening before.

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Each morning, not only do they seem to be physically taller, but they seem to be maturing right before my eyes.

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Each morning, these three boys get out of bed and do a man's job before breakfast.

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Currently we have a litter of Golden Retriever puppies. Each morning, these three boys take eleven puppies to the outside pen so they can do their duties and then they clean out the big kennel by themselves. This is not a job for wimps, or the weak of stomach. Puppies make messes.....and eleven puppies make BIG messes. These boys make sure the puppies and the kennels are clean, all messes are thoroughly cleaned up, and the puppies needs are all met.

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These three boys bring Mama into the big kennel to nurse her puppies, and then they feed all eleven of her offspring and give them fresh water. They feed our grown Goldens their food, as well.

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These three boys come in after doing these chores and they are responsible to clean out the wood stove, and set up the fire for the day.

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I think when boys do a man's job, they deserve some recognition.

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I think they deserve a hot breakfast and maybe even a hot cup of coffee....or tea....or cocoa.

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These three boys are very capable and they are learning important job skills that they can use throughout their lives.

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These three boys are developing a strong work ethic and they are proud of a job well done.

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They feel good about themselves after they accomplish difficult tasks.

Do they always WANT to go outside and do these difficult chores? Certainly not. Do they ever complain? They certainly have.

As a mom, I have prayed about how to motivate them.....and how to encourage them and this is why their sisters and I try to have a hot breakfast ready for them when they come in. This is why I try to join them in some of their jobs so we can talk, laugh, and work shoulder to shoulder and have fun while we are at it. This is why we switch jobs randomly too. We try to avoid burnout and give them opportunity to obtain skills in a variety of areas so they will be well rounded and capable of taking care of an entire household inside and out by the time they are ready to leave this nest. Sometimes the girls will do the puppy chores while the boys cook breakfast with me. or I'll go outside with a couple of boys and leave a couple of them inside to help with breakfast. Sometimes the girls or I will build the fire in the morning, but on most mornings these three boys embrace the outdoor chores and enjoy coming inside to a breakfast ready and waiting for them.

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These three boys enjoy helping their Dad stock pile wood in the spring, for the following fall/winter season. They love watching as Dad cuts down trees on our property and they enjoy helping chop and stack wood with him.

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I love watching them from the kitchen window, or heading outside to help. It's great exercise, fresh air, and fun working together.

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This has been an especially busy season for our family. With a huge litter of puppies, there is plenty of extra work. This has made it necessary for the whole family to pull together and pick up the slack that is left while the puppy chores are getting accomplished. This means the inside chores the boys usually help with, are left to those of us who stay inside.

Our girls have done an amazing job helping out with extra laundry that the boys usually do, extra cleaning chores that the boys don't have time for right now, and all of the kids have been flexible at switching jobs from time to time.

These girls are highly capable of preparing a delicious meal, whipping up a batch of tasty cookies, donuts, and other tantalizing treats, deep cleaning the house, organizing, and they are excellent with children. They could easily keep this household going without me.

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As a family, we need to be a team.

It doesn't just take a mother or a father to keep things running smoothly.

Any time there is more than one person occupying a home, there needs to be team work.

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Proverbs 6:6-8





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Proverbs 20:11

"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."

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If we learn how to have fun together as we work, amazing things can get done.

Sadly, I haven't been a very good example of this over the years as I get stressed and overwhelmed by a large "to do" list, but this has also been the very thing that has stretched and grown me and illuminated areas that need to be changed in the way I function as a wife and mom. I can't tell you how many times I have had to apologize to my family for being grumpy and driving them....instead of coming alongside them and finding joy in completing tasks together.

It's never too late. Fortunately my family is very forgiving. We all have to be forgiving. We have to exercise grace with each other because, let's face it....we all say and do things that need to be forgiven. I'm so thankful they love me anyway and continue to support me. We need to give this to one another, right?

This little man amazed me this morning. When I woke up, he was already outside. He took all eleven puppies out to the outdoor kennel, and cleaned the big kennel by himself. He then returned the puppies to the big kennel, came inside and cleaned out the wood stove and built the fire. He said that since his brothers have done the puppy chores a few times without him, he wanted to give them a break this morning so they could sleep a little longer.

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Our kids are typical. They argue and fight. They complain about work. They procrastinate and so do I, but we are working on these areas, praying together and for one another and it's exciting to see the kids pull together and serve each other. This isn't the norm....and that's why I am writing this post. I want to encourage these choices in my kids and I want them to see how much their willingness to do the tough stuff blesses those around them.

We're all learning that working together can make the work painless....and that we can find joy and fulfillment through hard work and a job well done.

Proverbs 12:11




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Christmas Reflections Part III

Nearly a month has passed since Christmas day. Unbelievable! I intended to upload our pictures and memories of Christmas day weeks ago and yet, life took on wings and flew into January. The wheels of time's flight are about to touch down in February and here I am, fingers on the keyboard.....finally.


Christmas 2014 was such a different and amazing experience for our family. For many years we have hosted military families in our home or celebrated with them in their homes. We have a very limited number of family in the area and we often find ourselves on our own over the holidays. As a result we have enjoyed getting to know several other (family-free) families over the years. And for a few years consecutively, we met with some dear military friends and celebrated together. They came to our house for Thanksgiving and we went to their house for Christmas Eve. After Christmas Eve dinner, our families ventured out into their neighborhood and serenaded their neighbors with Christmas Carols, followed by hot cocoa together. The last two years we have attended the Christmas Eve candle light service at our church (Emmanuel Baptist Church) and then gone in search of Christmas lights before heading home for cocoa. Most of the time we spend Christmas Day alone at home with our kids. We wake up and enjoy a simple breakfast by the fire and my husband reads the account of Jesus' birth from the book of Luke. The family connection time afterward is priceless every year. The kids have all said that this time with Dad, hearing him read the Christmas story, is their favorite Christmas tradition. Following Dad's reading and family chatter/prayer time, we enjoy a fun and lively gift exchange. Finally, we all jump in the kitchen together and prepare a fun and special meal that we enjoy....together...just our family.


We switched things up a bit this year.


This past fall my friend, Siobhan, invited our family to take part in serving a traditional Christmas meal to families in our church and community who had nowhere to go on Christmas day. In all honesty, I wasn't sure how my family would respond to that idea and to be REALLY real with you.....I wasn't sure how I felt about it either. I mean, I look forward to our holiday traditions and I enjoy the time with our kids on Christmas, at home. It's a fun day and it's also restful and special. I admit, I wrestled with God a bit as I drove home that day. I struggled with the idea of giving up the warmth and fun of our family tradition. I was fearful of reaching out to people I don't know with lives and lifestyles I'm personally unfamiliar with. I was worried that I wouldn't know how to converse with them. As I drove, I prayed and asked God to change my heart and make it willing. I think my family's response to the idea is the very thing God used to change my heart and illuminate the selfishness and fear that was lurking in there. I was pleasantly surprised and it warmed my heart when not only was the vote unanimously in favor of this plan, but the excitement level in our home could have nearly shaken the King Dome if it still existed. Okay.....that was a little bit of a stretch, but they really were excited, and in complete agreement.  so I contacted Siobhan and gave her the news.


I love how God works in our lives. He loves us, desires to bless us, and He is incredibly faithful. My husband suggested that we have our traditional family time on Christmas Eve day. "Mr. Think Outside The Box's", idea made it possible for us to serve and still enjoy our little family traditions and refuel time.  So we began Christmas Eve morning as a family around the fire with Dad reading to us from the Bible (after a quick trip to finish up a little shopping with three of the kids :) ).


On Christmas Day, we arrived at the church to a bustle of excitement and activity. The tables were beautifully set and the smells from the kitchen were enough to make a full stomach growl. It was a beautiful day. Natalie and Christine provided lovely Christmas music on the piano with a little help from their friend Chloe, Rich helped with technical stuff along with Siobhan's husband, Sam, and their son, Caleb. Our boys helped some of the other kids take signs out to the road to invite people in and I enjoyed serving food and running around with my camera capturing the beauty of the moments, the lovely faces of everyone who served and the guests who attended. Siobhan and a couple of other people went out and invited guests in from the community to enjoy a nice, warm, place to go for a hot meal and altogether, I believe we had about forty people in attendance. We made some new friends that day and heard stories that broke our hearts. We had opportunity to speak hope into people's lives and we had opportunity to serve alongside precious people in our church.....family. We may not be blood family, but we are  family and that was evident in the love and care that went into making such a cozy, beautiful, atmosphere. It was evident that love, careful planning, and hard work went into the amazing meal,  linen table cloths, candlelight, beautiful desserts, and I think everyone's welcoming smiles were the most beautiful part of the entire day.


God did answer my prayer and remove my fear. As I sat visiting with people and learning their stories, I learned so much and the desire to spend more time with them grew. I think that we were much more blessed than those who came in off the streets and in ways I can't even explain.


Our kids all asked if we can do the same thing next Christmas. Who knows....maybe we can!


 

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