Signs

What if people had signs hanging around their necks that said what was going on in their lives or saying what had happened in their past?

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am wrapped up in my little world … okay, a lot of the time. I focus on how people treat me or make me feel, and treat them accordingly. However, that isn’t how Christ interacted with the public. He focused on the people who surrounded him instead of himself. Lately, I’ve noticed just how far a small act of kindness can go when dealing with others. In February, every year, our church has “Kindness Month.” We are encouraged to do acts of kindness all throughout the month and write the deeds (with no name) on little hearts and stick them up on the church wall. The goal is to focus on others; however, what is amazing is how much people respond to even the smallest acts of kindness.

People remember kindness. If you do something kind for someone, they are more apt to remember you and respond positively the next time they see you. People want to be noticed, in fact, they long for it. That is what made me ponder this thought at the beginning of this post. What if people wore signs around their necks that said what was going on in their lives, or saying what had happened in their past? Would I treat them with more respect and compassion? Sometimes after I get to know someone and find out stuff about them it makes it much easier to interact with them – it makes me more understanding… and kind.

For instance, think of the cashier who seemed sullen and wouldn’t converse with you. What if her sign said:
“Waiting on test results to see if my Mom has cancer.”

Maybe your waiter didn’t meet your scale of attentiveness. What if she had a sign that said:
“Working two jobs.
Single Mom.
My kid has the flu.
The person who was supposed to relieve me is an hour late.”

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What if the nurse who was gruff and unkind had a sign saying:
“My Husband served me with divorce papers today.
My kids are moving away.”

What about the coworkers we are around each day that irritates us? What if one of them had a sign saying:
“I was repeatedly molested as a child.”
Or another maybe:
“My Dad was a mean drunk who used me for his punching bag.”
I know people with signs that would say:
“My child has Autism.”
“My spouse has cancer.”
“My Parents did drugs. I was raised by a family member.”
“My husband cheated on me.”
“Nothing I ever did was good enough for my Dad.”
“My baby is teething and won’t sleep or quit crying.”
“My husband is a soldier stationed overseas, and we haven’t seen him in 5 months.”

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If we saw signs like this, would we be more understanding? Would it make a difference in the amount of grace we give them?

Instead of leaving a small tip, would we leave a larger one? Maybe instead of complaining we might smile at them, say their name, look them in the eyes, and ask how their day is going. Furthermore, would we ask questions to show we care about them? Maybe even give them a candy bar with a smile and say, “Everyone can use a bit of chocolate in their lives!” (Isn’t that the truth?!)

Kindness, it truly shows God’s love to people. Jesus really saw people … their past, their struggles, their burdens, their trials. Some signs we would condemn, but Christ saw them all and still loved these people. He also spent a massive amount of time in prayer so he could stay attuned to the Father and needs of others. Oh, to have eyes of compassion like Jesus: He listened… He cared… He helped… He was kind. The people could tell, and it drew them like moths to a flame. Everyone is drawn to kindness. Possibly, the element missing today in spreading the gospel is the added touch of kindness.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

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How about you? Have you ever wondered the same thing? How do you show compassion to others?

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2: Day 3 & 4

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2: Day 3 & 4

Due to Thursday being our “Errand/Town” day we did 2 days worth of chores in one day today. Callie Swept and Swiffered the Livingroom and Kitchen and she also cleaned the Bathroom. Kenzie Dusted, Windexed, and Vacuumed. They also both put away their laundry and cleaned their room. Lincoln folded washcloths and helped Callie clean their bathroom and me clean mine. Attitudes were just so-so, but For me just watching they did pretty well. The lists I made of each step per chore really helped. I have allowed the kids to answer the phone a lot more with me standing there making sure they do it correctly this week. I plan on trying to do all the chores in one day with Levi to get him caught up and on the same phase next week since he was gone camping during the day.

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2: Day 2

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2/ Day 2.
I am ashamed to admit that the kids and I did very little chores. I took them to the summer reading program, taught piano, and then went to church. To be totally honest, I did have about 2 hours I could have done it, but chose to read my book instead while they were playing so well. (Totally why I don’t read fiction as much anymore…nothing gets done around here) I am hoping to make up for it tomorrow.

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2: Day 1

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 2: Day 1
Kenzie did the bathroom and swept and mopped. Callie did Windex and Vacuuming. Lincoln helped Windex. Levi was at camp and is a little grumpy tonight from being so tired so I don’t know if I’ll fight that battle till next week. We had more issues with attitudes today so no one earned tablet time. I’m not sure if it was because we missed yesterday and our vibe for the week got thrown off, if it’s because their brother was having fun at camp and we were not, or if it was because I made them do 2 chores each since we missed yesterday. It also may be because I made step by step instructions and they wanted to do things their way. I digress. Anyhow, a blog post I found on Pinterest (see below) inspired me to make my own step by step chore lists and to put them where they do the chore. The lady on the post bought lanyards to hang around the child’s neck with the chore they were supposed to complete. Her children couldn’t take it off till the chore was complete. I am pondering doing this. I don’t know if I would actually do it, or if it’s just a cool thought and I’d waste the $8 buying lanyards on Amazon. However, I DID like her step by step approach. She has some you can print off, but our chores were different since we have different rooms. It only took me about 30 minutes to make these. If you’re interested in being able to print them off I can share my Word document with you. Just let me know.
Link: http://www.fivelittlechefs.com/craft/easy-crafts/free-printable-chore-charts.html

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Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 4

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 4 Phase 1: Successful

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We didn’t make eggs this morning since we had omelets for supper last night. Lincoln did a great job folding washcloths and with a great attitude. Levi learned to clean the sink and toilet. Callie learned to sweep and Swiffer the living room and kitchen. She had a little bit of trouble not taking forever and getting all the spots, but otherwise she did well. Kenzie for some reason had an attitude about dusting and her younger siblings did a better job than her, but Windexing went fine. I also showed the girls how to clean my bathroom in case they ever want to clean mine to make some money. The boys washed dishes and the girls put them all away. Lunch was leftovers. Overall I count this week as a success and have allowed them to pass Phase 1. Next week Levi is going to go to camp so I’m going to have to figure out how to complete Phase 2 with him next week.

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Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 3

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 3: Successful.

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We still didn’t do a page of math and I’ve pretty much figured out it isn’t going to happen while we do Chore Boot Camp. Teaching chores takes a lot longer than I figured because we get sidetracked with things like … cleaning out their ::shudder:: purses and bags while cleaning their room.

We completed all assigned chores plus Kenzie learned to mop the Kitchen and playroom. Lincoln learned to wipe the sink and toilet. Levi actually vacuumed really well and Callie only needed to be reminded of a few spots she forgot to dust and windex. Callie made Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for lunch. We still practiced answering the phone.

The thing that has surprised me the most is how much they actually seem to be enjoying this and look forward to it. Kenzie even had the muffins made when I woke up and was showing off the list to piano students. (I’m sure they were thrilled.). They actually have had great attitudes and act excited to learn them.

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Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 2

Chore Boot Camp: Phase 1: Day 2: Successful.

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Keeping it real we didn’t do a math page and we didn’t play outside since it was so hot.

However, they each completed their assigned chore with happy attitudes and thoroughly. We also worked on tidying their closets (with instructions on how I want them to put clothes in the closet) and cleaned rooms thoroughly. The boys also washed dishes again and Levi learned how to load the washer and dryer. Kenzie proved that she can totally pass all 3 phases of vacuuming. Levi is awesome at Windex. He insists on Windexing EVERYTHING. Every single window, door, and mirror from top to bottom. Which is great…I normally just hit what needs it. He also is amazing at dusting since, without me telling him, he lifted everything and dusted underneath. He even was showing Lincoln how…better than me (since I hate dusting). I did still have to remind him of all the places to dust. Callie did a great job too in the bathroom. 

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They each made their lunch and Lincoln helped make breakfast.

Lastly, we worked on answering the phone. We practiced during lunch and then I let them answer the phone the rest of the day. I even asked people to call so they could practice. They still rush through the words when they get so excited, but are already doing better. We will continue to have pop quizzes on this.

Chore Boot Camp

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I was too busy to do a normal blog post today getting ready for our “Chore Boot Camp” these next three weeks. The idea came to me this past spring when I was frustrated that the kids were unable to complete chores the way I wanted them to. However, I didn’t have the time during the school year to really give them the focus they needed to be able to show each of them exactly how I wanted them to do each chore. So, true to my love for planning, I came up with a battle plan. This summer I decided to do a Chore Boot Camp with 3 phases, each phase lasting a week. I had read a lot about showing someone how to do something, then letting them do it while you watch, then letting them do it on their own and you then inspect it. We finished school weeks ago, but I wanted 3 weeks in a row that we could work on it without anything interrupting us. Well…at least not something like

We finished school weeks ago, but I wanted 3 weeks in a row that we could work on it without anything interrupting us. Well…at least not something like a camp that lasts all week. Already today we didn’t finish till afternoon due to some big interruptions, but we did finally get it done…and with only slight attitude. I told the kids at the beginning of today that if they completed their chores with no attitude and “yes Ma’am I’d be happy to” that they would earn 30 minutes worth of tablet time later that afternoon.

 

I chose the chores:
1. Vacuum
2. Swish and Swipe (aka: cleaning the bathroom)
3. Sweep and Mop
4. Windex / Dust
The three oldest switch off on what day they take a turn learning each of the above chores. I decided not to teach them all three the same chore each day so that way my floor got cleaned every day instead of the overkill of 3 times in one day. The youngest does a simpler chore each day.

I also wanted them to learn how to: (some of them already know these)
1. Answer the phone properly
2. Clean their room
3. How to wash their sheets and remake their bed.
4. Clean out the van
5. The boys learn to do laundry
6. The boys learn to wash and rinse dishes.
7. To make their own lunch
We do a different one of these a day except for the boys washing dishes and the kids learning to make their lunches.

We do not pay them for doing “normal” chores since we believe that is a duty of being part of a family unit. However, there are a few things I decided this summer if they learned how to do, I would pay them for them if they showed initiative. Those “Bonus” chores are:
1. Clean Mom and Dad’s bathroom
2. Weed Flowerbed
3. Vacuum Couch
4. Mopping Kitchen/Playroom
5. Vacuuming Vehicles
6. Cleaning Out Vehicles
7. Picking Up Sticks

Today’s plan was:
8:30 Clean Room
9:00 Kenzie – Swish and Swipe
9:30 Callie – Vacuum
10:00 Levi – Sweep and Mop
10:30 Lincoln – Windex
Make LUNCH: PB & J
1:00 Clean out Car
We actually accomplished it (though not at the times listed). Kenzie also asked to vacuum the van and the boys washed the supper dishes, so I count that as a win!

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So, why am sharing all this? Maybe it will inspire you, maybe not, but I mainly just wanted accountability this week. I love to plan, but execution is hard … especially when it comes to chores. It is so much easier to do it myself, but I KNOW if I stick with this it will help make my life a lot easier this fall. So, every day this week I am going to try to post whether or not we did what I hoped, what we did, and how it went.

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Are any of you doing something similar this summer?

Things that Bond Us Together in Marriage

197 editWe all have things that bond us together in marriage. I’m not just talking sex or children, but things like circumstances weathered together, shared dreams, or even tangible objects.

There have been two very dark times in my marriage. One was the death of our unborn child, and the other was a few years later due to miscommunication and selfishness. I believe 2 things helped keep our marriage together.

As crazy as it may sound, one was a secular television show. We had just started watching a show on Netflix right before I miscarried. At a time void of happiness, it was a shared bright spot in our darkness. Yes, we each had Christ, but my husband was angry at God so we didn’t share that normal bond. God in his mercy knew that issue and sent something to help keep us together – laughter. We laughed so hard we cried, and it was so nice to cry for a different reason. Slowly, we healed. No one else will ever fully understand the shared pain of our lost child; not that others haven’t known loss, but no one understands the loss of River like my husband does. It is an invisible glue that will always bond us together no matter what.

The other thing God used was a bluegrass group. We both have very different taste in music, but we both enjoyed listening to this group together during a time we weren’t as close and shared fewer interests. There wasn’t a lot we agreed on then, but that group gave us both something to enjoy together, including a very memorable date.

Thankfully, we are no longer in those dark places due to hard work on our marriage. Although every marriage has rough patches, I think there is one major thing that distinguishes those marriages that stay together versus those that fall apart. That is that they keep growing together and learn to share common interests. My husband and I have changed greatly since we were first married, and have had to learn to adapt continually. Sometimes we have done a better job than others, but we have always found something we enjoy doing together.

One such thing we have learned to enjoy together is gardening. Never in a million years as a 12-year-old child would I have thought I would end up enjoying gardening. There was a year my Mom decided to grow a huge garden, and I hated it with a passion. However, in the past 5 years not only have I learned that I enjoy gardening, but that my husband does as well. We make a great team since he is awesome at planting and tilling, and I am great at picking and canning. One day I see us being one of those old couples puttering around in the garden together, and the thought brings me joy.

Another thing we love doing together is road trips. We look at land, dream, and talk about our future while riding the roads. When you dream together, you place each other in the future and that helps you feel more like a team. Often, we load up the kids, pack a cooler of snacks (to keep the natives from getting restless), bring a bag of things for them to do, and take off on a driving. It is often spur of the moment, and frequently it is with no destination in mind. On the back, winding roads, we have a “date” in the front seat and dream together.

Sometimes there is something one spouse has always loved that the other spouse learns to appreciate just because it brings their other half so much joy. For me, this was football and guns. Before we got married my father loved football but I just found it annoying since it always tied up the TV; however, after we got married Logan took me to my first live football game. I will never forget the energy of that game and how much I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed it so much I learned most of the rules, which came in handy when I watched him play pick-up games the first few years of our marriage. There is something about watching your spouse play a sport that helps you appreciate it more. Growing up my mother wasn’t a fan of guns since they scared her. They just weren’t a part of my life and I knew nothing about them. My husband, on the other hand, is knowledgeable about guns and is certified to teach others how to shoot. Over the past 14 years, I have slowly learned not only to appreciate guns but also to enjoy shooting them. Both football and guns are not something I naturally gravitated towards, but I can honestly say I truly enjoy both now.

I am so thankful for all the things that knit us together as a couple, and I plan on continuing to find new things we enjoy together. How about you? What are some things that you love to do as a couple? Do you have an experience that has knit you together?

This is the Day to Choose Joy

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I was a brat, there was no two ways about it. My husband was having shoulder surgery and things were quickly slipping from my control. Additionally, after a misunderstanding, I learned I wouldn’t get to sit with him in his pre-op room. Whereas one paper said yes and the other no, I had to sit out in the waiting room an extra hour and a half.

First, his surgery started late, and I even had to ask if it had started. The surgery lasted an hour longer than they said it would, making me very anxious. Finally, I waited over and hour to hear from post-op when everyone else in the waiting room was asked back after just 15 minutes.

I wish I could say I calmly handled that day, but I cannot. It’s a good thing “the force” isn’t real because Darth Vadar and his death glare would have had nothing on me that day. Also, I wish I could say I chose kindness, but I can’t. I really wish I could say I chose to trust God, but I didn’t.

My friend had a moto last year: Choose Joy. I knew I should choose joy the day of my husband’s surgery, but I was scared. My husband and anesthesia don’t jive well, and I also can’t stand when my he is in pain. My fear comes out in ugly, ugly anger. So instead of choosing joy, I pouted.

Fast forward 2 weeks when a missionary came to our church and helped us observe the Passover. While all of it was fascinating, the part that stuck out to me was how after the Passover the Jews always sing “Psalm 118.” He commented that Jesus observed the Passover (the Last Supper) right before his death. In the middle of Psalms 118 is the verse 24:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Jesus was singing about rejoicing on that day … which makes Him my hero. The day His friends betrayed him … the day they lied about Him… the day He was tortured … the day He died. I’m sure He feared the pain ahead, He was human after all, but despite that fact, He chose joy.

Today we go back to the doctor for my husband’s first check up since his surgery to have the stitches removed. I’m choosing to sing “This is the Day”; Not because there aren’t nerves, but because I want to be more like Jesus and chose joy even when I’m scared. This is the day I choose joy.

What type circumstances makes it harder for you to choose joy?