Sunday, January 20, 2008

Raising a Daniel in today's world......

Dan 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself" NKJ

I do not proclaim to be an expert in child rearing and I am not done yet either but I am the mother of older children and I am beginning to see some of the fruits of our parenting labors here. We have a son nearly 19 now (OK yes I was way to young and NO I do NOT look old enough to have a kid that age LOL) and the thing is, he is an amazing young man. Not the "I'm his mom I think he is great" type of amazing. I mean a mature, responsible, polite, agreeable, smart, funny, capable and able to think things out, but most of all GODLY young man. He is even nice to his little sisters!

It all started back in Hinesville, GA in 1995, early in the year, when Pastor Phillip Byler at Bethesda Church preached about purposing in your heart. At that point I had read about Daniel in my read through the Bible in a year process but had never really paid attention to that phrase......purposed in his heart.

What was purposing in your heart??? The short sweet to the point answer is making the decision on how you will do something before you are faced with the situation. Daniel chose, before faced with any trying circumstance, that he would always honor the Lord in all he did. With his body and his mind. In what he ate and how he acted. He would choose before being tempted to not give in to his human nature but to do things the Lords way.

Now, this was an amazing concept to me, revolutionary! My husband and I discussed it in our next phone call because, as luck would have it, he was in Korea for a year! He asked me to send the tape of the service and I did. Our letters went back and forth.....what if we could raise our kids to be this way? What if WE could raise Daniels?

We started with us. We began making decisions ahead of time for us. We chose at this time (we were newer believers, baby christians) to get out of debt and stay out; to steer clear of questionable movies and music; we made sure we did not swear anymore; we worked hard to steer away from gossip. Basically we cleaned up our own lives and decided that when faced with situations that were questionable we would already have a "plan."

When people would ask us to participate in parties (as often is a part of military life) we would say no if we knew it was going to be an enviroment that would compromise or tempt us. When people wanted us to go out with them to eat and we didn't have enough in the budget for dinner out, we would say no....well you get the picture.

NOW, we began with our children. This was not rocket science, it was a concept we could definitly explain and teach to young children. We look at our children andsee innocence but the Word tells us they are sinful and selfish. So we stopped saying they were naughty or bad and called the bad behavior what it was...SIN. We followed the charge in Deuteronomy to discuss the law of the Lord while we were walking and while we were eating and when we sat and when we worked.

See, early on children can learn to choose ahead of time the Lords way. They can decide before they get angry not to throw a fit. They can choose before they are facing it to not lie. These are the building blocks. As they grow older we begin discussing the other things ahead of time, cheating in class, bullying, talking back, sex, smoking, drugs, drinking. We discussed it before they were faced with it so they were prepared, they had a "plan." They already knew what to do. We discussed scenarios, how other kids would act, what they might say and why.

See in order for Daniel to purpose in his heart he had to know what Gods law was and thus what would be a violation of it and why it was wrong. I think as Christian parents we are pretty good at telling our kids what the "rules" of being a christian are but we don't tell them what the violations would be and why. We are afraid we will ruin their innocence or over expose or frighten them but when done in a Godly ,age appropriate way we are helping them by giving them tools to make a decision beforehand.

Now I am not advocating showing them drug paraphenalia or something crazy, I am saying that not discussing it or presenting the information to them in the right way does not mean they won't get it. So, either you as the parent have to prepare them, disciple them, or the world will do it for you.

Daniel knew the law, it was not a set of rules for him but obviously something living enough that he desired, even without parents or priest around for him to want to keep. He could have chosen to do whatever he pleased and no one would have been wiser or blamed him in his decision. He was carted off to Babylon for heavens sake!

So, who made the Lord law that alive and good to him do you think? My guess....his parents. So don't just teach it LIVE it. We never did revert to "mom and dad" movies, to this day we don't watch things the kids can't; we still don't swear and work very hard to avoid gossip. No credit cards, just a house payment and monthly expenses. It is our job to discipline our thought life and our mouth and our witness. See, in deciding to raise our Daniels we ended up changing ourselves as well.

My son is a Daniel, he stands out among the young men around him. He chose without our urging of any type to go before his youth group and make a purity vow; he chooses to never be alone with his girlfriend they are always with others or in public. He chooses to not defile his body with illegal substances and such. He chooses to lead in his youth group. He goes to church when we don't. He keeps himself set apart for the Lord. Is he perfect? Absolutely not but he is a young man pursuing God.

I can never thank God or Pastor Phil enough for revealing that word to us and letting us see that even in this day and age, with all the trials of a military family, it is still possible to raise Godly children.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Confessions of a Harried House Queen!

Laughably, I have of all things, a degree in Residential Design, and so you would think I am the ultimate in "house proud" with not a thing out of place and all of my knick knacks and decor in place without a spec of dust.

HA! I rarely dust and tell people it is o keep my antiques looking authentic; my idea of organizing the pantry is shoving everything in there and closing the door tight and folding laundry sometimes takes me weeks to get to! Every month or so I discover a whole new wardrobe!

Now, being married to a military man as I was, I knew I had a guy who thrived on structure and order and who would be happiest if that carried over into his home life. So, early in my marriage I discovered I would need some sort of simple system to keep me going since my natural proclivity was toward being a slob!

Then I must add I also had 3 kids in 4 years and lived in a mad cyclone of activity of volunteering for FRG, Church and PWOC. To add to that, like all other miltiary wives, I sent my husband off for TDY and field duty and to Korea twice for a year at a time and the first Gulf war so a system became my sanity!

For mothers with littles, it can seem impossible to get anything done while chasing tiny children through the house but I suggest you put that energy to work for you. Even the smallest hands can safely wipe down walls, cabinets and cupboards with mild safe cleaners (I have always used eco friendly cleaners and mixtures from vinegar and baking soda or bought ones).

Young children love to crawl into a tub with a sponge and baking soda to scrub it down then rinse it while being supervised by a mother who is cleaning the other fixtures. Sweeping with child size tools (found at wal-mart) is just as effective as a large broom. Chores not only teach children responsibility but also give them a sense of accomplishment and capability. Lastly it teaches a child that it takes work for a family to function and they need to participate in that.

Only work for 15 to 20 minutes in each room doing what needs done immedietly then move to another chore. Spending all day on one room should only happen on occasion. In order to keep things orderly allot enough time to do all basics during the morning and one large chore per week day.

A typical weekly schedule may look like this
8-8:30 Breakfast and dressed
8:30-8:50 straighten kitchen and dishes
8:50-9:10 wipe down bathroom
9:10-9:30 straighten main living area
9:30 - 9:50 run vaccum in main living area
9:50 - 10:10 break (take a few moments to sit)
10:10-10:30 get load of laundry in
10:30 to 10:50 straighten childrens room
1:00 to 1:30 strip sheets and wash
2:00 to 2:30 remake beds
1:00 to 1:30 Mop Kitchen floors
1:30 to 2:00 scrub toilets and bath floor

Continue this schedule allowing for one large chore per weekday and always do at least one load of laundry per day! I usually did 2.

The point is we don't need House Beautiful but order tends to make our spouses and our children feel more comfortable. Not to mention makes it easier to find things. Striving for a perfect home every day will wear you down but maintaining a neat orderly home can be done with a simple schedule and realistic expectations .

Other tips to save time and maintain order:

a weekly menu and shopping according to it will save about 30% on your shopping trips as well as time. Pos tit on the fridge so everyone knows what's for dinner!

Hanging clothes in teh closet aor folding them in drawers in outfits instead of pants, shirts etc saves time. A full outfit can be grabbed by a child without having to pull Mom out of the other room.

Buying snacks in bulk then packaging in baggies for quick snacks for small ahnds is always worth the effort. Celery, carrots and other veggies can last days in a baggie after being cut. Apples sprinkled with fruit fresh also last a few days. This prep can also be done during breakfast time ro worked into the daily schedule.

Too often as busy moms we forget to enjoy the most important thing in our day....our children! With my son now over 18 and my two girls in their teenage years I have realized how quickly that time goes by.
Try to find ways to spend every precious moment you can with them. You will never meet a mom who says I wish I would have worked more or cleaned more. They always tell you I wish I would have spent more time with my children!