Rotten Fruit

Near us there is a small apple orchard that received no care for years—no pruning, no tilling, and no fertilizing. Ripe apples simply fell to the ground and rotted. Finally a new owner came in and has spent weeks pruning and restoring the orchard. This year or next should produce a beautiful harvest.

Think of your family as your orchard and your children as fruit. If you have neglected your “orchard,” it isn’t going to improve until you spend great amounts of time on it. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

If you have been lax in your responsibilities to disciple your children, the important point is to begin the restoration. Begin today to prune and till. It will be a more difficult job than if you had been faithful all along, but resolve today to be responsible with what God has given you.

Daily family Bible time, talking, praying, and worshipping together are necessary for discipling our children. Though we will not see the fruit of the new orchard owner’s labor for at least one or two seasons, the owner has done the right thing. Will you do the right thing with your orchard? May we be found faithful and may our orchards bear fruit well-pleasing to our Lord.


Someone Has To Do It!

Recently I met some young adults who work on their family farms after school and on Saturdays. They were delightful: good attitudes; highly motivated; great workers. Happy! They were a joy to work alongside of. They loved the Lord Jesus. They respected their parents. Overall, they were great “kids.” One of them exclaimed periodically throughout the day, “I love being outside and working like this.”

Even the farm owner’s sons were working hard. I complimented one of them on his cheerful attitude because he could have chosen to do other things. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Someone has to do it.” That is so true about much of the work in life. Someone has to earn money for the family’s needs. Someone has to perform maintenance on the house and car. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to mow the yard. Someone has to school, disciple, and feed the children. Someone has to wash and fold the clothes. The list of opportunities to work for the family goes on and on.

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). “Dress” in the Hebrew means “to serve or work.” Man was put on this earth to serve and work. What is our attitude regarding work? So many people have disabilities and cannot work. Would we want to trade places with them?

What a blessing it is when we choose to embrace what needs to be done with a cheerful, grateful spirit and teach our children to do the same. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).


Just Imagine

Just imagine how you would feel walking into your son’s debt-free home for the first time? Most parents don’t know what it feels like to have their own home without a mortgage—much less how it feels for their children to truly own a home, debt-free, even before they are married. What a blessing it would be for your son to start out life without the burden of a 20- or 30-year mortgage.

Learn how you can help him.

It is attainable.

Start early.

See how.

Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son.

Will you?


The Best Hobby

What’s your hobby? Years ago, mine was flying small private airplanes. I loved it. Most hobbies are expensive—in time and money. They tend to take us away from our family and consume money that we could likely spend better elsewhere. Here’s a tip: Whatever your hobby might be, I can save you money. I have found the best hobby of all—and the good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything but your time. I guarantee that it will give you far greater satisfaction than your current hobby. Would you consider taking up this one hobby and putting all others aside?

Here it is… Make your family your hobby, your passion, your joy, and your delight! Next to the Lord, may your family be what you think about and are excited to spend your time “on.” Picture your children grown, living for the Lord Jesus, and successful in life. What sort of hobby could rival those rewards? A perfect golf swing? An exhilaratingly view from 10,000 feet? A terrific collection of [fill in the blank]?

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).


Is What You Say What You Get?

Recently I have been helping moms who refer to themselves as schedule challenged. My goal is to lead them to schedule success. I have really enjoyed working one-on-one with these moms, and I have learned a great deal in the process.

Amazingly, most of what causes moms to have trouble with schedules isn’t a schedule problem at all. One issue that is quite common involves children who don’t do what they are supposed to do. When that is the case you can have a schedule full of activities, but the schedule won’t work because the children don’t do what is on the schedule.

For example, in one family the children were scheduled to get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, and make their beds. The three older children each had a younger “buddy” to help through that process too. One day the mom e-mailed me to say that the children were having trouble getting to breakfast on time. She wondered if she should give them more time for the before-breakfast scheduled activities. I looked at her schedule and inquired, “Do the children actually have 1 1/2 hours to get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, make their beds, and help their younger sibling do the same?” She confirmed that was the case.

I assured her that 45 minutes should be an amply adequate amount of time for those tasks and that 1 1/2 hours was way more time than was necessary. Truth be told, 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time. The children, however, weren’t getting out of bed in the morning and moving through a set of activities that needed to be accomplished.

I think that is often the case with children. We expect them to do what they are supposed to do, and we are unhappy, disappointed, and frustrated when they don’t. We forget that they are children. We have to keep working with them so they can learn to do what they should do.

Usually, for change to occur, the problem has to become a focus so that solutions can be found. Moms tend to live in reactionary mode, putting out one fire after another. Ideally, however, the fires should be prevented from ever starting. That means taking protective measures.

It begins with seeking the One who has the answers to all of our dilemmas. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

It also includes not fretting about the situation, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). When you are worried and stressed, it doesn’t solve the problem. It just makes you less patient and more short-tempered.

Next you want a plan of action. In this case I helped the mom focus on the problem and look for possible solutions, but you could troubleshoot the issues you are having with your children yourself. I gave four points to start her on a plan of action, and this month, I’ll share two with you.

#1: Are your children getting enough sleep? They should be ready to get up in the morning with five to ten minutes at the most to lie in bed waking up. If they aren’t ready to get up, perhaps they need to go to bed earlier. At any rate, I would suggest arranging the evening schedule such that children can be put to bed early as a consequence if they aren’t getting up in the morning.

We began by eliminating a physical problem that would keep the children from being able to get up in the morning and get moving. This is something to be investigated for almost any problem you are having with a child. A tired child will have issues with attitudes, obedience, and even concentration.

We also found this mom had a very simple consequence easily available for children who don’t get up in the morning when the alarm goes off—put the child to bed early.

#2: Perhaps you and your husband need to skip walking for a week or two, have your Bible time early, and then work with the children in helping them learn to do what they need to do in a timely fashion.

The parents walked together for exercise early in the morning, since the older children were old enough to be left alone and be responsible for the younger children. At 6:00 the children’s alarms went off and breakfast was at 7:30. The parents returned from their walk at 6:30. If the parents stay home rather than walking for a week or two, there is accountability for the children and added motivation for them to get up in the morning.

Then came instruction of the children as to how to do what they needed to do. The parents had felt that this step was already accomplished. The reality was that, since the children weren’t arriving at breakfast on time, the parents had some remedial work to do with them.

If each parent interacts with a child, he can give his student instructions on how to efficiently make a bed. He can monitor the child to be sure the child is doing his tasks rather than playing with toys or with the younger sibling whom he is to be helping. He also has the ability to show the child how little time it takes to do the jobs when that is his goal and he sets aside distractions. The parent and child can practice together for several days before the parent moves into the role of observer and finally lets the child solo again.

I’ll share the last two points to this plan next month, and then move into another scenario. I would encourage you to “not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Many of you are so weary you feel like giving up.

When you are faced with negative situations with your children, don’t be discouraged. Pray for wisdom, allow the Lord to set your heart at rest, and develop a plan to tackle the problem. As you implement your plan with the Lord’s strength and grace, I think you will be very pleasantly surprised at the progress your children will begin making in troublesome areas of their lives.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Wow! A Ten Pounder!

Dad, how many children have you birthed? How much did the last one weigh? Scripture refers to childbirth as the greatest pain one can bear. So if we men are so tough, why aren’t we the ones having the babies? (OK, I know the answer.) But think about it: What pain have we dads endured for our children? Our wives carried each baby for nine months and then birthed it. “We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail” (Jeremiah 6:24).

We are commanded to disciple our children. “And, ye fathers, … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Have we agonized over our children? Do we spend time with them, talk with them, and pray earnestly for them?

Jesus suffered on the cross for us and our children. Our wives have suffered in childbirth for each of our children. What price have we paid, what suffering have we endured, as we disciple our children? Think about how Jesus demonstrated His love for us and then ask yourself: How have I demonstrated a love for my family that cost me something?