Category Archives: Series

Reversing entitlement part 1

A brother wrote after last week’s Seriously asking, “How does one avoid or reverse an entitlement mentality in children?” Here is what I’m learning about this.

Always at the top of the list for discipling children is the double-edged sword of the parent’s example. Nothing will do more harm or more to reverse negative behavior/attitudes in the children than the parent’s harmful or beneficial example in daily life. 

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” That describes the relationship of abiding in Christ (John 15). When we abide, we ask, and God answers. As God responds, we acknowledge, we praise, and we thank Him for Who He is and what He does. “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). 

Does that describe us or at least the desire of our hearts and the direction we are headed? A grateful heart connects to a mouth overflowing with praise to our God for His blessings. That sort of heart also notices, appreciates, and verbally expresses all that is done around and for us. That is much different from the man who notices and complains about all that doesn’t fit his liking. 

Our children are watching us! Which example are we?

To be continued.

Gratefulness Part 2

Raising grateful children is far more than merely having children who superficially say, “Thank you.” Last week Seriously began this thought on gratitude that ultimately has eternal consequences for our children.

We learn from Deuteronomy 28:45-47 the deeper, underlying fault (the second “because”) that led to Israel’s disobedience. What is that fault? They weren’t grateful. “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.” They weren’t grateful because they weren’t noticing and valuing God’s blessing of “the abundance of all things.” 

Dads, our positive or negative example, is impressed upon the hearts of the children. Do you recognize God’s blessings, and then do you sincerely praise Him out loud, in the presence of your family, in good times and bad? Grateful hearts create an ongoing awareness of God’s grace, mercy, love, presence, power, provision, and even chastening. 

As we thank Him and speak it out, it helps our children learn to appreciate His blessings versus assuming and expecting them.  

Will your children have an entitlement mentality when they are grown, expecting God to continue to dole out blessings, or will they be grateful for all that God has done and continues to do for them? What about you? Where are you on the gratitude scale? Do you declare that gratefulness to the Lord not only in private prayer but continually aloud in the presence of your children?

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Steve

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 3

(To read Parts 1 and 2, please see this link.)

When a young mom who had four children, none of them yet school age, asked me what three things I would suggest to her for successful homeschooling, I was challenged to narrow my ideas down to three. I started by encouraging her to have a daily schedule, and then I suggested she invest in helping her children learn self-discipline. My final piece of advice was to find a structured curriculum that she could use by herself at home and stick to.

The e-mails I am receiving these days from struggling homeschooling moms are from those who are having to be away from home a day or more each week for their homeschooling. Also, in a survey of homeschooling moms who were not keeping up with what they felt were their responsibilities, the ones who were the most dissatisfied with their lives were the ones who were home the least. These moms were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with homeschooling and daily life. They were discouraged and some considered quitting homeschooling because of it.

It is quite amazing how much difference it makes when we lose time from our homeschooling and homemaking needs by being away from home. If you want to be able to keep up and avoid that discouragement, then find a curriculum that allows you to stay home and spend time each day homeschooling. If you can manage to do your school in four days a week, you will use the fifth weekday for other tasks that aren’t easy to fit into homeschooling days.

Our family has liked using Christian textbooks for homeschool even though we have heard many say that textbooks are not a good method of homeschooling. We found them to be easy to use, sound academically, and our children enjoyed them. They allowed our children to become autodidactic – self learners. One of our main goals in home educating was to raise children who would be life-long self learners. We didn’t want children who had to have their hands held to learn, or who had to have something be extremely enticing before they would learn. We have watched moms exhaust themselves trying to make their homeschooling engaging enough for their children to be willing to learn. Sometimes in this process they give up and quit.

The young homeschooling mom wants to equip herself for the long haul, knowing her homeschooling is a huge investment. She doesn’t want to choose a homeschooling method because it appeals to her emotions but because it provides a sound education and is sustainable for the 13 years she will invest for each child she homeschools. When you give so much, do you want to end up being a depressed, angry, frustrated mom? What could be better than a method that results in children who are lifelong learners? Why not make curriculum choices that will facilitate a joyful mom who is faithfully homeschooling her children with patience and contentment?

If you would like to know more about what we specifically used and did, Managers of Their Schools is a resource that details all of that.

Here are links to a few other Mom’s Corners on this topic:
Homeschooling with Textbooks
Homeschool Textbook Curricula
A Voice for Christian Homeschool Textbooks
Curricula Decisions Impact Homeschooling Success

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 2

In this series, I am sharing the 3 suggestions I gave a mommy who was preparing for her homeschooling years and requested that information in a casual conversation we had one day. My first encouragement was to use a schedule. Even though her children are not yet school age, a schedule will help her be productive, and she will find the children’s days flow better when there is structure. The schedule is critical for homeschooling. Our newly-revised Managers of Their Homes is the perfect tool to help you in this area of time management.

The second point I made was that she should help her children learn self-discipline. We talked about this in a Mom’s Corner a few months ago. Here is the link to that article.

If a mom will be diligent to teach her young children self-discipline, she will have children whom she can instruct during their homeschooling years, knowing that they will apply themselves to their lessons. This will facilitate their education and free up her time for homeschooling other children or doing other things. She will not have to sit beside them through out their whole school day to hold their hands in order for them to learn or make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They will quickly become autodidactic—a skill that will prove valuable their whole lives.

Let’s face it. Little children generate a great deal of work, and they take a great deal of time. To invest the time to help children learn self-discipline is just one more thing on a mom’s already full plate. Having observed thousands of families through the years, I can encourage you that it is worth that time investment.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines self-discipline this way: the ability to make yourself do things that should be done. The implications of that are huge—treating people the way they should be treated, obedience to parents as a child, personal health, spiritual disciplines, ability to responsibly complete tasks, backbone of a great business owner, employee, or home manager. There is such a plethora of life that will be facilitated by self-discipline.

Where do you start? I think a great beginning is to give a child boundaries and help him learn to accept, be comfortable, and even enjoy those boundaries. That might be as simple as having a set time when the toys are picked up and put away by the child in order to move on to another activity. Much of our struggles as grown ups stem from our unwillingness to live within boundaries whether it is with our time, our relationships, our health, or our walk with the Lord. In our flesh, we don’t like or want boundaries, but those boundaries are filled with blessings if we will accept them. We bless our children when we can direct them in that truth. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

It is likely that your success in this area will be determined by your own level of self-discipline. Will you work patiently with your children? Will you invest the necessary time first to give them boundaries and then to teach them how to live with and value boundaries? Will you have a smile on your face when you find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over? Your investment today reaps dividends throughout your children’s lives. What is that worth?

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling, Part 1

Recently I was talking to a mom with three little children, the oldest being 4 years old. She was planning to homeschool and had heard that I homeschooled for 30 years. She sweetly smiled at me and asked what I felt was a very insightful question. She said, “What 3 pieces of advice could you give me that you think would be the most important for my success as a homeschooling mom?”

I was thrilled to talk to this mom. She was thinking about and preparing for her homeschooling days. She gave me boundaries for the information she wanted—boundaries that would help her remember what I said.

For number 1, I started with what is probably the dearest to my heart—a schedule. Structure is what productivity, learning, and stress-free days hang upon. The schedule helps a family accomplish not only their homeschooling but other essential and even non-essential parts of their day.

I have observed schedules transform the family life, personal life, and homeschooling life of weary, discouraged mommies. That thrills me beyond measure. I don’t think it is a matter of personality —schedules for the disciplined person but not for the free spirited person. Schedules let the disciplined mom put her talents to use, and for the free-spirited one, it lets her have time for her free-spirited activities.

Even before you begin homeschooling, you can schedule. Mommies with preschoolers can benefit from a schedule just as much as those who are already involved in homeschooling can. Getting children used to a schedule as preschoolers keeps those days flowing and productive while getting children accustomed to the rhythm that a schedule will bring to homeschool life.

When we were preparing for another Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) reprint, we realized that we had gained a huge amount of scheduling experience since we first wrote and published Managers of Their Homes, and we wanted to impart that to others.

When MOTH came out, it was based upon our own personal scheduling experience and confirmed by those first 24 test families who used MOTH. Now, however, we have worked with countless moms as they have scheduled and seen the power of the schedule in a much broader framework.

We decided to take that valuable experience and put it into a revised version of Managers of Their Homes. So we ruthlessly tore into the text and took out what we didn’t think was as helpful in the book, and put in what we have gained from working with MOTH moms.

We know that the original MOTH is successful in teaching moms to schedule. We have the testimonies from so many who have read and used it to prove that it does. The revised MOTH doesn’t change those basics, but it brings in a fresh power from our real life experiences with a multitude of MOTH scheduling moms. We are excited about that!

If you haven’t yet dived into scheduling, this is the time to get the new, revised Managers of Their Homes. If you have friends who aren’t scheduling, suggest it to them. I really can’t think of a better Christmas or birthday present for you or a friend than this resource that will help bring productivity, peace, and contentment to a family.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Are They Fighting? – Part 3

Dealing with Children’s Unkindness

The final key I would like to consider for dealing with physical unkindness between siblings would be the attitude of Mom’s heart. When we see one child hurting another child, our first response might be one of anger. However, it is quite obvious that if we respond to the child in anger, we affirm the attitude in the child that we want to eliminate.

“The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21). Teaching our children godly, loving behavior starts with our own attitudes, words, and actions. Sweetness of the lips is much more powerful than yelling or even negative tones in our voices. Gentle firmness helps keep the child’s heart attached to ours while we are working toward a change of behavior.

Stopping the Negative Thoughts

What you do with your thoughts can make all the difference in your responses to your children when they are not being nice to each other. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ.

That means you can think, “I hate it when my children fight with each other. They know better. I am sick and tired of having to deal with them time after time, day after day.” Or you can think, “Lord Jesus, I am so blessed to be the mother of these children. Thank You for entrusting them to me. Help me, Lord, to direct their thoughts and their behavior to express the love You want them to have for each other. Lord Jesus, I know You are working in their lives, and You are working in my life. Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus.”

Which thoughts do you believe will help you have a patient and loving attitude toward your children when you correct them for wrong behavior? Which thoughts will give you stamina and determination to be consistent in working with your children? Which thoughts will allow you to put a smile on your face and move on with your day positively after a situation with the children?

I can attest to having done it both ways, and I was way more successful and way happier with myself when I took the route of the second set of thoughts. The first set hurtled me into a pit of self-pity from which it was almost impossible to climb out. The second set put my mind on the Lord Jesus, the gratitude He tells me to have, and the possibility of a brighter future.

Should Children Apologize?

I had an e-mail from a mom after the other articles in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised if others are wondering about the same thing. Here is what she asks:

“After I read your article on children and fighting, I wondered how you handled apologies. Did you have your children apologize to each other (even when they weren’t really sorry) and/or make restitution? I have tried this at times, but it often leads to greater pride and a sense of entitlement rather than mercy and grace. Any thoughts?”

Yes, we did have our children ask forgiveness of each other. We avoided “I’m sorry,” because it doesn’t require a response from the other person. If there is a response, it often is, “It’s okay.” The reality is that it wasn’t okay. However, we encouraged them to say, “Will you please forgive me?” and then express what they needed forgiveness for. That gave the other child the opportunity for a verbal response and to release negative emotions he might have been feeling.

It was obvious that sometimes the words were said—on both sides—without the heart being involved. They were children, though, and that wasn’t surprising. We still wanted them to learn the biblical path to handling offenses and wrongs. We were helping our children develop a habit that we prayed would be heartfelt as they developed emotional and spiritual maturity, even if it that didn’t happen in childhood.

Homeschool Home Organization

As we conclude this series on siblings fighting, I want to emphasize again the innumerable benefits of an organized home. In this case, it will help you avoid the stress and heartaches that result from children quarreling. A peaceful, organized home guided with a schedule and effective chore system keeps family members productive, occupied, and often helps lift Mom’s burden of not only keeping a clean home and but also of having to deal with fighting children.

Here is a real-life example of that from a mom who had used Managers of Their Homes to help her develop a schedule.

“Today we were talking at dinner about our schedule when I asked the children how they felt about it. The seven-year-old said he likes having a schedule because it helps him behave better. Wanting to know more, I asked him why he would behave better on a schedule. He said, ‘Because everything has an order, and we know what to do. Also Mom is calmer, and I don’t fight with my brother so much.’

“The four-year-old said, ‘I like the schedule because there is a time for my brother to play with me so I don’t have to beg! And Mommy plays with me more.’” Kathy

If you don’t have a schedule or a successful chore system, I strongly suggest that you getManagers of Their Homes  and Managers of Their Chores , read, and implement them. They have helped tens of thousands of moms toward their goal of a peaceful, organized home, and I know they will help you as well.

If you have them, and aren’t currently utilizing what you have learned from them, summer is a great time to bring out your old friends, reread them, and put a schedule and chore system in place for the coming school year.

I know some days—or maybe most days—with little children, you feel like all you do is correct and redirect their behavior.  May I encourage you with this verse: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Your goal is children who love Jesus, love others, and live for Him. Oh what peace! Oh what joy! It is worth it! Be encouraged to stay the course!

Are They Fighting? – Part 2

We are continuing a series of articles written to answer this question: “I read your articles about siblings. You said you did not allow hitting, pushing, etc. What did you do when it happened, and how do you prevent it???” If you haven’t read the articles the mom refers to, here is the link. You also might want to read part 1 of this series, which is found here.

Behavior Rules

Of course, with little children discussions, reasoning, and sharing Scripture are mostly preparation for the future. They don’t have the mental, emotional, or spiritual maturity to make decisions based on that information. So we had some specific rules, such as:

  • No hitting, pushing, or biting.
  • No name-calling.
  • No grabbing toys from one another.
  • Share kindly.
  • Speak sweetly.
  • Be loving.

Consistent Consequences

Then, if a child did one of the things they weren’t supposed to do—which was quite likely—we tried to be consistent with a consequence. Of course, the reality was that we didn’t observe each infraction nor were we 100% consistent with consequences even when we saw something that was wrong. But we certainly did try. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17).

Chair Sitting

The consequences had to be simple because obviously there was more to life than correcting children. One consequence that we used frequently was for the child to sit for a specified time on a dining room chair. Now phones have timer apps, but back then I had a kitchen timer that I could set for five minutes. I placed it beside the child so he could watch his time counting down, and then he could get up when it beeped.

I found that to be a very easy consequence that I could use consistently. It separated the child from the problem, gave him time to reflect, kept him from doing something he would rather be doing, and generally provided a few minutes of peace. When the child got off the chair, if he went back to his play and once again wasn’t nice to a sibling, I put him back on the chair—for longer this time.

Dry Crusts and No Sweets

“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). This verse was the inspiration of another consequence we used with our children. Here is a little background to help you understand: We purchased wheat berries, ground them into flour, and made fresh, nutritious bread for our family. Our children liked the inside pieces of bread, but not the outside crusts very much.

Rather than waste the crusts, I would dry them for breadcrumbs or croutons. One day, after reading Proverbs 17:1, Steve and I decided that we would use “dry morsels” (i.e. dry crusts) for a consequence when the children weren’t being kind to each other. I would have the child, or children, involved come to the dining room table and give each one a dry crust.

We would briefly discuss the applicable verse, explaining that we would rather eat dry crusts and have love demonstrated in our home than to be able to eat the delicious food we ate but have unkindness evident. This was a great real-life example of that verse. The dry crusts weren’t something they gagged on. They just didn’t prefer them. It removed the child from the problem for a space of time. In addition, it was actually healthy for them.

Sometimes when the children weren’t nice to each other we talked about the need for them to be sweet. For a consequence, we would take away their dessert. We didn’t have dessert all the time, so this consequence was only as effective as the frequency that we ate dessert.

If/Then Chart

A tool we found valuable in being consistent with consequences for the children is the If-Then Chart. While we didn’t develop the If/Then Chart, we now sell it because it was so helpful to me when our children were young. Part of the struggle I had as a mom in being consistent with consequences was knowing what consequence to give for a particular problem. With the If/Then Chart, those decisions were made. It was a simple matter for me to go to the If-Then Chart when a situation arose, read the verse to the child, and know what the consequence would be.

Certainly in a family we prefer unity, whether it is husband and wife, parents and children, or between the children themselves. Physically lashing out for what you want or in retaliation for what made you unhappy does not develop unity, and while it is typical of little children, it isn’t acceptable for older children or adults. We wanted our children to grow up knowing that such behavior was not only inappropriate, but it was simply unacceptable. They knew that was true not because Steve and I said it, but because it wasn’t pleasing to Jesus.

P. S. I just want to remind you that a schedule helps greatly with mitigating the problems that arise between siblings. It also allows Mom time to deal with the issues that do come up. If you aren’t already using a schedule, summer is a good time to get Managers of Their Homes, read it, try a modified summer schedule, and then be ready when school starts to have a full-fledged schedule.

Are They Fighting? – Part 1

I expect any family that has more than one child has faced sibling squabbles. We want our children to grow up to be best friends, but when there is negativism between them as children we might wonder whether it’s possible. I wrote a series of articles on this subject a while ago.

Perhaps those sibling squabbles have moved from words to being physical. Here is what a mom recently wrote us: “I read your articles about siblings. You said you did not allow hitting, pushing, etc. What did you do when it happened, and how do you prevent it???”

Scripture Applies to Children Fighting

As we were raising our children, to prevent them from being physically—or even verbally—unkind to each other, we talked about the things the Lord would want from them in their interactions with each other. We discussed verses like this one: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

From that verse, we could cover sharing toys, not taking something a sibling is playing with, speaking sweetly to each other, and never hurting a brother or sister. We could also move into what reaction the child should have if a sibling did something unkind to him. I would encourage the children not to physically react but rather to be kind and to forgive.

The Golden Rule

Quite often, we would talk to the children about this verse: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). I asked them to think before they acted, considering how they would feel if a sibling did to them what they were planning to do to the sibling. Sadly, we had one child who took this verse and misapplied it by saying, “Since you did this to me, I will do it to you.” Of course, we then talked about how that was not what the verse was teaching nor what the Lord Jesus would want.

Siblings in Unity

We liked and used the verse, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) We told our children that not only does it please God when they are kind to each other, but it also is good and pleasant for the whole family. We explained that they would be much happier when they were getting along throughout the day. Squabbles and fighting are simply not much fun. We also let them know that it was what Mommy and Daddy wanted for them and for our family. We discussed the special relationships that they had with each other and how they wanted to build those relationships rather than tear them down.

Family Bible Time

Family Bible time was a perfect opportunity to teach our children that God’s ways for their behavior were loving kindness, gentleness, and giving, not fighting, hitting, pushing, pinching, or biting. Our little children could understand those concepts pretty early, even if they weren’t very good at applying them. We knew that the repetition of God’s truths to their hearts would reap a harvest. We liked discussing positive behavior in light of the Bible at family Bible time because at that moment no one was in trouble for doing something they shouldn’t do, no one was tattling on a sibling, and no one was making excuses for what they did. It was neutral turf and generated open spirits.

Children Role-Playing the Right Way

To prevent the physical aggression between the children, we also role-played a negative situation that had just occurred. I would recreate what happened and then ask the children what they could have done that would have been more loving. Sometimes they said they had no idea, but usually they were aware that their response had not been a good one. We might even practice redoing the event two or three times in the positive way.

Schedules Keep Children Productively Occupied

The final thing we did to prevent the physical aggression between brothers and sisters that is typical in little children was to utilize a daily schedule. The schedule brought order to the day. With that order came productive activities for the children. When they were doing their chores, there was less opportunity for problems between the children. When there were creative activities on the schedule, or older siblings scheduled to play with them, the bickering and fighting subsided. The more the little children were left to their own means, the more they seemed to do what they shouldn’t do.

In the end, we were all much happier when we were using our schedule, and that is what I hear from many moms when they get their schedules up and running. They usually want the schedule because they need the productivity it brings to their days. However, they are amazed at the peace in the home, including between the children, that ensues when they simply utilize a schedule.

Preventing Sibling Fighting Takes Time

Undergirding all of the things we tried in order to prevent our children from hurting each other was prayer—for them, and for us as we taught and worked with them.

Obviously, to pray for your children, to teach them loving behavior, to share applicable Scripture with them and discuss it, to have family Bible time, and to role-play appropriate responses, takes time. That is another reason why a schedule is so beneficial in preventing physical aggression between children.

I encourage young moms to be willing to invest the necessary time into working with their children, to help them away from lashing out physically at their siblings when they are unhappy and to direct them to kind responses. I know I could have done a better job at that when my children were little, but even with what I was able to give they tell us today how happy they are for the way we raised them. As they watch siblings involved in hitting, pushing, pinching, or biting, they turn to Steve and me to say, “I am so glad you didn’t let us grow up doing that!”

In the next two Mom’s Corners we will first look at consequences for the wrong behavior, and then what must happen in Mom’s heart to help children toward the positive and away from the negative.

Stress Busters – Part 4

As we wrap up the stress busters series, I would like to consider a stress buster that ties in with stress buster 1, which was using a schedule. Have you ever had a nightmare that involved being back in school? Maybe it went a little like this: It was time for a test, but with a pounding heart you suddenly realized that you hadn’t studied for it. Maybe it wasn’t a dream. Perhaps that is what really happened when you were in school. Stress comes when we are unprepared or not keeping up. What is the antidote for that stress? Being consistent!

If you have consistent study habits—a set time and a set place and you actually study—you will be prepared for the test without feeling stressed. However, if you allow other activities and interruptions to steal away that study time, you will likely feel stress not only as you approach the test but also when you take it.

A Surprising Stress-Buster

Consistency eliminates stress by preparing us for what is ahead and keeping us from falling behind. That was one key to the success of Roald Amundsen, the famous explorer of arctic regions in the early 1900s, who was the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen was consistent as he prepared for his expedition. In addition, while trekking overland toward the pole, he kept a consistent pace on good days. On bad days, if there was any possibility at all of forward movement, he started out and went whatever distance he could go, even if it wasn’t far.

In contrast, Robert Scott, Amundsen’s English competitor who was also trying to reach the South Pole, took cover in the bad weather and pushed too hard when the weather allowed travel, wearing his crew out. Amundsen’s commitment to covering at least a few miles on bad days and keeping to a reasonable pace for a reasonable distance on good days—consistency—added up over the course of his journey. It is a little like the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Pretty much universally, moms like a clean, organized, well-managed home. As busy moms, we will find that being consistent in our housework means that we aren’t falling behind, we have a livable environment, and if guests drop by, we aren’t embarrassed—definite stress busters!

Chore consistency is demonstrated by a master chore list, chore assignments, and a chore schedule that is being utilized. Then we know what should be done, who will do it, and when it will be accomplished. If this is an area of need for you, we would recommend Managers of Their Chores, where we give you direction for setting up and implementing a successful chore plan.

Consistency in Homeschooling

Consider consistency in homeschooling for those who are homeschool moms. It is the mom who consistently tackles schoolwork day by day who reaches the end of the school year with school books completed and children who have progressed educationally, prepared for their standardized tests should those be required. It is the mom who isn’t consistent in her school time who will experience the stress involved in getting behind in school. That stress is a great discourager.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). We see ants busily going about their acquisition of food and building their homes. They are consistently working away day by day, and even though they are very small, their consistency enables their survival.

There are many interruptions in our days—interruptions that can cause stress. However, if we see the importance of consistency, we continue to tackle those tasks that are before us, not allowing the interruptions to sidetrack us, or at least not to pull us away for long. When they do pull us off track, we aren’t stressed because we have had steady accomplishment and know we will be right back on track soon.

Consistency in sleep gives us one of the most important ingredients for stress resistance—energy! Something as simple as going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day allows you to get the sleep you need and to accomplish necessary tasks each morning without falling behind. If you don’t go to bed in time, then the morning arrives and you don’t want to get up, and you’re sluggish when you do. Instantly stress is a part of your day, before you even put your feet on the ground.

You might ask, What if the children are awake in the night, and I am up with them? I would suggest that for consistency at those times, you go ahead and get up at the usual time. Then plan to take a nap in the afternoon to make up for the lost nighttime sleep.

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild it, he set his people to work. They tenaciously tackled first one part of the wall and then another because the people were willing to work. It is quite possible that consistency is closely tied to work. Perhaps most, if not all, consistency requires work.

What about us? Are we willing to work, or are we looking for ways to avoid it? Chores are work. Making meals is work. Laundry is work. Homeschooling is work. Even going to bed and getting up on time is a form of work—the work of self-discipline.

In the priorities the Lord has given to me, I want to be like Nehemiah or Amundsen—consistent. I am sure that consistency will be part of eliminating stress for me, and it will move me forward toward the goals I have. I like that idea, and I believe it is worth investing in consistency.

Stress Busters – Part 3

Stress is all around us. It mocks us when we try to do something on our computers, and it won’t work. It attacks us in difficult relationships. It pressures us when there seems to be too much to do. It confronts us when we face obstacles in life that appear unsolvable. What are we to do about all that stress?

Put Into Practice

In Part 2  we discussed the importance of God’s Word as we deal with stress. However, even if we read our Bibles eight hours a day, if we never practice anything we learn, stress could still be our taskmaster. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).  I can’t help but wonder if being a doer of the Word in regards to stress means being a woman of prayer. Here’s why I think that.

“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). If I were to put that first part in my own words, I might say, “Don’t let anything stress you. Instead lay those potentially stressful situations before the Lord in prayer!”

The antidote for stress is prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. Prayer is talking to God. Supplication is humbly asking Him for something. Thanksgiving is being grateful.

I had one goal for this week—to write the monthly Mom’s Corner—but here’s what happened. Monday we were preparing for a birthday. Two girls were gone helping a family who just had a baby, leaving me with a much larger portion of the preparation than I usually have. Tuesday I was catching up with e-mail because of Saturday’s Titus 2 prayer and fasting day. Wednesday and Thursday I had two very sick daughters with a stomach virus whom I was nursing while covering their part of the household work. That left Friday as the Mom’s Corner writing day. In the morning I had house cleaning to do, but the afternoon was available

Instead of sitting down at my computer when it was the right time and beginning the Mom’s Corner, I decided to quickly download an e-book Steve and I wanted to read together. When I went to download it, though, I couldn’t get it to work. As I spent more time fiddling with it, I began to feel stressed since I wasn’t moving on to my main goal of writing.

Danger of Avoiding Prayer

I will confess. I didn’t pray. I just kept pushing my efforts through while experiencing those stressful feelings. I wonder what would have happened if I had prayed. It might have gone like this: “Lord Jesus, You know that I really want to write the Mom’s Corner this afternoon, and I also would like to have this book ready for Steve and me to read tonight. I can’t get this book to download, and it is taking longer than I wanted it to take. Thank You, Jesus, for my computer. Thank You that I found the book as a free download. Would You please help me?”

I expect the Lord would have encouraged me to drop the book download and write the Mom’s Corner, going back to the download when the article was completed. After all, the Mom’s Corner was the priority. It is possible He might have directed me to the solution for the computer issue so I would have had the book available at bedtime when Steve and I read together for a little bit. At the least, I would have known that I was doing what He wanted me to do—praying. It would have made a difference in the way I experienced the stress. Instead, though, we often battle through the stress on our own, just like I did in this situation.

The Lord doesn’t want me to carry stress. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Do I really believe that? Do you? If I do, then I will give Him my cares through prayer.

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Did you ever wonder, when you come to that verse, how one prays without ceasing? We have discussed that as a family, and the more we learn about prayer, the more it appears the “praying without ceasing” is an attitude of prayer in everything. It is there when trying to download an e-book or write a Mom’s Corner. It is part of nursing sick loved ones. It undergirds decisions. It cries out for wisdom and grace when interacting with a grumbly, whining child.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Does perfect peace sound like the opposite of stressed to you? It sure does to me. I love that picture of a mom whose heart has perfect peace. I can just see her now. The house is full of children running here and there. She is in the midst of trying to get dinner on the table. The baby begins crying, but she has a sweet smile on her face because her heart has perfect peace. I desire that in my life, and I am sure you do as well. Sadly, in that situation, too often I know I had the furrows of a frown on my face as I stoically accomplished what needed to be done.

We stay our minds on God by praying. We pray because we trust that He cares for us and wants our cares cast on Him. We believe His Word. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

I doubt I will get it right every time, but I sure do like smiles better than frowns, peace better than anxiety, and praying better than stressing. “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Will you call on Him and experience the power that prayer has as a stress buster?