Category Archives: Series

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?

Stress Busters – Part 2

Stress manages to worm its way into our lives stealthily through daily living or by force when major events hit us. Either way, stress takes a toll—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My desire is to learn better and better how to eliminate, and properly respond to, potential stress. I think that’s your goal as well. The next stress buster I would like to consider is daily time reading the Bible.

Stress Answers for Moms

Do you believe that the answers and godly responses to the stressors in our lives come from God’s Word? “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). If this is true, why is it that we have such trouble being in the Word each day? I have struggled to be faithful in reading my Bible at times.

When Steve and I were saved just a couple of years after being married, we became solid church attenders—Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We read our Bibles regularly, but we didn’t have a daily Bible-reading habit established in our lives.

I remember a few years later hearing a preacher teach on the importance of being in God’s Word every day. It was convicting, and I agreed with the Scriptures he used and the truth he presented. I desired that for my life. At the end of the message, with every head bowed and every eye closed, he wanted us to make a vow to read our Bibles every day for at least five minutes and then testify to that by raising our hands. I was not willing to make a vow because I thought I might not keep it. As the invitation lingered, I felt a bit of guilt that I wouldn’t make the vow and raise my hand, but I stuck with my decision.

Daily Time in God’s Word

Now, thirty years later, I can tell you that by God’s grace I have not missed a personal daily Bible time for twenty-five years. It wasn’t a vow that allowed that to happen but the reality of the vital connection the Word gives us with our Savior. First, I found that I simply desired fellowship with my Lord Jesus. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). Then I realized that if I were to become the woman God wanted me to be, I needed to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. I had to crave the Word of God just as a baby craves milk. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2-3).

Finally, Steve and I knew that we had to make up our minds to be in the Word every day. It had to become a non-negotiable part of our day. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Hit and miss didn’t work because it was simply too easy to make excuses to put it off to another day. Each day became a ping-pong debate of “Will I or won’t I?” with the resulting negative consequences of a day without spiritual feeding if the decision was that I wouldn’t.

In my busiest times of homeschooling plus being pregnant and having babies, it would have seemed reasonable not to have had personal, daily time in the Word. I found, though, that during those seasons I needed daily spiritual nourishment even more than at other times. It almost seemed a necessity for me to figure out ways to make daily Bible time a reality, and as I cried out to the Lord, He helped me.

It might not surprise you to know that we like using schedules at our house. We have a set time to get up in the morning that allows us thirty minutes of personal Bible-reading time. Sometimes life interferes with those normal schedules, but we still make a wake-up plan in order to have our time in the Word. If we get up later, time in the Word comes first and other parts of the day are skipped. Even if we have an extra-early event, we get up that much earlier to be able to be in the Word. For example, when we are in Colorado in the summer, we will usually climb a 14,000-foot peak or two. To be able to summit and get back down in the trees before the afternoon thunderstorms hit, we often have to be on the trail at 4:00 a.m. Since the trailhead generally isn’t close to our lodging, we might have an hour-long, or more, drive to it. That means we set our alarms to get up as early as 1:30 a.m. in order to have time in the Word and be ready for our hike before we leave.

Time Management Almost Creates Times

If you want to have time reading your Bible, but you really aren’t sure where to read or how to make that time practical and applicable to your life, then I would suggest reading Sweet Journey.

If you struggle with a schedule that will let you have Bible-reading time, I recommend Managers of Their Homes. Almost universally, when a mom puts together a schedule she carves out time to be in the Word. That schedule not only sets aside the time she needs but gives her accountablility and routine to make it sustainable.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). As I face my stressors, I need God’s blessing, strength, and grace. Do you?

Stress Busters – Part 1

Stress is a terrible taskmaster. Sometimes it can feel like it is crushing us, and we not only have an emotional response to it but also a physical response. I can’t help but wonder if those feelings aren’t triggers to remind us that the Lord doesn’t want us to bear burdens alone.

Stress Busters for Homeschool Moms

One of the most important stress-busters that the Lord has given to me is my schedule. Years ago when I was still having babies and homeschooling, the Lord began to teach me about scheduling. That schedule alleviated many stressors I faced on a daily basis. Those stressors are ones that most moms will have in their lives. A schedule is the Lord’s direction for using my time to accomplish the responsibilities He has given to me. When I am doing that, the stressors are disarmed and not effective in their bombardment of my emotions. Let me share with you a few recent examples of how a schedule helped relieve stress for moms.

Consider the stress of a newborn in the family. However, here is what a mom wrote to me when her baby was about 4 weeks old:

“Having a schedule already in place when Joseph was born has proved to be invaluable. Some days have been a struggle, but other days like today have been amazing! Today the house is tidy, the children have been on schedule—it feels great! I have tried to remain on the schedule as much as possible. I know that the benefits will continue to be reaped in the many months and years to come.”

Dealing with Stress and Physical Illness

Then there is the stress than comes when one is struggling with an illness. Another mom recently told me about how her schedule has helped her in the midst of her illness:

“The bedtime/waketime have helped me in so many ways. The main way is how I feel. Even though I still have adrenal fatigue, the tiredness during the day has lessened because my body is getting more regulated sleep and more sleep earlier at night. Also, since I have struggled with self-discipline for a long time, it feels so victorious to get up and go to bed at the same times and know how beneficial that is to have an organized, productive day. It certainly will help my health as well!”

Stress Buster for Being Away from Home

Perhaps you are facing stress from having to be away from home for one reason or another. Can a schedule be a stress-buster for this situation? This mom had pre-surgery appointments on Monday and Wednesday with surgery on Friday. Here is how her schedule relieved stress for her:

“On Monday and Wednesday the family carried on and worked hard and pretty much stayed on task. They knew what to do and did it! We are finally seeing some consistent productivity; I am so very pleased with where we are right now.”

Then there are the normal, everyday stressful events that busy moms face continually. For me, my schedule prevented much of that stress. Here is what one mom told me happened in her home after just four weeks on her schedule.

“Laundry is being kept up—clean clothes and towels every day.

The children have been consistently doing their chores.

The kitchen and kitchen sink are much cleaner more consistently, and I’ve noticed that directly affects my mood :).

We are saving money on house keepers that were coming in once a week.

I feel so much better about ministry as a wife, mother, and homemaker. I feel like I am finally honoring my husband and the Lord with my efforts in our home. I can only explain it as pure joy in my heart. 🙂

There is a peace in our home now.

Even our older children having been responding so well to the schedule.

After being on a schedule now for several weeks, it isn’t intimidating anymore. Before starting this I really felt like it was too big of a task, and I was worried about being too restricted in my life or tied to a schedule but it was just the opposite. I am experiencing so much more freedom by getting our daily tasks done, and one very nice benefit to that is feeling like I am doing the tasks that God has called me to do. It’s a wonderful feeling. 🙂

My husband told me that when he comes home and things are looking so good and dinner is being cooked and the children are NOT running wild, he feels loved, and he feels like I really care about him and our family. He confessed that before when he would walk into our home in complete chaos, he thought I didn’t care or maybe I had given up. I’m not sure if I had already told you this or not. He keeps mentioning things like this to me :). That made me so happy to hear. It also let me know just how much our previous chaotic life hurt him and our marriage.”

Managers of Their Homes

Scheduling Key to Stress-Busting

Isn’t that amazing? All she did was make and implement a schedule! I desire these kinds of outcomes in my home, and I believe you do too

A schedule is the key for many. Our book Managers of Their Homes will help you toward a schedule if you don’t already have one.

We are facing the beginning of a new year soon, and there is no better time to begin a schedule or make revisions to one that isn’t being used effectively. The days between Christmas and New Year’s often provide a few hours for a mom that aren’t as hectic as the earlier part of the holiday season or as full as normal daily life can be.

That would be the perfect opportunity to ask the Lord for His direction for your schedule. “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).

Why battle stressors in your life when you can eliminate them? There are plenty of stressful things that we have no control over. A schedule, however, gives us a great amount of control over some major stressors in home life. Making a schedule is worth the time investment in order to gain the benefits it affords.

Internet Protection for Families – Part 2

Last month we began delving into a topic that families question us concerning quite frequently and that is Internet protection for computers and hand-held devices. If you haven’t read that first article, we suggest you do so before moving on to this one. Here is the link. While we want to focus in this article on mobile devices, there is more we would like to cover concerning personal computers.

Our boys have chosen to have their computers set up so that their screens are facing the door by which people enter the room. They felt that gave them even greater accountability. There was the added accountability of how they were spending their time on the computer even if it was an acceptable website since they wanted to be productive with their time not time wasters.

When our children were young, they didn’t have Internet access. When they became teens, they were allowed to use the Internet if an older sibling or parent were sitting beside them. By the time they were fifteen or sixteen, they would generally have their own computers (we have lots of hand-me-downs because of business use of our computers) and have Internet access with web protection.

Our children did not have e-mail until they were older either. We finally gave Mary, our youngest, e-mail when she was fourteen, earlier than the other children had it, simply because so much of our family “organizational” communication had become via e-mail. E-mail and texting is an easy way for us to make sure every family member knows what time we were leaving for an event, what prayer requests have come our way, or when Mom is headed for a Wal-Mart trip. Mary was the only one who wouldn’t know what was going on because she didn’t have e-mail or a phone for texting.

We keep personal e-mail addresses private for family members and close friends. Then we each have a public e-mail address that we use for ordering on the Internet. We now use Gmail, which has eliminated the spam and bad e-mail that kept us from allowing our children to have e-mail during the years when there was no way to stop those awful e-mails.

When our children get a Gmail address, they give Steve their Gmail address and password. Remember accountability is a strong ally of resisting temptation and remaining pure.

Often we are asked what we do about ads that pop up on sites with immodest women. We have installed an ad blocker on our Internet browser. The browser we like to use is Chrome. If you don’t already use this browser, here is a link to it. Chrome has an ad blocker extension as we believe most, if not all, browsers have. The ad blocker has done a great job of eliminating ads and particularly the ones that were objectionable. Here is a link to it.

We use Google Safe Search, so there isn’t as much possibility of accidentally stumbling onto a bad site as there was in earlier years of the Internet.

What about accountability on mobile devices? That is Accountable2You as well. Accountable2You uses something called VPN that we enable on our phones that allows Accountable2You to track phone web browsing activity.

Can we eliminate every bad influence from the Internet on our children’s lives? Perhaps not, but we are trying to do all we can do. The most important protection for our children is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. As we are in the Word, as we discuss right and wrong, as we look at the pain sin brings, and as we draw our children’s hearts to a deep love for their Savior and obedience to His Word, we give them the best protection of all. However, as Steve shares in our Keeping Our Children’s Hearts workshop, we have all heard of pastors who fall to immorality. These are men versed in the Word, who have been shepherding a flock, and counseling their members. However, they have the flesh, they don’t shelter themselves, they don’t have accountability, and they fail.

Scripture tells us, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15). It also gives us the answer to victory, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).

We want to educate our children on the lures of sin, the frailty of the flesh, and the power of Jesus Christ. He has given us wisdom and direction through His Word to help us such as, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). For our family that equates to the plan for Internet protection and the sheltering that we have chosen to have in place in our hearts and on our computers and devices.

So far we are very pleased with Accountable2You. The links for Accountable2You are Titus2’s affiliate link. If you sign up, we’ll receive 15% every month you’re in. This blesses our ministry and helps with the cost of running it.

Internet Protection for Families – Part 1

During the family panel discussions that were part of our conferences, we almost always got a question that went like this. “We know your family uses the computer and Internet for business, ministry, and personal things. Plus many of you seem to have smart phones. You mentioned that you have protection on all of them. What do you use, and how can we protect our families?”

That question is important to us, and we would like to share information on this topic with all of you. It has taken us years of research and trial and error to come up with our plan and what we utilize to implement it.

Regularly our time is spent on the computer and the Internet. Our sons’ businesses are all computer related. The Titus2 ministry is mainly conducted via the Internet. Much of our business and personal communication goes on through e-mail. We use texting for quick, easy communication between family members and close friends. It has become imperative to us that we have safeguards on our computers and devices so that none of us unwittingly or purposefully happens upon immoral sites.

We regularly receive e-mails from moms who are devastated by the addiction their husbands have to the immorality that is readily accessible via the Internet. As families share with us their problems concerning losing their children’s hearts, regularly the Internet has been a factor. Usually the privacy of a bedroom, where there is no accountability, is the path the young person treads leading him deeper and deeper into sin.

As we have become more aware of the dangers of the Internet, we have wanted to protect and shelter our children from those dangers as we could. There are several things we have done to help avoid those problems.

Obviously, the most fail-safe way to protect them is not to have the Internet in your home. However, for us, because the Internet is so involved in our livelihood that was not a reasonable option for our family so we sought ways to minimize the negative influences. Just as one uses a chain saw, which is very dangerous but can be powerfully utilized with proper training and safety precautions, we have chosen to do what we could to safeguard the Internet, using it as a tool not a toy in our home.

First, we have had our children share bedrooms—a boys’ bedroom and a girls’ bedroom. With less privacy, there is less opportunity for failure since there is often accountability and even when a child is alone in his bedroom, he never knows when a sibling will enter.

Years ago, we had a family conversation and discussed some of what we were hearing about moral failures among Christian young people. As we discussed this topic with our children, we asked them if they would like accountability in order to help them avoid being in similar situations. Everyone agreed, and as a family, we took some steps toward that accountability. We have an open device and open computer policy. That meant that we (Steve and Teri) had full freedom to get on the children’s computers, see their e-mail, and look at their phones. Since they knew we would do this, it provided them with accountability. In a similar way, we (Steve and Teri) have an open policy with each other concerning our computers, e-mail, and phones. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). Accountability itself goes a long way in reducing temptation and sin. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

We use Accountable2You for our computers and device accountability. With Accountable2You, I get a daily report for each device. Steve gets my reports. It is a summary. I can go online for a detailed report. If there is questionable usage, I will get an immediate email. (The Accountable2You is a Titus2 affiliate link and blesses Titus2.)

There is still quite a bit more we would like to tell you concerning protecting our families in this technological world from the evil that would like to prey upon them. We will continue on this topic next month. We pray that each of our heart’s desire is that we would be as Peter encourages us, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). That is only possible through the Lord Jesus Christ. As we raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, may we be willing to invest of our time and finances to shelter them. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

Siblings: The Good and the Bad – Part 8

Talking about building strong sibling relationships has spanned the course of many articles. Here is the link to the previous ones in this series if you have missed them.

As these articles began, I shared with you things that I remembered from our parenting days with younger children and the positive outcomes we have observed as our children grew to adulthood. Then I asked some of my friends with older children if they would give me their ideas and suggestions. Because they have children with good sibling relationships, what they have to say is proven to be effective. This article includes the final information that I have to give you from my friends.

Let me start with Anne.

Here are some of the ways the Lord has led my husband and I to build sibling relationships:

We always have told the children that they, and all children, are gifts from God and blessings from Him. When I asked the children this evening some of the things their dad and I have done to help their relationships, my oldest daughter said, “You always remind us that each of us is a gift to each other.” I also will encourage the children in front of each other and say, for example, “Isaac, Luke is so blessed to have you as his big brother!”

You mentioned praying for godly sibling relationships. I have spent much time in prayer privately, in church, and in our family devotions, for the siblings to have blessed relationships and be each others’ best friend.

I have also used reenacting. If there is a squabble, I will have the children reenact the entire event, but respond to each other in a godly manner, discussing the godly behavior prior to the reenactment.

After a disagreement, we will discuss what each sibling could have done that would have led to peace. Most of the time each individual could have done something that could have led to peace. I pray much for all of us to do what leads to peace.

When I notice that the children are consistently not being encouraging, I will put out jars with each sibling’s name on them. Each time someone says an encouraging word to another sibling, I put a piece of candy in the jar. We have dessert two times a week, so on dessert day, they get to eat extra sweets for being sweet! The older children still enjoy this :)!

Isaac said, “You always told us that we should look at our siblings as being more important than ourselves.”

I also would encourage the children with the golden rule/Scripture, to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. I have also suggested that they do to others as Jesus would do, or as they would do to Jesus.

I praise God for showing us many ways to build sibling relationships. We always try to do all things together. Also, if one child has an interest, we would all partake in learning about that interest through research, outings, etc.

The older children have taught the younger children singing, piano, voice, and help with home education. When this would happen, I would have the younger child give the older child a gift or treat with a thank you note.

Luke said, “If we didn’t treat our sibling in a godly way, there was a consequence.”

Morgan mentioned that having all of them work together on their business and saving up together to start the business has drawn them closer together.

We talk a lot together about issues, joys, and sorrows.

When one of the children is sick, I allow one of the others to take care of the sick individual.

Here is what Sandi told me.

I have been thinking a lot about sibling relationships since you have been writing about it in the Mom’s Corners. You have done a wonderful job with it. I wish I had something new to share with you about children getting along.

I can honestly say we don’t struggle much with the children fighting. Sure, the little ones will fight over a toy. We have done pretty much the same thing that you did with your children.

Shawn wanted to share a room with the younger boys like Christopher did, and Sabrina wanted to share with Emma. I think sharing a room is SO important. It encourages them not to be selfish. I loved sharing a room with my sister, and we are still close. Every night sounds like a party downstairs when the boys go to bed after Bible time.

The one thing we have always told the kids is that God knew just who their friends should be, and He made them their siblings. I think they get along so well because we do everything together. Mike and I have learned so much about forgiveness from watching how the children handle conflicts. It’s sad to say, but they handle it so much better than we do. Sabrina and Shawn really are best friends, and it is so interesting to watch them work through conflict. They work very closely together at the farm. At times they will have disagreements, but they work it out so quickly and forgive each other. Working together is so important. The farm has really been a blessing for that.

We also do what you guys did and limit time with other friends. I think it is key for siblings to get along. I remember growing up how sad I was when summer was over because my sisters were finally being nice to me. It got so much better with Sabrina when we took her out of ballet.

Finally, my friend Becky, who has been a widow for sixteen years, responded to my question concerning how she and her husband helped their children toward solid sibling relationships.

Stan’s wanting the kids to be on the “same team” applied to many areas in our parenting. For example, if they were playing cowboys, they were not allowed to have some of them be the good guys and some the bad guys. If they wanted imaginary bad guys maybe that was okay, but Stan felt if they teamed up AGAINST each other, that might carry over later in the day. Little ones can get mad easily sometimes at something that comes up later, and it would be easy to say “You’re the bad guy!”

In a more important spiritual sense, we’ve talked about how Satan wants to put the mom against the dad in a family, or Mom versus daughter, or older brother gets annoyed at the little brothers. We need to remember that is Satan’s PLAN.

Also an effective military strategy is to divide and conquer. If Satan can put a wedge between little brothers playing cars or Legos, he can do it when they’re older. It’s not me against my son, or one girl versus one brother, but we ALL need to realize it’s Satan versus the entire family—he’s trying to take us down and will do it any way he can. We need to band together and be strong! We taught our children to pray for each other, be accountable to each other, speak words of encouragement to each other. It is so amazing to my kids when they see families who are OBVIOUSLY NOT doing this! Some siblings they talk to seem very out of touch as to what their own family members are going through!

My heart’s desire is that this information will be an encouragement to the young mommies who are dealing with the constancy of little children’s selfishness toward their siblings. I realize that can be quite discouraging. I hope that these mommies will say in their hearts, “It is worth the investment of my time, prayer, and emotions to help these children toward strong, positive, lifelong sibling relationships.” “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalms 133:1-3). May I encourage you to build that unity in your children’s lives?

Siblings: The Good and the Bad – Part 7

During the years we have our children living in our homes, we have the ability to influence their relationships with each other. There is much that we can do to help them become best friends, learn to deal with conflict, and become each other’s greatest encouragers. If you haven’t read the other articles in this series, I suggest you do that before reading this one. Here is the link.

When I e-mailed several friends with grown children asking them what they felt had positively influenced their children’s sibling closeness, I received some excellent feedback. It both challenged and encouraged my heart. I think it will yours as well. I shared some of it last month, but I have more I want you to read.

“I see our children truly loving each other, and continuing to work at a close and spiritually connected relationship with each other, even once they leave home, and it is an incredible blessing. On the surface, I really have no idea WHY, other than the grace and kindness of the Lord. We did set up expectations of kindness from the time they were very small, that I honestly just thought EVERY family did. It was not until more time went on, and I observed more families, that I realized how different our children’s relationship with each other were. I have taken it for granted. So, again, I will read through your Corners, and pray, and think more because I don’t know that what we did was very intentional, but rather just biblical love and kindness extended to those closest to us—our family, first.” Debbie

Then Debbie followed up with this note:

“Well my friend, I’ve read all of the Corners in the Sibling Series and honestly, I cannot think of anything I did in addition to the things you mentioned. I found it fascinating how similar our approaches were/are with a few exceptions. I think many of the things we ‘stumbled’ into, sometimes for different reasons, but having a similar result. I was thinking how we limited outside friendships and outside activities. It was often for reasons unrelated to specifically choosing to work on building family closeness, but the result was family closeness. I think that is one side of it, eliminating part of the common cause for children’s discontent with family. The other side is dealing with the inborn sin nature we all have. Even if we never let our children play with anyone else, they would still be selfish and unkind and need to be taught and trained in biblical kindness and love. As you pointed out, we simply cannot afford to grow weary, as much as it is a temptation some days.

“I guess one thing I pondered on, and it is just an observation from our own family. I feel like we worked very, very hard on our first four children. Parenting just felt harder (more intense) with them. It was not that they were any more naughty, but maybe it was because I was younger and less experienced as a mother and was learning what works and what doesn’t. However, God was so kind to bless our work and perseverance, I think, and the younger children have had good examples to look up to. I think part of it being easier to train the younger ones now, is that they have wonderful examples to follow that the older ones did not have. The work I suppose DID pay off in that way, as well as just in the tremendous blessings you mentioned of having children who love each other, get along, are kind, and genuinely and cheerfully helpful.

“We always called it the trickle down effect. When an older child was kind to a younger child (and conversely if he was unkind), that child would treat the next one below him the same way, and down, and down, and down the line it went (and still goes). I have been known to use that, in my teaching and training after an incident.

“‘Do you realize, when you spoke that way to __A__, that __C__ was watching? And tomorrow, or the next day __C__ will then think it is okay to speak that way to __H___, and on down the line. You are setting an example, for good or evil, for all the siblings coming up behind you. You need to be so careful to be setting a godly example (or depending on the offense, I might give it a more specific name).’ I have found that when they really realize the ‘family’ impact of an action or an attitude, it has a bit more weight. They DO love their younger siblings and don’t want anyone else being unkind to ‘the baby’ for example. When they realize their potential part in being unkind to ‘the baby,’ it truly does bring a sober mind to the situation.

“When I really think on it, I believe one of the major things we did, that you’ve already mentioned, is simply not allow unkindness when we were aware of it. Like you, physical things were not tolerated – no hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing. Verbal unkindness was treated with the same seriousness. All those things, when the children were very young, we gave the children consequences for. We wanted to send a very clear message from the earliest time. People used to mock us for not allowing ‘kids to be kids.’ Well, our fruit is now much different from theirs, and I am grateful for the fruit we have.

“Of course, all of that was alongside giving Scriptural reasons WHY, though I wasn’t as thorough in that area as I wish I could be. My husband has always been better at that than I. We didn’t want the teaching to just be surface, outward behavior, but that God’s Word could get into them and do God’s work, which is so much more effective.

“I am so very aware that of course we did ‘something,’ but I just believe the fruit we have to this point, is by the grace of God. I know, because we regularly prayed James 1:5, that God gave us wisdom when we cried out for it, when we were SO stumped as to HOW to teach or train or deal with a certain behavior, that GOD gave wisdom.

“I wish I had more specifics to offer you to share, but honestly, we very much did as you did. Maybe you really have given your readers a good list of possible things God might use to help them, but I have found that people are often just wanting more and more suggestions and not really APPLYING what has already been given. They also need to be crying out to God with James 1:5 since every family situation is different, and God alone knows how to reach the heart of each individual child. We actually felt that on occasion, God did not allow us to ask advice of others so that we HAD to search it out for our own family. Other times, He seemed to allow it and gave us help through the wisdom and experience of others.

“Parenting is just plain HARD work, day after day after day for a very long time. But it is SO very, very worth it, when you see your children sincerely and faithfully walking with the Lord in very personal relationships with HIM. Seeing my older ones, encourages me to stay the course with my younger ones, and I still have plenty to work on.” Debbie

These are the years to be sowing seeds in your children’s lives that will produce strong life-time, sibling relationships. May I once again encourage you to be determined to set your heart on helping your children learn to communicate with each other, work together, and just be nice to each other. I believe they will thank you in the years to come.

Making a Christ-Like Living in a Dog-Eat-Dog World – Part 6

(This month’s MP3 version of the Dad’s Corner is available.)

If you haven’t read the previous parts to the series, you may do so here. Looking up the definition of “Good Ol’ Boy” in the dictionary would likely produce Dan’s photo. That isn’t his real name, but that’s what I’ll call him. He is seventy years old but looks and acts like he is sixty or even younger. He has gray hair, but he is so full of life and energy, you can’t believe he’s seventy.

Dan and his two employees work hard every day, but he quits at five o’clock. At that time don’t get between him and the door, or you will lose. Dan has a highly successful specialty parts and repair business, fifty rental houses owned free-n-clear, and over seven hundred acres of farmland. He is a great example of a hard working, highly successful, small business owner. Not only has his business provided very well for his family, but it also will be his children’s some day, building quite a financial legacy for them.

We all have the same opportunity that Ol’ Dan had when he first started – twenty-four hours in a day, no more, no less. Our most important, precious, and non-renewable resource is our time. If someone wants to do well in life, it’s critical that he learns how to manage his time wisely.

An important measure of the Christian man is the value he places on his time. When we value our time, we see each day as a new beginning with twenty-four hours to be used as the Lord directs. We are owned by the Lord Jesus. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As His property, all that we have and all that we are is His; and therefore, all of our time is His time.

In my corporate jobs, I noticed guys that were wasteful with their time at work. They’d visit with coworkers or surf the Internet when they should have been working. Then when it was time to leave, they weren’t finished with their work and would stay late to complete it. Maybe they felt it looked good for them to stay late hoping the boss would notice, but I figured the boss did notice. I was sure he noticed all the time they had wasted during the day and as a result weren’t really earning any points. Sadly, these men were in reality stealing precious time from their families. If an earthly boss notices how our time is spent, we can be sure that the Lord knows exactly how we are spending our time. Are we stealing time from our Lord?

Our priorities should determine how we spend our time. When priorities are properly managed, then we will spend our time on those things that are most important and consistent with God’s direction for our life. God is the One Who established twenty-four hours in a day. He is the One Who has an agenda for our time. He will never give us more to accomplish in a day then we have time for. If we have unwisely spent our time, then after we repent, we may have some catching up to do. Thankfully, He will then direct us on how to recover in a way that is consistent with godly priorities.

If we are frustrated over too little time, something is broken. Either we have had wrong priorities or not been self-disciplined in spending time according to our priorities. It is also possible that God has allowed trials to prove us, or He is chastening us. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). If you are struggling with time management, but don’t know what the cause is, I have found that prayer and even fasting will yield the answer. God is so good and desires to conform us to the image of Christ. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). “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). He will show us things that are hindering the process if we ask Him.

Business owners generally feel they have more things that need to be done than they have time. There are only twenty-four hours in the bucket to draw from each day. If we waste time while doing one thing, there is less for another. Sure we can pay someone to do things we don’t have time for, but that adds to overhead and cuts down on profit. The best course is learning to be highly efficient with our time.
Most business owners I’ve talked to say their business could consume an endless amount of time if they let it. When you consider that Ol’ Dan is able to keep his three business ventures running with just two employees, it is amazing. On top of that, Dan is disciplined to go home at five each day. His family is more important to him than his business, and I believe that is why he still has his family. We would be wise if we prioritize our families over our businesses. There may be a brief “blip” when it is necessary to work longer hours, but we set ourselves up for failure and God’s discipline if we put business above our family.

Managing time wisely, as servants of the living God is a struggle for many. Our resource Redeeming the Time has proven to be a great help to men seeking to manage their time according to Scriptural priorities. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). Time is short, and it is our most precious resource. Once we spend a minute, it is gone forever. May we be wise stewards of the time God entrusts to us.