Responsible Words



****throwback post*****

Since I have had several ask for this post, here you go!  I also highly recommend Everyday Talk, I found it to be really helpful in helping me train myself in how I speak to those around me.  The more I am responsible with my words and tones, the more responsible my kids are.  My tongue is an area I struggle with, so this book helped me to tame my tongue even further.  As always, I find I have to effectively discipline myself before I can teach it to my kids. 


This week at church our family learned that we need to be responsible with our words. We have a “family church” experience called Rush Hour, “Where kids bring their parents to learn”, which introduces the topic that the elementary kids are going to delve into deeper during their Sunday School classes. What Rush Hour does is to involve the parents in what the kids are learning and gives both parents and kids a common Biblical lesson to work on through out the week. We, as parents, have the responsiblity to teach our children about God as clearly stated in Duet 6:6-7 ,

” These commandments that I give you to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and you get up.”

Rush Hour often gives us a starting place, which we love and often reinforces what they have heard at home.  This week’s message was that we are to be responsible with our words which reminded me of a lesson I did when my kids were younger.

When my kids were younger I had them memorize this verse from Proverbs 16:24,

” Pleasant words are like honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

I talked to them about what pleasant words were and how they also talk about how we say things, with respect and kindness. I then had them try a honey stick and we talked about how sweet those words are and how when we use pleasant words it leaves a sweet taste in their mouth as well as how healing they are to others. I promised that I would be paying attention to their words (including no whining and complaining) and would give them a honey stick ( or m&ms or whatever sweet thing you choose) when I caught them using sweet words.

On the other hand, the Bible says in Ephesians 4:29,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth.”

I equated unwholesome talk with the the taste of apple cider vinegar (or molasses or bitter herbs – whatever the child dislikes) and had them taste it. Unwholesome talk being whatever is mean or unkind, disrepectful, whining or complaining and doesn’t build up or heal. I also promised them that I would be listening for any unwholesome talk and that they would get the vinegar if I caught them speaking vinegar words.

I paid extra special attention to the kids talk for the next week or so, leaving the honey and vinegar in plain sight as a reminder that they could choose what kind of words ( and food) they used. I ask my kids if they are using honey words or vinegar words and if they are healing or hurting others with their tones or their words.

It’s important that we, as parents, also are very careful with the words and tones we are using in our everyday lives. We will be held accountable just as we hold our kids accountable.

I wrote this a couple of years ago but as my kids are heading into the teen years, I am realizing how important this training is in the early years. Now, I can just ask them, “Are those honey words or tones or are they vineagar tones and words?” It is a quick reminder for my kids to get a hold of their tongue quickly. 

Called by God

***Throwback Post *** this post is even more meaningful now, 10 years later.  The decision that I made then, to make those faces my calling, has impacted our lives in such a meaningful way.  I am so glad that I did, it has been the best thing for our family and has allowed us a lot of success.  God did call me to being their Mom and what’s more, their teacher.  The confidence in that calling allowed me to fully step in and not doubt what I was doing or why I was doing it.  Previous to that deliberate decision, I did doubt and I did struggle with being enough or doing enough or whether others were better suited to being my kids’ teachers. After that, I just stepped in and trusted God.  I imagined myself being one of the priests stepping into the raging Jericho River at His command.  I know He will catch me or part the raging river and I try to fully step into His plan for me and thus far, He has and has incredibly blessed us. (On a completely side note, aren’t they so very cute? I can hardly see those little faces in their teen faces anymore.  I miss those little faces sometimes)

These faces are my calling, what’s your calling?

“Your career is something you do to get paid, your calling is how you were made.” our pastor said this last Sunday. He then referred us to Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus , called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

I was listening but I wasn’t really thinking hard on it until Scott elbowed me and said, “He’s talking about you, honey”. I sat and thought about that for awhile. “Am I called? What am I called to?” Instantly, the answer came to me. I am called to be my kids Mom and their teacher. It may not be others’ calling, but it is mine. I think that’s what Scott was me elbowing for ( I could just ask him but ….). I think I feel so passionate about what I do and so confident that this is what I am to do that it’s a good indication of calling.

All of my devotions this week have been on calling and I started each day with the thought that God has called me to being a Mom and home schooler. It’s made me think of what I do in a different way, if God has called me to this then I better work at it with all of my heart. Col 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” It also gives me an extra incentive to be an excellent Mom and home schooler as I am working for the Lord. It gives me confidence and a sense of purpose to be called and to be doing the will of God.

I hope that you know what you are called to do and that it gives you confidence.

Middle School Vision Casting

Often we see Middle School as just a stop-gap between Elementary School and High School but it is a vital step to prepare our kids properly for High School so we can then properly prepare them for College or Career.

Middle School is the perfect time to teach independent learning, time management, stuff management, as well as start vision casting.  It is so important in these Middle School years that we spend time chatting with our kids about what they think they might be interested in. It is important that we tell them that God has great plans for their lives and we want to partner with God in that. Start talking about whether they see themselves going to college and if so, what colleges and for what.  Start asking them where they see themselves in 10 years. Allow them to dream and talk about their passions and desires, this is the time to talk to them about the fact that God has a purpose for their lives and it is our job to help prepare them for that.  Spend some time looking at careers and talk about schools that might help them follow their passions and God’s will. Let them know that it’s not time to make decisions, it is time to dream.  Want to be an Astronaut?  Okay, great, let’s see what that takes. If they don’t know, that’s okay too, but maybe there are a few things they are interested in and see if we can pursue them.  This is a great time to let your Middle Schooler know that you believe in them and that you are willing to help them put in the hard work that it takes to follow their dreams.

I recommend the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell which talks about people who did extraordinary things, not because they were necessarily extraordinary, but they were willing to put in the work. He talks about the fact that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and that’s the difference between many people who do extraordinary things – the time and hard work expended.  We need to be telling our kids this.  They are smart enough to do whatever they want, but are they willing to put the 10,000 hours of hard work in to follow their dreams? Have them read the book.  It is fascinating as it shows real examples of people who had the talent but not the perseverance and they failed and those who had just enough talent but serious determination and they achieved great things.

Caileigh often compares herself with others and generally puts herself in the negative. Last summer, I really started talking to her about the value of perseverance and hard work.  We talked about setting goals and then spending the time and hard work to meet those goals.  She set some big goals for herself and then put her head down and got to work.  I have never seen her so determined and hard working and she has met her goals and exceeded them.  It is so amazing to see and it has given her great confidence.  Not because I told her she could, but because she has worked hours and hours and is seeing the fruits of her labor pay off  and she feels good about her hard work so she works harder.  What a great life lesson this has been for my 14 year old girl. As a matter of fact, she set two goals for herself in some of her passion areas and despite the fact that she has been on Chemo level drugs for her Autoimmune disease, which make thinking hard, she has more than accomplished both.  Not by just sheer talent, but by a massive amount of hard work.  She works hard and long until she accomplishes those goals.  There have been times that she has sat in tears on my bed because things come easier to others, including her brothers, but she recognizes that she can accomplish what she wants to by will power and long hours.  She wanted to be a Rookie of the Year for Robotics, she set the goal in October and she, her brother and her best friend were awarded the Rising Star award in Robotics last Saturday. Much of the success for Collin was that he was encouraged, goaded, and pulled into the things that Caileigh was excited about.  Both Caileigh and Collin set a goal to be on a tournament team for Bible Bowl at the beginning of the year and they put in the work to make it happen.  We must stress to our kids that the difference between talent and success is hard work.

Our job as parents is to take some of of their dreams and aspirations and help our kids get started.  If they are interested in Engineering, get them books, sign them up for Lego League.  If they show interest in Knitting, get them some books, and some cheaper yarn and needles and set them free.  Are they interested in physics?  Get some books and then some science kits.  Start little, then if they start showing more interest, dig deeper.  Talk to people who specialize in that interest and find out how they got started.  Be interested and help them see the possibilities and keep telling them it’s possible with enough hard work.  If they decide it’s not for them, that’s okay, that’s why you start with little things.  If they talk about being an Astronaut, don’t start by sending them to Space Camp ( unless you are my husband, but he just needed an excuse to go himself) start by watching Earth to the Moon and playing Kerbal.  If they show interest, then help them by taking a step and getting them some books from the library and then watch to see if they want to take the next step.

Start looking at colleges that have what your kids are interested in and figuring out what requirements they need to get in. We started looking at Colleges with Connor at 12.  He wanted to go to MIT or Cambridge.  We started talking about what he would need to do to make that happen. Connor didn’t end up going to school at either of those places, but he did end up being a finalist for the Boettcher Scholarship, which is a very prestigious full ride scholarship in Colorado.  He didn’t win it but because he was finalist he was awarded enough scholarship to almost pay for his college tuition for all four years of school.  He also was accepted in the Engineering Honors program at CU which will allow him to be double honors at graduation which will help to get him into Grad school.  We started planning and setting these things up in Middle School.  Dream big and let them dream big at this stage. That will help to give some guidance to our kids and start showing them that we believe their goals and dreams are possible with a lot of hard work.

Next read a Passion led High School

 

Passion led High School

As we are entering the last semester of High School with Connor, and have had a surprising level of success both with admissions and scholarships, I have been asked several times recently about how we made Connor such an attractive prospect to schools.  Ultimately, the answer is God.  God has a plan for Connor’s life and made him such a unique, wonderful guy that we knew God has paved the way.  That being said, there are some things that I have both seen in Connor’s High School career and in the High School career of friends who are seeing the same level of success, that I think can be quantified.

1.  Excellence – We have always pushed our kids to strive for excellence, not perfection, but excellence.  If we are not as good at something or don’t get it right the first time, that’s fine but we will not move on or give up until we understand. If they got a problem wrong in math, that’s fine but we work on it until we get it right.  Understanding is the key and we work on something until we know it and can do it successfully.

2.  Failure is an option –  we have tried to instill in our kids that we should always try.  We might fail but then we just get up, brush ourselves off and try again.  Failure is just an opportunity to do it again, but better.  What if Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison gave up at their first sign of failure?  The world would be a much worse place.

3.  Middle School is vital – Middle School is where we ramp up, it’s where we start making judgements on the world, it’s where connections start making sense.  Middle School is where we really have to start paying attention to our kids passions.  It’s where we start talking to them about what interests them, what makes stand up and pay attention, what makes them tick. It’s also when we start dream and aspiration casting.  “What do you think you want to do?  What colleges do you think you are interested in?”  At this age, we set no limits.  Cambridge, Harvard, MIT?  Sure, all of that is possible but it’s going to take WORK!  Academics needs to be really kick started in Middle School because it’s where we prep for High School which is where we prep for College or Career.

5.  Follow their Lead –  In or Around Middle School we really started paying attention to our kids interests.  When we went to the library, I would tell our kids to get a history and a science book they were interested in.  I started paying attention their choices and patterns started emerging.  Caileigh picked out gardening books and books on gross germs and diseases.  I gave her some seeds and a patch of the garden and got more books on Biology.  Connor wanted books on programming and inventors.  We started him on Scratch and started looking for First Lego League teams.  Collin likes facts, physics and Legos.  We started buying more Physics books and talking about what things he likes to build.  We asked why they were interested in those subjects.  What would they like to do about those interests?  Tried to find people in their life that they could talk to about those interests.

6. In or around 8th grade, we have them read, “How to be a High School Superstar” by Cal Newport. This is a great book that talks about following a passion, not only following but purposely structuring time and energy both towards finding a passion and then following that passion.  We also like them to read, “Do Hard Things” and “Start Here” by the Harris brothers.  We want them to do hard things in God’s kingdom and these books are a great starting place. This is also a great time to discuss that we can be workers in God’s kingdom without following the traditional path of Pastor and Missionary.  For kids who want to do God’s will sometimes they can miss the fact that God can use them in many different areas.  Connor has taught inner city kids Computer Science and witnessed to Professors in major secular universities by being involved in Scratch and SNAP!.  God created our kids and will work His will into whatever paths He leads them in and our kids need to understand that.

7.  Structure High School to allow time to follow their passions. – I actually struggled with this with Connor.  I had a pretty rigorous plan in place before I read, “How to Be a High School Superstar” and I struggled with the thought of changing those plans.  After much prayer and discussions with my husband, we restructured.  I kept a base level of an academically sound education in History, English, Arts and Foreign Language which would prepare Connor for college but then ramped up Math, Science and Computer Science.  We also gave Connor extra time in his day to work with Scratch.


8. Be willing to say, ‘yes’ and follow through. –  Looking back I can see several times that we could have said , ‘no’ to Connor because it was too hard, too time consuming or too far fetched which would have completely changed Connor’s High School career.  It is hard and sometimes it seemed completely far fetched, like Connor actually be invited to speak to Comp Sci a educators in Barcelona.  I mean, who expects that a 15 year old can figure out a problem that graduate students at Berkely haven’t been able to?  We said ‘yes’ and allowed Connor the time to do so and he did.  We said ‘yes’ when they were interested in First Lego League (FLL) and started a team.  We said ‘yes’ to Caileigh when she was interested in Aquaponics and Scott spent hours helping her figure the system out and she did and successfully built an enclosed system with fish and plants which then fed us with fresh herbs and vegetables.  It does add more work and time and sometimes money.  Start small with their interests, buy seeds and give them a plot of ground with some library books if they are interested in gardening.  If they are interested in knitting, buy them cheap needles and Wal-Mart yarn and see if they follow through.  If they do, take the next step.  Find a class for beginners to help them and then watch to see what they do with it.  When we did FLL we discovered that Connor didn’t like building the robot, he liked programming the robot.  We took that and moved in a different direction. It takes a lot of work on a parents part to say, ‘yes’ but ultimately it is worth it.  I know it can seem really expensive but I can also see where God supplied the money when we needed it.  Sometimes the kids worked for the money, Grandparents have helped out or we had an unexpected extra job to help pay.  Now, it is paying off 

Chore Card Go-Fish


– Throwback Post

Summer is a great time to add and change chores.  If we train our kids in summer, the fall and school will go so much easier.


Every quarter or so, the kids request a change-up of their chores and so we play Chore Card Go-Fish. No, you won’t find this anywhere else, (atleast I don’t think so) I made it up on the spur of the moment to avoid having to buy one of those spinny chore chart things. It’s as fun as picking chores can get and it means that I don’t have to assign chores – woohoo!

Anyhow, here’s how it works:
1. I sit down (usually once a year) with my fly-lady control journal ( Go to http://flylady.net/ for more info on that) and write out all the chores that need done on a daily basis and a weekly basis. I divide weekly basis chores into Thur and Fri chores to make cleaning day a little less tedious. ***Please Note*** I have spent time teaching my kids from the time that they were small how to do these chores. If I have a brand new chore on the list, I teach them how-to do it before I expect them to do it on their own. This is an important step in NOT exasperating your kids.***
2. I get index cards and write all the chores on them indicating whether they are Daily (D) Chores, Thursday (T) Chores or Friday (F) Chores. I try to have multiples of three so they divide easily. For instance we have 12 (D) chores so they each get 4 (D) chores and so on.
3. I have the kids come for the picking of the chores. It’s an event because they are usually desperate to get rid of the chores they have.
4. I pick one child to start and they pick a chore from the (D) pile and then each child gets a turn to pick until all the (D) cards are gone. We then move to the (T) and (F) cards until all the chores are picked and each child has a stack.
5. Some rules:
A. THERE IS NO WHINING OR COMPLAINING ALLOWED. See Phil. 2:14
B. They children may trade cards with like days. (D) can only be traded for (D), (T) for (T) and (F) for (F).
C. Once all trading is done, the list is final. There will be stiff penalties for whining or complaining, see rule A.
D. All chores are expected to be completed during the time frame allotted. We have a schedule that they helped put together. Chores not done will result in more stiff penalties.
6. I put together the chore list using Edu-Trac but you could make up your own. I print out the lists and put them on clipboards to be checked off daily.
7. In our family, we pay for chores. This is the way we chose to help our kids manage money. If you do not do your chore well, your pay will be docked. Your chores must still be done regardless, as all privileges will be revoked if they are not done to my standards. We have three jars for money, a tithe jar, a savings jar and a spending jar. You must tithe 10% and save 40%. At the end of the year, we will match your savings (of that year) for college or whatever you want after high school. This is our way of encouraging our children to plan for their future and our college savings account. Connor is about to break us. We might have to move to matching 50%.

8. I put the cards away until the next Chore Card Go-Fish.

Hope this helps!

I obey right away! 

Throwback post! 
Our family went tent camping this weekend which is always an adventure with three children. It’s also one of those areas which can show you if your children have a heart of obedience. There are many times while camping that demand absolute first time obedience. For instance… “Don’t touch the fire, actually don’t go near the fire, no don’t throw anything in the fire. No you may not slide down the giant rock face first. You must stay where Mommy can see you, no, you may not feed the wild animal.” Scott and I are very grateful that this weekend showed that for the most part our children had a heart of obedience. It was a little wet (okay, a lot wet) and we may need to work on doing everything without whining and complaining but nobody’s perfect!

Here’s some ideas to start your obedience training with your little ones- 
Idea one: Read the story of Jonah to your children, or you can also watch a children’s video on Jonah. Ask your children if Jonah obeyed right away. He didn’t, so what happened to him then? He was swallowed by a whale! God put him in time out in a whale! Point out to you children that God gave Jonah time to think about what he did and that Jonah needed to ask for forgiveness for not obeying right away. When we refuse to obey right away, usually bad things happen, things like time out or getting hurt. Perhaps you can remind your children of times that bad things happened when they didn’t obey right away.

Play the obedience game. This is basically hide and go seek where the parent hides and the child seeks you. The rules: You must come right away . Your child must say “Yes, Mommy or Daddy” before they reach you. Oh, and one rule we added after our kids ran over each other, no pushing or shoving. When they reach you can simply give them praise and a hug or reward them with a treat. I think that bad behavior brings bad consequences and good behavior should bring good consequences.

Help your children memorize Eph 6:1 by singing it to the tune of Happy Birthday.
“ Children obey your parents,
Children obey your parents,
children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” 
Ephesians 6:1
(By the way, this song was not my original idea, I got it from a book teaching scripture memorization)

Make a badge that says “I Obey Right Away” to wear. This is both a good reminder for them and something fun to wear!

Once you’ve done these things and your children have the concept make sure and follow up every month or so with one of these as reminders. I also have my children recite our rules before we go into a store or a public place and “I obey right away!” is one we repeat often.

A Coffee Shop Chat

I am sitting here in Starbucks waiting for the twins to be finished with robotics and I finally had a bit of time to reflect on the huge changes that have happened in our family in the past summer. Connor had a smooth transition into his dorm, which is the largest dorm room I have ever seen.  Clearly God loves him. The twins have started high school and for the first time in over 13 years, I am not directly involved in their day to day schooling as high school with our curriculum is designed to be student directed.  It’s odd.  I did have to add a read aloud because I missed sitting and reading with them.  

I question how I got here and wonder where the time went.  Oh wait, it went into raising and educating 3 kids, maintaining a home, running VBS programs, Christmas programs, making countless meals, planning many Disney trips, and loving my hard working husband. 

It’s fun reading posts on Internet forums from new homeschool Moms.  They are so excited, so scared, so anxious, so brave and it makes me smile and remember my beginning years.  I didn’t really have anyone who homeschooled older children in my life at the time so I just read, haunted the Well Trained Mind Forums, prayed and stepped out in faith.  

So, for all of you new homeschoolers here’s what I would say to you if you were at Starbucks with me.

1.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.  I know every day lasts FOREVER but the years fly by.  Don’t miss the moments, as a matter of fact, sit down and play with the play dough.  Push a bench up to the counter and let everyone help make bread, cookies, dinner, whatever.  The mess can be cleaned up when they watch Veggie Tales.  

2.  Make a schedule for everything you need to do.  I know this seems contrary to number one but it really isn’t.  Schedule time to play, to read, to go to the park, for quiet time, to go to the library.  But also schedule time to clean, do laundry, make dinner, go shopping and for heaven’s sake, schedule time for dates.  

3.  Find people to do life with.  Sometimes it can be your actual family but for many of us, me included, that’s just not possible.  I have people in my life who are older than us who have taken the role of my parents and the kids grandparents, people who are our very best friends and we actually do life together.  Sometimes they are hard to find, sometimes they are right in front of you.  Sometimes, you need to be brave and ask that family at church to lunch.  Sometimes, they have to continually ask you because you’ve decided that you don’t want to be friends with anyone, ever again, and all of a sudden you realize that God has finally answered your prayers for a like minded friend.  Be brave, take some chances.  It probably won’t happen right away but you only need one or two and when God provides, it’s one of life’s greatest blessings.  I love the people we do life with,  they have become my family and unfortunately for them, they are stuck with me.

4. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.  Your kids don’t need a best friend, they need a Mom.  I tell my sisters to, “Be the Mom!”. What I mean by that is to take the reins and be in charge.  God gave us these wonderful little people but these little people don’t know enough to be in charge, so that’s up to you.  Don’t allow them to be disrespectful to you or to anyone else.  When you say, ‘no’, make sure there is weight to that.  I don’t have to yell or repeat my words because my kids knew that I meant what I said the very first time I said it.  Have consequences and rewards in place long before you are in conflict.  Train them in appropriate behaviors and then keep them to it.  Be consistent.  Trust me, do this when they are young and by the time they are teens, it is second nature.

5.  Let them know you love them, no matter what.  Their behavior, grades, rooms, can never change your love for them.  Pray blessing over them daily, do it out loud so they know that you are praying over them.  Even in conflict, let them know you love them and always will.

6.  Train them in excellence, perseverance and diligence.  We don’t always get things right the first time but we need to keep going until we get it right.  Failure is okay but staying down is not.  We work hard and keep working hard until we get it right. This has long term consequences.  

7.  Don’t get distracted!  Keep the most important thing, the most important thing.  When you are teaching, don’t do anything else. When you are playing with your kids, play with them.  Along with that, keep your school as simple as possible and only add things when you know you have extra time and/or bandwidth.


Most importantly, make time to know your kids.  I was just saying today that what I miss most about Connor being in the dorms is the end of the day check in.  I don’t regret for one second the time I spend talking, taking my kids out to coffee and just hanging out.  We love to be together and I love that.  I miss it when a member is missing but I love the relationships.





Dawn’s Granola


Several people have asked for my granola recipe and I usually say, ” Start with this base but then double it, add this this and that, exchange this…” So instead of going through all of that I actually wrote it all down as I was cooking.  (Aren’t you proud of me, Connor?)

This makes at least 18 cups, which is a lot of granola, so halve it if you need.
Preheat oven to 300*
In a large bowl mix these ingredients –
8c old fashioned oatmeal
2c in total of a mix of almonds, pecans, walnuts etc
1c organic coconut
1c in total of sprouted pumpkin seeds and sprouted sunflower seeds
1TBSP of chia seeds
1TBSP of ground flax seeds
1tsp of salt
1tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of allspice

In a smaller bowl mix these ingredients –
3/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1 1/4 c of organic maple syrup
2 egg whites
1TBSP of vanilla

Pour wet ingredients over dry until everything is covered and there are no dry spots.  Place on two foiled lined cookie sheets and put in oven.  Cook for 45 – 60 min stirring every 15 min until granola is golden brown.  Once golden brown, take out of oven and allow it to cool, and continue to get crispy.  Place in airtight containers.

I like to eat this over Greek yogurt and berries every morning, some like it as cereal and my family uses it as snacks.




Dealing with Selfishness


Bible Verse – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40

One of the best ways to combat selfishness is to introduce the idea of service.  When we learn the Golden rule in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them – this is the Law and the Prophets.” we are learning that putting others needs first or serving is what God wants from us.  Even a toddler can pass out a snack , “ Oh, you want a snack?  Can you give your brother and sister these crackers first? Then you can have your snack.” As they pass the snack out make sure you praise the toddler and have their siblings thank the toddler for serving them. Anytime a child wants a drink, a snack or a treat, is a great time to have them serve each other.

Even cleaning up their toys is an act of service.  We can say, “ Okay, let’s all straighten up so that we can serve Daddy by having a nice clean house to come home to.”  I remember handing my little twins their toys to throw into the toy bin one at a time.  Could I have done it faster myself? Sure, but that wasn’t the point.  The point was to train them into straightening up and that we serve each other by cleaning up after ourselves. 

If you bake cookies, make extra and take them to a neighbor before you enjoy the cookies yourselves.  As your kids get older, take note of the elderly neighbors and go out as a family and shovel their driveway as you shovel yours.  In our family, we always said, “ We are the J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, Yourself) Patrol .  When we put Jesus first, then others and only ourselves last, we not only bring JOY but we get JOY in return.”

To serve others outside our home we may write letters to our Compassion kids, send Operation Christmas Child boxes, make and give Blessing Bags to the homeless, serve in homeless shelters, go on Mission trips, pray around our neighborhood, bring meals to those who need it etc.  By middle school, we expect our kids to be serving  outside our home atleast once a week.  We thought it so important that we made service a requirement of graduating from our homeschool. We serve those inside our home by cleaning, cooking, yard work, taking care of the dog, laundry etc.  It’s important to have both realms of service, inside and outside our home.

When I notice a child struggling with selfishness, I make a concerted effort to give them service opportunities and remind them of our priorities.  We are to put Jesus, others, and then ourselves and when we mix that up, we bring everything but joy with us.