Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Willing Hearts and Walkin' Shoes

These are the cool and colorful feet of our first six children . . . .

. . . and the sweet little baby feet of number seven . . .

I want what's best for the seven sets of feet you see above. I want to get there in safety and quite a bit of comfort and really, really want to get there with all my little "feet" happy and content and just full of gratitude for this great life they have. Smiling. Grateful. Happy. Loving Jesus every minute. Not arguing/bickering/talking back/whining. (I know, a TOTAL fantasy.)

It occurred to me this week that my kiddos have gotten way down deep into a pattern of complaining lately. It also occurred to me that I have too. Hmmmmm . . .

I've been pondering this a LOT over the past few days. Hubby and I have had some good conversations and we've decided it's time for some major corrective training with the kids - and ourselves. We're going into a zero tolerance mode for whining, complaining and bickering. At the heart of all of these is one very large and SELFISH heart crying out in a hundred ways ME, ME, ME. All of us in our own sinful way have been carrying on like this. It is amazing how we justify our own desires. I have to admit, we are a pretty creative bunch. It's not easy to demand your own way and sound humble in the process!

I sit in complete wonder that we as people can have so much, yet whine and complain with such vigor. I am guilty as charged.

The thing that weighs heavy on my heart is this: You often hear people who have visited third-world countries say that the people there are so full of love and life and joy despite their poverty. Usually you hear them say that they learned what true joy was by watching and interacting with these people. How can that be? We have everything we need/want/long for and more, yet as a society are the most miserable and discontented folks on earth. How can that be? Our poverty is not measured in lack of goods or food or home or family. But maybe our poverty is something even worse. Maybe our poverty is poverty of the soul. We don't NEED God, really. I mean, of course we do, but there are lots of days when we think we don't. We act like we don't.

The other night when we were reading the Bible together, we stopped to talk about a passage on prayer. Oldest daughter looked frustrated and when I asked her what she was thinking, she replied, "I don't even know what to pray for. Our life is so easy." I can't really describe the feeling that washed over me. It felt a lot like failure. And poverty.

Hubby has often said, half joking, "Let's sell it all." I, half joking, say "Okay." Then, I begin to think of all the reasons we shouldn't. Some of them are good, some are a stretch. I tell you, I am the MOST creative in this bunch. :-)

I can't wait to go and get these kids and bring them home and love them and protect them and be Christ to them. My heart is there more and more. My heart is ever more thinking of the widow too. How can we help her keep her babies, keep her home, survive in her corner of the world. I want Him to teach me what it means to want more of Him and less of me. I want my kids to get that.

How will this life look in five years? Ten? I don't know anymore. I used to be pretty sure. We had a plan. When hubby says "Let's sell it all," I find myself wondering more and more what that would look like . . .


  1. Hi! I loved your post on zero tolerance for whining, bickering, etc.... can I ask how you implement this? I love the idea, but am not sure how to carry it through-

  2. We have tried different approaches over the years and modified those with different kiddos. It is a constant training/re-training process as they and we are just plain ol’ sinful people. I will say that it is WORTH IT to be diligent. They are great kids for the most part and the time spent training is not lost – on them or us.

    First, you have to lead by example. I get into the worn-out, complaining mode sometimes and I can totally see it trickle down to the kids. The old ‘if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy’ is so true.

    For some practical consequences, we talk to them about what we are called to as Christians – peacemakers, not to stir up strife, etc. Reading Proverbs with them each night is a great way to draw attention to a lot of behavior issues and God’s expectations. Once we know they get that, when they are NOT being peacemakers or intentionally stirring up strife, we have different consequences. I almost never allow a child to run away in anger or go to his or her room in anger. I am militant about making them face and deal with the situation and make amends before walking away. If that takes a cooling off period, they have to do it nearby and then come back and own their part, apologize and acknowledge how they hurt the other sibling and then forgive. There is almost never a time when they both weren’t to blame in some way so all of those elements are present for both kids in the situation. It is really important to try to get them to see their heart issue in the disagreement or intent to cause trouble. You have to keep getting them back to the heart issue.

    I have used these resources a lot and after 14 years and seven kids, I still think they are the best of everything I’ve used or read (and I have read a LOT of books on this topic – help me!) J (this is a great tool for practical consequences. We had it taped up to the wall at one point) (this is a great “positive” balance for the chart above.) (This is one of the BEST books on parenting I have ever read. She just gets to the point in a “real” way and with humor. I revisit this one every six months or so when we need a ‘tune up’)

    Hope that helps some. Keep smiling and know that just being diligent and PRAYING daily are worth so much. All kids act ornery sometimes. It’s how you handle it that counts.