Why I Take the Trouble to Teach Our Children Good Manners

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Do good manners matter? How do we even define proper etiquette and what to teach our children as they navigate our changing world? These simple skills can have a big impact, and reveal an even bigger heart beneath them. Start preparing your child today.

You're wondering why I even bother?

Sometimes I wonder myself. It takes so much time, effort, and endless repeating. 

Frustration. 

So I was talking with our oldest son not too long ago. He's grown-up, gone, and away at college.

And here's what he told me over the phone . . . 

"Thank you (ha! Did you hear that?). I never really understood why all the fuss about good manners. But you know, now that I'm out in the world . . . ? Well, I'm really glad you took the trouble. Because it has actually come in handy out here.

I never realized how a simple "please" and "thank you" and looking someone straight in the eyes would go so far. But mom, it's helped me with my relationships, with getting a job, and just getting around."

Whew. All that trouble actually paid off!

All those multiple reminders and promptings.

Sometimes bordering on downright nagging. 

It helped. 

And he thanked me for it. 

What d'ya know?  It's worth the trouble---more than worth it! 

So why bother to teach our kids good manners?

Prepares our children for their future.

"You play how you practice." That's what husband tells our kids all the time. And it's what his father used to say to him. 

Sure, it doesn't seem like a big deal to be polite at the dinner table when the only people around are your parents and siblings. But this is a terrific place to practice good manners, so when you're invited to dinner with your future boss, you don't even have to think about it. You've been practicing for this moment! You can focus on the conversation because those table manners are like second nature to you. 

Teaches our children to be thoughtful.

When you're saying "please," it's a way of acknowledging that we are entitled to nothing. Please is a powerful word that changes a demand into a request. It also communicates humility and graciousness. 

We say "thank you" because everything is a gift and should be acknowledged as such. Adding a simple "thanks" to the person on the other side of the counter who hands you a drink is communicating that you're grateful---not only for the beverage, but for the service as well. 

Courtesy is another word for caring.

When you open the door for the person behind you, it's a quiet way of saying,  I'm looking out for you. I don't even know you, but I care for you. When you give the other person eye contact when speaking with them, you're telling them that you're giving your full attention---because you value what is being said . . . and the person saying it too. 

So please, moms, let's take the time and the trouble to teach our children good manners.

They'll probably even thank you some day for it! 

Lisa JacobsonClub31Women

Lisa Jacobson

Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matthew L Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children. She's also rather fond of dark chocolate, French press coffee, and deep friendships (though not necessarily in that order). She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. You can find her sharing her passion for husband, home, and family over at her blog, Club31Women Take a look at her new book: 100 Ways to Love Your Husband 100 Ways to Love Your Husband

The Fantasy of Rest

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Do you take time to rest- really rest? Our longing for a moment of peace can drive our hearts to meet the noisy days in our homes with even more noise. But how do we hit pause? How do we leave the lists undone? How do we, and our children, learn to stop taking cues about our identity from what we output? There is another way, a better way, and it's waiting for you today, sweet mama.

It's a radiant four pm. The counters are wiped, slick. The sink is empty and dinner is simmering next to my teapot, also humming. The children are willingly lost in the woods out back and the babe still asleep. I can't smell anyone's afternoon sweat and there's not a disparate sock in sight. The only smell in my house, aside from dinner, is the new candle I lit to memorialize afternoons like this one. 

I sink into my chair, alone, with a book and my Bible and I'm ready to receive all that the next full hour of rest has for me.

This is you, too, right? "Once every three and a half months," you answer, if you're like me.

Except in my mind's eye.

If there is room for fantasy for a mother of five who moonlights as a writer, this would be my daily fantasy. Life ordered and quiet -- so that I can actually rest.

For many years, I'd twirled this fantasy like a reward in front of my daily schedule. If I could just get it all done by 4pm, I can breathe then. My insides raged when it was 3:45 and I still had five things I'd planned to finish that day that were undone or if the sink was full of dishes and the counters hastily scrubbed by still-learning hands. My lists talked back to me.

I would have thought this line of thinking came with motherhood and multiple children and all their needs -- who can keep up, right? - except that one afternoon I looked in the mirror and wondered how I got all that gray between now and when I was nineteen (and thinking these very same thoughts). Back then, it was papers and exams and volunteering in ministry. The Magical Four o'clock didn't happen then, either. It couldn't for the one, like me, who had eyes on output as the measure of a woman.

Then we started taking a weekly Sabbath: one day a week of leaving aside what's left undone that teaches my body and my soul Who really is running this life.

The children stay in their jammies, long, and we drink tea and read books and talk about things that don't come up when there's soccer practice and math problems and corners to be swept. We laugh. 

My laundry room used to jeer at me with its bloated invitations and the kitchen called my name, reminding me of the girl who used to think it all had to be in line before she could rest, until I started to simply decide to ignore it on Saturdays. 

On Saturdays, He began to teach me why rest is such a wrestle.

To actively choose to rest wasn't just the obvious "no" to the to-do list and the disparate socks that needed a match -- it was also a "no" to the external noise that keeps me from being bare before God, on the inside.

Saturdays were awkward for me. I heard my heart like you hear the ocean at dusk, when all the sunbathers and sand-castle builders head home for the day. I had barely noticed before that my heart sometimes cracked against my insides -- I didn't hear it above the noise of life. And I hadn't developed a love for when it laps, quietly, against the Hand that made me.

Rest is a conscious fast that offers us the power of a listening life. A day of rest creates a cadence that says: my internal life in God is more important than my output; therefore, I will fast my output and quiet my life to listen for God.

Yup, even when the sink is full. What I started to receive on Saturdays gave me a craving for 4 o'clock on Mondays and Tuesdays and Thursdays, but with enough soul-training under my belt this time that I could walk away from the dishes, light a candle, and talk to God.

And though my children's lives aren't yet weighted with significant responsibility, their frames are already searching for a grid to find God when life is loud. Would they be learning, by watching me, to respond to noise with ... more noise?

Mamas, our babies are growing up within a cacophony of sounds from the world outside and their minds inside that is clamoring for output as the measure of their person. Their beach is packed and they can't hear the waves of the ocean in the backdrop over all those tourists.

Invite them to come at dusk and see the beauty of His deep, by taking up the invitation yourself.

Teach them (passively) just where it is that you put your trust by stepping over those self-imposed demands in order to sit in His lap.

Whether for a day, or an hour, just.start.somewhere. Leave the dishes untouched and the laundry spilling over, and sit in the awkwardness of quiet -- when you have a hundred reasons not to be quiet -- until it doesn't feel awkward anymore and He feels near.

Blessings,

Sara

Images courtesy of Mandie Joy

5 Prayers to Daily Pray for My Children

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Are you committed to praying for your kids? Little else is as powerful as a mom's consistent prayers before the throne of God on behalf of her children! But what should we ask for? What concerns should we bring before Christ? These topics will give you a great start, for whatever season of motherhood you are in right now.

Some of the sweetest words I hear my kids often say to me are “Mom, will you pray for me?”  It might be before a recital they are nervous about or a thunderstorm brewing outside that causes fear in one of them, or just because something is on their heart.  One thing they know they can ALWAYS count on, is that mom will pray for them.

The greatest gift we can give to our children is our prayers.  I believe the prayers that come from mothers are powerful ones and we should never under estimate them.   God knows our hearts and our children better than we do and HE is faithful to answer.  We see the power of the prayer of Hannah and many other mothers in the Bible that prayed over, and for, their children.  There will be times it doesn't seem like God is listening and it will take perseverance and faithfulness but we must not give up!  HE is there and he hears the cries of our hearts!

There is no limit to what you can or should pray about for your children, but here are 5 of my daily prayers for mine. I think they are things you might always want to remember in your prayer time for your children.

1. Their Salvation - First and foremost pray for their salvation.  Pray that they will come to know the Lord and serve him all the days of their life.  Remember, it is never too late, NEVER!  Pray every single day, even if you have adult children, that God will save them!  I have seen the persistent prayers of mothers and wives that have prayed more than 20 years before God answered! HE was faithful, they never gave up, and neither should you. Prayer is powerful!

2. Their Commitment - Pray that your children will be committed to the Lord and will stay faithful to HIM. Pray for protection against rebellion, and that if they come to know Jesus at an early age that they will stay the course.  The Christian life is not easy, and there will be times they will be tempted to stray-pray that they don't.  A word of caution here:  Sometimes it happens-even the great pastors we know like Franklin Graham strayed, but God was faithful and used his testimony!  It is not your job to save your children, only God can do that, but you can pray. It always brings peace to me to know nothing can stop me from praying. 

3. Their Spouse/Future Spouse - I realize God may not call all of our children to marriage, but it is never too early to pray for the spouse God has for them.  You don't have to know who they are because God already knows.  Pray for their family, their walk with Christ, their protection, and their hearts!

4. Their Calling - If we are not careful we can easily put callings on our children's lives.  We may not even realize at times we are doing it.  Remember their calling is God's job!  We can educate and encourage our children in their gifts and passions but it is God's job to call them to what they are meant to do.  Professionally, in ministry, and in relationships.  Don't take over this task because if you do, it will fail your children miserably.  Pray that God leads them to what HE wants them to do!

5. Their Protection - This covers many areas.  Their health and well-being, as well as their protection against the enemy!  Pray that evil stays away and that they have strength and wisdom to fight off temptation!  Pray that God protects them with his mighty hand!

What would you add?  I would love to hear in the comments!

Blessings,

Angela, Together with Family

Angela Richter

Angela Richter is a wife to her best friend of 20 years and mother to three! She is the author of Together with Family where she writes about finding ways to connect with your family on a deeper level! She is passionate about intentional parenting and marriage and loves to share practical ways to make family life better! She loves anything regarding homeschooling, writing, reading great books and scrapbooking! She lives in the Northern part of the Bluegrass state and is a Kentucky girl through and through! You can find her on facebook, twitter, and pinterest!

How to Snip the Thread of Fear and Find Joy in the Journey

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I’ve been afraid ever since I can remember. Afraid of failing. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of not being enough.

Afraid, plain and simple.

As I’ve watched my sister care for her new baby, I’ve been flooded with memories of the heavy load of fear that has weighed down my life, especially when I was in her shoes almost sixteen years ago.

I was such a fearful momma.

Did my little girl eat enough? Was she gaining enough weight? Would she pass those milestone tests?

While I was busy worrying about the future of number 1, number 2 took us by surprise. Then I found myself fretting over their relationship, afraid about the sibling rivalry everyone talks about. Afraid they would one day rebel against our rules. Afraid I might mess them up.

 

Has your mothering journey been marred by fear? The common thread of fear can control us, even when our heart's desire is to walk by courageous faith. Don't let a focus on safety, security and risk prevention hold you back from experiencing and engaging in life giving and life changing opportunities. Are you ready to walk in freedom?


Have you succumbed to these fears, too?

As God would have it, just as I started to emerge from the toddler years, number 3 and 4 arrived together. I remember being overwhelmed by the fear of not having enough of me to go around for my four darlings and husband. I feared life would always be filled with mundane tasks. That I’d never be able to work again in a business setting . . . and I love to work. As diaper days disappeared and tween years arrived, I feared about their grades and friendships and what boundaries to set on dating.

The common thread of my life over the past decade has been fear, even though my heart’s desire has been to walk in courageous faith.

Has your mothering journey been marred by the common thread of fear, too?

If so, I'm glad I'm not alone in this experience, and even more thankful that God has shown me how to snip that thread in order to find joy in the journey.

That's what I want for you . . . to  overcome the joy-stealing, paralyzing stronghold of fear!

For some of us, snipping the thread of fear is more than just increasing faith. It may require getting help, seeking a counselor, and working through some real issues that once gave life to that fear in the first place. I'm sure the deep healing time I had in counseling years ago laid the foundation for me being able to finally move forward less afraid. However, the pinnacle moment in which fear stopped controlling me happened in the most surprising and simplest of ways. 

It started with facing a fear that was really not that big deal at all. Trembling, I approached the head of the line for the “big swing” at family camp one summer, and before I could run in the other direction, I found myself stepping into the harness and climbing the ladder to be hoisted up to the top of a telephone pole. I know, crazy! When I reached as high as I could go, I had to pull the cord so that I could swing back and forth like a trapeze artist. Oh how I hooted and hollered, against the breeze whipping across my face, and in that moment I realized how much fun I was missing out on in life because fear was keeping me bound up and tied down.

My focus on safety, security, and risk-prevention was holding me back from exploring, experiencing, and engaging in life-giving and life-changing opportunities.

I wasn’t the only one missing out — my children were feeling the impact as their momma was too busy being afraid to actually enjoy life with them. That's when I realized I was done with fear once and for all. No more missing out for me!

Fear steals the joy of the journey.

Fear drives us to worry about every decision. It torments us with doubt and regret. It makes us anxious and over-protective and risk-resistant. Should we be surprised that fear is the enemy’s tactic, which he uses to stop us from experiencing the fullness of life God offers?

John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Oh, my friend, God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He want us to enjoy this life and bask in His love, which He promises will drive out fear.

1 John 4:18 (NIV)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear . . .

Snipping the thread of fear happens when we walk in faith in small ways, putting fuller and fuller trust in God one step at a time.

Oh yes, this faith walk requires taking those fear thoughts captive and putting them up against the Truth -- like the fact that God loves us unconditionally and intends for our good in light of His glory (Romans 8:28). Now His good and our definition of good might be different, yet even so, His faithfulness is unwavering and we can depend on His provisions from now until eternity.

So, my friend, will you lay down your fear before our Father in Heaven and pick up some brave faith?

Let’s battle this fear thing together!

Come join me here next month as I share with you
a crazy cool story about walking in brave faith.

Elisa Pulliam

Elisa is life coach, author, and speaker passionate about equipping women to experience authentic life change for the sake impacting the next generation. She counts it a privilege to come alongside women as a life coach (learn more at elisapulliam.com) as well as through serving as a coach instructor with Life Breakthrough Academy. Elisa also leads More to Be, a ministry committed to equipping moms, engaging teens, and encouraging mentors to shine more bright like Jesus. She considers her first calling as wife to Stephen and mother to her house-full of children. Her favorite days begin on the porch with the Lord and end on the beach with her family and friends.

Trusting God with Tomorrow

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We all want to come to ask God for answers, for a big plan, but life can seem to throw so much change our way, the plan doesn't ever stick. Are you there now? Wondering, waiting, and maybe confused about God's plan for your family? There is one promise that can open your eyes to what you couldn't see yesterday. Come discover what makes all things possible!

 

I don’t know what to do, Lord.

More than once, more than a hundred times… these words on my lips.

And still they come.  As I parent. As bills pile up. As I divide time between worthy priorities. As life decisions I thought I already made keep coming back.

It’s the same for us all, isn't it? With the grey mist hanging over tomorrow and us working so hard to see through it.

We ask God for answers. For a plan.

We’re so sure the next step of life could finally settle things: Marriage. Children. A steady income. Restored health. Following our passion. An empty nest and tidy house.

But we eventually catch on, don’t we?

Life is full of surprises. Change. Wrenches.

Some grow bitter when they realize the future will always be up in the air. Because it truly is.

Even those who seem so stable and secure, whose tomorrows are nicely ordered aren’t invulnerable to life in a broken world.

The bitter miss out on real life. They shrivel, while others grow.

But those who surrender control, who unclench their jaw, let their shoulders fall, and open their palms to Jesus gain peace and courage.

"Those who wait for the Lord gain new strength." (Isaiah 40:31)

Their questions aren’t answered. There is no memo detailing tomorrow’s plan.

But their eyes are opened a little further.

They see things they couldn’t see yesterday… how the Word breathes life.

How "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

How trials develop perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

They see that hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)

And before long, they’re too busy fixing their eyes on Him to keep peering into tomorrow’s mist. Jesus was there yesterday and today; and they know He’s already in tomorrow.

They falter, of course. Sometimes they wring their hands. Sometimes they forget, and they sink in the waves.

But sometimes too, they catch a glimpse of how far He’s brought them. And the challenge ahead doesn’t fill them with the same dread they used to feel.

In fact, their hearts quicken a little.

They wonder, How is He going to do it this time?

Because they know He specializes in the impossible. Sometimes through miracles, sometimes through grace.

You know He can change you and me into “them,” don’t you?

It feels risky. As if we’re letting go of the wheel.

But He’s always had it.

Let’s fix our eyes.

Trust.

For He knows the way we take. (Job 23:10a)

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

Jennifer Ebenhack

Jennifer’s eight eventful years in Haiti produced a gift of brokenness through which she has discovered the depths of God’s healing grace. She passes that grace on to others through her blog, life coaching, and her ebook Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear. She is currently writing a memoir of her family’s nine-year adoption process and gripping experiences in Haiti.

My Pinterest-Free Home--and the Only To Do List that Matters

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Doing can be an idol. Being never is.I used to measure my day based on how productive I was, now I measure it on how well I love.

There's a fifth person in our house now. She smells like springtime.

A person with chubby cheeks and large blue eyes, with a strong neck who already rolls from side to side and whose favorite place is in someone's arms, a person who is completely vulnerable and dependent and whose hungry cry rattles my soul.

And I find myself walking a lot these days. With her in my arms, because she's crying more than any other baby I've had, and also walking outside, alone, down the country roads, searching for God.

My husband is on paternity leave, taking three months off from teaching and I don't know how I'd do this without him, how anyone does. This two to three--suddenly we don't have laps enough, suddenly, my arms are not long enough, suddenly, a baby is weeping and so are my sons and I am too. Into the endless pile of laundry for all the cloth diapers and onesies.

How is it that one so tiny needs so much?

And how is it that I would die a thousand deaths just so she could live?

Because we do, as mothers. We die to ourselves a thousand times a day so our children can live.

I used to measure my day based on how productive I was.

Now I measure it based on how well I love.

I made a list the other day, a To Do List, based on both giving and receiving love well. I wrote it in bright Crayola. Because when it comes down to it, that's what matters in these days smudged with tired streaks and peanut butter kisses. At the end of it all, did I love well?

 

My To Do List consists of the following:

1. Kiss Trent

2. Tickle and snuggle my kids

3. Laugh

4. Put on music and dance

5. Paint with bright colors

6. Eat something yummy

7. Tell Trent and kids how much I love them

8. Go for a walk or a run

9. Do something I don't want to do for somebody else

10. Pray.

It's about doing life, and post-partum, with grace.

It's about taking that anti-anxiety medication if you need to. It's about taking that nap in the middle of a pile of coloring books and laundry. It's about receiving your husband's or friend's help and taking that walk so you can remember who you are and why you are and how to love.

It's about love.

Doing can be an idol. Being never is. Doing can obstruct our view of Christ. Being invites Him in.

And as we rock our babies and kiss their hurts and read them multiple stories and feed them, we are inviting Christ into our home. Our messy home with the floors begging to be mopped. Our home that smells of burnt toast and Vicks. 

You see, the Christian life doesn't look like the perfect, quiet baby or a Pinterest kitchen with a menu board detailing supper and the children all scrubbed clean and lined up in a row. It doesn't look like "be seen and not heard." It looks, and sounds, like God's beautiful raw sinful people clamoring for forgiveness. 

You are doing well, sweet mama. Don't be discouraged. Rather, consider this photo of our Lulu Tree mamas who gathered in the midst of fighting Typhoid and malaria to worship God in the slum of Katwe. They refused to let an epidemic stand in the way of their weekly fellowship.

 

This is the Christian life. Gathering to worship in the midst of pain and mess and fussy babies. Finding God in the midst of our To Do lists. Letting the Spirit re-write our To Do Lists in bright Crayola. And daring to declare thanks for every good and perfect thing which disguises itself as difficult, all for the glory of God.