Small Talk 101: No-No’s

Last week I wrote about some of the benefits of Small Talk, and this week I want to focus on some of the Small Talk mistakes. Believe me, I’ve made a pile of them!

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Ronnie was a nice boy that lived up the street from me, and who eventually worked his way into my sister’s heart. Somehow he survived the “orientation” we gave every boyfriend or girlfriend of the family to be big sis’s boyfriend for almost a year – one of the longest relationships on record at our home.

Although Ronnie was finally accepted into our group, he had some serious social flaws, and unfortunately we laugh about his odd ways to this day.

He would walk up to people, and after a few seconds of awkward silence, he would stammer a greeting of some sort, and then, to get conversation going, ask some obscure question like, “Was this stereo in the car, or did you put it in?” (Never mind that there was no such thing as aftermarket stereos in that day) or “So how much does your car weigh?” He tried so hard to be friendly that people actually walked away rolling their eyes.

Poor Ronnie. He was eventually dumped by my sister and replaced by some other victem of our “orientation.”

As for me, I didn’t start out life being shy. In fact, as the youngest of 5 children, I was the family’s “entertainment,” perpetually goofing off, saying silly things, and basically enjoying life. But something happened in my early adult life, and I discovered that I was a social dunderhead, and I figured it was safer to sit down and shut up. So for the past 25 years or so, I’ve been a fairly shy person.

For me to reach out to people is not in my comfort zone. I can be goofy if I feel comfortable, but to make small talk to engage someone in a conversation is pretty difficult for me. Perhaps it’s my odd sense of humor that prevents me from connecting with normal people, but I have a hard time with small talk.

But as a Pastor’s wife I can’t spend my time hoping I never have to talk to anyone. I’ve realized that I need to work on engaging people in small talk, so eventually we can move onto deeper subjects.

It’s something I’ve been working on, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Here are some Small Talk No-Nos:

1. Politics – This is not a comfortable subject, so it’s best to avoid politics until you get to know the individual better. In fact, I try to let them steer the conversation, and eventually bring it up if they want to talk about it.

2. “Religion” – Notice the quotes! Generally speaking, people dislike the topic of religion, unless they feel comfortable with you. Starting with small talk before telling them what Jesus has done for me works very well.

3. Weight/Defects, etc – Children are famous for this! One of my kids, when they were very little, pointed out a large wart on a church member’s nose and exclaimed, “Ball!” This may be funny for little kids, but it’s not smart for big people.

4. Deep, probing questions – I love deep, heart-to-heart discussions, and so I will tend to get right into feelings or deep thoughts I have about subjects. I’ve been working on trying to engage people in normal topics for awhile first.

5. Questions about previous relationships, or relationship status – We may want to hear the latest scoop on Katrina’s courtship, but we could be in for a surprise if Katrina bursts into tears at the mention of her former fiance.

Ronnie was a great guy, but his awkward questions had a way of making people think, “What’s the matter with this guy?” That’s NOT what I want people to think of me!

Question: Can you think of any other things we need to avoid as we talk to people we meet?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Why Small Talk is Important

We may dislike small talk, but conversations about the weather, the garden, or dirty diapers are tremendously valuable while we build relationships.

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“Adam? A-dam! Where are you?” God’s voice called through the lush green foliage. His Creation was huddled behind a bush, wishing he could simply disappear. Doesn’t God know where I am? Adam wondered.

God knew exactly where Adam was. His question was designed for a response, not for information.

Doesn’t it astound you that God wants a relationship with us? It does me. The thought that the Almighty God wants to commune with me is incredible.

Communication is the heartbeat of a relationship, and according to my young people, one of the best ways to grow communication is through small talk.

I asked my teens the other day whether they thought small talk was important, and their answers were amazing:

“Yes – it’s not the most important, but it’s also important. it gets you away from talking about the deep stuff all the time. It’s a time to talk about the small things in life. I think it’s really important as a family to get to know each other without having to get into the deep stuff.”
Another one said, “Just like with your friends, it’s easy to get edgy with the people you love, but if you talk a lot of small talk to get to know each other. When you talk to your friends, it’s not always “how are you doing in this relationship?” or some other deep question, but when you talk small talk with them, you get to know likes and dislikes and it helps to keep the relationship alive.

Here are some thoughts I have about why small talk is important:

1. Small talk is a free-flowing discussion of whatever comes to your mind. Everyone enjoys being able to speak freely, and not feel stupid. Small talk accomplishes that, in addition to the excitement of exploring new ground.

2. Small talk is a great way to learn new things. We can learn a lot about each other’s likes and dislikes, about space, plants, and dead cockroaches. Even live ones! Small talk with others, even our young people, is a great way to expand our knowledge!

3. Small talk helps your family develop self-confidence. When they’re able to hold their own in a conversation, they’re more likely to be comfortable in almost any situation, and that’s a good thing. People tend to like people who are confident enough to engage them in a conversation.

4. Small talk helps us to “be present.” Small talk makes us put our smart phones aside and engage another person, and in the family, that’s big. It tell the person that they’re valuable to you – valuable enough for you to take some of your attention and time to talk to them and reveal some things about yourself to them.

For me, small talk doesn’t come easily. I prefer deep conversations, so swapping birth stories and discussions of dirty diapers are not things I truly enjoy. But I’ve been thinking lately of how The Lord has helped build bridges with my older children, and I remember it started with small talk.

Something that I’ve found recently that helped me with conversation with my family has been  FAMILY TALK“> a set of cards with questions I can choose to ask at any time, of any person. I found it at Hobby Lobby, but you can also get them from Amazon by clicking  FAMILY TALK“>. It has a clip, which I clipped onto my purse strap, so I’ll always have it with me. While we’re out as a family, I can pull out a few questions to get some conversation going. It’s been great!

imageMost of the questions are small-talk questions, but some of them are deeper. None of them, however, are threatening in any way, and it makes it fun for my young people to share their thoughts.

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If you’re like me,  FAMILY TALK“> can be a big help to you; after all, the best way to grow in communication is through small talk!

 

 
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission on the products you buy from this site. I use and thoroughly recommend these products!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

5 Step Pattern for Personal Growth

Today, I want to take a few minutes away from the spinning world of laundry, diapers, and school, and concentrate on personal growth.

 

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It was on one of my runs that I saw it. I was layered in 3 shirts and a jacket, and had a band around my head to keep my ears warm and my gloves on. The wind chill was somewhere around 20 degrees, which is cold for this part of the country. But I saw it nonetheless. It was a brave patch of daffodils.

Their brave green stems pushing out of the cold snow told me that spring was coming.

Another day I saw geese, headed north again after their winter down south. With every honk, they said that spring was coming, too.

Still later, on a warmer day, I could smell that warm green scent which you smell when the grass begins to grow again. Again, the fresh scent told me that spring was coming.

All around are signs of new growth, despite the persistent cold. I’m excited about the new growth, because it means things are alive.

Growing as a person is a challenge for me, especially as a busy homeschooling mom. I don’t always grow as fast and as steadily as I’d like, but I’ve found that if I make sure I impliment all 5 of these steps to growth, life will be much more exciting, and I find myself improving in the areas I think are important.

1. Read - First, your Bible, and then other encouraging and good books. My suggestion is to avoid vain or negative things like forums and facebook pages where people specialize in flaming others.

2. Listen - Good uplifting music, Bible being read, or encouraging podcasts. I love listening to good podcasts while I exercise or work around the house, because they keep my brain going while the body is busy.

3. Think - about what you’ve been reading and listening to. This, I think, is the missing element. We rush through our days without taking even a moment to consider the material we’ve been listening to and reading. (Of course, if all you’ve been reading is garbage, all you’ll think about is garbage.)

4. Pray - and ask God to help you apply the things you’re learning. It’s one thing to get some help, but it’s another altogether to be able to apply it to your life so you can live differently.

5. Repeat! Keep reading, keep listening, keep thinking and keep praying! As you sow, you shall reap. If you plant good things in your mind, you will reap good things. Just keep it up!!

Maybe one of these steps is missing, or maybe the stuff you’ve been filling your head with have been less than desirable. You may grow, but not as quickly and not as well as if you had all these elements in place.

Why not make it a habit to put good things in your life, starting today? You’ll be glad you did!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum href=”http://www.growinginhisglory.com”>Growing in His Glory

Let’s Think a Thought or Two – Communication

I’ve been thinking and praying for a long time about sharing some thoughts in a format of short videos, and I finally got the gumption to do it!! This is my very first attempt, so video quality is pretty horrible, and I stumble over a few words, but the message is important enough to share with you all.

 

What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions about the video? I’ll be toying around with video quality next time, for sure!

If you like it, share it!

Goals for 2014: The Messy Middle

Goals Check-up Time!

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My most recent long run was a run of 7 miles. I had run that distance before, but it had been about a year. This time, I’ve been working myself up to running longer distances over the past few months, so I had run 6 miles on my previous long run. It was time to up my milage and continue to stretch my wings – I mean, legs – by running 7 miles again!

Everything went fine for the first couple of miles. The weather was perfect – about 50 degrees with a slight breeze. After awhile, however, my legs began to feel like they were made of heavy iron. I know it didn’t help that I was running at a park, doing 0.6 mile circles. How boring is that? All that energy going out, and I was really going nowhere. The only thing worse is a treadmill! ;)

Somehow, I’m still not sure how, I survived (couln’t guess, right?;) I can tell you that it’s a lot better to be on the other side of that run – the DONE part – than to be in the middle! Oh, how good it is to be done! But I learned a very important lesson here.

Many of us have written down goals for 2014. It felt so good to get down on paper the things that we want to accomplish, by God’s grace, over the next year. But let’s face it – it’s mid-March, and a lot of us have lost contact with our goals already.

Here are some thoughts I have about How to survive the messy middle:

1. Keep moving. In a race, especially a half-marathon or marathon, the goal is merely to keep moving toward the finish line. There is only 1 winner in a race, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to give up; we can still put one foot in front of the other and reach our goal just fine.

2. Fuel up! When I get a few miles into a long run, it’s time to break out the fuel, or the long run becomes a short run! When it comes to the Messy Middle of the year, it’s important to fuel our hearts with the Word of God and good, encouraging words. If God is the original source of your goals, then staying in touch with Him will be your source of inspiration.

3. Concentrate on the end. When I was running, I watched the cars driving by and thought, “how nice it must be to sit down – even in a car!” I worked on concentrating on the “joy set before me” – a wonderful yummy smoothie when I got back home! With our 2014 goals, it’s important to remember the end result we’re trying to acheive, and why we want to achieve it.That can go a long way to pushing us forward!

4. Finally, you’re only one step away from heading the right direction. If you find yourself doing NOTHING that you had planned, it’s ok. It does you no good to beat yourself up over lost time. The only thing you really need to do is Turn Around. In other words, just look at your list, find one thing that you need/want to do, and think of your next action item for that thing. Do that one action, and it will help you get moving in the right direction.

How are your goals coming along? Mine are moving along slowly, but surely. But with God’s help and some “running inspiration,” I know I can get through the Messy Middle.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum href=”http://www.growinginhisglory.com”>Growing in His Glory

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Farmer Boy

A few days ago, we lost a beloved pet, my daughter’s gerbil who outlived practically every other living thing in this home. It was an emotional time for folks, and it was important for me to be tender and understanding of high emotions during these times.

The night after the little guy died, I was reading out loud to the Rocket Boy, and these words from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy seemed to just leap off the page…maybe it will speak to you as well.

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“Every Saturday morning he (Almanzo) spent in the barnyard, teaching Star and Bright… He knew you could never teach an animal anything if you struck it, or even shouted at it angrily. He must always be gentle, and quiet, and patient, even when they made mistakes. Star and Bright must like him and trust him and know he would never hurt them, for if they were once afraid of him they would never be good willing, hard-working oxen.”

Maybe you’re like me, and have wondered sometimes what I was missing in my relationship to my children. As a parent, there are so many roles to fill – teacher, cook, laundress, etc. But how can we gain our children’s heart and trust?

While Farmer Boy is no replacement for the child training principles found in the Scriptures (the Bible does teach the need for occasional loving correction,) there is a lot we can learn from a 10 year old boy trying to break his calves:

  • Be gentle – Gentleness is that elusive quality of speaking softly, with no rash moves or words. Having been a “self-made individual,” I can tell you that growing up I was known as very forthright and frank, and gentleness was nowhere in my vocabulary or actions. Without the Holy Spirit of God, the ideal is truly impossible, but “with God, all things are possible.”
  • Be patient – The Devil tells us, “don’t pray for patience, all you’ll end up with is troubles.” But never forget that we have troubles anyway – we might as well have patience to deal with them.
  • Be knowable – i.e, transparent. Allow our children to actually get to know us, the real us. Let’s not hide under a façade of Supermom, but let the kids see us when we spill milk, or shed a tear over our own losses, or accidently cut ourselves with a kitchen knife. Share with them your love of beautiful things, and don’t be afraid to share with them your fears and how you deal with them – it’s very likely that they will draw strength from yours.
  • Be likeable – Play games with them, tell them jokes, or be goofy with them.

Put on silly hats and having screaming contests into your pillows. Make each day a playful adventure, even if you see nothing but mounds of laundry and piles of dirty dishes.

  • Always work for their good, not your own comfort.

Every week I go to the store and get a small box of 85% chocolate, otherwise known as “bitter chocolate.” There are 5 pieces of chocolate in the box, and there are 2 other girls who are doing Trim Healthy Mama with me. How do I divide the chocolate? I give each of them 2, and I have 1. Could I use more chocolate? Sure! But I want them to know that I am willing to inconvenience myself so they can have more.

I’m not perfect by any stretch, but by God’s grace, I want to grow in these areas.

This struck home especially because of our recent loss of a beloved animal in our house – a gerbil who outlived any gerbil’s life expectancy and who was held, pampered, loved, cared for and gave in return many hours of entertainment as we watched him scamper about his cage, run in his wheel, and chew on his toilet paper tubes.

Did the girls cry? Oh yes. Some more than others, but definitely they mourned the loss of their friend. But although I didn’t personally shed a tear, I didn’t coldly tell the girls, “Oh, come on now! He’s just a gerbil! Get over it!” it would have been unkind of me to say such things. And the girls would have understandably been upset, not just about their pet’s death, but also my callousness.

Personally, it seems to me that gentleness and kindness go a long way with our children.

Perhaps you’ve been the recipient of harsh words and rough treatment. How did it make you feel? Now that you’re a parent yourself, how do you rise above the way you were raised?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Is Sports Illustrated Aiding Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking (otherwise known as slavery for sex) has been around for many many years, but my recent (unwanted) encounter with the 50th Anniversary Issue of the Sports Illustrated magazine brought this sad practice to light in a whole new way for me.

Sports Illustrated & Human Trafficking

Up until recently, I didn’t believe there was such a thing as Human Trafficking. What I had heard was the equivalent of modern slavery, and wasn’t slavery abolished long ago? This may happen in other countries, but not here, not in free United States….right? It’s probably just a bandwagon that folks are on right now, and it’s probably a way that someone’s making money. That’s it.

Then my daughter pointed out a huge sting operation that the FBI carried out during the Super Bowl. During that time, more than a dozen teen “workers” were rescued from their captivity and more than 45 people were arrested.

Fast forward a few weeks. My family stopped at a Walgreen’s after a family day of shopping and exploring our local town. My husband and I run into the store to pick up a snack and a soda. What we saw at the checkout thoroughly disgusted us – the current 50th Anniversary Issue of Sports Illustrated, complete with all its nudity, right next to the cast register. In fact, it was positioned in such a way that the front of the magazine could be seen from any angle. It’s actually pornography at its lowest – right out front for every man, woman, and child to see.

Am I the only one that feels like this is a crazy world we’re living in? When people are being used and body parts sold in the name of free speech?

What I think is incredibly odd is that this is considered normal. In fact, it’s used quite often in advertizing. If you say it often enough and long enough, people believe it’s true. This was also one of Hitler’s ways of convincing the German people of “The New Normal.” So, while Jews were being herded in cattle cars to extermination camps, the people of Germany stood idly by – good people – and felt it was perfectly normal.

Doesn’t anyone else see this as dangerous, or am I alone here?

When we brought our concerns to the manager of Walgreens, she looked at us, raised an eyebrow and gave a slight smile, like we were the ones slightly demented. Apparently it’s not normal to want to protect women from being considered as objects to be bought and sold, used like cattle.

I should think the feminists of the world would be completely up in arms over the cover of Sports Illustrated. After all, women are NOT sex objects to drool over, nor are they things to be used as money-makers.

I wonder to myself – what will the future bring if we keep on in our current pathway? Have you ever had those thoughts?

Here are a few of mine:

1. Human trafficking is real and it is on the rise. For a long time, I didn’t believe that Human Trafficking even existed, but I realize now that it’s a huge danger to our families, our children, and our nation. Is there a direct link between Sports Illustrated and Human Trafficking? I doubt we would ever find one, but one lust feeds another…

2. Magazines like Sports Illustrated, porn videos, and the Human Trafficking industry are turning women into sex objects. Objects to be used and discarded, like an old magazine, rather than to be loved and cherished for who they are.

This is totally contrary to what the Feminist movement has been trying to teach us for so many years. If we were truly “free to be me,” then we are not objects to be lusted after, but people who have much more use to society than to feed the lust of base men. I’m really surprised the feminists aren’t standing up and screaming about this.

I am not a sex object. I know you could look me up and down and say, “You’re right, honey, you’re not!” and I would laugh along with you. But no human being should ever be sold, and no human being should ever be used by others to make money. This is called slavery, and the United States has been opposed to slavery for well over 140 years.

3. The entire porn industry is feeding the lusts of base men (and women!) It’s a well-known fact that pornography alters the brain to think of women as objects, rather than people. Isn’t that what slave owners think? “This is my property, I can do with it what I want.” I know by saying all these things I’m opening myself up for a ton of criticism, but I do think it’s important for us to speak out for those who cannot, or will not, speak for themselves.

Question: Do you think there’s a connection between pornography – or even swimsuit catalogs – and Human Trafficking? What do you think the average person can do about it?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Finding Beauty in the Daily Grind

When I started this blog in 2006, we were on the road for 6-9 months out of the year. I thought it would be great to write about our experiences and things I’ve learned along the way. But the Lord recently led us to start a church, and now for the past year, we’ve been stationary…even bought a house! Though I truly enjoy the extra room, there’s a lot about travelling that I miss. And a lot I’ve learned from being in one place. I’ve learned to find Beauty in the Daily Grind.

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Finding Beauty in the Daily Grind

 

Sometimes I struggle with the fact that for now, we’re not travelling. It seems very odd to have The Courageous Journey living in one place now. After all, what’s so Courageous about being in one spot doing the same things over and over? We all miss traveling so very much, but we understand that right now it is God’s Will for us to be here in NC. So for now, The Courageous Journey is stationary.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt as though your Journey seems boring compared to someone else’s journey? I know it’s easy to feel that way, especially when we get bogged in the daily grind.

For me, it helps to remember:

1. God is a God of order. He has times and seasons for every activity. The sun rises very predictably every morning, and sets again in its appointed time at night. The seasons, each with their regular types of work, follow one behind the other in regular succession. And life itself follows a regular order – first we’re babies learning to crawl, then we get older, fall in love and have families. As sure as we’re alive, our children will one day have families of their own.

2. God sees beauty in the daily. No two sunrises are alike, and each sunset is painted with its own array of colors. Every spring, the flowers are different. No two are exactly alike, and even in the winter, God’s creative Hand designs each snowflake as a crowning glory of His handiwork. He creates and enjoys beauty in the daily round of life.

3. My life may be very predictable, but it can still be beautiful. Every morning, my meal plans can be an opportunity for my creativity and my knowledge of nutrition to meet together to be a blessing for my family. I can plan, create, and enjoy the works of my hands, knowing that I’ve done something for others. My constant rounds of laundry can be opportunities for me to pray over each person who wears that item. And doing the dishes can be a time to be thankful for all God’s amazing provision. (“What a wonderful meal You’ve provided, Lord, and Thank You for my man, who works so hard to provide this for us!”

The next time you’re tempted to be bored with your Journey, or compare it to someone else’s whose life seems so much more exciting, ask yourself these questions, “How can I find beauty in this job I have to do? How can I create something that I and others can enjoy?”

It doesn’t take travelling to be a Courageous Mom. It takes courage to do the same thing, day after day after dreary day…with a cheerful smile. It takes courage to daily give actions of love (see previous post) even when you don’t feel like it. It takes courage to get up early, when someone needs you during the night. It takes courage to get up and take care of the family, after going to bed at 2am because one of the young people finally opened up.

It takes Courage to find beauty in the daily.

Imagine what would happen in our homes – our whole world – if all of us lived a life of contentment, finding, creating and enjoying beauty in our daily Journeys.

What are some things that help you when you begin to get tired of your daily life?
Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

Love Is An Action

How do you express love? Is love a feeling, or is it an action? Well, I’ll tell you what it’s not: it’s not the heart-pounding willies you see on Hollywood, nor is it the warm fuzzies. Here’s an old post from the archives that I thought would be very appropriate after Valentine’s Day. After all, we don’t stop loving just because Valentine’s Day is over, right?

LOVE IS AN ACTION BLOG BUTTON

Today I vacuumed my bedroom and bathroom. Unfortunately, our bathroom floor has carpet (nasty carpet, too – but it will soon be going!). Now, I seem to have a mental block to vacuuming those two room, so it can build up sometimes. But my husband really likes to have the floors looking nice, so I decided that, for him, I would try to keep them clean.

As I began vacuuming today, it occurred to me that perhaps love is an action verb, rather than a noun. We had always been taught at school that love is a noun – a thing that cannot be seen or felt, but a noun nonetheless. But it seems to me that the expression of love is one of the most important things in a relationship. To my husband, a clean floor is an expression of love. And so, to be a blessing to him, I did my best to vacuum our floor all nice and neat.

Many people think that love is a feeling. I used to think so myself. When I was young (younger??), I felt the goose-pimple rush of blushing infatuation just thinking about my dear hubby. Evenutally, however, that teeny-bopper feeling grew into a deeper commitment to respect, love, and be a blessing to him. I learned that love is not merely a feeling. Love is an action based on a decision. I decided, years ago, that I would love my husband. And these 22+ years, I have been expressing that love in a myriad of different ways, showing him that I love him. I sometimes have those gushy feelings of infatuation, but I have decided that I will love him with or without feelings through various loving actions. These little expressions of love keep our marriage going these many years.

Love is putting lego arms on tiny little lego bodies for my daughter. Love is getting up and making breakfast when I don’t feel like it. Love is trying to keep a clutter-free home so we can all enjoy it. Love is serving a cup of iced tea on a ninety degree day. Love is making a mess decorating Christmas cookies, even though I hate voluntarily making messes. And love is being willing to let your sweet daughter go, to be the wife of a godly young man and make a home for them both.

Love is serving. Love is selflessness. Love is sacrifice.

Love is an action.

What are some ways we can express love to our families?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

10 No-Fail Ways to Raise a Brat

These 10 No-Fail Ways to Raise a Brat will either make you laugh or cry, or a little bit of both! This post in completely tongue-in-cheek, so don’t take it seriously!

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10 no-fail ways to raise a brat! Works every time!!

The other day my 10-year old son, The Rocket Boy, went to the grocery store with me. He loves pushing the cart, and pretends he’s a race-car squealing around corners and enjoying quick stops and starts. So far, we’ve not run over any grandmas, though I must confess we’ve come close, and I’ve had to take the wheel and give him a good talking to more than once.

Now there’s a brat in almost every store, but that day there was a first rate brat! I thought his antics were just incredible, and his mother played into his hands so well. It almost looked rehearsed…maybe they’ve done this act a time or two before.

It went like this:

We heard Payne (not his real name, but it fits quite well!) coming long before we saw him, and we heard his mother right behind. Her shrill cries of “Stop it!” and “Put that down!” could be heard all across the store. The real display of action came in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Payne had been grabbing everything in sight, but apparently his mother thought he had outgrown that thievish habit, so she pushed the cart gloomily down the aisle with Payne close behind, unobserved by her.

The showdown came when he grabbed two cucumbers. Now, tell me, what 3 year-old loves cucumbers? Well, Payne apparently wanted those cucumbers so badly, he had to have them! His mother turned saw him, and yelled, “Put those back!” at which point he hid them behind his back with a defiant expression. “I SAID, PUT THOSE BACK!” mother escalated. Payne didn’t budge. Mother knew it was time for battle, and she flew in and yanked those cucumbers right out of Payne’s hands, like a bully stealing a smaller bully’s loot. At this point, whatever she said was unintelligible, because Payne set up such a howl and wail that no one could hear himself think.

The Rocket Boy and I moved on into the frozen aisle, leaving the screaming fellow and his yelling mother back in F&V, but we kept tabs on his whereabouts by listening to his regular whines and shreiks and his mother’s shouts and yells. When we left, they were going at it at the checkout.

Isn’t it amazing how much energy two people will expend to prove who’s boss?

I got thinking about this encounter, and realizing that this is a serious brat in the making, folks!

OK. I think we can all learn how to raise a brat from Payne’s exhibition:

1. Always give him everything he wants.

2. Especially give him what he wants when you and he are in public. You don’t want to look bad by saying No, do you?

3. Yelling is great, and the more the better. It keeps the tension high and is sure to provoke screams and wails from your budding brat.

4. While you’re at it, smack him, but only when you’re good and mad. I’m not talking about a real action of discipline, which is needed sometimes – just a venting of anger. Now don’t you feel tough, that you can bully a little child around?

5. Make sure he gets plenty of sugar and even some red 40 – both are great for producing hyper kids and angry mothers – a perfect recipe for a brat!

6. And also don’t let him take a nap, even when he’s really exhausted. You know how you feel when you get tired – almost sick and very irritable. Well, it works the same with kids, so they’ll be sure to whine and cry for apparently no reason whatsoever, making you embarrassed and angry.

7. Worry more about what other people think than doing what is best for your child. That way, if your child really embarrasses you in public, you can get angrier than if you were at home. In fact, some of those same things are even cute at home, but you don’t want people to think you’re a bad mom, so go ahead and yell in public.

8. Make sure you change your expectations around, so he doesn’t know what you want. It’ll really make him into a brat if he thinks he can’t please you no matter what he does.

9. If your kid gets in trouble with the teacher, preacher, or Sunday School teacher, always defend him, even if he’s bitten Susie and bloodied the neighbor boy. Your poor child is just expressing himself – how could that be wrong? And once he sees that you don’t care about authority, watch out! Your authority will be his next mountain to climb!

10. Don’t pray for or with your children, or read the Bible to them. That might give them a moral compass, and you know true brats have none.

OK, how’s that for a list? Honestly, I’m just kidding! Please don’t try this at home and blame me, because you really will produce a horrible, terrible Monster!

You don’t want to raise a Payne!

Question: What are some other ways we as parents can raise a brat?

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