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!

 

 
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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 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

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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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

 

Your Kids and Technology: Why You Should Be Involved

Today I want to deal with Your Kids and Technology. It’s so much a part of our lives, and it’s so very easy to get entangled in all that’s available on our devices. While there are many benefits to technology (I use it myself!) there are also many dangers. Your kids are probably pretty good at technology. That’s one of the big reasons you should be involved.

Your Kids and Technology: What You Should Know

 

We had just begun homeschooling our first child in the early 90s when we first heard of the internet. We heard through a fellow homeschooler that there was something called Prodigy that was like a research encylopedia in the computer. We eventually learned that Prodigy had their own building and their own team of people adding content.  We found the content helpful and interesting, but not very abundant.

Fast forward about 20 years, and we are now deep into the Information Age. There is so much available in cyberspace now that my husband even used YouTube daily during our house remodel!  Don’t know how to install a tile backsplash? Easy! Youtube it and find out! Kid has a fever and a rash? Ask one of the many forums. Have something you want to buy? there’\s Amazon, Ebay, and even Craigslist.

With Googling and youtubing, etc. we have a whole world available at our fingertips.

100 hours of video are being uploaded online every minute, with 2/3 of the videos being advertised as actual pornography. And in case you thought smart phones were safe, 43.8% of all porn viewing was on mobile devices (that’s according to the porn industry executives themselves.)

In this huge deluge of sexual content available, how can we possibly protect our family from temptation? 

1. Realize that realize that we live in a pornographic society. Unfortunately, it’s not IF your child will see pornography, it’s WHEN. This may be a scary realization for you, but it needent be. If you love your children and are involved in their lives, you have a much greater impact than even peers and internet. But…we must be proactive.

2. Understand the danger of “our own seperate world.” Young people need our involvement more than ever….while the temptation to spend large amounts of time riveted to our electronics has never been greater. Here we have the opportunity to die to self and care for another enough to truly get involved in their lives, to know what they’re doing and who they’re talking to, and whose websites they’re going to.

3. Recognize the danger of secrecy. Privacy creates the perfect soil for sin to flourish. Because of this, there must be a measure of accountability. Your child should feel free to talk to you about anything he sees on the internet that’s not appropriate. As a parent, you may feel shocked that he would see something wicked, but your response is critical. I’ve told my kids that if they come to me and tell me that they’ve seen something on the internet, I will not be mad at them, but praise them for being willing to tell me. Then, I can talk to them about why such things are inappropriate for young (and old!) eyes.

4. Realize the danger of deception. It’s easy a person to create an alter personality and pretend he’s another young person just to trap our children. Without the sense that comes from years of experience of life, a young person  – especially a vulnerable gullible female – can be lured in to a heartbreaking relationship. Your involvement in your children’s social media contacts is highly important.

In this age of technology, there are a lot of benefits, and there are a lot of things we need to be careful of as well. Your kids are involved in technology, therefore you should be involved as well.

Question: What are some other dangers of technology?

Special Announcements:

  • Check out my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and it’s available here!! Check out the sidebar on the right!

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

 

13 Reasons Why You – Yes, You! – Should Make Reading the Bible a Top Goal in 2014

Join me for a helpful series called The Organized Me! During the month of January, I’m going to write various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed our last post, you can find it here!

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No one guarded The Tunnel. After all, it was just a pipe used to bring water into the city, so it couldn’t have been very important.

 

While the inhabitants of the city watched and worried about the Israelite army that was positioned outside, they had no way of knowing that The Tunnel was about to become their downfall. It was such a bother to have to watch it, and it took too much time from more important things – like guarding the gates.

 

But in the night, stealthy Israelite figures emerged from The Tunnel – first one, then two, and finally the invading army began pouring through The Tunnel. The Tunnel that no one guarded and no one cared for. The Tunnel that became the enemy’s highway was The Tunnel that became the Jebus’s doom.

 

Is reading the Bible not very important to you? Well, maybe it’s kind of important, like menu planning, or scheduling baths. But not if something more important happens to come along (which Satan makes sure is pretty regularly!)

 

Many people fail to realize how they shortchange themselves and their families by neglecting their Bible. To read the Scriptures, searching for understanding and meaning (not just to flip pages) is to wisely invest in your own future.

 

Here are just a very few reasons why you – yes, you – should read your Bible regularly this year:

 

  1. It will make you a better parent
  2. It will make you a better Christian
  3. It will make you a better spouse
  4. You will learn to know God better
  5. You will learn to know how God is working in your life better
  6. You will learn why God is doing certain things in your life
  7. Your mental capacity will improve
  8. Your relationships will improve
  9. You’ll have more peace in your life
  10. You will learn what awaits you in eternity
  11. You will learn who awaits you in eternity
  12. You will mature emotionally

And lastly…

13. You will be prepared for eternity!

Don’t let Your Tunnel be unguarded! Some dark night, the enemy may just try to come in with some temptation or desire. Be prepared with the Word of God!

What are some other benefits of reading the Word of God? 

How do you fit Bible Reading into your busy schedule?

5 Ways to Show Consistency

When builders in India illegally constructed a six-story structure in Rajasthan in 2010[i], they made many errors, not the least of which was using inferior materials. Inspectors had been called in to look at cracks in the building, and within minutes after their emerging from the structure, the entire building collapsed in a shower of cement, dust, and rebar! The footage of the sudden destruction was incredible! Amazingly, and thankfully, no one got hurt.

In the parenting process, it is easy for everything to look just right on the outside, but on the inside be built with inferior or unreliable materials. When the barricade is erected to keep the Devil out, it is imperative to use high-quality materials in the workmanship.

The most integral material we must use to build our barricade is the glue of consistency. Without it, we are playing with a strong possibility of the collapse of the family structure, and death of the residents of our home.

None of us is perfectly consistent; otherwise, we would be in Heaven. Still, there are many ways we can show consistency in our parenting. In my interviews with 2nd Generation Christians, I came up with 5 of them:

  • Be faithful through the hard times.

“When I got older,” Brandon told me, “I often thought of my parents, and how consistent they were through trials and tribulations. They stayed true to what they taught, and I realized that if they could do it all these years, that’s what I wanted—even needed—to do.”

Joni and Friends and God is so Good Ministries are both excellent resources for suffering, difficulties, and hard times. Even if you have no one to walk the difficult road with you, don’t try to do it alone – get some encouragement online!

  • Be consistent in discipline.

In Steve’s childhood it made a big difference. “My parents were definitely not lax,” he said. “They were very consistent. Whatever they said, that was the way it was. I don’t think they were harsh, because there was a lot of love, but rules were very consistent (dress, attitude, motives) yet implemented with love. They were enforced consistently, too, all the way through my youth, till I was out of the house.

Focus on the Family and The Better Mom are great resources for helping us be consistent in discipline. And don’t forget the good old-fashioned Bible, God’s Holy Word, which can guide us into all truth, and show us our weaknesses!

  • Be consistent in your devotion to God.

Robbie said, “My dad preached about how important it is for a Christian to read his Bible and pray at the same time, same place every day. One week, I got up at 4:45 every morning to see if Dad was really reading his Bible like he said a Christian should, and sure enough, he was there—every single morning.” What you do speaks so much louder than what you say!

One of my favorite resources for Bible study is Bible.is, an app I downloaded to my Ipad that will read the Bible to me every morning. I also daily refer to Daily in the Word, where I get a great application of the Proverb of the day. Often I use my Olive Tree app and look up a commentary while I study, too.

  • Don’t relax as the children become teens.

Brittany told me the story of a dear friend of hers: “I had one friend that I was especially close to. Consistency, or lack of it, was an issue. My friend’s mother ran the home, and her father was weak. So when the kids got older and didn’t want standards, the parents let them slip. Finally they got out of church altogether. Every once in a while I hear from my friend, and she’s having some pretty tough marital problems. I know that lack of consistency is at the root of it.”

Frontline Moms has been a real eye opener when it comes to my teens. Reading some of Lisa Cherry’s posts helps me realize that I can’t back off or shy away from the difficult topics with my young people, and I certainly can’t afford to be inconsistent with them.

  • Don’t cater to a “favorite” child,

or let the youngest do something you wouldn’t let the other children do. “Inconsistencies in the parents kill spiritual desire in young people,” Larry said. “I’ve seen it many times. There are several ways parents can be inconsistent. Sometimes parents behave one way in church and another way at home, and sometimes they laugh at a child’s behavior one time, then spank him for the very same behavior later. But one of the most serious forms of inconsistency is when one parent wants the affection of a child and will undermine the other parent in order to win the child’s affection. We’ve seen it happen in our own home, and it was disastrous. Now that she’s older, our daughter simply dislikes both my wife and I, and is in an abusive relationship. It’s terribly heartbreaking.”

In essence, Larry was saying that those who try to win the affection of a “favorite” child do so because they themselves feel the need to be loved.

For me, the realization that no human can give me the affirmation that I truly need from the Lord is enough to help me not to seek it from my children. Neither they nor anyone else can do for me what God can.

Perhaps you’re like me, and you see areas where you need to shore up on consistency. I know I do. So I’m asking the Lord to help me be more consistent with my family. It may be a daily prayer, but that’s ok – I have a God who gives strength day by day!

Question: How important do you think consistency is for children? Can you think of any other areas where we can strengthen our consistency?

 

Special Announcements:

  • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us! This week I will probably not be posting anything, because I’m supposed to be on “vacation!” But if something really good pops in my mind… 😉

  • Keep your eyes out for the upcoming release of my new book on this topic, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, coming in September! In this book, there will be:
    • Not just information telling parents why kids are going astray, but proven parenting practices that have worked for generations that are successful in raising godly children.
    • Dozens of interviews from those 2nd generation Christians who KNOW what their parents did RIGHT.
    • Charts and graphs detailing the results of the interviews
    • Assignments to help the reader implement these principles in their own parenting.
    • And much, much more!

If you have a blog and would like a review copy of the book, let me know! All you have to do when you’re done reading it is to post about it on your blog! Leave a comment here or email me, and I’ll get in touch with you. Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum