Family Rules: Guest Post

Hello Friends!

I’ve been meaning to share this with you all for some time now.  Kristen is a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling extraordinaire, runner, world’s best quilter (seriously) and downright awesome person.  She love kids and babies and has four of her own.  I’ve known her since we were eight and frankly, she’s more fabulous than I can describe in words.  If you had to whittle it down to one thing that your friend was super-fantastic at, I’d have to say that Kristen is an awesome practical advice-giver, my free counselor.  Everyone should be so lucky 🙂

And speaking of advice-giving I wanted to share Kristen’s words of wisdom when it comes to parenting ( I love this post ’cause the picture is pretty old, they’ve added another one to their brood since then).  When you’re done soaking up her momma wisdom, you can visit her over here.

Thank you, readers and thank you, Kristen!

A few months ago, a homeschooling mom of 6 shared with me their family motto that I immediately stole and put to work in our family! Are you ready for it? Here it is:

We will obey,
the first time, the right way
and with a cheerful attitude.

I love it! Now, oftentimes, I just have to call out, “First time, Boo,” and he’ll stop, turn around and obey. It works so well, but we noticed there were still areas where that rule doesn’t apply.

We needed more rules. My kids needed to know what’s expected of them. Too often, Mr. Smarty and I would find ourselves beyond frustrated, when simply the kiddos didn’t know they were breaking a rule. We hadn’t taught them. They only learned the rules in our house when it becomes painfully obvious to us parents that there needed to be a spoken rule. And until late, there haven’t been any rules, except the Obey Mantra, and more than enough frustration.

I remembered a few guidelines for creating classroom rules that I had learned when I was going through my teaching certification and sat down with the kids at our IKEA easel (thank you, Christy) and talked through some new rules for our family to function and thrive.

I had our rules in mind, but as we talked, I led the discussion so we arrived at a new rule together.

I limited our rules to 5, and made them broad enough to encompass several trespasses. For example, “Don’t hit” is not a rule, but “Respect others” (or be considerate to others) is. Now this rule also includes not making messes for other people to clean up. Other people…I wonder who that could be…

Each rule is stated in the positive form. Rather than having the rule, “Don’t lie,” I phrased it in the positive: “Tell the truth.” This puts the focus on what they CAN do, not everything they can’t.

There are two other rules on our list to target areas where we saw growth was needed (how’s that for being positive?). These may change as we grow. For now, they are:

“Be thankful” (which I expanded with-Have an Attitude of Gratitude-simply because the kids think it’s fun to say). This rule helps with dinnerertime conversations about not complaining about what’s on our plates.

and “Work hard.” (this was after Belle finished her school work much earlier than usual one day. I asked her why it normally takes her so much longer, and she said, “I’m lazy.” She’s five and calls herself lazy! While I’m glad she’s aware enough to recognize she was being lazy, I don’t want that to be part of her identity in any way.

I love that now when I see a behavior that I want corrected, I can site a rule that they are aware of and “helped” form. They already agree with the rule, so there needs to be little discussion about correcting the behavior. It also is helpful for me to be more consistent with correcting and training my kids.

Enter our New and Improved Family Rules (trumpets blowing)! (with simple verses for when there are discussions)

Obey – Eph. 6:1 “Children, obey your parents…”

Respect Others -Mt. 7:12 “Do to others as you would have them do to you…”

Tell the Truth – Prov. 12:22 “The LORD delights in those who are truthful.”

Be Thankful -1 Thess. 5:18 “In everything, give thanks…”

Work Hard – Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

This Great Cloud of Witnesses


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

I’m not sure why I always pictured this “great cloud of witnesses” as a band of angels encompassing me, maybe the ethereal notions of the word “cloud”,  I don’t know–and this image is probably quite accurate.  But the truth is, I mentally shoved this into the spiritual realm (often thinking of Frank Peretti’s take on warring angels and demons).  But the more I read this verse, and go over it in my mind, I see and am encouraged by it’s earthly connotations.  These witnesses are our friends, families, co-workers, acquaintances, people at the park and the grocery store and I’d like to give an example, in my own life: fellow believers. 
My good friend and I were talking on the phone last night and she was sharing her thoughts on the recent anniversary of her brother’s death, it’s been seven years.  She’s the only one in her immediate family who is a Christian and she lives oceans away from them (she’s from Japan and lives here in the States). 
We’ve been praying that her family would come to know Christ for many years now, and more recently, there’s been hope on the horizon:  her father is attending church and has expressed a desire to become more involved, her mother has a few close Christian friends in her life. Their son’s death devastated this family, shook it to its very core, but somehow there is hope in the ashes of grief and loss.  My friend was sharing this hope with me.  Tragedy birthing, what we pray, to be new life and regeneration and restoration in their hearts and attitudes and she was saying how good God was and I was nodding into the phone and I was crying because she is right.  He is so good and right and just and true and faithful.  But sometimes it takes other believers to remind us of that, to take us out of ourselves and say, “Here, I know how things look in your life, but here’s the way things really are.  He is providing streams in the wasteland.  He is disciplining you.  He loves you.  He reallydoes, and here’s proof.”
  “…but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25b
Anything you’d like to share that would be an encouragement here?  Speak up, don’t be shy!

*Photo taken from Creative Commons:  First Stop – Bridgestone’s UK tyre retail network

Confessions of a Single Mom: The Sin of Pride

Ok, so this is one of those days that I crack open the window to my soul to the Rachel inside the Rachel.  My life has been filled with challenges as of late, and I’ve taken the last three days to concertedly pray about something that I’ve been struggling with, really battling against since October (“What took you so long?” you might ask–I’ll I’ve got is that I’m a sloooow learner).

But isn’t it surreal when you start praying about one problem, the Lord brings all these lovely, nasty issues to the surface of the heart-stew?  Over and over again, He been speaking to me about my pride.  Yeah, we all struggle with it, confess, try to be humble, etc.  But it wasn’t until yesterday did I really examine what I was being prideful about.

So let’s scoot back in time a few weeks to Sunday School class…I go to a recently-formed single mom’s SS class.  I’ve been enjoying it since my first Sunday there and even though I can only attend every other week due to other commitments in the church, I was beginning to get to know the other women, they me, I pray for them, etc.  We conclude each class with prayer in a circle holding each other’s  hands.  It’s nice.  Well, that particular Sunday, one of the leaders said, as we were in our circle holding hands, “I want you all to ask yourselves, ‘Why do I go to Sunday school?'” The co-director chimed in, “Yep, I was thinking the exact same question.”  On the  surface it’s one of those Duh, I go to learn about the Bible and fellowship answers.  


On the surface.

But this past Sunday in class was powerful.  We have a time of prayer requests/praises at the beginning of each class and girlfriend, we were testifyin’, ’cause wrapped up in each request was this incredible praise, stuff that I had been going through that other women had just gone through and how God gave the victory, there were Amens and thank-you-Jesuses spilling out of our mouths and were were weeping.  I shared about God providing another car for me, one raised her hand and said she need a domestic lawyer.  We are praying for Margaret* to get her CNA certification.  Our lives as single moms are Meeeessy.


We really need each other.  Because without one another we are islands and we are lonely and isolated.

I realized that, when it came to this class, this label as “single mom”, I had this pride all wrapped up in it and I realized that it came from two root, damaging thoughts:

#1 This isn’t me.  I didn’t come about this role like other moms do.  I was married, we had planned, we had saved.  I had prayed over this child since the moment I found out I was pregnant.  There were two of us when this little one came to be.

#2 This is just temporary.  This is a stopover.  This is not permanent.  Well, the reality is, this “temporary” situation is my life.  It is where God has placed me right now it is exactly where I need to be.

Man, I was prideful.  I needed one of those ladies to slap me up over the head to knock some sense into me.  I need these women, I need that class and I needed to be there to share my struggles with them.

Honey child, this is a room full of mommas.  Fierce mommas who are trying to raise up their children to know God.  Mommas who will fight, make mistakes, learn,  make enemies and try to keep the peace in their own homes.  It’s like this She-ra forcefield or something–and it is powerful.

Care to share any ways God’s been bubbling something to the surface in your life?

*name changed

A Kiss From Big Sis

I was watching my neighbor’s two children for a few hours the other day and we had to run an errand in the car.  Winny and Ryan* are 12 and 5, respectively, and they are both adorable.

So, we’re all back in the car after our quick errand and the two kids get in the back seat.  Winny leans over to buckle Ryan in and she gives him a kiss when she does it I look back just in time to see Ryan’s reaction.  He is beaming.  It’s like Disney World, chocolate ice cream and Christmas morning all in one wonderful expression.

My heart melts.

And I smile

And I don’t say a thing.

And later that day I read about Jesus welcoming the little children in Mark 10:13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.  He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.  

Could you imagine having your Creator physically put his arms around you and blessing you?  There would be no better feeling.  It would be what Ryan felt times 1 billion.  So how do we receive our children and other’s children in a similar manner?

1) We take the time to listen

2) We take the time to understand

3) We take the time to show them their significance by being humble enough to bow low.

Kids open up at the most bizarre times and certainly not when they get in the car after school.  Too much has happened, they are tired.  But I can remember one day, a Saturday maybe, we were coming back from a little trip outside the city when Little A just started sharing her 5-year-old heart about a boy in her class and how she didn’t get along with him and what the other girls in her class were saying.  It was one giant recap, but she needed it, she needed the silence and then the time to share and mommy’s listening ear.  Aren’t we all kinda like that?

*Names have been changed