Tips to Tame the Tattler

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“Mommy, sister’s getting candy!”

“Mommy, brother’s not staying in his room!”

“Mommy, somebody spilled water in the kitchen, but it wasn’t me!”

All day long, the tattling doesn’t stop. My three-year-old is often the one with the loudest voice, but the nine-year-old and six-year-old aren’t innocent from tattling themselves. It is something that I am sure just about every mother has to deal with. Of course, the child doing the tattling is never guilty of wrong-doing. Until you find out that they did, indeed, participate in some way–whether accepting the stolen candy, sneaking brother out of his room, or actually being the one who spilled the water!

Our pastor is going through a series about “One Another.” We as a church are striving to learn how to follow God’s command to “love one another (Jn. 13:34).” But tattling is definitely not a way that we obey Him.

It is our job as parents to “train up [our children] in the way [they] should go” (Prov. 22:6). If we are going to teach them how to love others well, then we need to start in the home. And the first lesson they need to learn is how to not tattle.

Here are some simple tips to stop the tattler from wagging their tongue:

1. Refuse to listen. Most children tattle because they want your attention. We moms often fall into the trap of listening when they complain or tattle because we want them to feel like we are always there for them. But all we are doing is fueling the fire for gossip. They know something about someone else, and they want to share it with you. We need to teach them about what is good to share with us (praises, real emergencies, etc.) and what they need to keep to themselves.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble – Prov. 21:23.

2. Give them something to say. When you catch your child in the middle of tattling, encourage them to find something nice to say about their sibling. I am a firm believer that we don’t put something off without putting something on in its place. If we don’t want them to say unkind words, then we need to guide them in finding kind words! Perhaps (for just a little while), you could set up a reward system for saying something kind so many times each week. Even if you don’t reward them with a tangible prize, at least give them your praise and let them know how wonderful it is to hear them use kind words for their siblings!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear – Eph. 4:29.

3. Be an example. I struggle with this. I love a good story. And I hate to be the only one who doesn’t know something! But tattling is just a childish way of gossiping. Our kids are watching–and listening–to us. When they hear us “sharing” with someone else, they are learning that it’s okay to tell on one another!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things – Phil. 4:8.

4. Love them well. Our children learn how to criticize each other when we are quick to criticize them. But when we love well, as Christ loves us, we are able to look past their sins and see the beauty that God sees. That isn’t to say that we allow them to get away with sin. It just means that we don’t dwell on it, remember it, or not forgive them when they confess. We don’t easily jump to the conclusion that the tattler is always right. We give our children the benefit of the doubt and believe the best of them. When we start looking for the good in them (and in others), our children will start looking at each other that way as well.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins – I Pt. 4:8.

We need to remember that what we teach our children now is what they will remember as adults. We can teach them now how to love well and how to look for the best in others. But when we feed the gossip monster, we are telling them that it is okay to treat others badly. Gossiping isn’t showing love. Tattling isn’t showing love. It’s not cute, and it’s not “just a phase.” We need to stop it in its tracks and teach our children to be gracious to one another. The learning starts at home.

 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person – Col. 4:6.

 

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Who Am I?: Answering the Tough Questions

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Who am I?

This question is probably one of the most common questions that adopted children ask at some point in their lives. The feelings of insecurity can crop up at the most unexpected moments and leave them filled with questions.

At nine years old, my oldest child has been asking those questions for years. And now my six-year-old is chiming in. Where did we come from? What is our birth mom like? Who is my birth dad? Do you think I’ll be tall? Why do I look this way? Do you think anyone else in my family has skin like mine (from my eczema-challenged child)?

Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers, and sometimes I just have to tell them that I don’t know. It becomes even more obvious at doctor’s appointments when we are trying to nail down why certain issues crop up or when puberty will hit or whether we should be looking for certain medical issues.

I know that I’m not the only adoptive parent to struggle with this. The truth is that while adoption is wonderful, it always comes at a cost. And sometimes that cost involves losing part of their identity. It can be difficult to not know things about your own medical history or family tree. But when these insecurities crop up, there are things that we parents can do to reassure our children.

1. Remind them Who does know them!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” (Jer. 1:5).

The best security we can give our children is to remind them who they are in Christ. No matter how much we love our children, we will never love them as much as the One who created them! God has a plan for each one of us, and we don’t need to know our DNA in order to fulfill His purpose for us. Some day, they may find out their family history or they may not. But we need to constantly remind them that what matters is that they know who their God is. He’ll take care of the rest.

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2. Remind them of who they are to you.

Maybe you don’t have all the answers, but you do know everything about their life from the moment you became their parent. Don’t hide their adoption story from them! Share the journey you went through to become their parent! Go back over old photographs together, reminisce about the moment you were matched with them, and remind them of their special role in your family. They want to know their own story, and you can tell them everything you do know.

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3. Identify the unique qualities that they possess. All children, whether they are adopted or not, struggle at some point with their identity. The best thing we can do as their parents is to help them see the wonderful qualities that make them special! Are they musically talented? Artistic? Great in science or math? A writer? A good friend? What do you see them doing well? They need to hear that they have wonderful qualities, so make sure to tell them!

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 I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well – Ps. 139:14.

4. Remind them who you are.

This may seem like something they should already know; but when a child is looking for answers about their biological parents, they need to know that they can always come back to the parents who love them and have been raising them. They need to know that it’s okay for them to ask questions because they are secure in the fact that you are always there for them. Don’t make them feel bad that they want to ask about their heritage. It has nothing to do with you or their love for you. It has only to do with them and wanting to know everything they can about themselves.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love – I Jn. 4:18.

It’s only natural for your child to want to know who they are. So tell them. It’s our job as parents to help them as they navigate these growing up years. As adoptive parents, we may face some extra unknowns, but our role is the same–to love them and help them to grow secure in who they are.

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God Has Not Given Us a Spirit of Fear

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Have you heard about the mom who saw someone watching her son at Costco? Or how about the mom who swears her daughters were being targeted for sex trafficking at Target? Did it happen in your hometown? Did you know them? Did you click on their posts and share them as fact?

I am not trying to make light of these situations. We as moms are definitely supposed to be vigilant in keeping our children safe, being aware of our surroundings, and listening to our instincts when a situation doesn’t seem quite right.

But I am concerned about what I am seeing on social media for an entirely different reason–we are fear-mongering. We are taking a situation from someone that we don’t know in a scenario we were not a part of and using that to warn everyone everywhere about the dangers of shopping with our children!

   For God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2 Tim. 1:7

In my newsfeed, I see moms warning about the dangers all around us. From the moment our children are born, we worry about whether or not to let them “cry it out,” whether we should co-sleep or leave them in their crib, and whether we should breastfeed or formula-feed. We learn early on about the hidden dangers at the playground and over-compensate with antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. We worry about allowing them to play in their own neighborhood because we can’t keep our eyes on them at all times. We don’t want them to ride bikes or rollerblade or ride scooters because we are afraid they will get injured. We worry that their sniffles are more than just a little cold. We fear that we aren’t giving them enough organic fruits and vegetables. I could write all day about the fears we moms face with our children!

But moms, we need to stop and take a breath. The fear-mongering has to stop because God has commanded us to not be afraid!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go – Josh. 1:9.

I know that you are thinking that this was a command to a great commander, Joshua, who was taking over leading the children of Israel. But aren’t we commanders of our own little armies? Aren’t we fighting just as hard for our children as we soldier beside them in the day-to-day trenches where our children battle?

Satan loves when we are afraid. He loves to steal our joy from being a mom and place such fear in us that we can barely breathe or stand to be away from our children for even a second. When we allow fear to take hold in our hearts, we are turning our eyes away from God and looking at our own insufficient selves to take control. And that’s what we are–insufficient control freaks!

But God didn’t just command us to not be afraid and then leave us on our own! He promised to be with us wherever we go! That means Costco, Target, or even the local park!

 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe – Prov. 29:25.

We are supposed to be vigilant in taking care of our children, but we are allowing the enemy to set a snare for us when we allow fear to reign in our hearts!

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you – Is. 43:1-3.

We belong to God. Our children belong to God. He has called us by name! Do you really think that He doesn’t care? When we allow fear to lead our decisions, we are demonstrating a lack of trust in the One who has redeemed us!

Do you think that it was easy for Jochebed to lay her baby in a basket in the most dangerous river in Egypt? But she trusted in God.

Do you think it was easy for Hannah to give her son to serve in the temple when he was still a young child? But she trusted God.

Do you think it was easy for Mary to raise a Son who she knew would continue down a path to crucifixion? But she trusted God.

God has called you to mother these children right now. And in this season of mothering, He is also calling you to be faithful to trust in Him. Your children are watching you in your journey of faith. When you refuse to allow them to try new things because you are afraid, you are setting them up for a life of faithlessness. They feed on our fears and grow into fearful grownups themselves.

So, Mama, when you are fearful of hidden dangers at the grocery store or germs at the playground or life in general, let me encourage you to set your eyes on the One who loves you so much that He gave His own life for you! You have nothing to fear when you put your trust in Him.

 Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you – I Pt. 5:7.

 

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Myth-Busting Monday: You Are Called to This

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Do you remember my post about Drake? He was one of the orphans in China who was waiting for a forever family. Did you notice I said was?! Finally–finally!–he has been matched with a family, and he will be coming home to them soon! We prayed for him for so long, and it looked as though he would age out of the orphanage before he was matched, but God saw this one boy who wanted a family. And God always keeps His promises!

God sets the lonely in families – Ps. 68:6a.

I want to spend this cold, rainy Monday busting another myth about foster care/adoption. Today’s myth is:

adoption myth

Now before you write me off, hear me out. I am not saying that you need to start filling out paperwork to bring your darling child home! We are not all called to be parents–whether through adoption or through natural means. But we are all called to be involved in orphan care!

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world – Jms. 1:27.

When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, 12 because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him – Job 29:11-12.

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute – Ps. 82:3.

God has definitely commanded us to care for the orphan–“the fatherless”! But one of the most common excuses I hear is that God has not called everyone to foster or adopt. And I completely agree! We all have different gifts in the family of God, and we are to use those gifts in different ways. But God has called all of us to foster care/adoption! No one has permission to turn their back on the most vulnerable.

So here is a list of ways that you can use your gifts to follow God’s command and answer His call:

1. Pray. This is the most important thing you can do to help with the orphan crisis! Pray that God will open your heart to parent just one (or more!) if that is His will for you. Pray that these children will find a home. Pray that their needs will be met. Pray that they will find love. Pray that today, there will be one less orphan in the world.

2. Go. Take a trip to an orphanage and see these children face-to-face. There are over 130 million orphans in the world, but these children are not numbers and statistics. They need you. They need to feel your touch. They need to look into your eyes. They need to hear your voice. If you can’t go through your church, then consider joining with a group like Compassion International or American World Adoption Agency. Both organizations plan several trips throughout the year to help with orphanages around the world.

3. Provide temporary care. Perhaps you can’t go on a trip, but can you offer short-term care here at home? Can you provide a short-term residence for orphans from other countries who come to the States to meet possible families and to have some of their health care needs met? Organizations such as Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency are often looking for host families for a few weeks in the summer or over the Christmas holidays. If you can’t provide your home, can you provide your services? These children come here for help with dental needs, eye care, and general health concerns. If you are in any of these fields, you can be a tremendous blessing to these children by providing your services for free. Even if you aren’t in any of these fields, can you pay for just one of these children to receive the help they need?

4. Support. Maybe you can’t parent these children right now, but I am sure if you look around, you can find a family who is. Offer to babysit for free to give the parents a break. Becoming foster/adoptive parents can be emotionally exhausting, and sometimes a couple just needs a night out to reconnect. Can you help with financial needs? One family in our church is currently adopting from Kyrgyzstan and is in need of $5,000 immediately to be able to hand over when they are matched with a child or children. They still need $15,000 beyond that! Even if you don’t know someone who needs financial aid, they may need clothes, bottles, a car seat, crib, etc. Can you provide any of those things to them?

5. Love well. You may not be able to parent, but you can still be a part of these children’s lives. Invite their family over for supper. Plan play dates with their kids and your kids. Volunteer in the church nursery or children’s church. Offer mentoring services. Love them well! Know them well! Learn their names, their likes and dislikes, their favorite television shows. Treat them as part of the family!

These are just some simple suggestions to get you thinking about how you can answer God’s call for orphan care. He has called you to this, and He wants to help you do it well!

He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it – I Thess. 5:24.

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Make This a Week of Yes

 

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“Mom, you were the nicest mom today!” My little boy proclaimed this as he grinned from ear to ear, his wet clothes dripping puddles onto my kitchen floor.

What brought about this declaration of love? I had said yes to splashing in the creek behind our home. My three darlings squealed with delight when I gave my approval from the back gate, and they plunged feet first into the muddy water. Their laughter and fun could be heard throughout the neighborhood. Just because I said yes.

My children are not the type to sit still for very long. They are also not the type to keep their clothes clean. Or keep their shoes on outside. Or keep their feet on the ground (as was evidenced when my son got stuck on top of the playhouse!)

But after that day in the creek, I wondered if I had begun to say no to too many things. Life gets busy, and we have places to go on most days. So cleaning up the children several times a day is just another task on the to-do list that will make us late. Saying no to mud puddles and swimming in the creek and getting out the finger paints often becomes easier than letting them be kids for awhile.

It is so easy as moms to get caught up in keeping our house clean, getting the kids to extracurricular activities, and overall staying busy. In fact, we often have a sort of fear that if we stay home for too long, the children will destroy the house! Along the way, we become slaves to saying no, and we become uptight and quick to lose our temper.

I want to be set free from the no master. I want to be a mom who can say yes. I want to see that pure joy on my little boy’s face when he is allowed the simple pleasure of playing in the dirty creek.

I have noticed that the days I am most short-tempered with my children are the days when I have planned too many activities for us. In the rush of getting everyone together, with shoes on, out the door in a timely fashion, it is easy to feel my blood pressure rising and my temper shortening. But on the days when I keep our schedule simple, I find that my children are the happiest. They love the simplicity of being allowed to be kids.

My desire is to have a peaceful home. More than anything, I want my children to not see their home as a place we were always leaving but instead as a place where we enjoyed one another and spent our best moments together. They are only children for a little while, and I want them to have memories of a mom who said yes.

There are times when I have to say no. It is my responsibility as their mother to make sure that we say yes to the right things. But I think that a lot of the time, my no has more to do with selfishness than anything else. I don’t want to have to mop the floor. Again. Or wash the clothes. Again. Or clean up splattered paint. Again. But when I focus on myself, I take away a little bit of their joy. And that’s not the mom I want to be.

What about you? Do you find yourself saying no more than you say yes? Do you feel stressed out and frazzled all of the time? Take a look at your schedule. Do you have too many “things” planned for your kids? Are you saying no just because it is more convenient for you? Perhaps it’s time you said no to extracurriculars and yes to muddy feet and happy faces.

Try it out this week and let me know if your home becomes a happier place. Make this a week of yes!

 

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Your Life is But a Vapor: Make it Count

Today was a difficult day. Today, we buried my classmate. But the service for her was so sweet and filled with hope and love that it was hard to not rejoice with her family that she is finally healed and in no more pain.

As we sat listening to her pastor preach about this young woman’s life, I was overwhelmed by the testimony she had left behind. We weren’t close friends growing up, and our relationship as adults has just been through social media and the occasional run-in at the gym or somewhere about town. So while our class was small, I admit that I didn’t know her well.

What I heard today was the legacy of a woman who loved God well. She loved Him so much that she refused to allow her sickness to keep her from worshipping Him. She refused to miss church “just because” her cancer was raging again. She refused to stop serving the community “just because” her cancer wanted her to stay home and rest. She loved, encouraged, and helped others and made them feel loved and wanted. That’s a pretty amazing legacy to leave behind!

I have to admit that I was humbled by this woman, whom I knew all my growing-up years but never knew well. Here was a testimony of someone who saw God as the top priority!

This woman knew these commandments and lived them so well that that is the legacy that she leaves behind her. She never missed an opportunity to worship her God, and she never missed the chance to love her neighbor well.

Next month, my class is getting together for our 20th reunion. The combination of this weekend’s events and planning for the reunion have made me reminisce. I was not an easy person to be around. I was insecure and angry because of that insecurity. Because of my own selfish focus, I am sad to say that I think I missed the opportunity to love my classmates well and to invest in their lives. I am thankful that many of us still live close and keep in touch through social media as well, but I long for the days that I threw away when I could have loved each one of them better.

Today was a difficult day of goodbyes, but her family and friends can rejoice because she lived life well. She had a hope in eternity and wanted others to share that hope with her.

I can’t change how I was in the past, but I do hope that I can shape the future into one that follows my classmate’s example. I hope that others can say of me that I loved God and others well. I hope that one day I can say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

We don’t know how much time we have here on earth. Some of us may live until we’re 90, while others are taken home before they have even taken their first steps. We aren’t supposed to hold too tightly to this world. But what Jesus did command us to do was to invest in the lives of others while we are here with them and to love Him with all we have.

I don’t know what you are going through. Maybe you are in the midst of fighting for your life or starting a family or struggling through exams. No matter what trials you are battling, stop looking inward and start looking around you. Invest in the people whose lives are part of yours. Hang onto each memory. Treat people with kindness–even the ones who don’t treat you well. And love the Lord your God.

One day, this world will pass away, and we will see how those fleeting moments and challenging relationships impacted eternity. Live today as though you don’t have tomorrow. What will be your legacy?

 

 

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Today is Saturday: Rest and Remember

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Out of respect for Chrissy and her family, I didn’t want to post her picture on my blog, so I thought this picture of my baby helping me to support her in my Team Chrissy t-shirt would be appropriate.

As I was getting ready to go to bed last night, I read the devastating news that a high school classmate of mine had finally won her five-year battle against cancer and is now walking on streets of gold with our Savior. Her family and friends feel the void deeply, and heaven is just a little sweeter today and a little more longed-for by those who are left behind. She was 38 years old–not much older than Jesus was when He died.

Today, I have been remembering the red-haired beauty who seemed to love life and her family well. Our class was small–just 28 at graduation–so the loss is felt by all of us. We are overwhelmed with the news and are holding her family in our prayers tonight.

It seems poignant that we would be face-to-face with another unexpected loss on the weekend that we are reflecting on Jesus’ death. She was young and had a plan for her future with her husband. We all expected to see her at our class reunion next month. But God had another plan for her, and we are left here on Saturday while she dances with him in Glory.

As we mourn the loss of my classmate, I started to wonder how the disciples must have felt on this day over 2,000 years ago. What was their Saturday like? The death of their Friend and Teacher must have left them stunned and without hope. They had put their trust in their future with Him, and now He was gone. They thought He was their Savior, but He was dead, and their faith had died with Him. What did they do on Saturday?

The Bible actually records very little about the Sabbath day that followed Christ’s crucifixion. Mark doesn’t even mention it in his account. Matthew recounts the day from Pilate’s point of view:

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[j] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard – Matt. 27:62-66.

But it’s Luke who tells us what Jesus’ followers did after He died–“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Lk. 23:56b).

Friday was a day of death, a day when darkness fell over the earth and God turned His face away. But Saturday was a day to rest–a day to recover from the emotional upheaval of losing one of their fellow disciples, to repent of their denial of Christ, and to mourn the loss of the One Who had loved them so well. What else were they to do? They had made preparations for His burial, and now was the time for them to rest and reflect on the life He had led with them.

Did they rejoice in having known Him? Did they recall to one another the moments when He made the lame to walk and the blind to see? Did they share stories of precious moments when He taught them about life and faith and a future in  heaven? Did they cling tighter to each other, partially in fear of being the next ones crucified and partially because we are created to need one another in the hard times?

Today is Saturday. We mourn the loss of our friend just as the disciples mourned the loss of theirs. But because of what the disciples endured, we do not weep without hope of ever seeing our friend again.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words – I Thess. 4:13-18.

I know that my classmate would want you to have this hope. She knew who her Savior was, and she is rejoicing in heaven today. But if you haven’t met our Savior, then you cannot possibly understand this hope we have. You cannot possibly know why we can rejoice in her life.

Yesterday, we mourned. But today is Saturday. Today, we can rest and remember.

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