Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Continuing our discussion of what to respect…

#3  For other people God has made
Other people belong to God.  They are His creation, and they are precious to Him.  Whether we like them or not, whether they are like us or not, we are not to judge their value as any less than ours.  How can we judge someone as lesser without leaving behind a question that we might be lesser?

Several categories of people are given precedence in the scripture:
  • The elderly – Leviticus 19:32 (also numerous places in Proverbs)
  • The poor – Galatians 2:10, James 2:5, several of Jesus’ parables
  • Widows & orphans – James 1:27
Children also need to be taught to be respectful toward their peers and siblings.  Sarcasm, cut-downs, and one-upmanship are not godly patterns.  They are tied to pride and selfishness.  While this means hard work for parents to train against the sin nature of childish humanity, the payoff is rich!

#4  The property of others
One of the basic things God addressed in Levitical law (Old Testament) was what was to happen if someone damaged the property of another.  Examples were given for when a man killed his neighbor’s cow.  The basic concept was the need to replace something that was damaged.  In present day terms this can be as simple as not throwing trash in someone else’s yard or in replacing a toy broken while visiting a friend.

The founders of the United States included basic tenets of ownership and respect for property in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.  Property ownership is part of the American Dream.

Even children have a sense of what is theirs, of what they have dominion over.  This is why parents must not ignore children’s requests for parental assistance when guests’ children abuse their belongings.  When we hosted a small group meeting in our home, we had separate toys that were put out during that time.  We did not require our children to share everything.  We respected that as their dominion, and allowed them to decide what they wanted to bring out or not. 

As adults, we share what we choose to share.  My husband and I have a rule that if we borrow something, we return it in as good or better shape.  What we lend, we must be willing to let it go if something happens to it.  We do not loan what we cannot afford to replace ourselves.     

This is golden rule and then some.  Not only do we “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but we do unto others as Jesus has done for us.



Monday, February 27, 2012



What is your feeling when you hear this topic?  Roll your eyes and say, “Yeah!  THAT sure is lacking in our culture?”  Or, “Yeah, I’d like to get more respect!”  Whatever your feelings, you probably would have to agree that showing respect for others is something necessary to a good life, whether you are an adult or a child.

Parents who do not teach their children to be respectful are doing them no favors.  They may think they are raising independent thinkers, but those who do not know how to work under authority have serious problems all their lives.  They frequently struggle to hold a job.  They move from situation to situation rather than staying and working things out.   I have found that people who are perpetually needy or even homeless have this lack of respect for authority in common.
So what should we respect?  What does proper respect look like?

#1  Respect for parents and those in authority
Romans 13: 1-5 says we are to be subject to civil authorities.  These structures are put in place by God.  It says this proper alignment with authority structures is part of having a good conscience.

Parents must model this for children by showing respect for the authorities over them.  Bosses, police officers, and government officials can be the subject of complaints, gossip and even downright slander.  We can express our disagreement with policies of our President or Congress without being disrespectful.
I Peter 2:17 says “Show proper respect for everyone:  Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  This follows verse 16 which talks about living as free people.  Respect goes with freedom!

Children are to honor parents.  (See the Ten Commandments.)  Children are to obey parents.  (Ephesians 6:1)  If they do not learn to obey you, how will they ever obey God?  If they do not respect your authority, how will they respect and obey at school or work after they are grown.  Work on these patterns while they are young and moldable. 

This is not to say they should be mindless robots.  After they obey, it is good to discuss the reason “why” you asked them to do certain things.  Help them see how good it is for them to do what you ask.  Let them discuss things with you.  Do not ask older children for blind obedience.  Explain why, not by way of justifying your existence, but helping them think at higher levels.

Teach children that it is okay to question authority in a respectful manner.  Not to be confused with arguing with authority, they may ask for clarification on a matter.  If they have further information that has not come to light, they can bring that to the discussion.  But they must accept that in the end, the authority has the right to settle the matter with their decision.  Young children (under 8 or so) should obey first, and get explanations afterward.

Everyone is under someone’s authority.  There is no such thing as 100% independence.

#2  Respect for God’s creation
I’m not a tree hugger, but I do see our responsibility as stewards and viceroys of God’s creation to rule it, subdue it, and make it fruitful.  We cannot destroy the environment we live in and expect to live well in it.  None of us wants dirty water or barren polluted land to dwell in.

First, we should be grateful that God gave us a beautiful place to live.  Is. 45:18 talks about how God formed it  and did not create it to be a worthless waste.  We could be living on the moon!  Yikes!

That said, creation is meant to be enjoyed.  It is not meant to be preserved separate from human touch.  It is not sacred in itself.  It is not to be worshipped.  (Ro. 1:25)

As good stewards, we can leave it better for our children and our grandchildren than it was when we received it.

More on respect tomorrow...

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Children don’t arrive with a manual in the glove box.  Sometimes I wish they would.  But God does give us the Bible with lots of instructions for parents.  Here’s some of the best advice I have received for parenting.

 #1 – Embrace the fact that God give life and therefore He gives parents the authority to do the job. 

Sometimes parents seem to be intimidated by the job of parenting.  They are more concerned about their children being mad at them (a given at some point!) than they are about training the child to do what is right and to be a good moral person.  You are not their buddy.  You are their parent.  They will have other friends through the years, but only one mom or dad.  And if you do a good job through the years, you’ll get the opportunity to be adult friends when they grow up!

Deuteronomy 4:9-10
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

#2 – Embrace the responsibility of parenting.

God gave you the job, even though He knew you wouldn’t do it perfectly.  My husband and I apologized to our oldest child when he was about 12.  We told him we were learning to parent with him as our guinea pig, and were doing the best we knew how.  (Thankfully, we can say he turned out great!)

Be intentional in your parenting.  Don’t wait for a problem and then react, but set goals for character and spiritual growth.  Choose skills to be learned and chart a course for teaching them.  Build on each child’s strengths and gifts, and help them work on their weaknesses. 

Don’t react to situations that arise out of your being embarrassed or when something personally offends you.  Stop to think about the principles you are training into your children.  Correct them for their own good and growth, not your personal satisfaction.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Proverbs 22:6

Children don’t turn out well on their own.  (Proverbs 29:15)  Society has taught that we should expose our children to all kinds of ideas and then let them choose.  NO WAY!  Pour into them the principles that apply to life, teach them the moral reason why, and train them up to a solid standard of behavior.  In the heat of the moment when they are angry, you want them to remember there is a standard of what is acceptable and good.

Proverbs 29:17 

Don’t let the child lead.  Even if they are smart or gifted, they are not all-wise or great in experience.  Some parents let their child do anything they want, and then correct behavior as necessary.  This is a bit like telling them they can do no wrong.  They’ll be surprised when society does not agree.  (This was actually cited as a concern for the two young men who perpetrated the Columbine massacre.)  Teach them to embrace and cultivate their gifts, but also to struggle against their weaknesses.  They’ll thank you for it someday.

Proverbs 26:12

Don’t let them be independent too young.  Give freedom commensurate with ability and demonstrated responsibility.  Kids with too much independence at a young age will rebel against restrictions placed on them later.  They actually become “wise in their own eyes”. (Prov.)  Notice, I did not say truly wise, but just that they think they are.  Think of a graphed line that shows responsibility / freedom at “0” at birth and at 100% at adulthood.  Your control should start at 100% at birth and diminish to “0” by adulthood.  Midway (around 12 or 13 if the child is responsive) the two lines should cross and be about half-and-half.

#3 – Embrace the hard work of parenting. 

Face it.  Children will not misbehave or have an emotional meltdown only when you are rested and ready.  Parenting means you are still on duty when you’d rather be doing something else like when you’re sick or when you need a nap.

Realize that some days will not go well.  Get back up from a spouse.  Tag team with a grandparent.  Declare amnesty for the offenders and go out for pizza once in awhile.  Give yourself permission on those bad days to do nothing but deal with kid-issues.  The house may be a wreck, but everyone is alive to try again another day.

Take respites.  Make sure you have time alone or get-aways for date nights and fun times.  All work and no play makes mommy a grumpy person.  Schedule and guard that time.  It should be 2-4 hours each week with other adults or by yourself.  Mommy burnout is a real possibility.  And it’s ugly!

#4 – Don’t parent out of fear.

You may have bad experiences from your childhood, perhaps even an abusive parent.  Don’t let that stop you from being active in your parenting.  Some folks are paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing, so they do nothing.  That leaves they child in a bad place, without guidance and protection from their own whims and willfulness.

Tomorrow – what to train into your child, not just train out of him / her.

Thursday, February 2, 2012



Years ago my way of cleaning was to let things pile up until I couldn’t stand them.  Or I would let things go, then clean like mad when we were going to have company.  You know how it goes.  It’s like when people tend to fix up their home only when they plan to sell it.

One day the Lord convicted me of that, telling me that if it was good enough for my family, it was good enough for anyone else.  They were as important (or MORE important) than anyone else who might come to our home.

I had to rearrange my thinking.  What was good enough for my family?  What message was I sending to my children about their worth?  It was time to raise the bar.  My goal was not to just get by, but to create a place that was orderly and peaceful.  I wanted to send subliminal messages that they were cared for and loved. 

Making sure the daily “Basics” were faithfully done and that there was healthy well-balanced cooking in the works spoke volumes.  Limiting clutter, making sure surface (counters, tables, floors) were clean said this is a safe place for you to grow and to bring your friends.

I made the front living room off limits to toys.  I could welcome guests without having to apologize for clutter.  Toys were okay in the family room, but we had a “toy break” clean up time twice a day.  One set of toys had to be picked up before the next round brought out.

I had to analyze what was piling up.  Did that stuff have a home?  If I found myself moving a stack from here to there and then to somewhere else, did it have a place?  The old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place” applies.  It needed a bin, a drawer, a hook, or somewhere where everyone knew it belonged. 

Having a box or bag in the garage or bottom of the coat closet designated for charity took care of a few things that tended to pile up in bedrooms and the laundry room.

You probably don’t qualify for those scary TV shows about hoarders and people who don’t clean out their refrigerators, but you can set a standard of cleanliness that makes your home the place to be.  Send your family a message:  “You are WORTH ‘company clean’.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



There are still a few chores that aren’t on our list, things like washing windows and cleaning baseboards.  I like to treat these as projects to be done each spring and fall.

Wash windows (I love mild soapy water and a squeegee for this!) 

        Clean baseboards, banisters, and tops of door frames 

        Dust books and book shelves 

        Vacuum behind refrigerators and freezers 

        Clean oven 

        Clean out pantry shelves 

        Have carpets cleaned professionally (2-4 times per year)

        Tidy and sweep out garage 

        Touch-up paint throughout house

        Wash blinds and/or drapes

        Change furnace filters (every other month or so)

        Flip mattresses

Pick one Saturday per month for one of these projects.  Don’t give up all your Saturdays for them.  Don’t let them haunt you or make you feel guilty.  Work them into your calendar.

When you notice something that needs to be cleaned (like the chandeliers or light fixtures), put it on that rotating list for that one project day.  Don’t beat yourself up about it being dirty.  This stuff has to be done in everyone’s house.  Trees lose their leaves, birds lose their feathers.  It’s the second law of thermodynamics.  Things proceed from a state of lesser to greater disorder.  It even happens in the universe.

Then you can sit back and relax on your deck or at your fireplace, enjoying your lovely, orderly home.