The truth about kids and chores.

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I love chores.

No, no, no… i don’t think you heard me. I love them. It’s weird, As I type, it is 7:00 am and I have already made breakfast and lunch for my man, kissed his sweet face and sent him on his way. I’ve swept, mopped, done dishes, stirred lunch, done one load of laundry and taken out the trash.

It’s bad.

If you come to my home mid-afternoon {when and if} there is nothing to do… I’ll have created something to do. I will be cleaning baseboards, closets, raking leaves, mowing the grass, or maybe even starting a new paining project. It is something I have to surrender every.single.day,

being busy.

My kids? Hmmm, for some reason, they can find other things to do; sometimes that gets on my nerves. I mean come on, they make most of the mess, don’t they care?

I remember one day this past winter when we were doing chores around the house before school. I had just configured a new chore chart and it was going to be a history maker. This was going to solve all our chore problems. My kids were going to love doing simple chores and they were going to do them really well. I mean come on, we always have the music turned up loud during chores, we’re all happy here, right?

Well, this momma walked into the bathroom after my little Jordi was sent to clean it and it was not done well. Immediately, frustration took over me.

Look at this, she doesn’t even care.

Look how lazy.

Uh, she didn’t even look behind the door.

Now, before you start feeling all sad for her– honestly, she has swept the floor enough times to know you remove the trash can and sweep behind it and you get the yuckies from behind the door. BUT, on this day, the lesson wasn’t for her, it was for me.

The truth spoken to my heart that day was simply this,

Chores are not given to replace mommas job, but rather build character.

Oh man, I had to re-sweep the floor.

Now, there are days when my kiddos halfheartedly do their work and I have to kindly remind them to give their best, encouraging them they can do better. But for the most part, I usually need to manage my expectations. My goodness, the war of expectations.

Here is the way it works in our home. You probably have a better way, I am sure. I’m sure your children’s names are America, Liberty, Justice, and Peace. In fact, I bet they all say Yes, Ma’am every time you ask them to do something. Yup! I can imagine it now: they are probably only eight and ten and make dinner for your whole family while quoting whole books of the Bible. Actually, if that is you, could you please email me some advice?

For the other one percent of you who are like me and need a bit of encouragement from time to time on the matter,  here are my countless two cents =)

In the morning after breakfast, we do check lists. I have gone back and forth over the years with this method, trying to move past it. However, the truth is– it just works and it works well, for us.

Now, when my children were all young, the reward for finishing your list was just a kiss from mom. However, as they get older, I have added incentive in the form of a quarter. This works good for them because they all put their quarters into the family fun jar which helps us go on fun trips. We don’t have allowance in our home, if our kiddos need money, they ask for jobs but as far as a weekly payment for contributing to the family? We don’t go that route.

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bigger hands checklist

You will notice it says, today’s daily chore. This is based on the child’s individual abilities. I usually try to have these on the board in the morning. Otherwise the children are coming to me asking me what their daily chore is and I have to think of one real quick.

Some days, the chores are a bit harder and I have to get smart. =) For instance, the other day Jordan’s chore was to scrub some spots out of the carpet. For my oldest daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue. She is so type A, she wouldn’t have just cleaned that area, she would have continued throughout the whole house. (not a good thing, mind you–being type A like me =( poor girl) As for Jordan, she just likes to get the job done. So, with a job like this, we make it a game.

I say, “Go outside and knock at the door; we will pretend you are a carpet cleaner”

Anything imagination gets Jordan.

“Ok, Mom, my name is Mrs. Courtney.”

So she comes in the house and explains to me what she is going to do. She then asks, “Are these your children? Meaning Judah and and Emmyn. To which I reply, “Yes” She then tells me, “Well, they are welcome to help me if they would like.”

Of course they wanted to play the game.

Jordan getting Judah’s carpet cleaning belt all ready =)

I know what some of you are thinking, you want your children to enjoy doing chores without a game. You are worried if you make it a game they are not going to have a good worth ethic when they grow up, you fear they won’t ever take initiative. Well, here are our choices right now mommas:

Joy or Hatefulness

One choice is happy, makes it fun. The other yells and makes them work hard.

One child is more likely to love chores when they are older. The other hates them and does everything for their kids because their mom was always so mean.

Think of it this way, it’s a Mary Poppins approach.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap!  The job’s a game.” -Mary Poppins

Right now, little Judah gets a chocolate chip for each check on his list to keep him focused. The big girls have to write their beginning and end time on their list. Tomorrow, it will be something totally different to keep them going. But for the most part? We’re happily working together to get the job done.

Joyfully managing expectations right there beside you,

Kati

The day my nine year old was picked up by the police: When people think you have it all together

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“I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“I.want.a.NEW.family.”

Stomping her feet- right there in the middle of her bedroom, surrounded by all who love her; she had made up her mind- it was time to leave.

And what do you do when something like that happens?

Because when you’ve grown up being tossed around from foster home to foster home- from institution to institution when things get hard; of course you want to leave.

So, she left. And I followed- all secret agent like. Parking behind trees and in peoples driveways. It’s true. I simply hid out as I watched my little girl skip around town- thinking all was right with the world; thinking she had won.


Some days, I want to skip around town- thinking all is right with the world, thinking I have won. But the truth is: I’m a broken mess.


I followed her for an hour before the city police finally came and picked her up and drove her home. All the while I thought, “And people think we have it all together.”

This is the truth, friends.

None of us have it all together.

I have sat with mommas who have tried to take their lives; mommas who I thought had it all together. I have sat with women whose marriage I envied; only to find they were nearing divorce. I have wished upon stars for your picture perfect child to influence my not-so picture perfect child; only to find your child is no-so picture perfect after all. I have hoped and dreamed for the homes of many- only to see those homes be taken by the bank or cause a divorce over finances.

My nine year old just wanted a new family. And when the police picked her up? Well, she didn’t care one bit. She told him she ran away because she didn’t want to do her math problems and she wanted a new family. Well, in orphan world- police take you from families to make you safe. She thought he would just snatch her up and move her to a math-less world. So, when he said, “Next time, I’m taking you to juvie.” She wasn’t too impressed.

So, how do we: moms, dads, sons, daughters, co-workers, bloggers, foodies, grandmothers, men and women– how do we show the love and grace of Jesus in a true and genuine way? Because as Ann Voskamp sweetly reminds us:

“Aren’t we all really like Peter– cowards and liars and deniers and absolute messes? I am.”

I am.


And when one runs away or one hits another child, or one does something unthinkable, I simply am reminded. We all need Jesus. A suit, tie, and seminary degree, all packaged with a big smile aren’t going to change the fact that I am a broken mess and so desperately in need of a savior.

And hopefully? By leaving all of that religious, “I’ve got it all together” facade aside, this desperation can speak loud into the lives of my children. That life is hard, and days can be crazy. But Jesus is loving, and grace filled- no matter what.

Then, when we break at the feet of Jesus,  we’re just a bit like my nine year old- who, hours later– even hours after being toted home in a patrol car- finally broken, collapsed in my arms and said,

“I’m sorry mom and I love you.”

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“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1a

Lavished by the King- and so desperately in need of Him–

Right along side of you, friend.
Kati

Similar Post: Do things that make the white guy in Walmart say, Da** girl; how many baby daddies have you had?


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Saturday STOP Challenge: STOP and consider adoption- Because children matter.

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James 1:27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

“I was an orphan.

I thought nobody cared.

Nobody told me they loved me.

I wondered if anyone would ever call me, son. daughter. beloved.

And then, someone loved.

And now, I’m home.”

More on adoption:
Jesus Can Love Through A Crazy Person Like Me? An Adoption Story. 

Do Things That Make The White Guy at Walmart Say, “Da** Girl, how many baby daddies have you had?” An Adoption Story.

Who we adopted our two kiddos from: FORthe1 <<<—— click the link to be re-directed.

Truly Adopted By The King of Kings,

Kati

this helped my children stop complaining.

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It’s the sigh I hate most.

I don’t know why it always grabs me the wrong way, making my tongue want to leap out of my mouth like a snake–

When they complain.

It’s the fastest ticket to this mommas nerves. I don’t know why. Sometimes I think it’s because I have a go-getter attitude, “get it all done yesterday” =) Or perhaps because I’m an adult and I see a need and meet it.

However, as sure as the sun is rising this morning my little heart whispers to me, yet again:

“It’s your flesh”

Ah, yes. That sneaky ‘ol thing again– trying to ruin the sweet fellowship between me and my kiddos.

Sometimes it’s a quick trip to the table for sentences. Right now, it’s the complaining jar.

As soon as that sigh or words of complaint come from those sweet lips of theirs– my tongue doesn’t have to whip out like a snake, I have a plan.

A solution.

I think as a parent, most of my frustrations, doubts, and sleepless nights come from having no plan– no solution. So then, I am left to worry and parent out of fear, rather than love. Fear of what consequences they will face as a result of their choices. Such as, complaining when someone askes for their help.

Now, I know your children don’t struggle with this, they do twirls and sing hymns while they gladly help with everything you ask.  And my kids do that too– when we’re on our way to get ice-cream ;)

For when we are at home and I’ve asked maybe one too many things– when they give me the sigh, (my littles mostly) I simply reply:

“Oh, you just complained, I’m sorry– you have to go to the complaining jar.”

And then this little momma has to follow through with the consequences =(

 

But when they choose Grace–oh happy day!

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One day, it will all be just a memory.

Breathe deep today, mommas. Remember, they’re all here now.

And they’re watching you. =)

Holding my tongue daily,

Kati

Have you heard how to trick your kids into love? Oh yes! It works too!


 

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why shackin’ up with people might not be such a bad idea.

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I met her Monday.

Monday. The day I finally let down my guard and allowed you to tip toe into my world. The day I finally shared what all God was doing. The day I trusted you with my secrets.

Because after all. People like to see a persons plans fail. Not many like to see or help them succeed. I believe the old saying goes, “They’ll pay a quarter to watch you smile, a dollar to watch you cry.”

But this isn’t about succeeding, is it?

Driving past our new future homestead, on our way to someone’s home to take out their garbage, we saw the neighbor, Ms. Rachel*.

By chance, my man and oldest daughter had met her earlier in the day, they mowed the empty lot next to her home. They never told her we would be moving in, next door to her– next month, Lord willing.

Stopping by to say hello, Daniel introduces me to her. She’s only lived there for two months.  She tells my sweet man about a leak, asks if he can help. We talk about food from her country, her small business here in America, and then it turns to where we live. To which my man says, “Well, you know, Ms.Rachel*, we are going to be your new neighbors.”

Puzzled, and talking so super cute with her accent, “You a gonna do what?”

Yes- we are going to be your neighbors, right across the road. We are going to use it for the community.”

We went on to tell her of our plans. Once a week, nonprofit, donation based cafe’ downstairs with healthy, homegrown food– special teas and coffee. We told her about the evening soup kitchen. Where people can come and eat homegrown food, enjoy special drinks, yummy coffee. Talk about Jesus, life, hardships, and just live together. We told her about the community garden we’ve been blessed to already start. We talked about the lifegroup currently meeting at our home, studying the book of ACTS and the early church. How they gathered together, sharing everything, nobody in need. Everyone a family. We told her about the community clothing SHARE we plan to have open twice per week. Where people can come and donate time, earning vouchers to shop for good, clean, clothes, toys, and housewares.

Then she says it.

You a gotta be kidding me…. ohhhhh you a gotta be kidding me. I just a sitting in my living room saying, ‘Oh God, today I fasted, something good is gonna happen… oh God, today I fasted, something good has to happen.’ You are my good news! The Lord has answer my prayers– I a prayed someone would come to that home who would use it for Jesus. “

“Oh, this is a gooood day. A gooood day. “

She grabs my face with her worn hands and kisses my cheeks.

“The Lord has answered my prayers. We a gonna do a lot of good stuff together. We are gonna use your home, AND my home. Oh, I’m a so excited.”

Little did she know, meeting her- had answered my prayers.

Funny how God works.

Not moments later, a man pulled up. Talked with my man. He had heard, through the little community grapevine, what we were doing.

He offered his city lot to use for an additional community garden.

His vacant. totally ready to plant a garden. city lot. The city lot directly across from the home we’re purchasing for the purpose of doing life together with the community. He offered it free of charge to be used for the purpose of loving people. Loving people through food, through working the ground, through talking about life, through living. Together.

He [that amazing. always knocking my socks off God.]

He had provided. again.

Not only had He provided like-minded friends to start together.

sold our house.

provided another home several thousand dollars less than asking price.

even given us an additional fridge for the cafe’ and a neighbor had randomly given us a deep freeze, unaware of what the Lord was doing.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

And He still knew I still needed a little something- something like a random neighbor saying, I’ve been praying for this sort of thing to happen.

Because when you do this sort of thing, friends. Something like offer your home for community use, take on a home bigger than you would choose to buy if not for this purpose, with human hopes it all works outwhen you share hopes and dreams of simply walking this Jesus walk differently, a little more like the way you read about in scripture- where people lived together, dreamed together, held each other accountable, and helped each other no matter what. Where there were no TV’s or smart phones to steal our attention… back “then” as my kids always say. When you start talking like that?

People think you’re crazy. YOU start to think you’re crazy.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to need another reminder, I’m sure. Because I’m human. And the ways of the Lord are scary. And saying you’re following the “way of the Lord” alone sounds and feels all pious. But He just reminds me again and again.

This. is what you’ve been called to at this moment. Don’t hide your lamp stand. Tell others the good news of what I am doing.

So, we told Ms. Rachel*. And she said, “We’ll use your home, and my home.” The man stopped and said, “You can use my city lot.”

And God says, “See? There are other crazy people out there, my darling.”

Do not be afraid.

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“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Do you ever feel crazy?

Friends. We serve the God who silenced the hearts of Kings. The God who created the ground we walk on. He will give you boldness to stand strong and love big. It’s scary. But He’s bigger than your fears.

Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it just starts with a prayer or sharing ideas with friends. Most times? It means putting the bible study down and just getting dirty– applying the words we’ve read time.and.time.again. Sometimes, it’s getting out of the boat and sinking time.and.time.again. Oh my, oh my, I’ve almost sunk to the depths of the sea several times. I’ve done a lot of things wrong, assumed wrong things, and handled loving people wrong, many times.

But that Jesus of ours? He loves us all the same. He looks on us and has big plans for our little steps of love.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should: how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:18


May we have the courage to show this love to everyone
- no matter how crazy it makes us seem, no matter how many times we fail, no matter how scary.

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We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” – Mother Teresa

Much love,
Kati

*Ms. Rachel’s name was changed for this story.


 

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Jesus can love through a crazy person like me? An adoption story.

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writingwithintrees:

My heart is troubled for three kiddos I know of, needing a forever home tonight…

As our six kiddos are snug as a bug under covers- millions of children wonder if they will ever be wanted. And trust me, they do wonder.

Ever thought you were too crazy to adopt? Yeah, us too. Share the need for adoptive homes.

Originally posted on writingwithintrees:

“The hunger for love 
is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

~ Mother Teresa ~

Early one morning, talking with my husband, I ask the question, “Well, we’re almost finished. What will we do next?”

Because what do you do when you know there are countless children just waiting for love. 

This time, a month ago, our journey to forever ended and the real forever began as we finalized our adoption of two kiddos. Making our family a fun family of eight!   It seems as though, this is just the way it’s always been. Them and us- us and them.

It’s funny how God can talk to you through so many things- even something as little as adoption paperwork. There are hundreds upon hundreds (ok, it seems that way– :) ) pieces of paper associated with adoption but I have two I treasure most.

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Why the only fight worth fighting is the fight for love: A daughters story of her fighting dad.

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As I type- someone I love fights to breathe.

Gone are the days of important phone calls, junk mail to read.

The phone calls missed, the birthdays forgotten.

All matter not.

This is the truth of life friends.

We will all fight. We will fight over dirty laundry, dishes, and kids who have places to go.

We will fight with neighbors over property lines, cooks over food served cold. The phone company over high bills and insurance companies over unpaid promises.

But when the time comes to fight for life: those moments will not matter.

What will matter is, did you love.

Did you love when it was hard. When it wasn’t deserved? Did you love after years of absence and neglect?

Were you Jesus to someone?

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My dad left. He was fighting hard for custody of me and didn’t win. And when he lost, he left. And I never saw him again.

It wasn’t until a dozen years later that he called out of the blue to meet.

We’ve seen each other every year – once or twice, sometimes more for the past several years.

And the reason of absence doesn’t matter- the loss for words. The birthdays forgotten and the books never read.

What matters is now. What matters are the years after the dozen lonely ones. The years of having babies and those babies calling him, grandpa. Years of random phone calls from him- sometimes an email.

What matters is today. That when a fight ends- either his or mine, we will have loved no matter what.

May you choose, friends. To fight the battle that matters. The battle to love others- no matter what.

1 john 1:19

“We love because he [jesus] first loved us.”

And that dad of mine?

Well he’s pretty great after all.

Loves today and always friends,

Kati