Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living Out Loud!

Our church’s vacation Bible school is over the top. It truly is a week that is exhausting and exhilarating, spirit moving and challenging. It is so awe inspiring to see these kids having so much fun learning about God and their faith through laughter, games, singing and true all out worship. The week before is spent decorating and putting final touches on all the (what seems like millions of ) details that comes with hosting such a big event. Our church has been blessed this year to host over 140 kids and over 70 volunteers. So as you can imagine, it can be a fine dance that really is all about organized chaos.

This morning, even more than other mornings, I felt the need to sit, have my coffee and read my devotional and pray before the rest of “my world” woke up and the day was already spinning out of control. While I was reading my devotional, I heard a message in my head, it’s the same message I have been hearing now for about a week, “Live Out Loud!” I hadn’t put much thought into it the first and second time I heard it but for some reason this morning it seemed louder and more earnest so I started to ponder this thought.

The Bible is clear that we are to not remain silent about our faith and to “always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks about the reason for our hope” (1 Peter 3:15) and even if we do not do our part we are told that the “rocks will cry out” (Luke 19:40). So where do we stand? Where do I stand? Am I ready to give an answer at any moment for the reason for my hope? Or am I allowing the rocks to speak for me?

Next week is all about living our life out loud…the music is loud…the games are loud…the laughter is loud…the excitement is loud. I have a feeling though that this “living out loud” message in my head is not necessarily about the volume as much as it is about living out my faith in a way that is not bashful or weak but rather bold and shared with others. I know that there will be children present that will be hearing about our amazing God for the first time; therefore, we have a responsibility, or more appropriately stated, an honor to share our faith and to live it out loud!

Something tells me though, that living out loud is not just reserved for the week of VBS but in fact it will come in the quiet one on one moment with other volunteers as we finish hanging decorations today or organizing paperwork. It will come in greeting a child with a warm smile or it may come in the quiet moments praying before our week even begins. It will come when we greet the man exiting the store while we hold the door for him or maybe it comes from the mom who looks over at you while a tantrum ensues from her youngest and instead of giving the judgmental look, she receives a warm smile and the recognition that she’s not alone and this too shall pass. It’s not just my words that can live out loud, but it’s my actions as well.

“My world” is now awake and already fighting over a toy first thing this morning so before I put on my referee hat, I want to leave us with this last thought:
 Are we living out loud or are we allowing the rocks to do our job?


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes!

I often struggle with the age old spank or not to spank. I have never been a big fan as I know that my spanking would be from anger and would be for the purpose of releasing the frustration rather than for discipline. I will admit though that there have been a few times that it has happened and it was for the very reason mentioned above...I was angry and looking for someone to take out my frustrations.

So tonight after many frustrating attempts to get Cooper to take off his clothes and get in the bath (of course, each request got just a smidge louder and more stern), I offered the threat under haste that I promised I wouldn't do anymore...."Cooper, get your clothes off and get in the bath right now....or .... (wait for it)....I am going to spank you!" The words just hung there in the air for a moment. I was so hoping he would follow through with his part because I knew for sure that I was not going to be able to follow through with my part. Inside I could hear little voices cheering him on, "C'mon Cooper! You can do it! Go put your clothes away! C'mon Cooper!".

I couldn't believe it.....he jumped off the chair, ran into his room, took off his clothes and put them in his dirty clothes basket. It actually worked. I took a huge sigh of relief, which really only lasted a minute because I then moved instantly into mommy guilt. However, this is only where the story begins because the real kicker is what happened next. As Cooper went skipping past me to the bathroom he said, "Mommy if you gave me a spanking I would've given you a kiss." Hmm? I asked him to repeat it for me. "Mommy if you gave me a spanking I would've given you a kiss." So I asked him why he would kiss me after I gave him a spanking. His answer was quick and to the point as he went skipping through the house and I hope it's one I that will never forget. He said in full confidence, "I would kiss you to make you feel better because you would've been really sad if you had to spank me." And off he went to the bath. Gotta love that kid. I often overlook just how sweet, loving and incredibly smart he can be.

He's right, I would've been crushed! Crushed that I spanked him, crushed because I wasn't parenting or teaching but rather responding in anger, crushed because I didn't know what to do or how to be the parent I needed to be in that moment. Ugh! I wish I had a quick solution; however, it only takes me back to the same idea we have danced around and only mentioned in passing for the last 7 years: WE NEED A FAMILY VISION STATEMENT.

It looks like Blane and I now have a summer project and if I do say so myself, the sooner the better. I know that the frame work of a vision statement will help set boundaries and expectations for the entire family. Does the behavior fall in line with the realistic expectation placed on them? Expectations placed on us as parents? Does the punishment really best "fit the crime" or was I just reacting rather than responding? Does this extracurricular activity fall within the vision of our family or is it just another item that only leads to the business of life? All interesting things to ponder.We'll see how this works itself out this summer.

For now though, here's a great starting place. I recently read an article about "rules vs. ruling". I also saw the same concept in place at a friends home (thank you Mary for letting me share - see picture below).

Expectations for the home:

Reasons for Disciplining:

Love it! Simple and something we can all remember at a quick glance. It doesn't call for raised voices (I will need a little ear piece to remind me of that when I am breaking up a sibling quarrel tomorrow) or even great lengthy debates. I would love to hear if any of you have disciplining ideas or even you have a family vision statement? Churches have them, shouldn't we if we are going to "raise them in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6).


*quick note: I actually wrote this blog a few days ago; however, I knew all of you would appreciate this little addition. We were driving home after celebrating Parker's last day of school on Thursday when Cooper said, "This is a good day Mommy. A real Good day. You haven't even had to yell at us!". Out of the mouth of babes! Not to worry - just one more reason for Blane and I to start our summer assignment ASAP. Hopefully this summer there will be more intentional days filled with less yelling.

 Summer here we come! Happy Summer everyone!!