How to Have the Family You Always Wanted – Part 9

th

Keep First Things First

“The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life. ” ~ David Jakeilo

Sometimes life controls us instead of us controlling our life.  It is vital to periodically stop and take an accounting of our priorities lest we fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent.  When we allow this to happen it is usually effects those closest to us in a negative way.  Your priorities will be determined by your value system.  However, I would encourage anyone to think long and hard before they put their career at the top of their priority list.  Life passes all too quickly and you know the old saying, “You never see a hearse towing a Uhaul.”  The “stuff” stays behind.  Our real legacy remains behind in the lives of those we impacted along the way.

For me, my priorities are my faith, my marriage, my family, then my career.  It seems when I keep things in that order, my life is really great.  When my priorities shift, my life can go into a tailspin in nothing flat.  When I see the very first tell tale sign that I’ve gotten myself out of sync, I stop and do a quick self evaluation and invariably I find that my priorities have gotten misplaced.

Keeping your priorities in order is like a pilot keeping his eye on the Altitude Indicator to make sure that the plane is flying level.  Remember to do regular “Priority Checks.”

How to Have the Family You Always Wanted – Part 8

th

Put Others First

It’s not all about you.  In our “take care of number one” culture, this goes cross grain with our logic. Humans by nature tend toward self-centeredness. After all to give is to lose – right?  This philosophy can create such a fear of loss that if we aren’t careful, we can get swallowed in a vortex of selfishness.  Then, we lose sight of the simple fact that true joy comes from giving not from getting.  When we decide to put others needs before our own, something almost magical happens, our soul feels truly fulfilled.  Over the holidays we experience a microcosm of this truth as we exchange gifts, or when we hand out Christmas dinners at a homeless shelter.  Giving just makes us feel great.  The truth is, at the very core of our being we were designed to find our life when we give it away.  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 6:25

So how does this apply in our family?  First, let me make it clear, I’m not talking about taking your kids to the homeless shelter, although that’s not a bad idea.  What I’m trying to bring out is, putting others first through random acts of kindness should start at home.  Nothing says, “I love and believe in you,”  like a demonstration of putting another family member’s wants, needs, and desires before your own. Maybe the next time someone in your family wants to go one place and you want to go to another, you could defer to them and put them first by doing what they’d like to do.  Here’s an assignment if this whole idea strikes a chord with you.  Take some time and jot down a list of ways you can put each member of your family first, and then start doing your list this week. You might be surprised to see a love revolution in your family.  Please share your best ideas with us so we can spread the love.

How to Have the Family You’ve Always Wanted – Part 7

th

The Number One Key to Peace in Your Home

Be quick to forgive. Easier said than done until you realize the incredibly high price of a grudge.  Failure to forgive has destroyed more marriages, families, interpersonal relationships, and lives than any other single poor life-choice. Unforgiveness is a personal prison you sentence yourself to, and the good news is you are the only one who has the key to let yourself out.

For our family, holding a grudge against anyone for anything was not an option. This policy was one of the biggest keys to harmony and peace in our family. We called it keeping “short accounts.”

Forgiveness has nothing to do with how we feel, it is a choice we make. It’s not an emotional decision, it’s a heart choice.  Sometimes we have to make it, and make it, and make it, as many times as it takes until it sticks. Your choice will bring you the life-changing freedom that only true forgiveness can bring, if you stay consistent in making good choices in the thoughts you keep and the ones you discard.  Then you train your kids by your example.

We taught our kids that when they realized they did something unkind to one another, they needed to immediately go to the person involved and ask their forgiveness.  We taught them to say, “I was wrong for ________, will you forgive me?”  And hopefully the response would come back, “I forgive you.”   Remember, there is creative power in our words.  Important: once we forgave, we never brought it up again.  Just like Jesus.

We all lived by, when you blow it, man up and own it.  Ask forgiveness quickly so bitterness and unforgiveness never have the chance to take root.  “I was wrong, but you . . . “ just didn’t get it.  That was blaming – not owning in our household.  Any time you put a “but” in a sentence, you can forget anything that came before it.

Are you in a self-imposed prison of unforgiveness?  Now you have the key, use it and set yourself free.  Your example also holds the key to keeping your family free of this plague as well.

My New Parenting Tool

This one was literally over 20 years in the making! I started writing it when my kids were teenagers and set it aside until I felt compelled to pick it back up a few years ago.    I am excited and honored that my good friend Jim Wideman wrote the Forward.  His wisdom alone is worth the price of the book!

I hope you find this a handy tool for your parenting arsenal.  It was written with the busy parent in mind in short devotional style chapters with helpful tools at the end of each chapter.  Whether your kids are 6 months or 60, the truths in this book will improve every relationship in your life beginning with your relationship with yourself.

Available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

51aBbw-RY6L._AA160_

When Life Gets Crazy

It’s summer, and you’d think everything would grind to a halt, right? Or maybe, you’d think it would just slow down to a lazy summer pace, but for me it feels like things are heating up just like the days. Summer can throw us off our groove, so it is important to keep our priorities straight. Make that “first thing” appointment with God and make sure you keep it. With the kids home, vacations to plan, and no one to blame for it, you need to be sure to put on your “armor” every day. It is also a great time to have a mini Vacation Bible School with your kids. Pick a theme and spend a week around that theme, plan activities, tell Bible stories that fit your theme, make theme related snacks, and spend time talking about that subject. You can get lots of ideas online. You can make summer a time of bonding and growing closer to God instead of putting Him on the shelf until school starts. Make this summer count!

What Do You Do On The Dog Days of Summer?

Well, school’s out and that means the kids are home, all day, everyday. What a great opportunity to invest some quality time into their lives. When we really stop to think about it, unintentional as it may be, there are other people who have an opportunity to influence our kids way more than we do. When was the last time you spent six hours straight with your kids, let alone six hours times five days a week, time months and months? Part of our job description as parents is to be the chief influencer in the lives of our kids, training them up in the things of God. We are their leaders, and as John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.” Here is a concentrated block of time when we have the opportunity to spend more quality time with them than at any other time during the year. Part of influence is creating memories. Positive memories are powerful inroads to influence. Don’t miss this window, this chance, this divine opportunity to make some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. A memory maker doesn’t have to cost a mint, we used to just pack up our dinner and take it to the park to eat together. Then, we’d feed the ducks and hike around the lake. Sometimes Kip would take the kids fishing, or we’d swing on the swings in the play area. It sounds mundane, a nonevent really, but our kids still reflect fondly on those times nearly thirty years later. Make it a priority to make some memories with your kids this summer.

Here in St Louis we’ve got so many great things to do: the Zoo, the Science Center, Butterfly House, Magic House, Cardinals, Muni and much more. What are some of your ideas of things to do with your kids this summer?

Follow Me As I Follow Jesus

“Children are looking for someone who will stand up and say, “Follow me as I follow God.” Parents should strive to be leaders that are examples to their children. Jim Wideman in Connect with Your Kids

Our children come to us as a blank slate and it’s our job to etch God’s destiny for them into their hearts. I learned early on that children become what we are and not what we say. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at age 16 listening to my mother lecture me on why I shouldn’t smoke. I counted, she smoked 6 cigarettes during the course of that lecture. The impact, I got up and lit a cigarette at the end of the lecture. After I gave my life to Christ at the age of 22, that lecture scene came vividly back to my mind as I looked at my young son. Then, it hit me, if I didn’t live this thing called Christianity in front of my son, he would end up doing just what I did after my mom’s anti-smoking lecture. The gravity of my responsiblity as a parent became real to me that day. God had entrusted this child to me to bring up to follow God, and if I did not serve Him with all my heart, mind, and soul, there was a really good chance my son would not either. I remembered a saying I had heard ironically from my mom, “Our children indulge in excess what we allow in moderation.” I determined that day that I would be an example of a true disciple to my son, and then later to my other children. Today, all three of my children are in ministry and follow after God with their whole heart.