9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids

She borrowed something from me.

And then she lost it.

Accidents happen.

But it was the whole “It only cost ten bucks-you can get another one” attitude that I couldn’t let happen a moment longer.

So, I gave her a job that required hard work and gave her the $10 she earned and then I made her pay me for what she lost.

Child counting money (Shallow DOF)

Listen, when I realized I was more than half the problem in this whole entitlement parenting challenge, it was a wake up call. Kids naturally want what they haven’t earned, especially if we are handing it out for free.

But what we have is an entire generation of young adults who got everything they ever wanted with little or no work; we have a cultural norm and it’s a problem.

Because reality is, life doesn’t give us everything we want. We don’t always get the best jobs or a job at all. We don’t always have someone rescue us when we have a bad day or replace our boss just because we don’t like them. We can’t always have what we want when we want it. We aren’t always rewarded in life.

Here are 9 things we can get rid of to begin eliminating entitlement in our children:

1. Guilt: Often we give into our kid’s requests out of guilt. We need to stop feeling guilty for not giving our kids everything they want. It’s hard to swallow, but we foster the attitude of entitlement in our homes when we are ruled by a guilty conscience. It’s okay to ask kids to be responsible for what they lose and to require consequences for actions.

2. Overspending: I think it’s good for our kids to hear us say, “We can’t afford that” Or “We will have to save for it.” Because that’s real life. We don’t have All The Money to Buy All the Things. I’ve known families before who are working multiple jobs to keep kids in extracurricular activities, when honestly, the kids would probably be happier with more family time.

3. Birthday Party Goody Bag (Mentality)-I’ve been guilty of this like most of us. But, really? We take our kids to parties so they can give a gift, but they take a small one home so they won’t feel bad? It’s not their birthday. This concept of spoiling kids (which usually goes far beyond goody  bags) is temporary fun. It’s okay for them not to be the center of attention.

4. Making our day-week-month, our world about our kids-Working in the non-profit world has redirected our extra time. We simply can’t center our lives around our children when we are centering our lives around Christ. Child-centered homes don’t help children in the long-run.

5. The desire to make our children happy (all the time). If you visited my house, you’d find out pretty quickly that someone’s always unhappy. It’s not our job to keep our kids happy. Don’t carry that impossible burden. Typically when our kids are unhappy, it’s because we are standing our ground. And that makes for much healthier kids in the future.

6. Made Up Awards: You know what I’m talking about. Rewarding everyone who participates in every area only fosters an inflated self esteem. Kids don’t need rewards for every little thing. It’s okay to lose, they learn through failure as much as success.

7. Fixing all their problems: I don’t like to see my kids struggling. There’s a part of every parent that longs to make things right in their child’s world. But it’s not healthy to create a false reality. You won’t always be there to do so and not only that, if you’re doing it all for your child, why would they need to learn to do it themselves? Fixing all their problems is really only creating more challenges in the future.

8. Stuff: We could all probably fill a half dozen trash bags with just stuff. Excess. Try it. Bag it up and get your kids to help you and give it to someone who needs it.

9. Unrealistic Expectations: My girls are always asking for manicures. I didn’t have one until I was married, pregnant and 27 years old. I’m not opposed to the occasional treat, but it’s the attitude of expecting it because you as a parent or others have it. Just because I have an iPhone, doesn’t mean my children will get one. We don’t have to give our kids everything we have. It’s okay to make them wait for things in life.

It’s okay to toss out these things. Go ahead, give it a try.


To the Children of Texas

We’ve had two weather days in our part of Texas this winter.

School was canceled. Roads were sanded. Bread aisles were emptied.

And before you northerners mock us too badly, it’s been the coldest winter for us in 40 years.

Plus, there was real live ice.

On one of these days, I watched my Texas kiddos scrape bits of dirty ice from the mailbox and cram it into a ball and call it a snow since they had never seen real snow before.

Poor Texas children. It was pathetic.

And then it was nearly 80 the next day.

We are on our way home from Spring Break in New Mexico, where my hubby and I lived after we got married. On Sunday, we got to share about Mercy House with the church we youth pastored nearly a dozen years ago.

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We also found real snow in the Santa Fe mountains.

This happened immediately:

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Here are 10 things we learned about snow:

1. It’s all fun and snowballs until your hands get too cold. And then it’s a literal meltdown.

2. Snow reflects the sun and causes really bad sunburns.

3. Moms have guilt when their children have blisters on their noses.

4. We were able to make every Frozen song applicable. Over and over. “Do you want to build a snowman?”

5. Plastic storage lids are perfect sleds. #rednecks

6. Kids aren’t sore after learning to ski.

7. Parents can hardly walk.

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8. Light skiing burns 2400 calories.

9. Related: Everything tastes delicious after skiing.

10. Snowball fights cause real life fights. #siblings

So, dear children of Texas, now you know what a real snow day is.


WFMW: Experiencing the Resurrection with Your Kids {E-book}

It’s hard to believe that we are in the days leading up to Easter.

We always try to take a few days and talk about this monumental event in our lives. In the past, we’ve created our own Resurrection story eggs and planted our own Resurrection gardens.

This year, I think we will use our senses to explore Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross and his triumphant resurrection. I love this little ebook my friend Amanda created.  It’s not too complicated and I think this hands-on approach will make it more real to my children.

A Sense of the Resurrection

My older kids are big enough to help me get items ready, read the scriptures and even teach their little sister. Here’s how it works:

A Sense of the Resurrection: An Easter Experience for Families has activities that focuse on one of the five senses–for example, smelling the perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet, hearing the rooster crow after Peter’s denial.
1. It’s only 12 activities. They can  be done the 12 days leading up to Easter or spread out, a few a week.
2. The activities are not just crafts–they are big memory-makers (like making bread for the Last Supper) or what I like to call ”memorials” where you make a craft-project that transforms your home (like making sparkly window catchers to remind you of the bright angel who rolled Jesus’ stone away).

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I think this ebook is practical way of teaching such an important subject is a great way to share what Christianity is all about with our kiddos!


Dear Moms of Littles, This Might Be The Most Important Thing You Do Right Now

She had a two year old wrapped around her leg, holding on for dear life, while she bounced her crying newborn in her arms as we talked.

“What’s new with Mercy House? Oh and the refugee women in Houston?” I noted the longing in her voice. I started to answer and she whispered wistfully, barely audible over newborn noises, “I’m jealous of your life.”

I almost laughed off the comment–because my day had consisted of a crammed  ”to do” list,  computer issues, a rushed meeting, dragging boxes to the car to mail, two dramatic daughters, several carlines and a tension headache.

My life is hardly worth being envious of….

But I knew she wasn’t talking about my day.

She was referring to my season in life.

And in a blink, I was the one standing in the kitchen of an older friend with a strong-willed two year old and a nursing baby, longing for my days to matter.

Dreaming of doing something big for God or at least getting enough sleep so I could dream. Or actually sleep.

I took her baby and patted his back, “Right now, your days are long. But the years are short. What you are doing-the burping, the diapering, the chasing, these days matter. Love is not waisted. Loving your babies is the most important thing you can do right now.”

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I suggested a few things she could do from home to help me out if she wanted to and she seemed excited.

But sometimes the best way to serve is to know our season.

And recognize its value.

This isn’t to say moms of littles can’t serve. But first you need to recognize being a mom of small ones is service. Service is never small.

Because you are the only one who can do it.

We often long to do more because we don’t believe what we do matters.

I love talking to others about saying yes. But we need to say it right where we are.

Maybe changing diapers is how God wants you to change the world right now.

I have more time to serve. My season allows it. But instead of having littles wrapped around me, depending on my body, I have kids who lean on me for a shoulder to cry on. And instead of sneaking out to Target when my babies were all asleep by 7pm like I used to, I’m up until 10pm listening to heartaches and headaches that tweens and teens often carry.

This is my season.

But just like winter blossoms into spring, seasons of motherhood change too. Sometimes they blow in like a storm or break the ground like a pastel miracle, new seasons are always coming.

So, don’t wish this time away. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Recognize it as your yes for now.

Because tomorrow the winds may change and you’ll have an opportunity to step out in a new way.

This just might be the most important thing you can do today.


The Invitation to More

“There has got to be more.”

These are haunting words.

I have said them. I have lived the hollow emptiness that comes with filling my life with things that do not matter.

I have looked at the mess of my life and longed for more.

More meaning.

More purpose.

More satisfaction.

More of God.

That can only mean less of me.

really living requires a real yes

And I found more in an unlikely place. It was saying yes in the middle of my mess. I quenched my thirst for more with my small yes to God.

When we obey Him, we drink from living water, it satisfies the thirst in our soul.

There’s nothing like it —  to witness the raw beauty of a woman who really lives into the fullness of wild faith. There is no really living without really saying yes. Without really taking one step that is is actually a leap. 

There comes a moment in every woman’s life when something she was tightly holding on to —- just slips from her hands. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a place…  a person ….  a purpose…. Sometimes it’s the life you always thought you’d be living.

And you find yourself standing in front of the mirror realizing that the faith you’ve been pulling on every day —- doesn’t seem to be enough?

What happens when you look yourself right in the eye and realize:

I’m not living like just Jesus is enough for me. 

What happens when you realize that, really?  You actually want a lot more than just Jesus.

That’s the moment when the rhinestone falls, clatters, across the floor.

That’s the moment you find yourself invited into endless diamond fields of real faith.

The actual kingdom of God.

This book in your hands is your invitation to The Real More. 

-an excerpt from the foreword of Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough by my amazing friend Ann Voskamp.

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Coming May 1st.