"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sabbath

A day of rest. A day to look at what God has made and reflect that it is, indeed, "very good."

Today was truly a Sabbath. I'm still a little shocked by it all. Does it ever amaze you when God's presence is almost tangible? When you focus on His Word and experience the power of it? It was one of those days today.

Yesterday was not. Yesterday was full of fighting. Whining. Anger. Frustration. Foiled plans. Yuk.I was NOT a happy mommy.

My wonderful husband sensed this. I think it may have had something to do with the multitude of texts he recieved from me during his workday. Or the mild meltdown he experienced over the phone. Or the twitching eyelid and pronounced, throbbing vein he encountered when I met him at the door upon his arrival home. Whatever subtle hint he picked up on, he decided that it would be wise to have some adult-only time last night. And so we did. The kids got pizza and big brother babysitting. The adults went out for a real meal and some conversation.

We talked about the insanity that had been our day. We talked about the frustration of things that KEEP happening no matter how we beg the kids to stop. We talked about how our approach to some of them just wasn't working. We talked about how maybe we had fallen into a rut of "do this now" parenting rather than creative training. And we talked about some solutions. We returned home rested, renewed, and with hope and some ideas in our heads.

This morning, the kids woke up. Some of the same old things started happening. So, some of the creative solutions were implemented. We had identified how people spoke to one another as a real issue in our house. Normal sibling rivalry has turned into controlling, demanding, manipulating, and downright meanness lately. It's driving me nuts. But this morning, rather than saying STOP IT!!!! and becoming adversarial, we got with the kids and worked out a plan. We talked *with* the kids instead of *to* them. (This used to be the case, but as more kids got added to the mix and other things happened in our lives, we just got lazy. And we've paid for that laziness.) Turns out, they don't like the constant infighting any more than we do.

Our solution? Turn it into a game. We found an appropriate verse in Proverbs to be our reminder and our guide to right speech. It is prominently featured on our bulletin board. Underneath it is a crudely drawn game board on a piece of printer paper. It is sectioned into 12 spaces - one for each hour of the day from 9am to 9pm. Each family member has his/her own game piece. For each hour that the player successfully goes with using only kind words, he/she moves forward one space. For each unkind/whiny/mean word, there is a one space backward penalty as well as an immediate 5 minute time out. Yes, adults included. Each and every player that reaches the end of the game board at the end of the day is awarded something special on the following day. We will do this for one week, then choose another verse to turn into a game.

The consensus at the end of today? Everyone loved it. The kids said it was easier to obey when it was a game; they could more easily visualize the consequences of their actions. The parents never had to raise their voices - just had to ask if the player was choosing to lose a space. The entire family is accountable to one another, and each understands that ultimately we are accountable to the God who asks us to live in unity and love. In fact, it worked so well that THE KIDS THEMSELVES were busy figuring out which issues would make good games for subsequent weeks. Obeying the first time, keeping bodies under control, taking care of toys... the suggestions were endless. I love that today was so peaceful even as we worked on something that has been so difficult to overcome in recent months.

Thank you, Lord for a Sabbath. For a day to look at the family you have given us and see that it is very good. May it continue...

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