Thank You for My Used Minivan

He sat in the back as our car sped down the street on the way to school that morning. His backpack in one hand, lunch in the other, and his eyes surveying his surroundings. My son sat in the very seat where residual from last month’s melted crayon episode could still be felt. Soda stains from two years back could still be seen, and the crumbs (quite possibly left over from the used minivan’s previous owner), lay scattered on the floorboard of our vehicle. This car—this used minivan of ours—is most definitely broken in and on its way to breaking down. So as my boy looked around at the mess before him that morning, slightly embarrassed, he asked:

“Can Dad take me to school today instead? I want to go in his car.”

Dad’s big work truck is a vehicle with all the bells and whistles, the latest and greatest in technology, an air conditioner that properly works, and clean inner cabin.

I get it.

Thankful for My Used Minivan via The MOB Society

What I Don’t Want for My Son

Like me, my son desires the very best this life has to offer. He’s drawn to the shiny objects, the ones that look (and feel) nice. He’s excited when it comes to new toys…new anything, really. But you know what? This isn’t what I want for my boy. I don’t want him growing up with a desire for the finer things in life (yes, you heard me right), because in all honesty, they serve as a distraction…from God, from those in need, from service to others, and from the appreciation (I hope) he’ll possess for all he’s been blessed with. Already, he is a child with so much…one who has yet to truly realize it; the food in a full cupboard, the toys in his room, the clothes in his closet. And yes, even the not-so-snazzy minivan he rides in.

It Starts With Me

However, this attitude of gratitude? It starts with me. See, I need this lesson too. I need to appreciate my blessings.

Every.

Single.

One.

Of.

Them.

I need to humble myself before the Lord and offer him praise–in the middle of my mess, in the middle of the dirty floors that I can’t bring myself to clean, in the midst of the dirty dishes that continually mount, in the meals that must be prepared…and in the minivan that still reeks from last week’s milk mishap. In every aspect of the seemingly mundane, I must be thankful. I’ve got to model this behavior for my children, lead by example and show them, I’m thankful for it all.

Thankful Even When We Don’t Feel Like It 

How do we give praise for broken down cars, unrelenting laundry, and urine on the toilet seat (yah, I went there). How do we give thanks for the things that don’t always feel like blessings? And how do we teach our children to do the same?

Practical Application:

  • Bow low. That’s right, we must humble ourselves. We must look at our surroundings and place a filter over our eyes. Rather than see all the negative, all that’s bad, or what bugs us, we have to change our way of thinking…our perception.
  • It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going right, Amen? It’s in those hard times where our attempts at gratitude feel forced. And hard. But that’s the Enemy working overtime, friend. Resist his attempts, by finding the good in every day, and in every situation. Hard as that might be.
  • Remember Who’s Watching: We are modeling the behavior our children see. And they see it all. They watch us grow frustrated, they hear our grumbling, they feel that angst when times are rough. Let’s work on this. Let’s exhibit that gratitude each one of us is capable of expressing…and passing on.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

In order for our kids to truly appreciate their blessings, in order for them to understand all that they have, they must see it from us, first.

 

Jenny-SulpizioJenny Lee Sulpizio is a Christian wife, mother to three, and author of the recently released, “For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace,” along with “Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe: On a Mission to Save Sanity, One Mom at a Time.”

Through her personal website, blog, and as a contributing writer for numerous mommy sites, there’s always plenty of information to relate to, encouragement to absorb, and a whole lot of comic relief to go around. Connect with Jenny by visiting www.jennyleesulpizio.com.

 

Three Practical Tips for Teaching Boys to be Wise (#BitsOfBrooke)

Hands at ten and two, I took the curve, and noticed the guard rail off to the right. Protection, it screamed, and the idea popped into my head for an object lesson.

“Son, what would happen if Mommy decided she just didn’t feel like staying on the road anymore? What if I decided I would rather go off-roading right now, and took a sharp right?”

He looked at me in the rear-view mirror like I was crazy, then said, “Um, mom, we would die. It’s straight down on the other side of that guard rail.”

Exactly.

Three Practical Tips for Teaching Boys to Be Wise via The MOB Society

I’m a rule-follower. For as long as I can remember, just telling me the rules has been enough to get me to keep them. I had a friend growing up who was constantly trying to get me to push boundaries, but I never could. “We’re not supposed to…” seemed like my constant mantra. I just didn’t like the feelings of guilt and regret that came with stepping outside the lines, and I never wanted to disappoint my parents.

Unfortunately, my two boys didn’t follow in my footsteps.

They are boundary pushers. My dad always said, “if you can’t listen, you have to feel,” and if “the hard way” is a learning style, my boys are the poster children for it.

The day I asked my oldest what would happen if I took a hard right off the road had been a rough one. He’d done a lot of acting without thinking, and had determined that his way was the best way, even if it went against what he knew was expected of him. And you know, when an object lesson just falls in your lap, you use it.

“Son, think of God’s rules for your life like staying on this road. If I really wanted to, I could turn the car off of it any time. But that would be stupid, wouldn’t it? It would actually place our lives in danger for me to move the car off the established road, especially right now, when we would plunge into a deep ravine. We’re safer up here on the road. That doesn’t mean nothing can happen to us up here. We could still get hurt, but overall, we’re much safer if we follow the straight path.

God’s rules for our lives are much the same. He gives us the freedom to make whatever choices we want to in life. If we want to take a sharp turn to the right, we can, but we’re safer up here on the narrow path where his rules and laws can protect us from harm. Staying on the path doesn’t mean we’ll never experience pain, but God’s rules are meant to protect us, and they work a lot better if we live within them instead of constantly trying to get out from under them.

If I really felt it was right, I could plunge our car down into the ravine. But the wiser, safer thing to do is stay right here.”

He got it, and we drove on home, and the whole conversation reminded me of Proverbs 12:15

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (ESV).

Proverbs 12 Printable via The MOB Society

I’ve been praying for years for God to make my boys listen to wisdom, and I’ve found that it tends to be caught rather than bought. We have to live wisdom for our boys to want wisdom. (<<—tweet that!)

If you’re struggling to know how to live wisdom for your boys, I encourage you to do these three things:

1. Pray for wisdom.

Ask the Lord to help you see teachable moments like the one he gave me on the road that day. He’ll be faithful, but you have to keep your eyes open to really see them.

2. Let them know you ask God for wisdom.

They need to know that God is the source of ultimate wisdom, and that mom goes there for it routinely. I’ve found that one of the best ways to teach my boys to pray for wisdom is to let them watch me do it. I need God for the wisdom to raise them, and I want them to know I depend on him for it.

3. Stay in the Word.

The book of Proverbs in particular is filled with words of wisdom. Along with your regular Bible reading plan, include one chapter from Proverbs every single day. You’ll be amazed at how many verses lend themselves well to teaching your sons about wisdom. Bonus? Staying in the Word keeps your heart connected to God, and allows him to teach you what you need to know about living the Christian life. As your boys watch you do that, they’ll be inspired to do the same.

Your Turn:

What other ways do you “live wisdom” in front of your boys? Today, you can download a free printable of the image above by clicking here! Print it out and hang it in your boy’s room to remind him to make wise choices!

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Brooke McGlothlinWant to hear more from MOB Society co-founder, Brooke McGlothlin?

Get a free copy of her ebook, Surprised by Life: Five Ways to Respond Well When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned when you subscribe to her free newsletter! And don’t forget to follow Brooke on Instagram for a free, simple family study on giving thanks during November!

Thankful Grief: Choosing to Give Thanks in All Circumstances

Dear Mom,

Long before my son became a young man asking for a razor, lessons in gratitude were simpler to teach. Paper plates, turkeys and banners listing answers to prayer were made and displayed in our kitchen window, but as we added years and inches, lessons in thankfulness stretched me. How do we help our older boys grow in gratitude?

Thankful Grief: Choosing to Give Thanks in All Circumstances via The MOB Society

Sons need more than turkeys and banners on the march toward manhood. They need to see thankfulness mined out of dark places where banners don’t fit. For their gratitude to mature, our boys need to see us model a heart of thanks during seasons of grief. Unlike crafts for little guys, we can’t plan, direct, or orchestrate lessons we teach when we navigate deep currents of personal sorrow.

Pain visits every mother’s life. It’s tempting to withdraw, hide the heartache, or insulate our children. That’s not what our sons need as students in our suffering. While we would never choose distress, our grief may be our greatest chance to teach our sons the ways of authentic gratitude. Mourning has a way of bringing genuine rejoicing to the surface or to reveal the absence of real appreciation.

  • Grief uncovers what’s really in our heart.
  • Grief reveals how we face our weakness.
  • Grief exposes where we put our trust.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

When you find yourself in a dark place, live in such a way to instruct your son in how to choose gratitude over despair. Give him a front row seat. Turn a season of grieving into a season of giving thanks.

Let your boy listen.
He needs to hear the sound of his mama choosing to rejoice in the darkness, choosing to pray though words fail. Older boys have the maturity to encounter a parent’s grief, so allow him to listen in to the groaning of your heart and your decision to find reasons to rejoice.

Let your boy watch.
As you pull him close, he will see peace he doesn’t yet understand wash over you while trouble still laps at your door. His years have taught him to read your face and know your heart, so let him look at your response to the hardship.

Let your boy care.
The little boy who once patted your hand when you were sad needs to learn to care for others as a man. While your growing-up son ministers to you like you so often ministered to him, the value of giving thanks in all circumstances will transfer to the way of life he will set for himself.

Your big boy may not comply with the latest Pinterest project moms of little boys dream up, but your growing-up boy still needs to practice the ways of a grateful heart. Your own struggles and trials may be used to help your son see how a thankful life looks when it’s not easy, when it’s a sacrifice, when it’s a decision, and when it would make a banner too heavy for a kitchen window. Your choice to rejoice in hardship is the banner your young man needs to see displayed in your home.

As our sons prepare to launch into manhood, dear mom, let’s walk alongside them in our trials and let them see our hearts overflow with authentic thanks. Make your season of grief into a season of gratitude.

Growing grateful,
Julie
Julie SandersNot a day goes by when Julie Sanders isn’t thankful that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). She loves to teach God’s word and minister to women, because she was blessed to have seasoned moms walk the motherhood journey with her. Mentoring and ministering internationally makes her heart soar, and her favorite travel partner is husband Jeff. The youngest of their two nearly grown kids, son Jacob has made Julie catch her breath, fill with joy, and drop to her knees time and time again. Most of all, the journey of being a mom makes her grateful.

Becoming the Man God Wants Him to Be (& a giveaway)

Did your youth pastor or mom tell you when you were a younger woman to make out your list? The list…the one with all of the qualities you were going looking for in a guy.

  • Faithful
  • Honest
  • Stable
  • Hard-working
  • Kind
  • Funny…

That was my short list. So, with my list in my head and in my heart, I began the search. What someone failed to tell me was when you’re 19 years old, finding a guy with all the traits of your 49 year old dad can be pretty hard to find!

Does your son know about the list?

I am pretty sure my son heard about it at youth group. But here is the thing…are we teaching our kids to be the list? In our youth group, we were taught lots of things! Not to have sex before marriage, to share Jesus with our friends at school, to stay away from drugs and alcohol. But I don’t remember the parts where we were taught to be like Jesus, as in loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled (ok – they did cover the self-controlled part).

Not only did I miss that in youth group, I think I missed teaching it to my son too. I was too busy obsessing over other outward behaviors. Since my boy became a man and I still had two girls at home, I decided I still had time to help them make the switch–the switch from looking for the guy to becoming the girl that God wants her to be. I had time to help them become the girl reaching her fullest potential by living  a life that shows Him to the world.

I’ve encouraged my girls to put their time, effort and energy into developing who they are. Giving their attention to cultivating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control allows them to stop fixating on the guy and start focusing on THE Guy–Jesus and becoming the girl God wants her to become. She can trust God to take care of bringing a guy.

Becoming the Man God Wants Him to Be via The MOB Society

The girl who invests her time, energy, and emotions, not on a guy she doesn’t have, but on the One she does makes a move. She moves from obsessing over why she isn’t wanted to becoming the type of girl a guy would want. Not just as someone to date, but as the one he’d want to spend the rest of his life with. And that outcome is just a byproduct!

The true benefit is becoming a girl with confidence–God confidence.  I’m not sure where you are at on your journey of raising your boy, but just think what might happen if we each teach our children to become the one God wants them to become. Then as their mamas, we can step back and let God take care of the rest.

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So many thoughts can swirl in a young girl’s mind…

What does she have that I haven’t got?
Why doesn’t he ask me out?
What makes her popular? Why not me?
What’s wrong with me?

Maybe it’s time to help her change the questions she’s asking and instead help her to ask, “What does it take to become magnetic?”

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.38.20 AM

Packed with revealing quizzes, interviews with guys and the tools she needs to become the girl she wants to be, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants empowers her to:

  •  Stop feeling powerless over her emotions and people’s opinions as she gains unshakeable confidence.
  • Limit the draining affect of “girl drama” so she can invest her time in becoming the best she can.
  • Replace the agonizing frustration of wanting to be noticed and liked with a deep assurance that she already is.

ENTER TO WIN:

Packed with honesty, encouragement and perspective-changing truth Magnetic by Lynn Cowell (available at Amazon, B&N, CBD, everywhere books are sold), will empower girls and young woman to reach their fullest potential by focusing on becoming who God made them to be! A girl who reflects God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A girl who will attract the right type of guy one day: one who loves God with all his heart and who will cherish her!

To win one of two copies:

Simply leave a comment below telling us about the girl in your life who needs this message! (Winners will be chosen randomly and notified by email).

LynnLynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 speaker and the author of several books including her newest Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants. Her passion in speaking and writing is empowering wise women to raise wiser daughters. Her husband and their three children live in North Carolina where they love to hike, raft and enjoy anything combining chocolate and peanut butter. You can connect with Lynn at www.LynnCowell.com.

 

5 Ways to Help Your Son Give and Gain Gratitude

Our small part in a miracle began with an email–a simple invitation to volunteer two hours making meals for starving children.

Shock sunk in as I sat between my two oldest boys (8 and 6) and watched our training video. The “meals” we were making consisted of a vacuum sealed bag filled with uncooked rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a scoop of powdered vitamins because these starving children wouldn’t be able to consume the food I serve for a typical family dinner.

foodprep

Suddenly the breakfast of chocolate-chip pancakes and bacon sat heavy in my gut.

Any stress or worry about cooking the “Pinterest perfect” Thanksgiving meal faded away when I remembered the malnourished children being spoon fed enriched rice.

HE GAVE WHAT HE HAD

The Bible tells a story of hungry people sitting on a hill. They definitely weren’t starving, but Jesus asked the disciples to feed them. In problem solving there were both logistical problems (far from closest town) and financial problems (half a year’s salary just to give each person one bite).

A young boy offers a solution–his lunch which consisted of a couple fish and some bread (John 6:9).

He gave what he had to help solve the problem. There wasn’t much, but He gave what he had to Jesus, and Jesus gave thanks.

Because giving comes before gratitude, and gratitude comes before the miracle of multiplication.

5 Ways to Help Your Son Give and Gain Gratitude via The MOB Society

A small offering by a small boy not only solved the problem, but there were leftovers.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 6:12-13

THANKSGIVING MULTIPLIES

During our 2-hour shift my young boys didn’t do anything miraculous. One boy scooped a cup of rice and a cup of soy and dumped it in a funnel. Another boy weighed each bag, adding rice if needed to fit a certain standard. Slowly, one bag at a time, we filled a box with bags, and others around us did the same.

quadescooping

At the end of our shift we gathered around boxes that would be shipped to countries around the world and prayed over them–giving thanks before the miracle. In one weekend 1,003,104 meals were packed by nearly 5,000 volunteers. The meals were sent to Dominica, Belize, Guatemala and Haiti.

Two young boys offered what little they had (time and hands), gave thanks and watched the miracle.

Do your boys understand the impact they can make on this world with what little they can offer? I’ve found the more my boys serve the community and impoverished people the more gratitude flows in their hearts and out of their mouths.

Give + Thanks = Grow in Gratitude

If you’ve never served with your children before, here are some great opportunities/resources to get started:

  1. Operation Christmas Child--Shoebox collection week is November 17-24, 2014. My boys love to go to the Dollar Store, grab a plastic shoe box and start filling it with goodies. Here’s a bit of our story . Samaritan’s Purse then sends them to various countries around the world, to let children know God loves them and sees them and cares for them.
  2. Paper for Water–These gals are our classmates & neighbors & carpool buddies. They heard about the lack of clean water in several countries and decided to do something about it–fold paper into origami ornaments and sell them. Back in 2011 their goal was to raise $500 to partially pay for a well in Ethiopia. As of last month, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, they have raised over $450,000 to fund over 50 wells in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, India, Mexico, Uganda, Peru, and Zimbabwe. Amazing! You can purchase ornaments or donate paper/beads/etc. Check out their site for more info.
  3. Lemon Aid Stand–Inspired by the Paper for Water gals, a young man started his own little ministry for clean water…selling lemonade. Help your kids host a lemonade stand or since it’s getting colder, maybe hot chocolate? Then send the money off to Blood:Water to help provide clean water in other countries. (video of Lemon-Aid stand).
  4. Light ‘em up–Courtney DeFeo and her girls decided to spread a little light around the world by doing small acts of service and expressions of gratitude. My boys did some of these one weekend and had a blast. Check out Courtney’s list from last year and try them out this holiday season.
  5. The Turquoise Table–Join Kristin Schell and create a space in your front yard to host neighbors. Gratitude in what we have allows us to share joy and love to those around us. Giving them a taste of the goodness of all God has . . .what could be better. (of course, tables in the front yard works best for us Southern states. . .but join in when y’all get some warmer weather, like in May!).

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

In what ways do you encourage your sons to express gratitude? How can they be involved in serving others in your community? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Heather-MacFadyenHeather has been married for fourteen years and is the mother of four young boys (born exactly, to the day, within 6 1/2 years . . . just like she’d always planned). Heather writes about motherhood and chronicles the messy journey of “relentlessly replacing ‘me’ with ‘He’ — sharing the daily struggle of remaining God-centered while mothering four wild-at-heart, energetic, and often stubborn boys.