The Importance of Raising Boys with Integrity

“I can’t go to sleep yet mommy.”

It was two in the morning and my oldest son was still wide awake in his bed. I’d gotten up to check on my boys and found him sitting up with his legs dangling over the side of his bed, waiting.

It was a familiar scene. A month earlier my boys had excitedly picked up all their toys and pressed their faces against the window, eagerly awaiting their dad. Nose to the glass they watched for that first glimpse of his car pulling into our driveway. It never did.

On this particular night, my sweet boy was waiting up for a promised phone call that was never made. Around four in the morning I finally convinced him to get some sleep promising that I would wake him up if the phone rang. The next day I held my heartbroken son who just couldn’t understand why someone so important to him didn’t keep their promise.

Integrity: Abimelech's Story via The MOB Society

Integrity is Important

Integrity is a must-have character trait in my home. I want my to understand the importance of being honest and what happens when you choose to be dishonest and I pray for the development of their integrity daily. When one of my boys tells a lie or fails to keep his word I try to talk with him about how his actions (or lack thereof) effects the people around him.

One day my boys will grow up and be on their own. Their boss will expect them to be honest in their work, their employees will expect to be treated honestly and their friends and families will be looking for my boys to keep their word.  This has been a hard lesson for my boys. Their lives have been full of hurts because some key people in their lives failed to keep their word. I don’t want my boys growing up thinking that a lifetime of hurt means that it’s okay to give up on a life of integrity.

So how do we impress upon our boys the importance of being honest?

  1. Praise: Anytime that you catch your boys being honest be sure to praise them!
  2. Role Models: I know that it can be hard to find godly role models for your boys as a single mama but keep looking. Dads, uncles, grandparents, fictional characters and men from history are all great places to look  when you want to show your boys what integrity looks like.
  3. Practice: Talk with your boys about how to deal honestly with others and how to maintain honesty in difficult situations. Taking the time to train them when there’s no risk of discipline on the line will help give them the confidence to make those hard choices when they come up.

The Story of Abimelech

Abimelech told a lie in order to get ahead and ended up paying a high price because of it. You can find the details of the story in Judges 9. This story is a great example of the importance of dealing honestly with other people. Take some time to read this chapter with your boys and talk about the following questions:

  1. What lie did Abimelech tell?
  2. How did that lie effect him?
  3. How did that lie effect others?
  4. What was God’s response to Abimelech’s dishonesty?

LaToya-EdwardsLaToya Edwards has a heart for equipping and inspiring women to find their passion and purpose through life coaching. You can find her blogging about homeschooling,  parenting, faith and learning to find joy in motherhood and  God’s purpose and plan in broken circumstances at www.LaToyaEdwards.net .

From Faithful Choices to Life-Changing Decisions

“I don’t want to.”

I wish I could say that phrase is an anomaly; however, those four words are said more often than not around my house. On this particular occasion I was attempting to rouse my seven year-old son. Recently, it seems like these words bookend my day. From sun-up to bedtime, I’m met with the obstinate declaration, “I don’t want to.”

My son wants to go to wrestling practice, but he doesn’t want to go to school. He balks at a request to clean up a mess on the floor or set the table, but a request to battle his sister on the Wii is met with a smile. Dinner is another struggle in and of itself as he resists to the point of tears, enumerating every reason why he doesn’t want to eat the prepared dinner. “I don’t want to,” is an oft-uttered phrase and with each repetition, my patience wanes. It’s hard to maintain my composure when every fiber inside me wants to list the many things I do every day that I don’t really feel like doing.

A Shared Experience

If I’m honest with myself, there are many things that I don’t feel like doing throughout my day, and I’m sure it’s the same for you. Take a moment and just think of a few. For me, packing lunches, folding laundry (as evidenced by the many bins of clean, yet unfolded laundry scattered about my house), and taking out the trash are a few of my least favorite tasks. I don’t enjoy singing songs at bedtime or giving my children baths, yet I do these and many other tasks faithfully. Our tasks as caregivers are far from glamorous. Rarely are we offered a medal or even a word of appreciation for the work we silently perform, the service we humbly give even when we don’t want to. However, our example is the first and most important part of teaching our boys that faithful choices in the midst of the mundane prepare us for life-changing decisions in the public eye. We model faithfulness to our boys by faithfully choosing to be responsive to God’s call on our lives.

It is quite easy to shame our boys for an unwilling attitude, but if we’re honest with ourselves, how often do we harbor the same spirit? How often do we gripe and complain as we feel God nudging in a direction we hadn’t anticipated. Instead of berating our boys for their attitude, what if we came alongside and shared that we too struggle with choosing to have a willing heart when it comes to remaining faithful to our commitments?

Lighten Up Already

Is making his bed really a big deal? Is character really built by picking up clutter and taking out the trash? Yes, my friend, it is. Faithfully fulfilling mundane responsibilities at young ages lays the foundation for larger responsibilities as our boys age. Do you know what Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson, Nelson Mandela, Steven Spielberg, Mark Batterson, Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Dietrich BonHoeffer, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? They were all seven at one time. Great men don’t become great by shirking responsibility.

Gideon was once a young boy as well. When the Midianites were attacking and ransacking Israel, Gideon could be found hiding in the wine vat threshing wheat. Even in the midst of a horrible upheaval, Gideon was faithful to his responsibility with the wheat. I wonder if God would have chosen him to judge the Israelites if he had shirked his duties with the excuse of “I don’t want to?” God gifts greater areas of influence to those who are faithful in the unseen, seemingly unimportant daily tasks. That’s why my answer is “yes.” Yes, making his bed is important. Yes, choosing to faithfully pick up his toys when asked is a big deal. Affirmative, serving his mother by carrying his dirty laundry from his bedroom to the laundry room is day-by-day laying the foundation to make tough choices even when he doesn’t feel like it.

From Faithful Choices to Life-Changing Decisions via The MOB Society

Life-Altering Choices Aren’t Made In A Vacuum

I think we can all agree that it’s a scary world out there. Each day we send our sons into the world and pray they make good choices, and that if they do make a bad choice it won’t be a ‘wreck-your-life’ choice. Perhaps it could be a ‘learn-a-good-lesson’ choice, but not a ‘de-rail your life’ kind of choice. Life-altering choices are not made in a vacuum, just as the wherewithal to stand firm in the face of resistance and remain faithful is not built in a day. No, it is firmed up day-by-day, faithful choice-by-faithful choice in preparation for the day when our sons must choose for themselves whom they will serve. A foundation of faithful action begins with us recognizing that even at a young age we can begin to and have the responsibility to cultivate a culture of faithfulness in our homes beginning with giving our sons responsibility.

Action Steps 

1. Present Responsibilities – What responsibilities does your son have at the moment and how does he respond to them? Maybe your son happily completes all of his responsibilities. Great! Now it’s time to add some more.  Perhaps you’ve liked what you’ve read and are just taking the plunge into cultivating faithfulness through responsibility. Good for you! You can find age-appropriate chore/responsibility charts here if you’re unsure of what to add or where to start.

2. Say the Words – If I’m trying to cultivate faithfulness, I want to make sure I’m using those words. Instead of saying, “Thank you for cleaning up your toys,” I’m going to say, “Thank you for faithfully choosing to be responsible,” or “Thank you for making the choice to be faithful to your job even though you didn’t feel like it or it wasn’t fun.” It may seem awkward to use words like “faithful” and “responsible” with your little ones, but let me encourage you, our children are so much more intelligent than we give them credit. As we familiarize them with words like “faithful” and “responsible” they will better recognize when those attributes are discussed in scripture. One of my favorite resources that can expand on this vocabulary-based instruction is the short and sweet book, “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Hubbard.

3. I’m Too Late – Perhaps you feel like you’ve missed the boat. Maybe your boy is older or you feel like it’s too late to start cultivating faithfulness. Don’t listen to that lie, friend. Instead, look inward first. Start by cultivating faithfulness in your own life. It could be as simple as reading one Psalm a day, everyday. Hello Mornings is a phenomenal program to aid you in instilling faithfulness. Kat’s podcast, Inspired To Action is another resource I love to help me make positive changes and inspire me in my personal life which in turn rejuvenates me to better lead my boy. Secondly, pray for your boy and pray for God’s wisdom on how to begin. God promises to give wisdom liberally to all who ask. (James 1:5) There is no such thing as “too late” when God is involved.

Kjtanner headshotKristina never thought that the title ‘single mom’ would follow her name, but now that it does she writes about navigating life in this unexpected season. A native New Yorker who despises precipitation of any kind, she works as an American Sign Language Interpreter and writes about her adventures with her four daughters and one son. Her life is rarely boring.

 

 

Men Are Better Looking When They’re Humble: The Value of Teaching Our Boys Humility

“Somebody call a veterinarian, ‘cuz these puppies are sick.”

My nine year-old son stood before me, flexing one muscle after another. Disbelief crossed my face as he checked out his physique, all whilst channeling his inner Atlas. As if it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, my boy took it one step further–he actually kissed one of his biceps…followed by the other! Oh, friends, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I mean, where did he get that from?

And what about those lessons in humility I was trying to teach him? What about all those chats we had about staying humble and what that means–what it looks like–in sports, in school, and in life? But there he was, his dukes stretched out before him and a grin upon his face.

Didn’t any of it sink in?  And where (oh where) did he hear such a lousy pick-up line comparing sick pups, a vet, and one’s biceps? I thought to myself.

I have no clue.

Men Are Better Looking When They're Humble: The Value of Teaching Our Boys Humility via The MOB Society

This concept of humility?  This idea of remaining humble? When it comes to raising our boys, we need to go a bit deeper.

Our culture takes great pride in shining the light upon ourselves…in bragging about our actions, our deeds. Collectively, we desire to see our name in lights, just as we want to be celebrated for our efforts–our athletic ability, our intellect, our acts…our everything. And these boys we’re raising? They’re no different. They can’t help but to thrive on such accolades…to delight in being known and approved by those around them.  I’ll tell you what: As a mom, this is my hardest battle yet: teaching my sons the importance of humility, fueling their passion in serving the Lord, and helping them to realize that this life they lead is ALL and ONLY about Him.

The intrinsic drive for approval is modeled all around them…around us. Our boys can’t help, but see poor examples in the media, hear them on the ball field, and even at school. How do we teach them to shine the light upon Jesus…not themselves? To in fact, remain anonymous in a world desperate for recognition?

Our boys must understand that when it comes to serving God and His kingdom, everything they do is for His glory. Every act we commit, every endeavor we undertake, everything is for Him. And it’s vitally important our sons understand that there is beauty, courage, and even strength in humility.

So, how do we show our sons that the efforts they make and this life they live should be used for His glory?

  1. Open Your Bible: In Judges 4:4-10, we see Deborah telling Barak as she leads him into war, that the honor will not be his but that of the Lord’s. This lesson in humility teaches our young men to work unto the Lord. In all things, in all ways.
  2. Take the Time: I find teachable moments peppered throughout my day, every day. Take the time to chat with your son, when these instances arise (and they will come up). Talk with him about his actions, those of his friends, and what he sees in the media. Get his perspective on things and discuss accordingly.
  3. Choose Your Words Wisely: It’s natural to want to boost our son’s esteem, to tell them they did a great job–especially when they excel in a certain area–but we must be careful with our words. We must choose them wisely, in fact. We need to applaud their gifts while giving proper credit where credit is due…unto the Lord.

Jenny-Sulpizio Jenny 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 & Getting Grace, as well as 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. or by joining the God’s Girl Movement at bit.ly/gods-girl

5 Easy Ways To Organize the Post-Christmas Crazy with Your Boys

It’s over. Another year of Christmas is done and over with. Maybe you realized that your kids got WAY too much. Now, where is it all going to go? How are you going to fit all their new toys in your house? How are you going to start getting YOUR things organized in your home? Well, it’s not too late. You can get organized and set up your New Year’s Resolution to get things organized in 2015, with yourself and your whole family.

5 Easy Ways to Organize the Post-Christmas Crazy with Your Boys via The MOB Society

Typically, I recommend having your kids go through ALL their toys and clothes before Christmas and birthdays — getting rid of everything that is outgrown, broken, no longer used, or is just plain too big! But, Christmas has now passed and you’re in that state of possible freaking out about where to put it. I know…we have grandparents who like to give the biggest, most grand-sized gifts to our kids too. But, it’s not too late. The first thing you do, start going through your kids’ toys. I tell my kids this every Christmas and birthday “If you don’t have room for it, you can’t keep it” – and Mom, you have to set the example, too. I’ve made my kids, since they were about 2, to go through their toys and give them to people who are unfortunate and needed it more than they did. HERE is more of what we do.

Next, how about YOU? What could you possibly do this year to help get your home in order? What’s the most important thing for you to do? Do you feel overwhelmed by clutter, by lack of knowledge to how to organize, not knowing where to start? Here are five things you can do today to get organized tomorrow:

  1. Avoid Perfectionism – If you tend to be a perfectionist, you may feel it must be perfect or you don’t do it at all. Let that go. HERE I’ve described in more details how to let go of expecting your home to look perfect. Perfectionism tends to cause procrastination – and neither is going to help get your home organized.
  2. Visual Clutter – if you have clutter, you need to start clearing it out. If you are overwhelmed with it, that’s OK. Everyone can clear it out, one step at a time – just start by taking 15 minutes a day to donate, toss, or clean up. I have more clutter help HERE if you need it.
  3. Schedule – I’m a big believer in schedules. Start with a simple 15 minutes a day of cleaning schedule to keep you from losing your mind over trying to keep the house clean. Trust me, it seems crazy but it really works.
  4. Recruit the Family – teach your kids to help you around the house. You can’t do it all. They make messes. So, it’s obvious they need to help you out. Train them  young to do chores and tasks that help keep the house going. For more ideas of chores for kids of all ages, go HERE.
  5. Accountability – You may need a helpful friend to keep you accountable for getting your house organized and picked up. Better yet, have people over. Nothing keeps you motivated to get your home picked up and decluttered like having people over a LOT. Again, don’t expect your home to be perfect. But, if you can be held accountable by starting with a small section of a room that you’ve been needing to get to for years, just 15 minutes a day. Have a friend over to help you really go through your stuff. As Christians, we need to remember that this is stuff – it’s not eternal. You must look at things with an eternal perspective when deciding if you really need to keep them or not. We need to live unselfishly with our things and give to others who really need it.

Resolve to spend your new year getting organized – in turn, your home will be calmer and more relaxed. I promise.

Start small. If you need more help and motivation, read my blog for much more information. Recruit help. Get your kids involved. Share with others.

What is one area in your home you plan to get organized or declutter?

Becky BarnfatherBecky is blogger, speaker, piano teacher, wife and mom to two children – her son is 15 {he has autism} and her daughter is 10. She is passionate about motivating women to organize and have a relaxed and calm home {as much as possible}. She’s not OCD and not a perfectionist – just a girl who loves to organize. You can find her blogging atwww.OrganizingMadeFun.com

Unwrapping the Gift: Emmanuel

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger… because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

No room for them in the inn. No room for them. No room for Jesus.

In all of Jerusalem there was no vacancy for the Savior of the world–no space for the Messiah.

No one welcomed His mother, in the deep throws of labor, into their homes, into their inn, into their lives.

Make Space for Emmanuel | An Advent Study via The MOB Society

Plenty of books and blog posts, Christmas songs and sermons admonish us to make room in the innermost chambers of our heart for Jesus this Christmas… and every day. We try, moms, don’t we? There beside the twinkling Christmas tree lights, we unwrap the gift that He is during advent. Throughout the year, we make room for Him on Sunday mornings and over dinnertime prayers, family devotions and verses recited together at the kitchen table. We make room for Him when we tuck them deep into their covers each night singing, “Jesus loves me this I know.”

We make room purposefully, in the most intentional of ways as parents. And yet, what about the day-in and day-out moments of real life parenting? (It hurts to write that and might sting a bit to read.) But what about those moments that fly by between the closing of the Bible in the morning and the bedtime blessings at night? Have we made room for Jesus to govern each of those moments, that they might reflect Him?

Is there space for Him in each of our words, that they might communicate His love?

Is there room in each and every one of our touches, that they speak of His gentleness?

Have we made a real, living habitation for Jesus to dwell in the frustrating places of our grocery-shopping, home-working, dinner-making moments? The stressed places of our finances and marriage?

Because the truth is, when we first said “yes” to Jesus, He came in and took up permanent residency in our lives, and He wants full access to our every moment.

 

Jesus doesn’t want just our “spiritual moments”–He wants every moment, every day.

 

“You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)

 

These are the everyday every-moments He wants us to hang our “VACANCY” sign on, declaring, “Jesus, You are welcome here as we talk and we sit and we walk and lie down and rise up again.”

Sometimes I think it would be better for a child to grow up without his mom quoting bible verses and singing songs about a Savior if she doesn’t bring Jesus into her everyday mothering moments as well.  When we pray and memorize scripture one moment, only to belittle tender hearts with harsh words and hands a few minutes later, we become a stumbling block to the ones we love most. Those same hands we fold, the same lips we pray with must belong to Him every moment of every day. It’s a must, moms. An absolute, surrendered, MUST!  Don’t panic, sweet, well-intentioned heart, I’m not preaching perfection, I’m laying down, humbly sobbing “Emmanuel!” God with us, right here, present, each live-long day.  Because the only way we can do each moment like Jesus, is by throwing wide open the doors to our lives.  There’s room here!  Stay here.  Abide here.

Let’s invite Him to reign in our hearts,

to live in our hearts,

to rule from our hearts,

every moment of every mothering day.

UnWrapping the Gift

  • What everyday, mothering moments are most difficult for you to invite God into?
  • What are some practical ways we can make space for Him within those ordinary stress-filled moments?

Prayer:

Oh God, Emmanuel, You are a very WITH ME God!   Forgive me for all of the days I’ve included you only in the spiritual moments with the children.  Jesus, though I’m weak and often fail… there is room for your strength. You are welcome here, Jesus, in my parenting.  I invite you in.  Amen.

 

Wendy SpeakeWhether she’s with loved ones in her actual Living Room, alone in God’s Living Word, or speaking to a room full of women, Wendy Speake is inspired to share life and faith with others in creative ways. As Jeremiah had fire in his bones, she too feels compelled to share the Gospel of Jesus – she just does it with stories that probe the glorious and hurting places of life, pictures of faith lived out in her home, and recipes purposed to inspire hospitality. You can connect with her in her virtual living room — WendySpeake.com