How Do You Define Forgiveness?

Johnny hits his little brother Tommy.  You tell Johnny it’s wrong and that he needs to apologize.

Understanding his mistake, Johnny says, “I’ m sorry I hit you, Tommy. It was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

Tommy replies, “I forgive you.”

But what does that mean? What does forgiveness really look like?

Forgiveness means, “I will not talk badly about you.”

Proverbs 10:18 says, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”

We can teach our kids to pray, “ Lord, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for speaking life over me and believing the best in me.  Help me to speak life over others, even when I have been hurt. “

Forgiveness means, “I will not think badly about you.”

Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “casting down arguements and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)

Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, it’s not easy to think good thoughts about the person. But that’s exactly what God chooses to do with us. Psalm 139 tells us that God’s thoughts toward us are precious, and there are more of them than we can even count.  This is how God wants us to think about other people, even the ones who have hurt us.

We can teach our kids how to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Teach them to pray whenever a hurt or angry thought comes to mind: “Lord, help me to think good thoughts about this person. Every time a bad thought comes, help me immediately speak out a blessing upon that person.”

Forgiveness means, “I will love you as I love myself.”

Mark 12:31 says, “ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

We can teach our kids to go to the Lord and pray, “Teach me to love this person as you do.  Show me how to pray for him.  Help me to pray for him just as I would pray for myself.”

Forgiveness means, “I will not bring up the incident again.”

Our Heavenly Father has separated our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He has blotted out our transgressions and will remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12).

Micah 7:19 says, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquites. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (NKJV)

We can teach our kids to pray, “Lord, help me forget this incident,  just as you have forgiven my sins.  Remind me that you cast my sin into the depths of the ocean, and teach me to also cast this memory into the depths of the sea and remember this hurt no more.”

Mark 11:25 reminds us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

I have a very dear friend who has a beautiful habit that I have also made a habit in my home.  She lays in bed at night and prays, “Lord, clean out my heart and make it pure.  Cleanse me of any thoughts, words or deeds that have been sinful today.  Bring to remembrance anything I need to repent of at this moment.  Reveal to me any offenses deep in my heart. Make me clean.”

Holding on to an offensive, gives the enemy a foothold in our lives, and as we disciple our kids, we can teach them how to truly forgive and allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through their cleansed hearts.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Insiders Guide to Amusement Park Fun

Busch Gardens

About 7 years ago, we moved to Florida – vacation central! We had always loved an amusement park, but now we were only an hour from one of our favorites, Busch Gardens.

My husband is the biggest kid when it comes to going there for the day. We race from one attraction to the next, as if it’s our only day to fit everything in.

Life-like topiaries of exotic creatures greet you as you move from one part of the park to another. A thrilling roar bursts through the atmosphere as you pass the twisting and plummeting roller coasters. And all the while, you are being tempted by the aroma of the most delectable park food you’ve ever laid your lips on – it’s heaven on earth (for the Hagamans that is)!

Going to an amusement park is like fitting a vacation into one day. And like any family vacation, there is definitely a smart way to load up and prepare for the most fun and least amount of stress and chaos for mom. Because, after all, moms want to enjoy the summer too.

It starts with the amusement park backpack. Jenni and I chuckle to each other every time we go. We see moms all around us struggling with all their “stuff”, and we just stroll carefree all around the park. No more pack mule moms here!

To glide through the park with ease, a stroller is a must, and you can pick one up (cheap) at most yard sales. Just be sure it has a good-size basket on the bottom, and cup holders are a plus.

I know, you’re asking, “what if I don’t have a stroller-age child?” I hear you sister – my youngest is almost twelve! But it doesn’t matter. The backpack you’re about to put into it becomes your beautiful, bouncing, baby boy.

The real question you should be asking is, “Do I want to be a pack mule for the day?”

And that answer is, “No!”

When my friends first watched me strolling my backpack into the park, they laughed, “What is that for? Why would you bring a stroller?  That’s silly!”

Well, all I have to say is, they now all have their own baby strollers, too!

Here’s a tip on buyingBuschGardentickets (check for similar deals at your nearest amusement park). If you’re going to go more than twice, purchase one annual pass and  for the rest of the family, get Fun Cards (pay for one day, come all year). The annual pass is approximately $30 more (almost the same as parking for two days), but it includes free parking and gets you 10% off everything in the park including food and drinks.

The next best investment is the park cups and popcorn buckets (again, check your local park for similar deals). With your annual park pass, these refills cost you $1  – that’s a great deal! You can use these same cups and buckets at Sea World and Islands of Adventure – and they NEVER expire!  We’ve been using ours for nearly seven years.

Then comes the Backpack! I keep mine fully stocked and ready go at the drop of a hat. Have a peek at what’s inside.

Contents of the Backpack:

  • Chaffing stick (can be purchased at sports stores, helps skin from rubbing together and getting chafed)
  • Tissues
  • Mini Hairspray (for the roller coaster fly-aways)
  • Hair Pick & Pony Tail Holders
  • Hand Lotion
  • Sunblock
  • Bug Spray
  • Beach Towel (for water rides)
  • Small Notepad
  • Deck of Cards
  • Plastic Spoons (in a zip loc)
  • Map of Park
  • Band Aids
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Toothpicks & dental floss
  • Antibacterial Moist Wipes
  • Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer (to hang from stroller handle)
  • Hooded Rain Ponchos (one for each family member)
  • Mini Umbrella
  • 2 Large Empty Zip Locs
  • 2 ZipLoc snack bags (to protect your cell phones on water rides)
  • Mini Baby Powder
  • Straps to our Park Cups
  • Fingernail File/Clippers/Tweezers

I also bring a soft cooler full of ice and water bottles. Most parks will allow water even if they don’t allow you to bring in food.

Both the backpack and the cooler go in the stroller, and I wear a mini-purse with a long strap (Jenni has the fanny pack version of my mini-purse).

Inside the Mini-Purse:

  • Tissues
  • Ink Pen
  • SPF Lip Balm
  • Sunglasses & Small Sunglass holder (so they don’t get smashed)
  • Pony Tail Holder
  • Tampon & Panty Liner
  • Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Allergy medication
  • Very Small Individual Credit Card Holder to Hold Park Tickets with a Paper Clip
  • Small zipper coin purse (for money, ID, & annual pass for discounts)

Have the kids wear tennis shoes, but take flip flops and swim suits with water shorts to wear on the water rides.

Let us know if you have an amusement park backpack and what you have in it.  I wouldn’t want to be missing out on anything.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Power Purse

Today’s post is fun and practical. Grab your purse, and let’s compare notes.

Jody and I are huge fans of an efficient purse. It’s like the Boys Scouts always say, “Be Prepared!” We both carry a medium size purse with a few things in it. In the little side compartment, there’s a lipstick, gum, a few pens, and business cards. In the main compartment we have:

  • Wallet
  • Calendar with a pen and mechanical pencil clipped to it (we haven’t yet gone high tech for scheduling)
  • Phone charger (these new smart phones lose battery life quickly)
  • Small bottle of Bath & Body Works body splash (we live in Florida – need I say more?!)
  • Small notebook
  • Travel-size tissue pack
  • Travel-size baby wipes
  • Mom’s Bag of Tricks

The Mom’s Bag of Tricks is a medium-size makeup bag. It seems like you’d need a huge bag to hold all these things, but with small, travel-size containers, it all fits with a little room to spare.

  • Band-aids, cortisone cream, antibiotic ointment (all in a snack bag)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Allergy pills
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Nail file
  • Panty liner, tampon (in a snack bag to keep from tearing)
  • Lip balm
  • Trial size hand cream (a really good one)
  • Trial size hand sanitizer (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Travel size hair spray
  • Dental floss
  • Pack of rice paper (soaks up oil on a shiny face)
  • Sunblock stick
  • Benadryl stick (itch cream for bug bites)
  • Hair bands (for an impromptu pony tail)
  • Little mirror
  • Super glue (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Mini-sewing kit
  • Bobby Pin
  • Saftey Pin
  • Small scissor
  • Tweezers
  • Mini-screw driver (or small pocket knife)
  • 6-inch ruler
  • Sewing measuring tape
  • Stain stick (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Paper Clip and binder clip
  • Sharpe
  • 2 spare pens
  • Ring of spare keys to each car and the house

What’s in your power purse?

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Three Questions that Can Change Your Kid’s Heart

Originally posted in May, 2011

For more information on powerful correction routines, listen to our radio show podcast.

Obedience is important, but what we really want from our kids is authentic growth – a genuine change of heart, right?

Of course we want them to submit to authority and make right choices, but ultimately, we want them to do it because they want to – not just to avoid discipline.

Don’t get me wrong, the fear of consequences is important – it’s part of our reverent fear of God, right? We know He is a God of justice, and if we disobey His commands, we’ll face consequences. And anyone who has ever endured a Holy Spirit correction doesn’t want it to happen again. This is the fear of God, and Proverbs says it’s the beginning of wisdom.

Our kids learn to reverently fear the authority of God by first reverently fearing the authority of us, their parents. So clearly it’s important that our kids understand that if they disobey or misbehave, consequences are coming.

However, just as God doesn’t want us to follow His commands simply out of fear of correction, we don’t want our kids to obey just to avoid punishment. God wants us to want to obey Him. In fact, Jesus even said that when we’re motivated by our own desire to obey God (and not just out of fear) it’s a sign of our love for Him (John14:15).

In the same way, we want our kids to want to make right choices. That’s character development, and it’s at the top of every parent’s list of priorities for their kids (next to salvation, that is).

Jody and I have eight kids between us, ranging in age from 23 to 4, including one child on the autism spectrum [As of 2013, we have nine children between us, ages 25 to 1]. We’ve had lots of practice with a wide range of discipline tools and character-developing systems. Most of the things we’ve tried have some merit, but the one tool that has had the most significant impact on the hearts of our kids is the Three Question Correction and follow up process.

When a child disobeys or misbehaves (for more about defining each of these, read Part I of this series: The Power of Definitions), we will move directly into a discipline routine. Disobedience and misbehavior have to be dealt with firmly and consistently. Our kids need to be able to predict exactly what will happen if they make either of these poor choices.

In Friday’s post, we’ll go into more detail about designing effective discipline routines (check back for Part III of this series — The Power of Routines). For now, we’ll just say that once a child has either disobeyed or misbehaved, step one is the discipline routine, and the point of it is get their attention and send an instant message that disobedience and misbehavior are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Once the discipline routine is complete, it’s time for the Three Question Correction. You can start off with hugs and kisses and a reminder that you disciplined her because you love her, and you want her to grow into the amazing people God created her to be.

When you’re asking the three questions, be sure you are at the child’s eye level. For little ones, you can either squat down or sit them on your lap.

Question #1

“What did you do that was wrong?” Let’s say little Eden snatched something from her brother’s hand (snatching is a big no-no in our house because it feels so violating to have something ripped out of your hand). After being disciplined, Eden might sit on my lap, and I’d ask her what she did that was wrong.

Important note – Don’t ever ask, “Why did you do that?” It doesn’t matter why. There is no excuse for misbehavior (in this case, snatching). And when we ask “why,” we give our kids a platform to defend a wrong choice.  You’re likely to hear something like, “BECAUSE…HE wouldn’t share! AND I asked him nicely! AND I let him play with my toys!” Now the child feels totally validated in her bad behavior.

But asking her to articulate what she did that was wrong directs an entirely different thought process. Instead of asking her to justify the behavior, we’re asking for a confession.

You could run into a couple of different problems in this step. With kids who are new to this process, you might hear, “I don’t know.” That’s also a common response when you’re dealing with pride – the kid doesn’t want to admit any wrongdoing. In either case, just give her the answer. In the most matter of fact voice, simply say, “You snatched the toy from your brother’s hand.”  Over time, she’ll stop saying, “I don’t know.” With repeated and consistent use, pride has no audience, and it ultimately retreats.

If your child starts to defend her actions, cut her off mid-sentence, and say, “I didn’t ask why you did it, I asked what you did that was wrong.” If she starts finger-pointing, say, “I’m not asking what Sam did; I’m asking what YOU did that was wrong.”

Question #2

Once you and your child have agreed on what she did that was wrong, it’s time to agree on why it was wrong. And that’s the next question: “Why was that wrong?”

This is the hardest for most kids to answer, but by far the most powerful in creating a change of heart. You might hear, “I don’t know,” or you might get a stock response: “because it was wrong.”

One of the best ways to get a kid to understand why it was wrong (especially for misbehavior, as opposed to disobedience) is to ask her how she would feel if it had happened to her.

If she can’t articulate why it was wrong, simply tell her.

Question #3

“What could you have done differently?” Now, the important thing to stress in this situation is that if all things had happened in the exact same way, what other choice could she have made? It’s important for our kids to understand that things are sometimes unfair. Disappointment and frustration and anger and hurt feelings will come, and people will sin against us, but we still need to make good choices.

This is the time to give our kids tools, and even role play if necessary to have them practice the tools.

If one of my kids has a struggle with another, I ask them to first tell their sibling what’s wrong:  “You’re not sharing, and that’s not right. Please share your toy with me.” If the other person still won’t cooperate, then they need to get help.

The difference between tattling and getting help is in the motive and the tone. If my child comes to me and wails, “Moooooooommm!  He won’t share with me!” it’s tattling. If they work something out amongst themselves but still feel the need to tell me to get their sibling in trouble, it’s tattling.

But if they have gone to their sibling, in the Matthew 18 way, and there is still a problem, they need intervention.  In that case, they can come to me calmly and say, “Mom, I asked Sam to share his toy, and he won’t. I need your help.”  In our example, what Eden could have done differently was ask Sam to share, and if he wouldn’t, then come to mom for help.

Follow Up – Consequences

For an in-depth discussion about consequences (natural consequences, negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement) listen the radio show podcast Filling the Teaching Toolbox.

After the three questions, I usually tell my child that I know she’ll make a good choice next time, and that I love her. If it was a particularly difficult situation, I might pray with the child.

Then comes the follow-up, and this is where it gets tricky. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of apologizing to the other person. By the way, let’s teach our kids to respond well to an apology. I often hear kids say, “It’s okay.” But it’s not okay. It’s not okay if someone sins against you. Even if it was an accident, you’re still hurt, and that’s not okay. The best response is, “I forgive you.” (Next week, we’ll post on teaching our kids the meaning of forgiveness.)

But if it’s misbehavior, there often needs to be a consequence, and this is where we need to seek wisdom (sometimes even counsel) and get creative. First, let’s be clear about the motive to a consequence — it is always to edify and not to punish or exact revenge. I know that sounds crazy, but the truth is we can get angry when our kids misbehave, and in our flesh, we can feel like the child should experience some kind of negative consequence to pay for their crime. (If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ve all felt that at least once — for some of us, many times.)

The goal is to teach and disciple our kids. Sometimes, I don’t have a consequence when the three questions are over, and I’ll say, “I’m going to have to pray about this and talk to dad.”

As you’re choosing a consequence, ask yourself these questions: “What is the root of this behavior? What do I want my child to learn? What is my biggest concern or fear about this misbehavior?” Often an idea for a suitable consequence will come to mind.

If the root of misbehavior is selfishness, for example, you might want to say that she will have to serve her siblings for a period of time, maybe doing their chores, or you might have her serve in a soup kitchen to catch a different perspective on life.

If the root is laziness, you might give her some extra chores – hard ones!

If your teen keeps misplacing her phone, you could take it away for a few weeks so she can see what it’s like to not have it, or have her pay you a portion of her babysitting money until she’s given you enough to pay for a new phone (you might want to put it in savings for her in case she does lose it). It will make her more aware of how long it would take to buy a new one.

Recently our girls (Skyler and Sydney – BFFs) did something that was upsetting to Jody and I. At the root of our concern was that the girls weren’t being completely open about choice they made (a form of deception by omission). It wasn’t anything major, but we were concerned about the heart of the matter.

As a consequence, we had the girls find as many Bible verses as they could about lying and deception, and then had them write an essay about how their behavior was a form of that and why they think we were concerned about it and how they think God feels about it. Skyler cautiously admitted that she enjoyed the consequence, and I said I was glad. The point of a consequence isn’t necessarily discomfort (although they are often uncomfortable); the point is that a genuine lesson is learned, and over time, their heart is changed.

Thanks for striving with me through this extra long post, and please share your thoughts with us. Oh, and check back for the final part of this series: The Power of Routines.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Power of Definitions – Bringing Peace and Order to Your Home

To hear our radio show podcast by the same title click here.

From the White House to the school house to your house, a clear definition can prevent a world of trouble. Even the highest office in the land could stand an occasional dictionary review (apparently they don’t teach the meaning of the word “is” in law school).

All joking aside, clear definitions do bring a certain peace and order.

In the Stahlmann house, “obedience” is defined as “immediately, cheerfully, and thoroughly.” I heard the definition nearly a decade ago from a homeschool mom with an army of kids – very well behaved kids, might I add.

When our kids were little, we spent a good amount of time defining each of the three attributes of obedience. Most of them understood “immediately” right off the bat, but “cheerfully” and “thoroughly” took some time.

Over the years, as I’ve shared our definition with other parents, “cheerfully” seems to have inspired the most raised eyebrows. “Kids can’t always be expected to be cheerful, can they?” When it comes to obeying orders, they sure can.

I’d say one of the most valuable lessons our kids can learn is that attitude is a choice. We can’t always control what happens in our life, but we can always choose our response. And although it can be difficult to choose a good attitude, a good attitude bears good fruit. (For a glimpse at how we recently confronted an attitude struggle in our family, check out Without Anger or Excuse.)

“Thoroughly” can be a tricky one. Some kids seem to come pre-wired with a dominant thoroughness gene, and others…well…don’t. I call them 80%ers – they always seem to think they’re finished about 80% through the job.

I have to admit, it does take some effort to teach the “thorough” part of obedience, because it means we parents have to be willing to follow-up (often again and again) until the job is 100% done. But we can’t expect what we’re not willing to inspect. The good news is that over time, our kids will learn to strive for excellence in all they do.

As they’re learning how to be thorough, it’s okay if they miss a few details, as long as they ask for an inspection before assuming they’re done, and they’re willing to make adjustments with a cheerful spirit.

When we catch our kids slipping in one area of obedience, we’ll ask, “What’s the definition of obedience?” and instantly they know what needs to be adjusted. That’s the power of a definition!

Another thing worthy of defining is your family rules. When a child misbehaves, you can point to the family rules and calmly say, “It says here there is no screaming allowed in our house, and you were screaming.”

Which leads to the next thing worthy of defining, and that’s the consequences for disobedience and misbehavior (breaking a family rule). Deciding ahead of time what the results will be creates an atmosphere of justice in your home. Your kids don’t feel wronged by discipline because the expectations of them were clear, as were the results of poor choices. They won’t enjoy it, of course, but they’ll know it’s fair, and fairness is especially important to young souls.

On a side note, a great principle to post in your home is “Good choices equal good results. Bad choices equal bad results.” Imagine the fruit our kids will produce if they arrive at adulthood understanding that they can always make a good choice and that many good choices, over time, will yield good results. It’s the biblical principle of reaping and sowing. Sow good seed and reap a good harvest.

Our oldest son has autism, and because communication is one of his greatest struggles, definitions are particularly important for him. When Griffyn clearly understands what is expected of him, and what the results will be for both good and bad choices, he has an easier time making good choices and accepting the consequences for bad ones.

Definitions create boundaries, and boundaries offer safety. Perhaps no one is more sensitive to that fact than our sweet Griffyn.

Stop by later in the week to read about the Power of the Three Question Correction, and the Power of Routines.

In the meantime, we’d love to love to hear about your family rules.  Here’s a peak at ours.

Stahlmann Family Rules

  1. Obey mommy and daddy immediately, cheerfully and thoroughly!
  2. No spitting, hitting, kicking, pushing, snatching, throwing things, or hurting people or animals.
  3. No screaming in the house and no temper tantrums.
  4. Always treat each other with honor and respect.
  5. No playing with water in the house.
  6. Put things away when you are done using them.
  7. Take snacks only with permission and always eat at a table.
  8. No going outside without shoes or permission.
  9. Don’t interrupt when someone is talking.
  10. Always tell the truth!

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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