Friday, June 1, 2007

Mentoring Moments #2: The Answer

Here is the answer I received from my mentor, Linda. **Please read previous post for explanation ** It is a long letter, but I believe it is soo very worth it and you will be blessed for doing so. I know I was!


Hello Lisa,

I would be glad to share with you what the Lord has shown us. We've done it now for the past 15 years and it works so well. We too had been given many bags of clothing and it usually was wonderful I know how hard it can be to not want to keep it all. But I was finding that I was actually making it sooo hard for my children to keep up with their clothing faithfully by having sooo much for them. They could not possibly maintain it, organize it, or wear it all. So....when it was difficult for them to open their drawers to put away their clothing, they would just shove the clean clothes on top and guess what...they continued to wear just those few things over and over again. Even if they can get their drawers open fine....children tend to just wear the same few outfits they truly like.

Also, we had a lot of clothing at one time, because I didn't do laundry as often as I should have. So we actually needed many outfits. But years ago when we developed how we do our laundry, we found we no longer needed as many clothes. We began to do a load a day, we would alternate. We would do colors one day, whites the next and then towels. Sheets would be an extra load done on one of the other days with either whites, or colors or towel days.

Each morning we would quickly sort the clean, dry laundry that had been done the night before, and then call everyone to come and fold their laundry. Since we were doing the laundry daily...each person only had only a few items to fold. They would quickly fold it and put it right away. Laundry quickly became a no brainer and sooo easily kept up with at our home! I would highly encourage you to do laundry this way. Even a small family could do laundry if not every day...I would encourage them to do a load every other day. That way you aren't doing all the laundry on one day....and having to do sooo many loads at one time, taking most of the day to complete it.

As time went on and our family grew in number and in size...we had to begin doing 2 loads a day....but we have been doing this for years and have found it to be such a simple easy way to keep up on the laundry and to never get behind on it! :)

When we began to become organized years ago, and we went through the house making sure that everything had a that we could all be accountable for where to put something and so that our children could be accountable for where they put something. We found that they could not keep our home clean and neat and orderly, nor could we...because things did not have a certain place they went. Once we did became so much simpler and our home so much more organized, efficient, and peaceful.

We organized our children's rooms as well. We went through all their toys and organized them into clear plastic buckets. They are rectangle ones we bought from Wal-Mart. About 18 inches long, 12 inches across the front, and about 12 to 18 inches deep depending on what we were putting in them. We liked this size as we could easily line them up on the shelf at the top of the children's closet. We put link n logs in one bucket, tyco blocks in another, army guys in one, cars in another etc. or for girls we would put dolls and doll clothes in one, blocks in another, dishes and food in another etc.

When our children were little we didn't allow them to have all the buckets of toys at one time, as they would often dump them all out or several buckets out and become overwhelmed when playing or putting them we put them on the very top shelf of their closet and they had to ask to get one bucket down at a time. When they cleaned up that bucket they could ask for another one. When we saw them mature and found that they could easily maintain playing and cleaning up one bucket, we allowed them to have 2 buckets...and so on. Eventually all their buckets are down where they can get them when they are old enough to maintain them and not create a huge mess. They were able to have access to them all, once they had proven they could be diligent and responsible.

Back to the clothing. When we organized our children's rooms, we also organized their clothing. We really stopped to think about how much clothing do they really need? We realized that they needed not more than 5 outfits to play in. Then 2 or 3 outfits for going out in. A couple for church. 3 pairs of pj's. underwear and socks. For girls we did the same thing...although it was much harder! :) We limited our girls to 5 outfits for play. 3 outfits that were nice for going out. and 3 to 4 dresses, socks, underwear and tights. We also realized that our children don't need too many pairs of shoes either. For our boys they have a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. For our girls we have a pair of sneakers, and a pair of sandals and one pair of dress shoes typically. I once went to a family's home to help them organize. The children each had about 20 pairs of shoes. It was very difficult for the children and the parents to maintain all those shoes!

We just realized that this is what worked for our family. Every family is different. We began to realize that our children basically only wear their top favorite 5 outfits anyway. We did laundry so often that they didn't actually need more clothes than this. All their clothes were clean every other day. They loved being able to easily open their drawers and find things. We loved it too! It was so much easier to hold them accountable when they could easily obey us and clean their rooms or put their clothes away...when everything had a place, we found it so much easier and so did they to keep up with it all.

Also, when we were given bags of clothing we would only take out what we needed at the time, or for the very next season...and the rest we would pass on and give away to others. This built our faith soooo much! We found that God always provided for our needs. We didn't have to stress or worry and hold on to things thinking that we would not have that provision when we'd need it....if we didn't hold on and store it all. Every time we gave things away...God always provided what we needed, when we needed it down the road. God is soooo very faithful!

Plus giving the extra away, blessed so many others. We were apart of God's answer to others who had needs. We also didn't have tons of clothing in storage boxes to have to move around or live around or have taking up valuable storage space in our home.

We have found that living this way with clothing, has never hurt us or hindered us. I know that for us, it was lack of faith and selfishness that kept us hanging on to clothing, and wanting more, just because it was cute or we liked it, or we were fearful about not having what we needed when we needed it etc. I know that we started out storing and keeping clothes thinking that we were being good stewards of what the Lord had given us and that storing and holding on to all those clothes or items for a time when we might need it was being wise or prudent. But we found this not to be true in our lives. We found it to be a bit selfish and a lack of faith.

God did alot in our hearts and we see our children blessed because of this type of living! :)

We held on to Matt's clothing for years. Matt is our oldest son. He is 6 1/2 years older than Mitchell. It took us 6 1/2 years to have another son. We had thought we were wisely saving our boys clothes for the next baby boy. By the time Mitchell was able to fit into Matt's clothing that we had lugged around, lived around and had had to manage all those years.... the clothing was either out dated, ruined, or dry rotted etc. It was sooo sad. I remember sitting on the bedroom floor pulling out one item after another and realizing that someone else could have been using these clothes all this time! That we had struggled to hang on to them and live around them in our home. We could have used all that space for those years! We could have allowed someone else to have had the blessing of using all those clothes...realizing that if we got them back, that would be fine, but if we didn't then the Lord would have provided for our need some other way.

Mark and I decided that day to no longer hang on to things, unless we could see a need to use them in the next season or near future. We would instead pass things on and we have ALWAYS found that the Lord has faithfully met and provided for our needs.

As I shared we also needed some heart work done in our lives. Mark and I struggled with being selfish and wanting more than we really needed. If someone gave us clothing we were tempted to hang on to more clothing than we needed...just because they were cute clothes. As the Lord continued to work in our hearts, we were able through his grace to take only what we needed and pass the rest on to others who might need the clothes.

This is something else the Lord had to help us learn through. We had to realize that if we saw something on sale...but we didn't need it....we shouldn't buy it! That was sooo hard!!!! :) But saved us sooo much money and helped our children to learn to be soooo grateful! If they needed something, and there was a sale...great! We saw that as the Lord's blessing and provision for our family. But frankly almost every store now has sales ALL the time! You can always find things on sale....and you can always justify it! So, you have to be wise and careful. I would encourage you not to go unless you need something...then look for that specifically.

We didn't go to the store or the mall unless we needed something specific...this helped us sooo much to not be tempted! I would highly recommend this to you. :) Also, our children were much more grateful because they weren't having stores daily paraded before them. We had friends that would often wonder why their children were so ungrateful or wanted to buy things or designer things or have name is because they often lived at the mall. Their mom would take them to the mall to get out of the house, or to visit with friends. Our malls in Florida would have wonderful playgrounds in the middle of them...and so moms would go to the mall to shop, eat and let their children play. But we have seen first hand that when these children grow up....they struggle so much with ungratefulness and with selfishness.

We also saw children struggle with selfishness and ungratefulness if their parents shopped garage sales or thrift stores. Sometimes we're sooo tempted....if we garage sale alot or buy things at thrift stores we can be tempted to get things for our children because it's so cheap. We think "this was only $1.00 or .50 or .25 cents" The child isn't affected always by the price...they are affected by the fact that they get something every time they go! The child just knows that he's getting something bought for him every time and this causes him to become ungrateful. The price is often irrelevant to children. They become ungrateful simply by the abundance and the fact that they get something each time.

We were sometimes tempted to purchase things for our family.... more than we needed to because it was cheap or inexpensive or SUCH a great deal!!! :) We love thrift stores, and garage sales....but we limit ourselves and our children. :) And we only go if we need something. :)

We do give allowances and we have had our children use their own money to purchase things they want, but might not necessarily need and this has been helpful for their maturity. But we still want to train them to be wise and to not have too much that they don't need or spend money that they don't need to. Truly just not going shopping unless we needed something specific, was the best plan that worked for our family. :)

I also wanted to share something that I've observed over the years. Our children are young, fleshy and foolish. They need our help and for us to be wise. I know there were times that because we LOVE our children and we LOVE to bless them and do good to them...that we would do too much and find that it was so hard for them.

I remember times when we would do simple things that truly did not cost much money...but that we thought would be special for our children. We would take them to a park (that's free), then we'd get them an ice cream cone (for $1.00 or $2.00). Then we'd go to the $1.00 movie theater to see a movie. The whole day would not have cost us much as a family. Mark and I would see this as a treat for our children and because it didn't cost much, we'd think that we were doing a good thing. That we were being wise in how we chose to spend the money God had blessed us with...being good stewards, while still being able to bless our children and have fun with them. BUT, what we didn't realize is that this often left our children cranky, ungrateful, throwing fits, etc. Why?

Because our children did not have the character to handle all those blessings! We knew it didn't cost much....but they don't truly understand that concept! They just knew that they were getting one blessing after another! The sum total leaving them exhausted, cranky and ungrateful for all those special things that we did.

We had tried to do something special to love on our children...but we didn't realize that we had to be wise and careful. We thought they would be fine if we were doing fun things...but very soon, we began to realize that they would have wrong attitudes, and behaviors. This causes our flesh to take up offense and to take it personally. We think "I did all of this for you and this is how you act?!

We don't understand that our children haven't yet developed the godly character to be able to handle all these blessings the right way! We realized that as parents, we had to be wise and be careful how much we did and how often we did it. We are training our children all the time, whether purposely or not. So, we had to realize that it was up to us to make sure that we were not giving them too much that they weren't yet ready to handle.

We've seen this truth in regards to birthday days and family vacations as well. These occasions often bring with them MANY opportunities for our children to be given an overabundance of blessings all one right after another....and often times our children really act up and have bad attitudes and bad behavior on their birthdays or while we're on vacation and we are often upset and frustrated when all we're trying to do is....BLESS them! Again, what we don't realize is that our children are just not yet mature enough to be able to handle the blessings, and so we'd be so much wiser to limit the blessings or spread them out a bit more.

The reason we don't though sometimes is we feel guilty if each birthday party or birthday is not over the top incredible....we would feel that we had not done enough. Instead we need to be more concerned about our children and wisely know they would still love it and have a great time, even if it was only simple fun and simply done.

Also, on vacations, we'd be wise to make sure our children still rest and get to bed somewhat on time most of the time. If possible let them help and serve those you're visiting with, keeping up with the chores they would normally do at home if possible. We've seen this help our children soooo much to not be completely out of control and us to have to completely retrain them when the vacation is it actually helps the vacation itself to go soooo much better and be so much more enjoyable!

For instance, we stay in yurts when we camp. The children sweep, wash dishes, clean and straighten up the yurts, and the surrounding camp fire area. They do trash pick up and throw away, help watch their younger siblings etc. We swim, boat, fish, take hikes, go out to dinner, go shopping etc. but keeping up with some essential things like rest, and simple chores that can be done...helps them to stay more grounded and thankful and trained.

When we stay at the cabin, they again do laundry, sweep, help cook, clean up the kitchen, make beds, straighten up the rooms, clean the bathroom, help with siblings etc.

When we stay at hotels, they still clean up and help straighten the room. If we stay with another family, they are expected to help with the chores. They cook or clean up the kitchen, or sweep, vacuum, clean bathrooms, help with the younger children, etc. Because of this....we feel that these things help ground them and keep the blessings that are also apart of vacation from "ruining" their good character and their attitudes and behavior are so much better!

This is why children often act soooo badly while on vacation or when you get home from vacation! They have just had too much abundance! While we do want to bless them and enjoy them...we don't want a vacation to "undo" or unravel all the training and character we've tried so hard to build. So some simple things usually making sure that they have times to still rest and as often as we can get them to bed at night somewhat on time. Also, limit what we do...spreading out the blessings between the days. Also, as much as we can we have our children do some of the chores that they do when home. We try even while on vacation to be wise and careful about how much they're getting, how much we're doing. We try to keep some normalacy if possible to our days. This we've found helps all of us have soooo much more fun and come home and not have to completely retrain our children!

Also, if we're on vacation and a child needs discipline or training we do so, out of love. They might have to get spankings, or sit out, or loose privileges, etc. This too, helps them to get back on the path to obedience and helps the vacation and time you spend together soooo much more enjoyable. Sometimes we're tempted because it's their birthday or because we're on not discipline or train when our children need it. We somehow don't want to "ruin" the good time we've planned...and yet, if we don't stop to lovingly take the time to train them...we will all end up not having the good time we could have had because of the bad attitudes and behavior our children will continue to have. It usually gets worse not better. We need to not see this training as spoiling our special plans or day...but instead to see the wisdom and discernment that children are young and foolish. They are little. Their will and their sin don't recognize that a special day is not a time to act up....they do what they do, whether it's a special day or we need to be wise and not seeing training as a bad thing, but as a simple, normal, necessary part of each day..regardless if it's a special holiday, occasion or vacation. :) If we are willing to stop and take a few moments to train and discipline...we will be so very blessed and so will our children. We will all enjoy the special time all the more! :)

Anyway...I am sure this is way more than you wanted to know. I just know that all of this is intertwined together in the abundance category...that starts with something as simple as having too many clothes...and can spiral downward from there! :)

Hope this helps....God bless you!
Look forward to seeing you soon!

1 comment:

Leah Kadwell said...

Thanks for posting this, Lisa! I think I may send so many people this link.