Families Work Together

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Beth Moore Conference with my daughter-in-law and my two grown granddaughters. Right now I am feeling exhilarated and tired all at the same time. I had so much fun spending time with them and being spiritually refreshed. I need to figure out when I can spend time with my other grandchildren now.

I love spending time with my grandchildren. Through the years we have played and worked together a lot! Mostly we’ve played, but they have helped too. When a young child helps you make Mac and Cheese or cut up vegetables, it takes longer, but it is sure delicious and worth the effort! The early years go so fast, I know I need to cherish these years while I can. There’s nothing like snuggling with a young child and hearing them say, “I love you!”

Yes, I am very thankful God planned for families. Families work together and families are there for each other no matter what, at least that’s the way it should be, right? Sometimes though, we don’t work together very well and sometimes we get tired of being there for one another. Sometimes, like siblings, we fight over nonsensical or really ridiculous things and sometimes we even find ourselves judging other members of our family – usually when we’re tired and feeling a little selfish. I know for me, I tend to get frustrated with my hubby when I’m tired. That’s when the really small things seem to tip my cart over. But when life gets stressful and the end seems to be nowhere in sight. When I’m not sure I can take one more step, then my family is there for me. They are there for me and forgive me even when I am at my worst. How like God that is! Ready to forgive and extend grace when we least deserve it. What a joy it is to know that even when I feel out of sorts or just plain grumpy, my family doesn’t give up on me and God doesn’t give up on me either!

As you have probably guessed, my family is definitely not perfect, but we do try to work together and love each other no matter what. 

I wonder if that’s the way it was for Ruth and Naomi? (From Ruth 1 & 2 in the Bible – see below.) Naomi was going through a very tough time in her life. She was grieving, bitter and mad at God; yet at that very low point in Naomi’s life, Ruth pledged her love and faithfulness to her. She treated Naomi with kindness. She stayed with her. She didn’t give up on her. Why? Because she loved Naomi and deep down I think she knew that Naomi loved her and God loved her.

Is your family going through a tough time right now? Perhaps in the middle of it, you are feeling a little grumpy. Maybe you or someone else in your family is even feeling mad at God right now. If you are feeling that way, then I pray for God’s peace and comfort for you. If you are dealing with a family member that feels that way, then how about finding something you can work on together. Be kind to that person because God will work out the situation in His time. A good stress reliever in families is to take some time to play together too. It’s amazing what having a good time, laughing and playing together can do for family morale.

How can you help your preschooler learn to work together with your family? Playing is a natural for preschoolers, but sometimes working together can be a little harder. Here’s a couple of suggestions that I have tried. I would love to hear your suggestions too.

* Make it fun! Whether using a reward system or just making it a game, you’ll get more cooperation when you make it fun.

* Encourage and thank them for their help when they want to help – yes, I know it takes longer, but they are learning how to help and when you let your preschooler help, they learn that families work together. Being part of a family means sharing in the work load.

* As a former Montessori teacher, never do for your child what he/she can do for himself. Preschoolers can do lots. They can put their plates in the sink, their dirty clothes in the clothes basket and pick up their toys amongst other things.

* Older children can do even more! Encourage helping! Older children can cook simple meals, take out the garbage, babysit younger siblings, do dishes and laundry, vacuum and oh so much more. Sometimes a little reward helps too. I personally like the idea of paying my kids to do some jobs and some jobs they do just because they are part of the family and families work together.

* Give lots of praise, encouragement and grace especially the first time your child does a job.

Dear God,
I’m so thankful for my family. I’m thankful that our family works together and is there for one another. I think perhaps we could work on playing together a little more, still I know it is only because of your blessing in our lives that my family is so blessed. I pray for families who are struggling right now whatever they are going through. Some are struggling with addictions, divorce, trauma, sickness, job losses and so many, many other things. I pray that as they look to you, they would find peace in the midst and that you would help them to find their way back from despair into your loving arms of grace. Teach us to work together no matter what. Thank you God that families were your idea. Help us to treat our families the way we want to be treated, with grace and kindness. Lord help me to model grace and kindness to my kids as well. When I’m tired, I think my kindness goes out the window. Give me energy and boatloads of grace so that I am better at modeling kindness, your kindness. Amen. 
Once there was a woman named Naomi who was alone in a new country. She and her husband had moved far away from where she had grown up and now she only had her daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth, left with her. One day, Naomi heard that there was rain in her country, Judah and that now there was plenty of food to eat. She was homesick. She wanted to move back to her home. Naomi, Ruth and Orpah packed up and started on their way back to Naomi’s home in Judah. As they traveled, Naomi told Orpah and Ruth that they could go home to live with their own families. But they didn’t want to leave Naomi. They were sad to leave Naomi all alone. Finally Orpah did decide to go back to her own family, but Ruth said she would never leave Naomi. She wanted to move back to Judah with Naomi. She loved Naomi and she loved God. Naomi was Ruth’s family now.
 Ruth promised to help Naomi and she did. When they got back to Judah, Ruth went out to pick grain in the fields so that they could make bread and have enough food to eat. Now Naomi was not alone. God took care of her and helped Ruth as she cared for Naomi too. Later, a man named Boaz saw how kind Ruth was to Naomi and how hard she worked to care for Naomi and he helped Ruth and Naomi too. Then one day Boaz and Ruth got married. Now Boaz, Ruth and Naomi were family. God cared for them and helped them.
 God gave you a family and friends to care for you too. You can be kind to your family just like Ruth was kind and helpful to Naomi. What are some ways that your family helps takes care of you? How can you be kind and show love to your family and friends? When you are kind, you think about how others feel and you are loving and helpful, just like Jesus loves you. Remember to be kind and help your family and friends this week. 

For Older Siblings: Ask – How did Ruth show kindness to Naomi? How can you show love and kindness to your family? Do you think Naomi was kind to Ruth? Should you show kindness only when others are kind to you or all the time? Who can help you show kindness even when it’s hard?

PRAYER: Dear God, Thank you for my family. I’m glad you made families to love and to help each other. Help me be kind and loving to my family and friends this week because I know that you love me. Amen.

For Older Siblings: Thank Jesus for your family and friends. Pray for your family and friends. Ask God to show you ways to show kindness this week.

KNOW: Ruth showed kindness to Naomi.
TALK ABOUT: Showing kindness at home.
ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.

MEMORIZE: 1 John 4:19 – (Hold hands open as though holding a book.) We love – (Give self a hug.) Because He – (Point up.) Loved us – (Give self a hug.) First – (Show one finger.)

For Older Siblings Ask: Does knowing that Jesus loves you make it easier to love others? How does it make it easier? 

AND DO: I can be kind to my family and friends.

* Encourage your child to help you with simple tasks.
* Talk about your family – look at family pictures together and identify who they are.
 Thank God for your family.
* Send a Valentine to Grandma, Grandpa or an Aunt or Uncle. 

For Older Siblings: Think of some ways to show kindness this week. One way of showing kindness to our parents is by honoring them. How do we honor our parents? (By listening and obeying, etc……) If your not sure how to honor your parents, ask them. Ask, “How can I honor you today?” Then do it! But don’t forget your siblings too. How can you show kindness to your brother or sister? Is it hard sometimes? Who can help you show kindness even when it’s hard?