Thursday, December 19, 2013

Raising Princesses and Princes

This gorgeous image is courtesy of Joyce Ormeo (photography) and Danielle Waterman (design)

Our 4-yr-old is a product of Disney. She earnestly will tell you she plans to be a princess when she grows up, and she can tell you minute details about each and every Disney princess. The balancing act for us is to help her understand that she is created to be more than a Disney princess; she is a princess of God. And while Disney princesses may get served, God's princesses are here to serve others. 

So how do we raise princesses and princes who live in obedience to God and selflessness to those around them? My first thought is we need to cure "affluenza."

Recently, a teenaged boy stole beer from a convenience store and decided to drive while drunk. He eventually caused an accident that left 4 people dead. He admitted his guilt but his defense argued he shouldn't be sent to jail because his behavior was the result of affluenza - an indulgent family life devoid of discipline or expectations. Or, in our common vernacular, he was a spoiled brat.

So how do we prevent our children from being like the boy who thinks he is above rules and shows little regard for others? I think it comes down to having clear expectations with bountiful praise for obedience and clear punishment for defiance.

We recently implemented a behavior chart that lists 3 simple rules for Addie:
1. Love mommy and daddy by helping
2. Honor mommy and daddy by obeying
3. Love sisters and brother by being gentle

We created the rules with Addie's input, explained what each rule meant and brainstormed with her ways that she would live out the rules. We then put into place a system of rewards involving stickers that she could trade in for various prizes. We love this chart for several reasons: 
* Addie gets to see instant satisfaction when she helps us or shows love
* Addie has the option of exchanging her stickers for a simple reward or saving her stickers for a more elaborate prize, which teaches her delayed gratification and the benefits of saving vs. spending.
* The chart keeps us accountable for praising Addie when she is obedient

Some days are better than others. One day she earned 4 stickers before lunch. Another day she lost 2 stickers due to a string of tantrums. But in the past week I've seen her show more contrition when she disobeys, and have noticed her making obvious efforts to play nicer with her siblings and to volunteer her help.

I believe we are seeing a princess in the making.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

He is faithful

Back when we were a family of two, I already knew I wanted to stay home with our kids once we started a family. At the time, though, Mike and I were working at a non-profit and there was no way we'd financially be able to live on Mike's salary alone. One day, a dear friend spoke a beautiful promise over us.

She said, "God knows your needs and He loves the babies He will give you. Don't you think He'll also provide for these children?"

Six months after we became a family of three, I was able to quit my job and stay home with her.

    Then we became a family of six. 

And those fears of how we were going to provide for 4 children resurfaced. Now, not only did we have more mouths to feed, bottoms to diaper and bodies to clothe, but we also had medical bills.

We thank God that the babies were born healthy and had to be in the hospital for just a few weeks, but even so we accumulated bills in the thousands.

So all year we've been praying for God to help us pay off these bills and provide for the babies. And He is answering in ways we never imagined!

  • My ob-gyn called a few months ago and said insurance had paid more for my delivery than they had anticipated and the dr was refunding us about $500 of what we had paid in advance
  • One of the physicians' office who employs the drs at the hospital called and offered to cut 1 of our bills in half if we could pay it in full now. That saved us about $300
  • This week a debt of $2000 was repaid to us from 5 years ago. And we were gifted $1000 from another source
This is in addition to people sending us checks throughout the year, helping pay for the babies' diapers, and many many other ways God has sent us money when we needed it. 

Please hear my heart in this: this doesn't have anything to do with us. This is all about God being faithful to His promises. We just want to give praise to God and encouragement to others who may be facing insurmountable odds. God is faithful.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Friends are friends forever

It's been a hard 18 months of transitions and major changes. One of the hardest things Mike and I have struggled with is feeling lonely in a new city far from friends and familiar faces. And obviously only a crazy person would think of driving to Richmond with 4 kids in tow :)

This week we were overwhelmed with joy and love to have the Bretas bring their beautiful family to stay with us for a few days. They are some of our closest friends in Richmond, and they will remain that type of friend we can go months (or years) without seeing each other but can pick up where we left off when we do get together.

They are precious treasures to us and seeing them was the emotional pick-me-up we needed.

Joshua, Josiah, Raigan, Ryleigh, McKenna, Addie and Raella

Addie and Raigain

The Conner-Breta clans