7.27.2015

Teaching Your Children to Work


This is the first installment in a series of posts written from one mother to another. My thoughts come from my own journey of failures and victories as a mother.  My desire is to encourage young mothers to train their children, teach them to walk in the ways of the Lord, and to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind.  We need to remember that our goal should be to not only train upright citizens who will make a positive contribution to society but to also raise up a generation of soldiers who will fight in God’s army.  
This post is written from my perspective of life on the farm and on the road as I observe my own children and many other families that we have met in our travels.  It is a collection of tips which may help your children in the endeavor to enjoy whatever work they are called to do. 

Just so you know, I agree wholeheartedly with the following Scriptures: 
“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lamentations 3:27
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  II Thessalonians 3:10
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
They are the foundation for how we have trained our children.  God’s ways have always worked and always will!
  1. Teach your children when they are young.  Any child capable of dumping a basket of toys is certainly able to pick them up again.  Now some cheerful words and a parent’s  helping hand will do much to make your training more effective.  Buy a little broom and dustpan so your child can work beside you as you sweep the floor.  Most children love water-let them slosh as they rinse the dishes.  Setting the table and clearing the dishwasher are  great chores to teach your 3 or 4 year old that they must work before they eat. 
  2. Be consistent in what you expect your children to do.   At our house, most of the boys started feeding the calves when they were about 6 years old.  Within months, I could see that this responsibility had a very positive effect. Having a chore that needs to be done twice a day at a specific time, rain or shine, cold or hot, whether we had guests or not, regardless of their desire to feed the calves by the appointed time, had a way of maturing them in all of life. This responsibility taught them that they could do a job in spite of their feelings. So you don’t live on a farm?  Then get creative-assign a child to prepare breakfast or dinner everyday, have them do a quick bathroom cleanup every morning before breakfast, run a paper route, or buy chickens or calves to feed.  Before we milked cows, we bought some calves and chickens for the sole purpose to provide work for our young children (6-7 yrs old).  We never actually kept good records but I am quite sure we lost money on these “projects” but that didn’t matter.  If need be, I would volunteer my children to mow an elderly person’s yard or remove the snow from their sidewalk for free just so they would have some work to do.  You could also turn your garage into a small mechanic shop or woodworking shop.  By all means, plant a garden!  This is an excellent way to teach your children the rewards of hard work.  Is there anything sweeter than a cherry tomato picked fresh from your own garden?  BTW, you don’t have to live on an acreage to have a garden.  Make a raised bed, plant vegetables in your landscaping, and put potted vegetable plants on your porch or patio. (There will be a separate post on the joys of gardening.)
  3. Teach them to work without pay.  We have never given our children an allowance.(GASP!) BTW, one of sons just added his definition of an allowance-”Allowing your child to be lazy”.  And I didn’t even ask for that!!  We will not judge you if you give your children an allowance; this is simply the way we raised our 10 children.   So everyday chores such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, garden work, feeding calves, etc. were always done without pay.  We did, however; offer them additional work for a small or sometimes larger monetary reward.  At our house this might be loading out hogs (not for the faint at heart!), doing the early morning  milking (4:00 a.m.), trapping mice (what a nice relief for a mother who doesn’t enjoy living with mice or removing their dead bodies), painting a fence, doing an extraordinarily nasty cleaning job, digging thistles or dandelions, and more. 
  4. Reward work.  While this may seem like a contradiction to the previous point, it isn’t. Actually, my children told me this is something that helped them learn to enjoy work.  On a hot, summer day I might tell them that I will set up the sprinkler after they weed and mulch the potatoes.  Or I will give them a list of garden chores to do on a Monday and Tuesday then take them swimming on Wednesday. We have also watched a movie while folding laundry or listened to a story on cd while making salsa or canning pears. Let them learn that there are rewards for a job well done. 
  5. If they complain about not liking a job, be sure they know that the job will be their responsibility until they can do it cheerfully on a daily/weekly basis.  An example of that is Allison who used to dislike dusting in particular and cleaning in general.  In spite of her aversion to this chore, she was assigned weekly cleaning jobs which stayed the same for many years.  She will tell you that now she finds fulfillment in completing even difficult and some rather disagreeable jobs that she has encountered as an adult. We have had different jobs given to our younger children like clearing the dishwasher, taking out a bucket of scraps to the compost pile, and setting the table.  I have assured them that the chore will not be given to a younger sibling until they can consistently do it cheerfully.  Many times I have seen a 6 year old begin to find joy in a simple job which was done day after day.
  6. Promise them that there will be many times in life that they will have to do something they don’t like to do. Does anyone need further explanation on this?
  7. Remind them, when necessary, of the verse “He who eats must work”.  Be creative in how you apply this verse to real life situations.  A son told me that he thinks this was the first verse he learned!  I thought it was Psalm 23.  At the very least, you can make a child go without desert.

We have an entire generation that at best works only to receive wages and at the worst, is content to pick up their monthly welfare check. Teach your children to find a career in serving others through their daily work whether it be milking cows, being a Dr., doing janitorial work, serving as a politician, going to another country to be a missionary, being a mechanic, teaching school, or becoming the president of a company.  Every job should be seen as a way to glorify God and to serve others while earning a paycheck.

I also believe that a person who has been taught the value of money through hard work, will be more likely to be a good steward of their finances.

So get started today!  Be blessed with the fruit of your labors as you teach your children the rewards of a job well done.

7.25.2015

SummerTourNorth||Week#6

Here we are for a recap of Week #6! Ah, only one week to go!! 
(and let me tell you---anticipation of HOME is running high!)

We had a busy week of concerts in Minnesota and Michigan, and just entered back into Canada (eastern Ontario) yesterday morning for another week of concerts here before ending out our tour next weekend with a Stoltzfus (moms side) family reunion in NY. 
Sometimes when our singing friends come to our concerts, we make them come onstage and sing a song with us. =) Special memories and favorite song, "We Have This Moment".
The littles have been missing their kittens from home so much, and they were just delighted with the chance to play with some friends' kittens one evening! There were plenty to go around. =)
Josh + Denver enjoying a rousing game of SpikeBall with friends, after our concert on Sunday evening.
Mom enjoyed reconnecting with one of her dear friends + mentors from twenty-five years ago!
Love these sweet ladies!
This family was such a blessing to us. They told us how they came to our concert two years ago and were convicted that they needed to be in ministry as a family. The ministry God laid on their hearts was music. After we left, their children got instruments and started practicing for hours and hours. Their father told us that some nights they will stay up until 12am playing music together. After two years of practice God has blessed them and they are now singing together! We were privileged to have them join us on stage in Michigan the other night for several songs. 
It was so encouraging to see their love for music & passion to serve Jesus with the talents He has given them!
The view of Mackinac Bridge...through our very dirty bus window. =)
A beautiful morning & family time in the Word with some very dear friends.
Making fresh salsa for lunch.
Hard at work, helping some friends weed in their beautiful garden.
Yummy snacks provided by sweet friends after a concert.
I'm kind of known as the baby lover in our family. =)

Sibling memories...we will never forget that time in Michigan that we wore our sunglasses and baked alive in the hot evening sun!
We sang here the other evening.
One of the delicious meals we were served on evening. 
Sometimes we have catastrophes, and have to stop the bus suddenly. And in times like that, things go flying. Sometimes we open the trailer door and find most of the clothes have fallen off the rack and are all over. On this particular day, everything flew off the shelves and piled on the floor of the shower room.
We love to encourage little people to pursue music! One of the best ways to do this is to let them "try" out an instrument. This is how most of us got our love for music, by inspiration from older musicians who gave us tips and let us try out their instruments.
We got to meet up with these dear Bible Bee friends one night after a concert in Michigan!
Touring our friends' maple syrup farm in the Northwoods. 
Jam time!! One thing we tell people all the time, is that one of the best ways to learn to play by ear and also to learn to play well with a group, is to attend as many informal jam sessions as you can! =)
It is just like free music lessons, basically. Plus you get to be with friends and have fun! And you are honing your skill and perfecting technique! What a win!

Also, start them young. =)
Allison whipping up her famous gluten-free, sugar-free, chocolate layer cake.
(stay tuned-full recipe post coming soon!)
Our boys...they are the best. They just pitch in with whatever needs to be done. Here Carson is, washing dishes after a meal at some friends' home.
These sweet girl is one of our most avid fans & it was so great to see her again this past week!
Ah...take me back to Mexico!! =)
We had supper one evening with a family who had moved from Mexico, and they made us the Mexico meat in the disk grill. Can't wait to get home and use ours again!
Tootling down the road!
All around the table for a big farm breakfast with friends.

And that's a wrap of Week #6! Yet another week full of so many stories of God's provision & faithfulness. We experienced His protection & grace firsthand in so many ways and we are grateful!

Many thanks to the dear souls who gave so sacrificially in so many ways to our family this past week. May God bless you richly.

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 
Let all your things be done with charity."
1 Corinthians 16:13+14

{posted by Chelsy}

7.21.2015

SummerTourNorth||Week#5

Week #5 found us in Manitoba and Ontario.  It was a a week full of blessings, intense ministry, and many memories.  

Before each concert, we haul in + set up all the speakers + mics................
......and get out, tune, + line up all 12 stringed instruments.
a church sign before our concert in Steinbach
One evening our parents went out for a dinner date, so us kids took the opportunity to do something fun and out of the norm.  And what might that be?  An epic all-sibling rubber band war!!!  It was fantastic, completely with our tough set of rules:
-no using of sweatshirts or blankets for extra protection (curtain and pillow protection allowed....unless someone steals your pillow or pulls open your curtain:)
-you MUST yell "oww!" when you get hit with a rubber band.  Now, lest you wonder at such a strange rule, let me explain.  There are some tough ones among us that wouldn't so much as squeak unless they are mortally wounded, and it just isn't very fun to go to all the work of that perfect aim and not even have the satisfaction of knowing if you hit your target.  end story.:)
Our favorite, fabulous, utterly fantastic laundry queen continues to do a pristine job.  We love her!  And no, she is not for rent or sale.:)  
We got to visit  Windy Bay Hutterite Colony again, and had a wonderful time.  All our friends there were so sweet to make us feel right at home and let us help them with whatever work they were doing.  Several of the boys helped with a construction project.
At the colony, they usually take a break in the afternoon for coffee/snack.  We loved this idea, and may try implementing it at home some days!
Liz swimming with friends
After the day's tasks on the colony was finished, there was a grand game of baseball.  
We are blessed with our amazing mechanic (Carson) and our dear mechanic friends along the way who keep our bus in tip-top shape.

Most of the time we sing for people...but sometimes we do a trade: "We will sing for you, if YOU sing for us!" =)
Here, we got to hear the girls' choir sing, at another colony that we visited.
a gift of just-picked raspberries and freshly-made bread
Carson, acting as greeter at the front door of a concert venue.
Sibling time is the best, even if it's five minutes in a little side room before the concert.  On this particular evening, some of us were hanging out in the above room that also happened to contain some very inviting big bouncy balls.  Well, a certain brother (I don't want to incriminate him, but he is tall + blond, and has a goatee:) was reaching up to play with the balls a bit.  We were all intent upon watching him as another sibling walked in.  All of a sudden, the certain brother hoarsely whisper-yelled "shut the DOOR!!!"  He had realized-too late-that the newly-arrived sibling had left the door ajar, giving the whole audience a view of his bouncy-ball antics.  Yes, life is never dull around here!

Denver is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his clothing, and of late he has mastered the technique of immaculate shirt-ironing, often extending his abilities to his brothers' shirts, as well- much to their delight!
the view of the river at our concert at the Kenora Harborfront
The boys love any chance to drive a tractor, especially when they have been on the road and away from our farm for five weeks!
Liz learning how to assemble Black Forest Layer Cake
Mother is never happier than when in a garden!  
big pieces of Black Forest Cake for big boys
sibling selfie
Some friends took us boating on a beautiful lake one afternoon....it was a huge treat!
Some people took a dip!  Rebecca wasn't sure if she wanted to jump in, so I just threw her into Carson's arms for a little wade with him.:)
There is nothing like sticking your feet in cold water on a hot day!
Denver did a little fishing on the lake.
haircut time

Carson loves any opportunity to work with equipment! Here he is, working on a friend's tractor.
raspberry picking
What a joy to be in a barn once again!  We all just love the sights and smells of a dairy farm.
Thank you to all our dear friends along the way who blessed us with your generosity and hospitality!  We are unworthy of your kindness and friendship.
...............................................................
"I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my gory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope." Ps. 16:8-9

{posted by Allison}