Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Raising Godly Girls" book review

A great resource for moms of girls of any age!

I'm so happy to announced the release of "Raising Godly Girls" by my good friend Deb Burma! 

If God has blessed you with the gift of a daughter (or daughters), He has entrusted you with both a huge task and a sometimes overwhelming privilege. In Raising Godly Girls, author Deb Burma comprehensively covers the wide range of issues related to faith and related to “the world”, that raising a daughter involves. 

Raising Godly Girls stands out among parenting books as a resource that moms can begin using at any time--when their girls are toddlers or almost all grown up--and refer back to again and again. As well as encouraging readers to incorporate faith into every aspect of the lives of their “princesses of the King” Raising Godly Girls directly addresses tricky, sensitive and uncomfortable topics that girls of all ages face today, including the pressure to dress and act sexually, body image and developing good character. Raising Godly Girls also recognizes the vital need for girls to have faith and the Lord infused in every aspect of their lives, through prayer, Bible study, devotions, and worship.

While Deb offers a wide variety of “real life” suggestions for facing the “real world” problems of today (she realizes that each family is unique),  she always guides us back to the best parenting book—the Bible. Through specific verses and narratives from Scripture, Deb shows us what the Lord desires of us as examples for our girls (and everyone around us) and how He desires them to act—“in the world but not of the world”.

For example, Deb shares how devotion time in their own home changed throughout the years as the kids (one princess, Courtney, who was integral in the development of this book, and two princes, her brothers) grew and schedules became busier. Deb also encourages moms who are new Christians, or perhaps have recently renewed their commitment to their faith, that it’s not “too late” to incorporate faith in their kids’ lives.

Raising Godly Girls is written in Deb Burma’s unique conversational style, filled with personal stories and anecdotes, and packed with scripture and encouragement on every page. She shares scenarios that all readers can relate to— like the hectic shopping trip with energetic toddlers after which she forgot to drive through the pick-up lane to pick up her groceries.

After presenting an issue specific to raising our girls, every chapter wraps up with three sections that show readers how apply the information in that chapter.   
  •   Don’t Conform, Be Transformed helps readers apply the truths of that chapter with encouragement to live “in, but not of, the world.”
  •    Word of Grace reassures us that our mistakes and sins, and the sins of our daughters—of long ago or of that very day--are forgiven through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Show and Tell provides leads us to look inside ourselves to evaluate our own actions and motivations and gives concrete examples, from Deb and her daughter, Courtney, on whose experiences growing up Deb drew from extensively, for moms to show and tell her daughter the truths of that chapter. 
         To read more by Deb Burma, and to see where she will be speaking, go to her website Fragrant Offerings. To order "Raising Godly Girls" go to 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A to Z Blogging's Throwback Thursday and "T is for..."

T is for…Temptation

By Shelly Burke, Editor, Nebraska Family Times

(This post was first posted two years ago, on April 23, 2013. I hope it is a blessing to you today as well!)

(The posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge will focus on teaching kids lessons from selected Bible verses. Adapt your teaching to the age of the kids you’re talking with.)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you man not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Ask your children what they’re tempted by and ask them if they think Jesus was tempted by the same things. Remind them that He was made man when He was born here on earth, and was tempted as we are. Of course He didn’t have computers or TV to tempt him, but what are those temptations, really? The temptation to watch too much TV can be a temptation to disobey parents or not put God first. The temptation to cheat is also disobeying. The temptation to have sex with a boy- or girlfriend is disobeying the commands against sexual immorality and adultery. Discuss more temptations and how those temptations are “common to man” and have been for many years.

God is with us at all times; He knows when we’re faced with temptations. It is not a sin to be tempted; even Jesus was tempted. Temptations occur throughout our lives, every day, every hour.  That is part of sin being a part of our world. Our spirit—our conscience—is willing to follow all of God’s commands because we want to please Him and our parents too.

But our flesh—the part of ourselves that says, “I want to {whatever it is we are tempted by} and I want to do it now!”--is weak. It is difficult to say “no” when a bunch of friends are bullying another child, or want you to join them in drinking alcohol or cheating on a test or skipping school.

Read the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil, in Matthew 4 or Luke 4. What did Jesus use when the devil tempted Him? He used the Word of God—the Bible—when He said “It is written.” You can use God’s Word, too, when you are tempted, to answer friends who tempt you and so you know what you should do in those situations (another reason it’s important to know what the Bible says).

God knows we will be tempted, but Paul (who wrote Corinthians) also gives a promise: “…with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” What is a way of escape? How can you avoid giving in to temptation? Here are several suggestions:

  •   Pray with your kids, and for them, that they will avoid temptation and if caught up in a situation, make good choices and get out of the situation.
  • Simply leave the location where the temptation is taking place. It might not be easy (because of what friends could say) but it removes you from the temptation.
  • Arrange a signal with parents; if you text them they’ll call and “demand” you come home immediately—or pick you up from the location.
Role play with your kids, playing the part of other kids tempting them. Help them to come up with responses like the following.
  •  “Jesus was kind to everyone and He wants us to be, too.”
  •  “It’s not nice to make fun of anyone.”
  •  “Cheating is dishonest and I’m not going to risk getting caught and flunking the class.
  • “The risks of premarital sex are too great and God says we are not to do it so I’m not having sex until I get married.”
  •  “We are not old enough to drink alcohol. I’m not going to break the law. If we’re caught we’ll get kicked off the team.”
  •  “I respect my parent’s rules and I’m not going to sneak out.”
  •  “If my parents find out they’ll ground me for a year!” (We assured our kids that if they misbehaved this would certainly be their consequence!)
Give your kids the reassurance that they have the tools they need to resist temptation; God provides a way of escape. Encourage them to practice so they’ll be ready when faced with temptation.

Lord, when I am tempted, please show me the way out, and give me the courage to take it. Amen. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A to Z Blogging..."P is for..."

"...Prepare for Sick Days"
From "Lifehacks for Christain Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Editor, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

It’s inevitable—someone in your home will become sick, probably at a most inopportune time. Being prepared for sick days—whether the sick person is a child, your spouse, or yourself—will make enduring them much easier.

Here is a list of “sick day supplies” to always have on hand:

Medications, in age-appropriate form, to treat:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Congestion
  • Cough
Be sure to have an appropriate measuring device on hand; a teaspoon or tablespoon from the silverware drawer is not accurate! Use the dropper or cup that came with the medication, or ask your pharmacy for an accurate measuring spoon. 

Be aware that some medications are combination medications—they contain more than one medication. Read the label carefully to avoid giving too much of any medication. For example, many cold medications also contain acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you give the cold medicine and acetaminophen, you might be giving too much acetaminophen.

Make it a habit to check the expiration date of your medications several times a year.

More Hints for Preparing for Sick Days

Additional items to have on hand:
  • Electrolyte replacement fluid for infants (check with your doctor as to when you should use this)
  • Juice/soda to sooth upset tummies and replace fluids lost through vomiting/diarrhea
  • Thermometer and probe covers
  • Humidifier and distilled water
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Petroleum jelly to soothe sore noses
  • Diaper creme to soothe baby bottoms made sore from diarrhea
  • Your family’s preferred comfort foods; soup, crackers, popsicles, jello, applesauce, pudding, juice, etc.
  • Activities to keep the kids occupied when they’re on the road to health but bored, or when you are sick and need to keep them occupied. When they’re on sale, purchase (and hide!) a supply of coloring books and new colors or markers, DVDs, simple craft projects, card games, art supplies, etc. Keep hidden until needed!
Other ways to be prepared:
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for guidelines as to when certain medications should be given; for example, how high should your child’s fever be before you give medication? When should you call the doctor about a fever/vomiting/diarrhea, etc?
  • If anyone in your family has a chronic illness, like asthma or diabetes, his or her medication needs may change with illness. Talk with your doctor about this before illness strikes, and call while the person is sick if you have any questions.
  • Never let your supply of diapers, wipes, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. run critically low; you don’t want to have to shop for these items with a sick child or when you yourself are sick!
  • Keep several heat-and-eat meals in the freezer, and one-step preparation meals in the cupboard at all times. These will come in handy when you're too sick or too tired from taking care of other sick ones, to cook.
When the Sick Days Are Over...
  • Disinfect all surfaces with wipes or Lysol spray. Follow the directions on the container. Remember phones (cell phones and the handset of land lines), remotes, doorknobs, the refrigerator and freezer handle, even steering wheel and door handles in vehicles.  
  • Bring out new toothbrushes for anyone who was sick (if the sick one(s) required antibiotics,
    (I have NEVER been this happy when cleaning...
    maybe she's just relieved that everyone
    feels better!)
    consider throwing away the old toothbrush after 24-48 hours on antibiotics and another new one when the antibiotics are completed). 
  • Wash all the bedding of the family members who have been sick. 
  • Throw out any unused antibiotics. 
  • Consider recording the illness and medications used, especially if a doctor visit was required, in a baby book or other health record. 
What sick day supplies do you have on hand at all times?

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
(She is prepared for the future.)
Proverbs 31:25


This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, coming soon!

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times
with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z Blogging "O is for..."

"...Organizing Your Days"
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

Having a plan for your days can seem...well, boring. But it can also bring a sense of calmness to your life, knowing when you will do laundry, plan meals, shop, cook and even take some time to relax. 

Some moms, purposely or as a result of a lack of planning, don't even attempt to establish a daily routine. But without some sort of routine, or at least a general plan for the day or week, life can be chaos--constantly scrambling to find clean underwear, last minute trips to the store or resorting to fast food for supper, or just getting out the door in the morning. An unexpected event--a visitor or illness or last-minute event--can throw the day or week into even more chaos. 

There is no one "right" way to organize your days. Collect ideas from books, magazines, friends, and tweak them to make them
work for you and your family. The important part is to establish some sort of plan for "normal" days or weeks, as well as a contingency plan for those days that are filled with the unexpected. 

Following are some of my favorite tips. I've gathered them throughout years and from various sources. Use them, tweak them to make them your own, or ignore them all and make your own! There are no "rules" to organize your days; figure out what works for you. 

Benefits to Planning Your Day

  • You'll feel more in control of your life.
  • You'll accomplish your priorities--"home" priorities as well as "fun", "kid," and "just for mom" priorities.
  • You'll feel a sense of accomplishment at completing the important things.
  • You'll get more done when you know the basic things you'll be doing every day.
  • You'll be better able to cope with an unexpected event or crisis. 
Hints as You Organize Your Days
  • It might take several months to come up with a schedule that is ideal for your family, and the schedule will continue to evolve and change over time as the activities of your family change. DO NOT GIVE UP! The benefits of having organized days far outweigh the effort it takes to do that organization.
  • Try different calendars and techniques. 
  • Gather hints from a variety of sources--Pinterest, magazines, books, friends, etc. 
  • You do not have to use every single method in a book, article, or website. It's ok to use hints from a variety of sources. 

Steps to Making a Daily Schedule 
  • Begin with a calendar--wall, desk, paper, electronic--find something that works for YOU. (I have three calendars; a wall calendar, one with a monthly calendar and checklists for every
    day--{it's my very favorite calendar and I got it from Planner Pads}, and a calendar with large squares and just the months in it {on this calendar I record things like days I walk, my weight, etc.} Admittedly, I'm a little compulsive about my calendars, but they keep me on track! 
  • Start by filling in the things that have to be done on a certain day and time--appointments, Bible Study, classes, work schedule. 
  • Depending on their age, add kid's and your husband's  commitments (I used to color code everyone's activities and use a different color for family activities) like practices, pre-school, etc. 
  • Next, list the routine activities for the week--laundry, cooking, paperwork and bills, cleaning. Remember to include time for devotions, working out, hobbies, etc.
  • Analyze your personal energy cycle and preferences; do you prefer to get up early or stay up late to complete tasks? How much "mommy quiet time" do you need every day? Do you prefer to work for a larger block of time or take frequent breaks? 
  • Now schedule the tasks according to what you've just outlined. Some people schedule hour by hour; others list "morning" and "afternoon" tasks, others make a list of things to do during the day and do them as the mood hits. 
  • Try the schedule for a week or two and then revise it as necessary. You'll continue to revise it as you find new ways to do things, as tasks change and as your kids grow. 
Hints for Organizing Your Days
  • Don't plan too much for one day. One or two major tasks, like
    laundry or cooking, are enough. You will become discouraged if you plan too much and aren't able to accomplish and there will inevitably be something that takes longer than it should, or an added "must do" to the day.
  • Plan both "quick and easy" and more time and energy consuming tasks for the day. It's easy to fit small tasks like "schedule dentist appointment" or "write thank-you card" between larger tasks and even if your day is filled with interruptions you'll have the satisfaction of getting a few things done.
  • Plan down time. Take a break or two during the day and, if you find yourself working well past bedtime every night, or miss out on time with your kids, plan a time to be done with "home management" at a certain time, even if not everything is crossed off of your list. 
  • If you make monthly goals (for exercise, Bible reading, etc.,) consider listing them on your calendar so you are reminded of them frequently.
  • List reminders on your calendar. My sister's birthday is May 1st, and she lives in Canada, so I have a reminder to send her card tomorrow. I've also made a list of graduations I'm invited to; I will shop for all of the cards and gifts at one time. 
Congratulations! Just by reading this post you're on your way to more organized days. Commit to making a schedule and following it for at least a month, then tweak as necessary; for example, you might decide to try grocery shopping every two weeks instead of every week. 

This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A to Z Blogging "N is for..."

...Never Run Out!"
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

(Catching reposting this from a couple of years ago.)

 It happened again as I was preparing homemade pizza for Saturday supper. I was out of tomato sauce. As I searched the grocery story for that crucial ingredient my cart magically filled…and 45 minutes and $45 later I was back home wondering how “just one thing” had taken so long and cost so much.

As well as being inconvenient (my sister had to go to three all-night gas stations when she ran out of children’s cold medicine in the middle of the night) and expensive (the medicine she found was VERY overpriced) running out of anything can be very frustrating.

Through trial and error I found a way to “never run out” again. I hope the tips will help you too.

  1. Make a meal list. List about 20 meals that you like to cook and your family likes to eat. List all of the ingredients needed to prepare each meal. 
  1. Make Master Shopping Lists 
Master Grocery List. Include all of the items for your favorite meals, plus staples like margarine, canned
products, and other things your family uses on a regular basis. List everything you use on a regular basis as well as what you use occasionally. Print out several copies of the list and post it on your refrigerator. Ask your family to circle an item if they use the last one (I circle peanut butter, vegetable oil, etc. when I open the last container in the cupboard).

Discount Store List. List pet food, paper items like paper towels, toilet paper and tissues, cleaning items (including dish and laundry soap), over-the-counter medications your family uses regularly, office supplies, and so on. Again, print out a list and post it in a central area.

  1. Prepare for shopping trips. Before you shop, check the lists for items you’re low on. Also check your pantry, laundry room, etc. for items you’ll run out of before your next shopping trip. By shopping for items proactively, before you’re all the way out, you won’t have to buy items when you’re completely out, in a panic, and will pay way more than necessary. 
Before you grocery shop, plan meals for the next week or so and check to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. (I didn’t realize how quick and easy it is to plan meals ahead…and it makes the days and weeks run so much easier!) On your master list, circle the items you’re out of.

When you have just two or three containers of frequently used items left (in our house that includes catsup and BBQ sauce) or open the last of a less-frequently used item (like lemon juice), circle it on your list and mark it with an “*”. That means you don’t need it immediately but will soon; but several if the item happens to be on sale. If you have a coupon for a circled item, put a “C” by it so you don’t forget to use the coupon.

  1. The shopping trip. Your goal is to gradually build up a stock supply of items your family frequently uses—when they are on sale. For example, when BBQ sauce is on sale I buy 10-12 bottles—enough to last until the next time it’s on sale. Even if your budget only allows you to purchase 1-2 extras, do so! You’ll gradually build up your supply and eventually only have to buy those things when they’re on sale. And if you’re just starting to buy ahead, consider buying two of everything, even if it’s not on sale. An extra jar of mayonnaise or can of soup in your cupboard can still save you a last-minute trip to the store. 
Be discerning; don’t buy a dozen bottles of a new brand of taco sauce; what if your family doesn’t like it? It’s also not saving money or making good use of your finances if you buy a large amount of perishable items and end up throwing them out because they’re spoiled.

What about things that usually don’t go on sale, like over-the-counter medications and soap? You’ll still save money by buying several of these things as your budget allows, because you won’t have to make a trip to the store for “just one thing.”

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 13:23

What tips do you use so you never run out? Share them in the comments.
This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at 
with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

A to Z Blogging "M is for..."

Morning Blues—and how to Beat Them!
From Lifehacks for Christian Moms
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper
Mornings can be hectic—whether you have kids at home or are just getting yourself ready for the day. Here are some tips to take the “blues” out of the morning.
  •  Start the morning on a positive note with the Lord’s words“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) and “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!”  Psalm 118:24).
  • It’s hard to start the morning facing a sink full of dirty dishes or overflowing garbage can.  Every evening take a few minutes (it takes less time than you think!) to clear off the counter and start the dishwasher and take out the trash if needed. Pick up dirty towels in the bathroom and toys and shoes and books scattered around the house. This is not deep cleaning but a quick pick-up so you don’t have to face chaos and clutter in the morning.
  • Plan breakfast the night before and have a back-up in mind in case the bread is green or last bit of milk is spilled in the morning. It’s OK to eat supper for breakfast, too! Cody’s favorite supper/breakfast was meatballs and
    mashed potatoes. String cheese and baby carrots are another alternative. Have breakfast bars on hand in case breakfast has to be eaten on the way to work or school.
  • Before bed, choose clothes for the morning; lay them all out, including underwear and shoes. If it’s the first cold spell of the fall also hunt down gloves and hats.
  • Gather your purse, library books, backpacks, and everything else that needs to leave the house with you. If something needs to stay refrigerated until the last minute, put a sticky-not reminder on the door or your purse.
  • Make a checklist for your kids (and maybe yourself) of morning “to-do’s”. This will also teach your kids accountability and time management.
  • Make it a priority to start the day on a positive note. Grit your teeth through spilled milk or lost library books. Send your family off with a smile; the time to discuss changes in the morning routine is not when you’re in a hurry, but when you have time to discuss it calmly.
This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download soon.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z Blogging "K is for..."

"Keeping It Honest (and Trying to Keep My Eyes Open)!" and "Kids...Bringing God into their Lives"
From the series "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

First, keeping it honest (and trying to keep my eyes open)...I am TIRED! On Monday and Wednesday every week I get up about 4:15 AM to get to my job at an outpatient surgery center (we do mostly cataract surgeries). I LOVE my job, the people I work with, and our patients! On Mondays I take people to and from the Operating Room and am part of the team caring for them in the OR. On Wednesdays I work in Pre-Op, getting people ready for surgery. Our center is very fast-paced--the days just fly by! And I learn something new every single day. Today was no exception! It was a good day. But it was also a long day, and an early day. 

After work I came home and blogged on my other blog (Nebraska Family Times), visited a friend, and
walked with a friend. I made an unplanned trip to the grocery store when I realized that if I was to continue in my good habit of eating a salad every day, I needed more salad stuff. And now I'm home...and tired. (And a little embarrassed...I didn't realize how smushed down and at the same time sticking up in fully places my hair was, after being under a surgery cap for 10 1/2 hours...and I was seen by a LOT of people in public!) And I still get to do the most important thing of the day, spending some time in Bible study and prayer. 

So today, I'm going to re-post a post from last year's challenge (with a slightly different title). I hope you will enjoy it if you missed it last year, and if you saw it last year I hope it will give you some new ideas...or at least that you'll have enjoyed reading a little about my day. 

God's blessings to all of my readers! 

Kids--Bringing God into Their Lives

To instill a love of God in your child, God must be a part of your life every day—at home, at school, wherever you go and whatever you’re doing. Here are a few tips to make God an integral part of your life every day.

  • When you read to your child, include Bible narratives. When your child is old enough to read, provide Bible stories; give tweens and teens Christian fiction to read.(Caution: read the books first, to be sure they are really “Christian” books.) Consider subscribing to faith-based magazines; again, preview them first to be sure they give the message you want your kids to read.
  • Give each child a Bible of their own; consider a study Bible so they can learn even more from the study notes. Give them highlighters so they can mark in their Bibles too, and encourage them to write down what they’ve learned and questions that come up as they read.
  • Have Bible-study/devotion time as a family. Teach what you learned in Bible study, or read and discuss passages from the Bible. Many Bible study and devotion books are also available.
  • Write Bible verses on note cards and post them around the house. Encourage your kids to do the same so they memorize verses or are reminded of God during a tough time.
  • Pray for your kids…and with your kids. Ask them what they would like you to pray for, for them. Pray that they will desire to have God in their lives and follow Him. Encourage them to start a prayer journal, recording their requests and God’s answers.
  • Set a good example of showing Christ’s love wherever you go. Be polite even if the checker is rude. Return change when too much is given. Give to charity as you feel led. If you lose your temper with another driver, apologize, explain why what you did was wrong, and ask God’s forgiveness out loud.
  • Bring God into situations in your child’s life. When she talks about a new child at school, encourage her to talk to him and explain how Jesus was kind to everyone. If a teen at her high school gets pregnant, talk about the consequences of not obeying God’s laws and the impact on the rest of that teen’s life. You can also use this as an opportunity to talk about choosing life, and God’s forgiveness.  
  • It’s normal for teens to ask questions about faith and your religious denomination. Allow them to ask these questions (I think God is glad when we think about Him and His Word and ask questions!). Discuss them as a family; find the answers if you can, or ask your pastor or priest. Even if kids are questioning their faith, make attending church a rule.

How do you make God a part of your kids’ everyday lives? Please leave your comment below! 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6


This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.”  Today's post: "K is for...Kids Behaving Badly".

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A to Z Blogging "J is for..."

"...Just Say "NO"!
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

From "Mommy, can I have juice?" to "Where are my socks?" "Do you have just a moment to hear about our amazing new product?" "Can you teach Sunday School tomorrow?" "Will you take Dad to the doctor?" "Please bring my lunch to school--I forgot it!" "Will you be a sponsor on the field trip?" "Can you donate to our worthy cause?" "We're looking for donations for our fundraiser" "I'd love for you to join our group!" and ending your day with, "One more drink of water mommy?" and, "Honey, will you rub my back?" you probably receive dozens, if not close to a hundred, requests every day. 

It may be tempting to say "YES" to every request, but you'll quickly realize that doing so may lead to feelings of dread, being overwhelmed, and exhaustion. 

What should you consider in deciding whether to say "no"? 

  • All of the details--how much time is involved, if it will cost money (and if so, how much) how many meetings or get-togethers are required, exactly what your job involves, etc. 
  • How would this commitment fit in with your other commitments? If it is something that has many benefits, you might decide to fit it in. If not, you might choose to spend your time on other things.
  • Would saying "YES" to the request get you any closer to your

    other goals, or take away time you could spend pursuing your other goals? 
  • If it's a personal favor (like giving a loan, washing a teenager's clothes, doing an errand, trading hours with someone who forgot about another commitment), will saying "yes" truly help the person asking, or allow them to avoid responsibility and/or consequences?
  • Have you enjoyed doing this sort of thing in the past?
  • Would you learn a new skill, or use a skill that you have and enjoy using?
  • Prayerfully consider the request, and open your heart to God's direction. He might urge you in a direction that you'd rather not go, but listen to Him anyway.
  • Don't automatically say "NO", even if the request is outside of your comfort range. As Christians we are to be open to helping others, especially those who don't have anyone else to help. 
  • How will you say if you say "yes"? Relieved? Excited? Full of dread? Overwhelmed?
What to say when you need time to think about the request:
  • "I need to check my calendar before I make a commitment."
  • "My husband and I have an agreement that we will not commit to anything before talking with each other."
  • "I'll have to see if I can find a babysitter for that night." 
  • "That is a big commitment and I need to pray and think about it before I make a decision. I will let you know next Tuesday." 
Principles of saying "NO":
  • It's ok to say no for any reason...or for no reason. God says "NO" to many of our requests when He knows they are not right for us. If you are confident in your reasons to turn down a request, you have no reason to feel guilty about it. Although you might give a reason to close friends or family members, you don't "owe" anyone an explanation. 
  • No one can "make" you feel guilty about saying "NO". If you
    are confident in your reasoning, you have no reason to feel guilty; it is your choice to feel guilty. 
  • The person asking might wait silently after you've said no, hoping that you'll give an explanation or change your mind and say "YES." Or she might be bold enough to challenge your answer and demand to know why you said "NO." Don't be intimidated or bullied. Calmly repeat your answer as needed. 
  • Don't cave into the pressure of giving an answer immediately. If someone continues to pressure you, simply say, "If I have to make a decision right now, my answer has to be "NO"."
How to say "NO":
  • "Thank you for thinking of me, but I just cannot take on that responsibility right now." 
  • "That just won't fit in with my schedule right now; we are making family activities a priority this year." 
  • "I'm sorry, I already have plans." (Even if they are plans for a quiet day at home.)
  • "I know I helped last year, but I just can't this year."
  • "I can't help with the fundraiser this year, but put me down for next year"! (Only say this if you mean it; you will get called next year!)
  • "That is not one of my skills or interests, but I could help by..."
  • "Honey, you need to learn to do your own laundry. I will show you how!"
Have you ever regretted not saying "NO"? How do you turn down requests?

Watch for "Y is for...When to Say "YES"!" on the second to last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.” 

A to Z Blogging "I is for..."

"...In-Laws and Extended Family Members...Setting Boundaries"
From "Lifehacks for Christian Moms"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher of the Nebraska Family Times newspaper

In-law issues have been a part of life almost since God created humans--and they sinned. In Genesis 29, Jacob's prospective father-in-law made him work for seven years to earn his daughter for a bride--and then tricked him into marrying the wrong daughter! Jacob, however, loved Rachel so much that he worked for another seven years to earn her. In Genesis 25, Rebekah helped her favorite twin son, Jacob, trick his father out of his brother Esau's birthright. The Old Testament is full of examples of lies, manipulation and deceit among family members. 

Extended family members can be a blessing or...not a blessing! On the good side, you have a history of shared joyful and sad events, you share the burdens of "dirty little secrets" and help each other through hard times. 

On the other hand, extended family members can have a significant negative effect on your family. Some do not respect limits or seem to enjoy embarrassing others, or manipulating or expecting you to conform to their idea of what is "right". Some relatives criticize, manipulate and interfere so much that to protect your immediate family, drastic measures are necessary. If you are troubled by family dynamics but aren't sure if or how they're affecting you or your family, speak to your pastor or a Christian counselor. 

Setting boundaries is just one way of dealing with difficult family
(from Google Images)
members. Setting boundaries means clearly establishing the terms of your relationship and interactions, shows your independence as a family and sets limits on the behaviors that you will and will not tolerate. When you've made your beliefs and expectations clear, no one has any false or unrealistic expectations. 

  • will be different for each family. Some parents don't mind if their kids stay up waaaayyyy past their bedtime, and have donuts for breakfast when they're with their favorite aunt; others may not want their kids to adhere to a strict bedtime and have a balanced breakfast. 
  • may change as circumstances and issues change throughout the years. 
  • can be easy to set; safety issues, like using a car seat or seatbelt, should be non-negotiable and not open to discussion. Others may be unique to your family. Few boundaries are "right" or "wrong" but if they are "right" for your family, it's ok to insist on them. 
  • should be agreed upon by husband and wife; showing a united front is vital to protecting your family from manipulative or bullying family members.
  • will probably elicit protests and arguments from the people for whom you're setting the boundaries. Don't argue or give in; repeat what you've said and stick to your boundaries. 
To set boundaries: 
  • Consider how often you see the person (or people) that cause stress. It might not be worth conflict to insist that once-a-year visitors don't bring candy to the kids, while stricter limits might have to be set with someone who is a frequent visitor.  
  • Consider the seriousness of the issue. My son's grandfather talked for weeks about how he was going to give our weeks-old son a taste of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. While I wouldn't have chosen to give him any solid foods when he was that young, I realized that a small bit wasn't going to hurt him. 
  • Consider the person who needs the boundaries. Some people
    (from Google Images)
    understand exceptions to the rule (like an occasional late night) while other people, given an inch, will take 10,000 miles. 
  • Discuss the boundaries with your spouse and, if age appropriate, your kids. Define the consequences if the relative breaks the boundaries and determine who will talk with the person about the boundaries. 
  • Some boundaries might be "private"--known only to you and your husband, like an agreement that neither of you will commit to going to a holiday gathering without talking with the other, or that you will pick the kids up at grandpa's house by 4 PM because he routinely gives them a bowl of ice cream at 4:30 and ruins their appetite for supper.
  • Remember that you might have to remind people several times of the new boundaries. 
  • Prayerfully ask the Lord to guide your words and your attitude. Remember the wise words of Solomon, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs anger." (Proverbs 15:1). With difficult family members it's often tempting to speak harshly or critically, which will not get your point across and will probably lead to another argument. Plan your words and speak objectively and firmly and unemotionally. Don't get caught up in an argument; you have the right and responsibility to protect your family physically and emotionally. 
  • If a family relationship is destructive and it seems nothing you try helps, consider talking with your pastor or a Christian counselor, with that person (or people) if they are willing. 
What to say when setting boundaries:
  • "The kids are too young to understand the danger of guns. It's not safe for them to be anywhere if the guns are not locked up. We cannot allow the kids to be at your home until the guns are under lock and key."
  • "We usually don't let the kids eat doughnuts for breakfast but it's ok if they do for a treat, when they stay over at your house. But please also give them a glass of milk or a banana or some yogurt so it's not all sugar!"
  • "You're distracted when you drive and you drive too fast. It's not safe to ride with you. You are always welcome to ride with
    (Google Images)
    us but we will not be riding with you." 
  • "No, we don't allow smoking in our home, but you can go out back and smoke." 
  • "Please call before you come and visit to be sure that we don't have other plans", or, "You don't have to call ahead to visit; just please don't come before 9 AM or at nap time, 2-3PM." 
  • Be kind and considerate when possible; "I would like to host holiday meals at my house from now on; you've done it for many years and deserve a break! Will you continue to bring your famous dinner rolls?" is much more likely to result in change than, "It's always hours later than planned when we eat and it grosses us out when the dog eats from your fork, right at the table."
  • "Taking the Lord's name in vain offends me. Please don't do it anymore! If you continue to, we will ask you to leave." 
  • "We have all been hurt by the negative and critical remarks you make about our jobs, weight, or the people we've married. We want you to attend family get-togethers, so please, don't be critical at the next reunion. If you are, you won't be invited to them any more." 
Enforcing boundaries can be difficult if you feel intimidated by others, but if you're doing what is best for your family, you're doing the right thing. 

Have you had to set boundaries with extended family members? 
How did you do it? What are your hints for doing so?

This post is an excerpt from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home” by Shelly Burke. This post is part of “Lifehacks for Christian Moms”, available for download May 1st.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times, with the theme, “Words Matter.” On Tuesday ("L"  Day) the post will be "Limiting or Cutting Contact with Family Members".