Religious Exemption

God is working, God is present in the waiting, we must wait in hope! 

Some times we don’t know why or when or what to do while waiting. Darren and I have had MANY waiting moments this year.

Just recently we had been waiting, praying and contending with friends, family and our biblical community that his religious exemption would be approved.

This week we learned the hospital system he works for received over 900 exemptions and announced they would be approving less than 100. The situation is felt dire, and hopeless. We came again to our friends, family and biblical community and we all continued to pray. We knew we had strong convictions of conscience and would not be rescinding on our stance. The support we received was above what we expected! Thank you all!!

As more and more of our friends in the same hospital system started getting their denial of exemptions we prepared our hearts, mind and family for what was to be expected for us. I won’t lie that I felt hope draining from me. I felt that this was the path God had planned for us, and felt in comparison to Shadrach, Meshach and Adednego from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for standing for truth and they said words I repeat to myself often, “I know my God can save, but even if he doesn’t he is still God.” And while we are not way near facing death the sentiments are the same! I know God can but if not He is still a good God!

Those three men were saved from the flames INSIDE the fire! And they are not the only ones that God has delivered in the waiting:

  • He saved Lazarus after he had died
  • He saved Daniel from the lion den
  • He saved Moses (over and over!)

He saves when it seem impossible. He does it when only He alone can save. For the Glory of God alone!!!

Darren just received an email sharing that his exemption was APPROVED. Glory to God alone!! We stand and will continue to fight and support ALL the medical workers that filed an exemption, for they should have ALL been approved!

For Darren’s hospital system the results of this decision to terminate over 800 workers is closing down clinics during a time when the media is sharing “hospitals are over ran” they are choosing to fire hard working “essential” workers. These medial workers have worked through ALL of Covid, they didn’t get sent home, they were on the front line!!! I am proud of all of the medical workers!! I will continue to fight for you!!

Our hearts want to help and support as many as possible in their pursuit of a Religious Exemption. For us the reason we choose not to get the vaccine is multi-leveled, yet the primary reason is founded in the tenet of Christian Liberty of Conscience. Since, it is proven that there aborted babies used in the testing and developing of the vaccine our conscience will not allow is to participate.

(FOR EXTREMELY CLARITY: we know there is no aborted babies inside of the vaccine BUT they were used to test and develop the vaccine. EQUALLY IMPORTANT: we are not telling anyone that they shouldn’t get the vaccine because if their conscience is clear then they are within their own Christian Liberty to receive the ,vaccine.)

Our story included Darren turning in the following with his exemption form:

  • A Letter from our Church’s eldership board supporting the Christian Liberty of Conscience. They included verses and an detailed explanation biblically on it.
  • A Personal written explanation of how the receiving of the vaccine goes against Darren’s religious views, highlighting the aborted babies, then thus in his Christian Liberty of Conscience he can not participle in turning that within his body (temple of God). He had verses to support his position. (provided below)
  • An Affidavit which was notarized before we turned them in.

Yes, these are extra steps that were not asked for but we felt it was important to include in the process. Below you can see the examples of what we turned in, so that it can support you, your church, and or your friends in applying for a religious exemption. PLEASE note we were advised and would advise the same for you to not copy and paste but instead add your own words, and create a PERSONAL (including church) statement that you would stake your beliefs on because many places of businesses are “interviewing” those who have submitted their exemptions to see what they “believe.” And I pray this goes without saying BUT PLEASE make sure you have a clear conscience on the issue, pray about it fervently, and seek WISE biblical counsel! We will be praying for you and we STAND WITH YOU!

Here is Darren’s personal statement of faith:

To whom it may concern,

It is my sincerely held belief that as a Christian I must, in all things, consider the teachings, truth and knowledge that is found in the word of God and remember that all things I do must proceed from faith and be done for the glory of God.
I believe that when a Christian is born again as a result in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them. And the wisdom and knowledge that comes from the fear of the Lord, along with our conscience and the Holy Spirit guide us as we walk in this life.

As a Christian I believe that God’s will and word is fully revealed in the Bible and that I must take the following truths from scripture into consideration in how I make every decision as a Christian. From the Holy Scriptures I read and know to be true that:

1. God, the Creator of all life, created humans in His own image, and human life is sacred to Him. Genesis 1:26-27.
2. In His inspired and inerrant Word, the Bible, God makes it absolutely clear that, in His eyes, human life begins at the moment of conception. Psalm 139:13-14; Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:24; Jeremiah 1:5.
3. God has prohibited murder (the killing of an innocent human being), and murder is a heinous sin. Exodus 20:13; Genesis 9:6; Deuteronomy 27:25.
4. God gives each believer the Holy Spirit to personally guide him or her in all aspects of Life. The Holy Spirit teaches the believer all things, guides the believer into all truth, and reproves the believer of sin and righteousness. A believer who disobeys the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit in his or her own life commits sin against God. John 16:7; John 14:26; John 16:8 and 13.
5. The human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the believer must not defile it. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.

As a believer who prays earnestly to God, and seeks the instruction of the Holy Spirit, and who has received into my conscience the instruction that I must not defile my body with any product that has any connection to the grievous sin of abortion, I have a sincere religious objection to medical treatments that are known to have been tested on, or have used in any way cells or DNA lines from murdered image bearers of God. For myself, as a believer, accepting such a vaccine would be disobedient to the Holy Spirit, and a sin against God.
My religious beliefs are sincere and deep and my objection applies to all products or vaccines connected to abortion, not just covid vaccines These facts are indisputable: Each of the three covid vaccines available were either developed from, or tested on, fetal cell lines from aborted babies. I would not take any product into my body – the temple of the Holy Spirit – if I knew that it was developed or tested using aborted fetal cells. To act against this sincere belief and my conscience is to sin against God. (Romans 14:23)

Thank you for your consideration and respect of these deeply and sincerely held beliefs of mine. I pray that even if we personally disagree that we can work together in a way that is in alignment with the values of Legacy by having a work environment that is responsive, safe, and affirming to the culture and beliefs of every person.

Sincerely in Christ,
Darren Rice, RN

Room by Room

 

WOW! Lots can happen within a house in 10 years. From births, to first steps, ministry, friends made, laughter around the table, tears in the shower, and meals oh so many meals. As we prepare to move I have been reminiscing on the adventures that have taken place in our home. Join along as we take a walk down memory lane.

Welcome to the first home Darren and I have ever owned. We bought our home in 2011, just one year after we got married (almost exactly one year to the date). When we first move into our 1600 square foot home it was just the two of us and our dog Fender. In fact we got keys to the house the first week of July. I was asking to sing the National Anthem for the Freedom Celebration up on Whidbey Island on the 3rd of July that year, so Darren and some amazing friends moved ALL of our things into our house while I traveled 5 hours north to see at the celebration. Not only was everything moved in while I was gone but I have picked paint colors and they had painted the majority of the house. I totally got the best end of the deal! After we got settled into our home we had an open house where we invited friends and family to come and walk through while praying for our home and the legacy we hope to have within it.

Music has always been a part of our home, we received a free piano which lived in the family room. Together we would stay up late Darren playing the piano as I would sing to the top of my lungs and boy were the acoustics in the family room lovely.  Through out the years in our home we had worship practice, Christmas carol sing along, musical rehearsals and piano lessons.

Food has always been a theme in our house as well, not only did we produce a ginormous amount of food for our own family, but hospitality is not only a passion of ours but a family value as well and we took full advantage of having as many people as we could feed at our house. Darren built us a 12 person table and we continued to add chairs as we continued to invite more and more in.

But most of the prayer of our hearts from the very beginning of having our home was that it would be a place of ministry, where we could Christ like love to others, serve those around us, and build the family of faith together. There has been many seasons within the walls of our house and each season has brought us closer and closer to both Jesus and the Legacy we have worked hard to develop.

During our first 2 years in the house we had 3 different roommates (not all at the same time). It was such a blessing to help others while it was just the 2 of us. Then in December 2012 we found out we were expecting! The nesting began and the preparations took place. Our roommate and friend Evan moved out and we quickly painted that room a lavender purple. We had chosen in to a home birth and brought our sweet little Madeline into the world downstairs in our family room. As she took her first breath in this house our family began in the same moment.

We learned lots about what things would change in this home as we had a toddler living in it. From baby gates, to discovering that light colored carpet under the dinning room table is not the best idea haha! Madeline also learned a lot here in our home, from how to say mama and dada, to taking her first steps, to finding out she would be a big sister to a loving brother. Noah also was brought into the world here in our house. He was born in our bedroom at midnight, and his big sister got to meet him right when she woke up in the morning. Noah also learn lots in this home as well, same as sissy he learned to crawl, walk and run in this house. Both Madeline and Noah got to witness the tie breaking sibling: a baby brother Jonah. Jonah was born in our bedroom as well in the middle of the day with brother and sister playing with Papa downstairs. They got to see him minutes after he was born and fell in love as we all did. The three kids grew in relationships in this house and Madeline started preschool in our family room turned homeschool room. All three kids got to learn that they would be having another baby brother in this house. Baby Jesse was born in our bedroom while the kids were at Nana and Papa’s (who live only minutes away), but they were quickly loaded in the car to hurry over to meet him. Jesse was born in the summer and that Fall we started homeschooling for PreK for Madeline and Preschool for Noah. As life continued so did our family and we were all blessed to discover we would be expecting another child. A girl this time named Felicity who was also born at home in our bathroom. We feel so blessed to have all all our babies take their first breaths in this house, first steps in this house but most importantly to learn about Jesus in this house!

As we prepare to move out we realize that the family room that had been the center of music, is now the center of homeschooling and music for the kids, the laundry room had been turned into a dual washer dryer production for our family. Rooms that used to be extra or filled with other adults who needed a home are now full of two girls and three boys. Furniture has moved, rooms have been re-purposed and so much has changed in our lives since we moved in 10 years ago.

We have experienced 10 Christmas, 10 Thanksgivings, 10 Easters, 10 anniversaries, 45 Birthdays, 520 Sabbaths, and 3655 days of memories in this house. But one thing stands out above all, God’s goodness, we have learned that he is faithful, we have learned to trust him through anything, we have learned that we must put him first in everything, we have learned that our whole purpose in life is to Glorify Him in all that we do. So as we take the next steps in our life, many of which we don’t even know where they will fall, we know one thing, That for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

The memories will live on, and the most important thing goes with us from this house. Our Family 🙂

To the house on 10th street, you will be our first home, one we will always remember and treasure, you will not be forgotten. I pray the next family that comes in with be blessed as we were!

 

Ready … Set …. Move

 

Blogs are so interesting in that you can use them to share so much information. Some of the information shared is educational, comical, sad, and or motivational. But, today I would like to share more of my heart and what God has been teaching us through some major trials in our life.

There has much debate and divisiveness over the JAB that has been created to help with the “pandemic.”  There is so much debate over whether or not people should or shouldn’t get the shot. Before I enter into our story I would like to state that Darren and I believe that each person should have the choice to get the vax or not. We completely respect and support those who chose to get it and equally respect and support those who chose not to. Alright now that that has been stated lets get into what has caused us to feel the need to sell our house and make some seriously huge life changes.

Darren (my incredible hubby) works as a nurse. He was on the frontlines working in the EOC from the very beginning what we are calling COVID-19. The EOC is the Emergency Operation Center, he was in a role in leadership and worked hard to support and help those in need. After the hospital felt that there was not the surge they were anticipating the EOC went back to their main jobs. Darren worked diligently and throughout all of 2020-2021.

In the beginning of the summer of 2021 there was beginning to be rumors that the vaccine that had been made available would also be mandated for all healthcare works. But it was just rumors and nothing had come down the pipe. For our own personal and religious reasons we had decided we would not be getting the jab. Therefore in July when his manager asked him if he would get it and he declined he signed his wavier form which included signing that he would not be able to have sick paid leave if he did get COVID since he was refusing the shot.

Fast forward to August (just one month after signing the paperwork) two new developments had transpired. One, Darren got a work from home only job, still as a nurse and still in the same hospital system. Two, Oregon’s governor decided to mandate that ALL healthcare workers MUST have the vaccine. So we went back to prayer and research to go over the reasons why we had first decided to decline the shot. We discovered that we were confident and settled that all the convictions we held remained that same, we felt that we had a strong conviction both personal and through our Christian Liberty that we would pass on getting the vaccine.  Through Darren’s work they were allowing their workers to submit a religious exemptions that they would then deem if it was acceptable or not. One of the requirements to submit a religious exemption was that your pastor write a letter informing your work of how receiving the vax was against a “core tenant” of your faith. Thankfully our Pastor met with the elders and as a leadership team wrote a letter for Darren as well as others that were faced with the same decision. The letter of course did not specifically say that it is against the Bible to get the jab, but rather defended our Christian liberty to act according to our conscience since Jesus Christ is Lord of the conscience, and we believe we have the Holy Spirit in us as believers. Along with the churches letter, Darren also prepared his own letter explaining his convictions, and an affidavit assuring his American right to religious exemption. He submitted all of these things to his work, we have not heard back whether or not it has been accepted, yet he did get a call from his new manager stating that if he has not the vaccine or exemption approval by Sept 30th he would be put on unpaid leave, then on October 18 would be terminated.

I won’t even get into how the hospital is short staffed already in all positions, or how Darren works from home, not even around people to give or get COVID, but what I will get into is what other action steps we are taking during this trial.

First and foremost I need to say in all caps: GOD IS SO GOOD!!!  He is our provider, protector, and peace! In a time of such turmoil, and a time that can cause anxiety, fear, or depression I have been able to hold on the strong cornerstone of my life: Jesus Christ! Praise the one who is Sovereign and not surprised by any of this!  Through prayer, wise friends, and seeking God through the scriptures we have been led to take a step of faith and sell our home. Selling our home will set us up for whether or not Darren will have a job or be let go. (I should include also that our state is currently threatening that if you are let go because of lack of covid vaccine then you will not be given unemployment.)

Currently, we don’t know if he will have a job in 3 weeks, we don’t know if he will be given unemployment and money to provide for our family of 7. What we do know is God always provides. We were blessed to purchase a new to us trailer 3 years ago and our plan is to live in our trailer as we wait a few months to see what transpires. Ultimately, due to the trajectory of Oregon where we live our plan is to to prayerfully see about moving our family to Idaho. If you are a prayer warrior we would be blessed to have your join us in prayer.

God is Good and will be our guide! There is nothing to fear but God himself, everything is matchless to him, He is the alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and our Victory will be in Him who sets us free! Thank you Lord for the courage to stand in the convictions you have given us, it is a lesson that will prepare us for what may come in the future.

Lessons Learned in Kids Business

As a family we decided to take on an adventure, to be specific a business adventure but not for us: FOR OUR KIDS!

Our mission was to show the kids business principles through an actual physical experience, what we didn’t account for was all the other life lessons that would accompany it.

Here is our Story:

In November 2019, we sat down with our kids (ages 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1) and we talked about how they have been asking for a larger Play-Set to play on outside in the backyard. We shared with them a story from both of our past where we had wanted a large item and had done extra jobs to save money to purchase the item we desired.

After talking about the qualities it took to earn the money like: hard work, dedication, finishing what we start, planning, preparation, and patience, we then went into our business proposal for them to try. (Side note- before this conversation we took the time to prepare some ideas to suggest to them, teach them, and walk them through. If they were older we would probably have done this together, however since it was our first adventure out in business as a family we wanted the first time to have a foot in the right business smart path.)

Our proposal was that they would make and sale candles. This fit in perfectly since we only recently had an opportunity to visit Fort Stevens and walk through museums where they had visuals showing the making of candles long ago. In addition it seemed to fit perfectly with one of our family read aloud we had finished, Little House on the Prairie. It helped to provide a picture of candle making, yet as you will see we updated our candle making skills, no hand dipping for us.

We talked to our kids about how everything we need to have to make the candle cost us money, like the jar, soy filling, wicks, and essential oil for smell. Time is also a factor that needed to be talked about but perhaps the “time is money” talk will come on our next business adventure.

Once we had our supply list in hand we priced the necessary items, this created GREAT conversation about profit margin. (We tried our best to simplify it to their level, due to their ages.) We allowed the price of the needed items to indicate what price we would sell out candles at. Then we explained that we would be their investors and would front the money needed but that after we are done selling the candles they would need to prepay their initial investment.

During the same conversation we had a great time to talk about generosity and how we would get an opportunity to be generous with the money we make with the sell of the candles. This was super exciting as parents because it was allowing us to start this much needed conversation about how all of our money is not really ours at all, but that it is God’s. Within our house the kids get to practice acts of service, stewardship, and hospitality generosity but being generous with our money was harder to include our kids in so we were VERY excited about this lesson we would get to teach and learn through this process.

So We Began …

 

The kids were so excited when our supplies arrived. I was a bit fearful that hot wax would make it hard for them to participate in the actually making of the candle but come along and we will show you how we did it.

The Soy wax was awesome (and organic!), the kids were able to take out the flakes and put it into the pot before putting it on the stove, just using measuring cups. Then the adult was about to turn on the stove, and since it melted so nicely and did pop or anything, our two oldest got to pull over a chair and stir the mixture as it was melting.

The younger kiddos did a great job helping take all the jars our of their package, removing the lids and put the wicks in each jar.

One of the parts my daughter LOVED was creating the perfect smell, we chose to use the Young Living essential oils (if you are needing to get any head over: HERE)

Once the wax melted then Darren (daddy Rice) poured the hot wax while sweet kiddos fingers were all clear.

We didn’t realize how many metal wax holders we would need so we got creative haha!

The two smells selected was Holiday Spice and Peppermint. They both worked perfectly for the fall/winter season.

OUR BREAK DOWN:

After everything was said and down we ended up making (AND SELLING) ALL of our candles a total of: 190 candles

Our decision was to sell them at $5.00’s a candle, bringing in a total of: $950

Our kids were able to pay back the initial investment, then got the chance to be generous. We donated our generosity to our local church (which does amazing work: feeding homeless, providing meals for elderly, and the working poor, as well as many other service opportunities through the year that our whole family participates in together.)

We have now been able to do this business project for two years 2019 and 2020. The first candle business year the kids were able to earn a play set! The following year they saved enough to buy 2 family kayaks. We will see what next year brings. 

What a great lesson we have learned as a family 🙂 And they are still enjoying the fruits of their labor today!

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships- Part 5

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 5

 Welcome back to our series on Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationship Series! I hope you have been enjoying this bite size help to establishing and teaching how to work through sibling offensives.

For those that are new and haven’t got a chance read the previous articles that lead up to this one here are the links to those: Part ONE, Part TWO, Part THREE, Part FOUR

I am a mom of 5 and I think my constant question back to my kids when they come and tell on one of their siblings is, “did you talk to them first?” Not only is this a skill that must be learned so I am not minute by minute being the mediator and judge but also I (mom) will not always be with them in their comings and goings and surely not as they get older so it is imperative that they learn how to resolve conflict but going to the person who has offended them.

STEP 5:

Go to the person who hurt you.

Matthew 18:15

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won a brother over. 

Matthew 18 is a great chapter to give wisdom when dealing with conflict. These steps taught young can prepare a person for how to biblically navigate offenses when they are olds. I can bet anyone reading this right now can attest that even as adults we deal with conflict and it can be tricky! Therefore, let us as parents make a change to address this issue of How To Deal With Conflict Biblically NOW and provide the needed tool to go in their tool belts.

When reading we see both cause and effect played out within this verse, we see that someone has sinned against you. (PAUSE) Did you read that correctly: sinned against you. Identifying sin and teaching our children that some things that make us sad are actually not sinful. For example, just today my 5 year old was playing with a toy, and my 4 year old wanted it, so in frustration and sadness the 4 year old marches up to me to report that his brother is NOT SHARING. After a bit of probing I discovered that my 4 year old thought his brother was not sharing because his brother did not just give him the toy when he demanded it. As you can see this is not a sin issue on the part of the 5 year old but an impatient heart from my 4 year old.

But, there are times when a sinful act is displayed and needs action. Matthew 18 encourages us that when a brother sins against us it is our responsibility to GO (that means: take action, makes steps, be present) and SHOW (explain through love and kindness) him his fault. Now the next bit of that verse is also important to teach our children: JUST BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. It can be so hard for our human nature not to run and report the fault to someone else, it is like we are trying to form an army to back us up, we are trying to elevate ourselves to the most important and needing others to elevate us as well (sympathize, and justify our feelings) . But, in contrast actually the bible asks us to go to the person, and we see the effect of going directly to the person (without a judgment committee), it says that if the offender/brother listens THEN we will have WON a brother over. By doing this we will have preserved the relationship, strengthened it, created a trustworthiness between the two parties. This act of valuing the other person more then ourselves by putting the the conflict aside and showing concern for our brothers heart is what creates a bond like no other. We are not hanging our brother out to dry, sending him to the firing squad, or showing him that you are the most powerful, important and righteous one, YET it is the opposite it is showing sacrificial love (a Christ like Love.)

2 Timothy 2:24-26

 And he Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses, and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 

We are all in a battle, a battle against good and evil. When the devil strikes and tries to use a sinful act to hurt and divide we must teach our children to stand firm against division among our brothers and sisters yet out of love and concern stand for truth. Enter into the battle to win back the captives and as we see that takes instruction (teaching, showing, lovingly using logic) and it takes gentleness (remembering who the real enemy is, and using gentleness like guiding a sheep back to the flock). Is this a lot to ask our kids to be able to do all these things: YES! But, a common question I like to ask myself and my readers, “How do you eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time.” Do we expect our children to do all these things day one? Absolutely NOT! Yet, step by step, conflict by conflict we ask them to take one more step towards biblical resolution. Maybe day one, we ask our kids that ever famous question, “did you talk to your brother first?” Then after a few times we ask them, “did you gently show what the sin was?”  Step by Step we can work together, it will not happen over night, and as us adults can attest it can be an on going lifeskill as we see the conflicts get trickier the older we get. But fear not, and do not grow weary in doing what is right for in due time you will reap a harvest! (Galatians 6:9)

 

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 4

Welcome back to our next part in Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships! PART 4!

If you haven’t got to read the other 3 parts you can get them HERE: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3

Part 4 might come as a surprise to you but you will it see it can be a great tool to put in the tool belt. This biblical tool is one that is found constantly in the Old Testament.

If possible, “cast lots.”

Proverbs 18:18 “Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.”

A few things to note, IF POSSIBLE means this is not a tool to resolve conflict that will be used every time, rather a helpful suggestion for a quick fix when the situation arise (more below on this). Also, please note, no, I am not advocating for gambling but rather a “flip of the coin” if you will.

There are simply situations that can be quickly resolved by a fast “casting of lots,” or more so in today’s language we would say, “a flip of the coin.” In addition to flipping the coin to settle a dispute, there is a game we all know called: Rock-Paper-Scissors. In fact, I heard a story of how a local teacher would tell her students to, “Rock it Out” when a conflict arose that they could play Rock-Paper-Scissors to solve. A biblical principle being applied to help resolve a conflict that shouldn’t be an issue to begin with but with our sinful hearts we all need a tool to use every once and a while.

You may of seen other ways this is solved in playing games like: laying cards face down and the highest card starts the game, or rolling the dice and the highest number begins the game, or starting with the youngest or oldest in the room. Many quick tricks and tools to teach you kids in order that they might resolve a conflict.

Here are some situations to help you gather some thoughts on when you could use this tool of “casting lots”:

  • Two kids get to the same swing at the same time and are trying to navigate who can go first.
  • The siblings are trying to figure out who can go first in a game.
  • Both kids want to sit next to dad at dinner.
  • Brothers want to have the same toy car.
  • Decisions whether to ride bikes or go on a scooter ride as a family (when there kids that side with either).
  • Who gets the shower, sink or bathroom first.
  • Deciding who needs to take the dog out.

And of course there are many more!

As you can see Part 4 is a quick and practical tool that your kiddos can put in their tool belt to support them on their journey to cultivating healthy sibling relationships and ultimately bringing this tool into other areas of their life as well.

 

Cultivating Siblings Relationships – Part 3

Cultivating Sibling Relationships – Part 3

Welcome to our part 3 of our series on cultivating healthy sibling relationships. If you haven’t got to read the first two parts of the steps to healthy sibling relationships make sure that you check those two out: PART ONE, and PART TWO.

During part one and part two we talked at length about doing a heart check, making sure that we are not quick to get someone else in trouble, and removing the plank within our own eye before taking the twig out of our brothers/sisters eye.

Part 3 is all about becoming a peacemaker. Interestingly we are to teach our kids to become peacemakers, not peace keepers. This may seem like a simple play on words but I do believe the important difference in peace making is that it is intentional, active and full of truth and love. While, if we were to look at peace keeping I think it is taught out of a passive approach, dismissive and suppressing of conflict or differences (not relationship restoring), and can lend to walking on eggshells, or the common scenario where the loudest person “wins.”

When we look at our kids we can help them become peacemaker by looking at some key verses that help them to formulate a healthy peaceful living:

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” There are simply relationships that take more thoughtful intentions then others, frankly, some are “easier” then others, YET, with that said I love that God has created siblings to help us work at what it means to lived peacefully. The kids word in sibling peaceful relationships is LIVE, they are not a passing friendships (here today gone tomorrow) or a relationships you choose to not engage with but simply put: YOU CAN’T when you are literally living with each other! Siblings MUST learn what it looks like to live peacefully, as a parent you wouldn’t want one kid to be pushed around by another, and equally you wouldn’t want another kid to learn to dominate a relationship, because that is 1.) NOT HEALTHY for their relationship with each other and 2.) NOT HEALTHY for their relationships with others (current and future.)

Questions you can ask your kids during a time of encouragement towards peacemaking:

  • Are you being patient?
    • Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” The fruit of the spirit shows us that patience is a fruit that is grown, and as we can visually size fruit growing in creation today we notice two KEY aspects:
      • First, we see that in order to grow fruit the fruit HAS to be ATTACHED to the branch! We must show and teach our children that in order to display the fruit of the spirit of patience we get that by abiding to CHRIST! Through him we are able to show christ like patience. The kind of patience that isn’t man made, but that through the renewing of the mind we can use the spirit to help us!
      • Second, we can see in nature (God’s creation) that fruit do NOT grow over night, yet it takes time, and care to help a fruit grow. We must realize and show our children that they will work on this fruit of the spirit over time. And as they grow closer to God and abiding in His Word they will see all the fruits of the spirits amplified.
  • Are you Sharing?
    • This is a DAILY struggle for us here at the Rice family household, I mean with 5 kids, you could imagine the constant battle against selfishness that is at play when it comes to sharing.
      • Provers 11:25 “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will be watered himself.” This verse is a great way to show your kiddos that as we display generosity among our siblings then in turn the siblings will be able to show generosity with them.
      • Corinthians 13 shows what true love looks like, and many of the ways we can show love apply within siblings relationships, when it comes to sharing I wanted to give a parenting tip I learned from Ginger Hubbard in her podcast (which I HIGHLY recommend), I have found within my home that many times my kids will ask their sibling over and over to have a toy that their sibling is playing with. We approach this in two steps, first we ask the child who doesn’t have the toy to kindly as the brother or sister who has the toys politely if they can have a turn when they are finished. Sadly, if they continue to repeatedly ask for the toy, I will pull them over to myself and have the following conversation:
            • “Jonah, does it look like Noah is having fun with the toy?” – Mom
            • “Yes mom” – Jonah
            • “Is it polite or rude to take a toy away from someone who is having fun with their toy?” – Mom
            • “Rude momma” – Jonah
            • “So are you being polite or rude by asking for the toy, after you have already asked Noah to have it when he was finished with it?” – Mom
            • “Rude” – Jonah
            • “And remember love is not rude, so lets not ask brother for it again.” – Mom
            • “Yes momma” – Jonah
  • Are you trying to stop a quarrel?
    • Proverbs 20:3 “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Reminding and teaching our kids that the GOAL of every disagreement to work towards ending with resolution, finding a resolve to the problem at hand. We should avoid living in strife or creating strife but with respectful voice, and desiring an outcome of peace we should work through the issues at hand. It is a heart position that is fixed on truth and love that will guide them/us through conflict.
  • Are you overcoming evil with good?
    • Romans 12:20-21 “IF the one who hates you is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him water. If you do that, you will be making him more ashamed of himself. Do not let sin have power over you. Let good have power over sin.”
      • My mom always says, everything is sweeter with honey, and she is not talking about actually honey (although that is true as well) she is talking about our words and actions. Similarly, my dad always says, smile at everyone. If we approach situations with  a heart to serve, love and care for others we are approaching situations with the upper hand: the hand that hasn’t given way to sin.

Peacemaking verse peacekeeping, and working hard to teach the skills needed to become peacemakers is no easy task, and something that will be a constant learning curve even into adulthood, BUT will serve your children well to work on these skills even at a young age.

 

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 2

 

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships – Part 2

This is Part Two of a series about cultivating Sibling Relationships, if you haven’t read part one I would encourage you to give it a read at some point 🙂 HERE!

Sibling relationships are so good for the heart issues we naturally face in life. Working through the difficult relationship heart offenses when we are young can help to develop healthy lifelong relationships, not just with our siblings but other relationships we will have like friendships, marriage, work and more!

In part 1 we covered teaching our children to not be in a hurry to tell on someone else. Our goal is to help our children be able to work out disagreements between each other before seeking help, and that our children can preserve relationships when they are not seeking to get the other sibling in trouble, and lastly when they seek to get our sibling in trouble they reveal their own heart issues that also will need to be addressed.

Now as we dive into part 2 of cultivating sibling relationships we will see yet again an opportunity to train the sibling offended/hurt to grow in these situations. Here is our guide verse:

Matthew 7:1-5 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

As we will discover as we dive into this scripture, there is one glaring false assumption we must first address. Today in our culture we have taken this opening line, “Do not judge, or you will be judged,” to mean we should not have discernment or encourage righteousness in our brother/sister in Christ. This is FALSE, this is a myth of what the I believe the intention of the verse is trying to encourage us in. This verse is stating DO NOT BE A HYPOCRITE, you will be held to the standard you are holding others too. The verse is setting us up to see the humor and dire reality of the speck and log illustration a few verses below. Why is this important? This is KEY to being able to help your child learn to see their sinful hearts in order that they might see their part in the disagreement and help to resolve the conflict.

Our goal as parents is to help our child to learn to, Remove the plank from their own eye first.

It might seem humous to show your child how a plank in you eye verses a speck in their eye. Even draw a picture to show the difference between them both, and ultimately to illustrate a point that we have to check ourselves first before we are to point our our brother/sisters sin.

I have used the resource outline from Doorpost.com resources on the brother-offended checklist to help guide this conversation I have with my child. They have literally taken bible verses to help ask questions about heart issues.

The following questions can be used to help your child discover their own “plank” in the situation.

  • Are you being easily provoked? Help you child see if they can be slow to anger they we have more happiness, less arguments, and more peace. This is a great but hard lifelong skill that can be worked on at an early age.
    • Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s understanding makes him slow to anger. It is to his honor to forgive and forget a wrong done to him.
    • 1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.
  • Are you thinking of yourself first? This is a great question to ask when it comes to struggling with sharing. It is a question that helps the child see if their heart position is only thinking of themselves or others.
    • Philippians 2:4-5 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
    • Romans 12:10 – Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
    • 1 Cor. 13:5 (NLT) – Love does not do the wrong thing. Love never thinks of itself.
  • Are you repaying evil with evil? Evaluating is your child’s actions trying to get back at their sibling, maybe their are using their frustration to hurt someone else instead of handling it in a healthy way. For older kids this could also involve gossiping, slandering character, and speaking poorly of others in a “christainy” way, “I think we should pray for Mary she has been doing (xyz).”
    • 1 Peter 3:8-9 – Last of all, you must share the same thoughts and the same feelings. Love each other with a kind heart and with a mind that has no pride. When someone does something bad to you, do not do that same thing to him. When someone talks about you, do not talk about him …
    • Proverbs 24:29 – Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me; I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”
    • Romans 12:19 – Christian brothers, never pay back someone for the bad he has done to you. Let the anger of God take care of the other person. The Holy Writings say, “I will pay back to them what they should get,” says the Lord.

Discovering and training the heart of our children is a task that is not a one and done, but a daily reminder of how we are sinful people in need of savior. We will never obtain righteous living on our own, even those people who are following Christ will still have our sinful hearts show up uninvited to the party. When that uninvited guest shows up we must show him to the door. It will be hard work, but the fruit of the spirit will be growing in our children’s hearts and they will be transformed by the Word and renewing of their mind as we point them to God’s word and God’s design for our lives.

Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships Part 1


Cultivating Healthy Sibling Relationships (Part 1)

One of the desires of our family is to cultivate within our family unit solid sibling relationships. Darren and I realized that these Godly, forever, sibling relationships are a key element, and in order to take it from relationship to friendship we the parent must intentionally train, teach and develop healthy relating.

I mean you hear it all the time,

“My kids fight like cats and dogs.”

“My kids would rather be with their friends then their brother or sister.”

“They are such always at each others throats.”

These sentiments and more are common and “expected” from society. But what does the Bible have for us that teaches us about relationships? And if you stop and think logically, who are the relationships that your child potentially spends the most time with that are forming the way they think of, view, and model friendships/relationships after.

I remember playing basketball and my coach would always say, “You play the game like you practice and you practice like you play.” Signifying that what happens within the home is translated to the “outside world.” We also know this is true when we look at how children behave around the dinner table can be similar to how they would behave at a restaurant. If you wanted well mannered eaters in a restaurant while there are onlookers then we must start in the home.

I am excited to return to the Bible and look at serval traits of having unity within siblings.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 NKJV

We see that it is GOOD and PLEASANT for siblings to dwell together. And all the moms say, “AMEN!” Think of all the peace that comes within the home when siblings know how to be together in unity, working out their disagreements together and self evaluating if they are being offended and how to deal with it in a healthy way.

There obviously are many steps and training opportunities that we (the parents) must take advantage of, therefore I am breaking this into multiple blog posts/lessons so we can use it like a stair stepper and do one at a time, allowing us to focus and train without being overwhelming or becoming overwhelmed.

LESSON ONE: DON’T BE IN A HURRY TO TELL ON SOMEONE ELSE. This comes from Proverbs 25:8-9 “Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame? Debate your vase with your neighbor himself, and do not disclose the secret to another.”

Also Matthew 18:15 states,  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” 

There is a huge lesson to be learned here from both of the bible verses. Firstly, we must learn to teach our kiddos the importance of working to resolve conflict first between the two offenders, before bringing in the council of a parent. And secondly, when we are in a hurry to tattle tell on the one who has offended us we also reveal our sinful desires and heart in the matter, and don’t preserve the trust.

Lets take a deeper look into the first point: conflict is difficult and it is easy for us to want to bring others in to our own defense. I bet as adults we can see how this transpires as we share a story with another friend to gain the “support” of what we thought was the right decision. Even if the decision or event we could defend our actions, in order to do that we are displaying someone else’s sin on the table to prove our point. Therefore, are we building up that friend or are we airing their dirty laundry and gossiping? (I sadly know this all too well as I have committed this sin before.) We must show our children how when we are in a hurry to tell on someone else, what we are doing is sharing their sin without them getting an opportunity to repent, AND at the same time we are not following the biblical guidelines of healthy relationships and thus showing our sinful hearts as well.

*** I must give an caveat to this and I do teach my children if someone is being unsafe please come quickly for help and support. There are times when adults must be involved.

Secondly similar to above we must teach when they are quick to tattle tell without first working to solve the problem together what is revealed is the tattle tellers sinful heart. I like to show my young kids a visual to help them see and remember this truth. I ask them to point at something, and I say picture you are telling on someone, shaking your finger at them. Then I ask them to look down at their finger, and tell me what they see. 9/10 times they will say I see the finger pointing at the offender. (a very victim, me centric, their fault, no ownership type of mentality.) I then ask them to tell me where are the rest of your fingers pointing? Excluding the thumb (which we could argue is not a finger), three fingers are pointing back at THEMSELVES. And I share with them, when we are pointing out the sin or wrong doings of someone else we have three times as many fingers pointing back at us showing our sinful intent, that we are trying to get them in trouble, that we are becoming to judge and jury.

**** Another element we should address here, justice is a big thing and it can be confusing to kids (and adults). Phrases like, “it isn’t fair,” or “they should have a consequence for their actions,” are hard to process through, but as we remind our kids that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and deserve punishment (Rom 6:23), we are reminded about grace, forgiveness, mercy and repentance. These traits are displayed in our lives daily and give us an opportunity to recognize and be reconciled back to one another.

Being offended is hard to process, hard to deal with, and hard to learn how to handle. If I am be bold and not shameful in anyway but our world today (society at large) is not great at handling offenses. So therefore there is not a better time than now, and not a better people group than the children within our own homes that God has charged us with, to be able to mold, shape, influence, train, guide and disciple.

I hope you are encouraged and that this allows you to take one step forward to working on and training sibling relationships. Also make sure to keep watch for next week when we enter into part two.

*** I want to thank Doorpost (Doorpost.net) for the trainings I got from them in order to help train my children on these biblical truths. And if you are interested in getting resources (I am not an affiliate just LOVE there products) make sure you head over there, they have a great poster which is quick to refer to.)

Homeschooling with a Baby

Homeschool with a Baby!

Say WHAT?! You, homeschool with an infant!? Is that even possible? Are you even awake? Do you have octopus arms?

These are legitimate questions! I can speak from first hand experience that thinking about homeschooling with an infant sent me into a bit of a whirlwind of emotions. But I am here to tell you momma, YOU CAN DO IT! Yes, it will take thoughtfulness, planning, and preparing but it is possible and you don’t have to just survive it, but you can thrive in it too!

First of all let me tell you, I am so excited for you to be making this choice to be with you infant and committing to schooling your older child(ren). I believe that we must start with a perspective change both in our hearts and minds when we enter into homeschooling with a baby. Similar to when people say to me, “just wait for those teenage years” (with a sarcastic and negative tone). I want to encourage you (and remind myself), “just wait for those teenage years” (with the excitement of what the possibility may be in store).  We all must change our hearts, minds, vocabulary and perspective to see things as the blessings they are instead of embracing what others have viewed as heartache.

STEP ONE: Start with prayer, evaluate your minds position on the prospect of homeschooling with a baby, and change it from fear to faith, from terror to trust.  Don’t trust in the power of positive thinking, trust in the power of the creator of everything!

If you haven’t had your baby yet and are processing through what schooling with an infant will look like, or you are in a crash course to prepare for Monday school lets start with a big picture and work our way down.

Big picture, in order to be successful with an infant you will need to prepare not only your mind but you physical space as well. Does this mean you need to put your house on the market and move as soon as possible to bigger and better? Absolutely not! What I mean is just like you prepare your nursery or home for a baby with the things you will need, do so when it comes to schooling as well.

For starters, where do you do school? Are in at the kitchen table, or in a homeschool room? Wherever you are, one thing that has helped me as I have homeschooled with an infant is to create a space for the infant. In full transparency this has looked different with each baby as I have found and adjusted what is more helpful to me as a mom, so be prepared to try and adjust if needed and as they grow. I like to have a pack-n-play of some sort that I am able to lay my baby down in during school time, whether for a nap or to play. Some prefer to babywear also, which is great (I am not able to a lot due to the physical nature of hernia). I would still advise some area that belongs to the baby. Another reason I like a pack-n-play in the beginning is because I can store my supplies for the baby near it, for example baby wipes, burp clothes, toys, pacifiers etc. Picture this: if you are packing a desk with school supplies for your student to do school, you are also packing an area for your baby to be prepared for while you are schooling. Why is this important? One thing I have found is when you can decrease the amount of time you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions and interruptions to your teaching. God has given us an amazing gift to multi-task and let me tell you, you will amaze yourself how much multi-tasking you get to do with teaching, and instead of worrying about that, lean into it. Prep your older student to know that they will get to do work independently from time to time, and be prepared as the teacher to say, “I will need you to work on these problems while I change the babies diaper and I am going to come back and check, I know you will do great, I am right here to support you.” Build up your older kiddos in self-learning, independent practice, and work they can accomplish without the guidance of you.

STEP TWO: Set up an infant area in your schooling areas. The less you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions to your teaching.

Ok, we have our heart in the right posture, and we have our physical space set up, NEXT we need to prepare the expectations of our older student. There is so much adjustment when it comes to bringing a baby into the world. So much joy and yet so much change. You yourself are going through it all, and hormones on top of it, but we must not forget that our older child(ren) are also going through the change too. I have found that this time is exciting for the older sibling but with the newness there needs to be some teachable moments. If you baby isn’t born yet start talking about it now, and if your infant is here there is no time like the present to start talking and building up your child.

If you have an older boy, I have found mine have tended to thrive in the words I have used that talk about leadership, honor, and respect. So as you are sharing how school might look this year with the baby, use examples like, “I have seen how much you are growing up, you are becoming a wonderful leader in our family, during school there will be times I will ask you to lead by example and show mom how you can get your work done by yourself, then come show mom so we can review it together. Since you are a smart boy, and learning to become a man of honor I will want to check with you to make sure the answers are correct.” Also talk about what it might look like with a baby in the room, distractions and what not, help him learn how to self monitor. I have found boys also like if it I could sit next, near them even if I don’t have to say or teach anything the side by side is what they prefer.

If you have a girl student, I have discovered that they love to be the helper. I would use words like, it would be helpful to mommy if ….” They can tend to like to be a part of the baby’s team, so I would say, “can you come and read to the baby,” or “wow, I bet your baby (brother or sister) would love to see your hard work, when you are all done maybe we can show them together.” I have also noticed that girls tend to like their mom to sit across from them during the schoolwork time. So if you are nursing or holding baby, finding times to sit across from your older daughter creates in them a sense of closeness.

Regardless of gender, the older student will need to be taught what school time looks like, with grace to them on this journey, it is always best to have clear expectations for them. Expectations for both what they need to accomplish during school and for how you will be caring for them and for baby. It isn’t bad for the older student to learn patience to wait their turn if needed during school, or how to skip and come back to problems, and that life can sometimes be unpredictable and we must learn to adapt.

STEP THREE: Setting up the expectations for the older student. Explaining how school time will look, and how they can also enjoy their new baby’s company during school.

Alright, we got the mental, the physical, and the emotional pieces in play, so now what else? Well, with everything and every situation some learning comes with experience and adjustment to what your family needs, but what I would like to provide you with is some tips and tricks I have used that has been helpful!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Breathe, just breathe when it feels overwhelming and remember that education isn’t all about paper and pencil. Consider this time a time where you are developing traits like: empathy, patience, caring for others, love, the beauty of life (science), and more.
  • Your older kid WILL MAKE UP THE TIME you feel they have lost. They are not behind because of this season. Create self propelled learners, who are self directed and they will never be behind.
  • Set yourself up for success, check your diaper stash, get yourself a coffee (or warm drink), a few snacks on hand (for you and older kiddo), diffuse some essential oils, light music in the background, whatever you need to do make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
  • If you have time, start your older student earlier in the school year (maybe go over summer) and take the time off you need, this flexibility is one reason we homeschool.
  • Ask for help! There is no shame is seeing if a grandparent could support you for a few weeks as you adjust!
  • Create systems where your older student knows where things are and can be self-sufficient and create independence.
  • Save the hardest subjects for when the baby is napping.
  • Set your baby up on a schedule (SEE MY SLEEP SCHEDULE BLOG) and work around the baby for more one-on-one time.
  • Use your husband as a resource, maybe for a few weeks, you can do some of the school in the evening when he gets home from work, you don’t have to get it all done in a certain time frame, be creative and flexible.
  • ENJOY this time! It is a short season, get those snuggles in, and allow your older kids to enjoy it too! Show them their baby pictures and show them how fast it goes, say things like, “look at you now!” and “when you where this young.” Create a bond and connection to the baby.
  • Allow the baby to be part of school, have the students read to the baby, or practice their colors and shapes by “teaching” the baby, get creative and include everyone in the process.
  • Make sure to not miss the moments by being wrapped up into unrealistic expectations.