Tag: service

At War With Your Family?

Many years ago, I had a friend ask me if it made me mad that someone would undo what I had just cleaned up. I must admit that is exactly how I lived many years of my parenting life. I was at war with dirt, disorder, laundry, and frankly, my family. But all that changed the day that I had an epiphany. I realized that I wasn’t at war at all. I had signed up to serve, to minister to my husband and my children. That small shift in the story that I had been telling myself changed everything. It didn’t change the workload. It didn’t change the messes or the frustrations. What it did change was my ability to deal with the load, the messes, and the frustrations.

What Is Ministering and What Does It Look Like

Ministering is being aware of and attending to the needs of another person. When we minister, we watch over, lift, and strengthen those around us. Doesn’t a family seem like the perfect place to minister most effectively?

I’ve never forgotten a short video I saw as I was beginning to make this mental shift from war to ministering. It was of a very influential man who was hurrying to get to a meeting that he would be leading. As he headed down the staircase his one-year-old daughter was climbing up. He stopped to pick her up and hug her.

He discovered that she had a messy diaper. He knew that his wife was in the kitchen with their other children trying to get them fed and off to school. He faced a dilemma. After all, he was going to a meeting and he was in charge. But here was his sweet daughter in need and his wife was occupied. He could have engaged in a mental battle. He could have felt irritated that his daughter was messy, that his wife wasn’t taking care of it; that he, in his suit, probably should. But he didn’t go to war. As he realized the need his face softened, he gave his daughter a smile and a squeeze and he headed back up the stairs. He diapered his daughter, washed his hands and then headed out to his meeting.

In a family the ways we can love and minister to one another are limitless. I find that I need the help of a power beyond myself to keep my thoughts on ministering and not at war. I need help to know what’s needed because what is needed by one may not work for another. It’s been my experience that as we commit to being flexible, as we ponder real needs, as we make the effort to know another person, as we consider how best to love and serve, we can know how to minister better.

Six simple ways to minister to your children

•Don’t criticize – Listen, support, ask questions and teach gently. We all make mistakes. We all have moments of poor judgment.
•Don’t talk poorly about each other. Words are powerful in moving us to emotion. We want to feel good about our children, so we need to refrain from using words that are negative even when we’re frustrated or stressed.
•Refrain from judging – We can’t always know why a person behaves as they do, chooses one action over another or disappoints us. Rather than jumping to a judgment listen, ask questions, choose to think the best.
•Smile more – It’s amazing to me that we must be reminded of this, but we do.
•Listen, Listen, Listen – Those who are the most influential in this world listen more than they talk. They’re interested in others’ ideas and thoughts. They feel they can learn from anyone and so they do. When we listen it’s easier to think the best, criticize less, refrain from judging and so on.
•Touch – I am a champion of random touch. We shouldn’t need to be reminded of the power of a touch, but we do. I work on reaching out and patting a shoulder or giving a hug. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe it doesn’t to you. But with practice, we can do better.

All those years ago, when I changed my story from war to ministering, I made a short video. I hope you’ll watch it. You will find it helpful.

Here’s to families and the opportunity to minister.

Share some of the ways that you keep from going to war with your family.

Why Think The Best of Others?

I was helping an older woman take a shower. She wasn’t able to stand so she sat. She wasn’t able to wash and so I lathered up the washcloth and helped her out. This was the mother of a dear friend. I had been serving her and her husband for quite some time but bathing his wife was his job. However, on this day he had another obligation. So I was filling in.

When I turned off the water I got a fluffy towel and began to dry her body. When I reached her feet I carefully dried between her toes. I was unprepared for her abrupt response.

“Oh, you dried between my toes, how wonderful!” I looked up and asked, “Doesn’t your husband dry between your toes.” She replied, “No, he doesn’t.”

Here is what I thought in my mind. “Well, that old coot. He should dry between his wife’s toes. He dries his own toes and he should dry hers. He is just being lazy and in too big of a hurry.” I thought he was doing just a tad less than a loving husband should do.

This experience took place well over 25 years ago. But I always remembered it because I love drying between my toes. Wet toes are gross toes.

Recently, Don and I had a conversation about this very subject. I know, I know, who talks about toes. But it came up in conversation when I was putting lotion on my feet one evening. I mentioned how much I like having my feet dried, especially between my toes. Then I told him the story of my friends and how inconsiderate the husband was of his wife. I said, “After all everyone dries between their toes and he should have done that for his wife.”

Don looked quizzically at me and there was a long pause. Finally, he said, “Mary, I never dry between my toes.” And at that moment the light bulb went on for me.

Not everyone dries between their toes. Maybe my friend’s husband didn’t dry between his toes and if so it would never have occurred to him to dry between his wife’s toes. The poor old coot was finally off the hook after more than 25 years.

I had misjudged the situation and I had held a negative thought about him all this time.

Why does this matter?

• Because negative thoughts that we hold about another person are unhealthy in our own body.
• Because energetically I was periodically zapping that old coot whenever I remembered the story that I held in my heart about him.
• Because I judged wrongly.

And there is the crux of the matter. More often than not we judge wrongly because we just don’t have enough information. This is important as we work to control our own negative thinking. There are a number of ways to control the story we tell ourselves about others, their motive, and our circumstances. Here is one of the number one ways:

Decide to think the best of others

 

When we have conflict in our relationships whether it’s with our child, a neighbor, our spouse, our boss, the checker at the grocery store, or even ourselves, our story is usually at the heart of the problem.

In a wonderful article by Ron McMillan, in an online magazine, he told the story of a 16-year-old girl and her father. Because of the story the father was telling himself about his daughter’s behavior he was challenged to respond well and it damaged their relationship. This is what McMillan had to say –

“The key to overcoming the natural man’s tendency to assume the worst about others’ motives is not to polish our apology skills nor learn to control our anger and frustration. Rather, the key to overcoming this destructive chain of events is to question our story.

‘Examining the negative story we tell ourselves . . . causes us to consider alternate explanations for … apparently hurtful behavior.

‘To accomplish this, ask yourself one question: “Why would a reasonable, rational and decent person do this?” Or, if this is too unwieldy, ask, “Why would a decent person act this way?” (McMillan, “Master Your Stories and You Master Your Life”)

It isn’t what happens that makes us mad it’s the story we tell ourselves about what happened that makes us mad.

It wasn’t that my friend didn’t get her toes dried that made me feel irritated with her husband it was the story I told myself about why he didn’t dry her toes.

When we decide to think the best of others, we can manage our thoughts and the resulting story more effectively. This will help us have better relationships with our family and more happiness in life.

By the way, you might be interested to know that a few weeks after my conversation with Don, as we were sitting together on a quiet evening, he looked at me and said, “I thought you would like to know, I dried between my toes.

OK, do you dry between your toes. Inquiring minds want to know. : ) 

 

GROUP MENTORING

I will be hosting a four-week GROUP mentoring session and you’re all invited. If you really want to take your parenting and family happiness up a notch then this is something to consider.

Calls will be held bi-weekly on Thursdays. They will be recorded for later playback. Each call will consist of training on a personal growth as a parent topic and then will have a Q&A. Calls will last from 1hour to 1 ½ hours depending on the Q&A.

Join the Group

 

I can help you experience less resentmentenjoy being with your children more, have more connected relationshipsless stress, less overwhelm, and greater inner peace. I can help you become more of the person and parent you really want to be.

“I so much from you…I wish you knew…the difference you are making. It really feels like deep, sustainable changes. I am enjoying more happiness…I’ve done plenty of mentoring/classes/energy work/ self-help, etc., and my husband told me a few months ago that this was the best I’d ever spent.”   Stefanie Miller

 

You can learn more about writing better mental stories in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

My First Christmas Gift to You

Ready for Christmas Giving

There are many families that would love to make a gingerbread house but, well, it can be intimidating. The few I have known to actually do it usually have mediocre results. I have also seen families use the kits and I haven’t seen one work out yet. That is because the recipes for gingerbread and the frosting count!!

So today I want to share a wonderful story of family and tradition with you and a recipe that is over 100 years old. It ‘s my favorite cookie recipe of all time. For those who are not gingerbread fans, this cookie is for you. Mild and delicious. I have used it for both gingerbread men and gingerbread houses. It works perfectly.

The Christmas Gingerbread Story

Over ninety years ago Ann Gardner, my grandmother on my mother’s side, taught first grade in Star Valley, Wyoming. In fact, she taught all of the grades over a 40 year period of time. She was known as a tough, but fair teacher. My dad, Verl Cazier, was in one of her first-grade classes!

One of her holiday classroom traditions was making gingerbread men with her students. Each child would get a large ball of dough. They would break that into smaller balls, for the body, head, legs, and arms. They would also get a square of cardboard. Each child would flatten the largest ball of dough in the middle of the cardboard square. They would then add the head, arms, and legs by doing the same with the smaller balls of dough. The ‘man’ had to fit in the square of cardboard with nothing hanging over. Then red-hot eyes, mouth, nose, and buttons were pressed into the dough. Each child would then carefully carry their piece of cardboard, with their gingerbread man, to the cafeteria to be baked.

When I was a young mom, making gingerbread houses and villages to pay for our families Christmas, I asked her for her recipe. She gladly shared it with me and the story of what she had done all those years before in her first-grade classes. Since then her gingerbread has graced many Thanksgiving tables, been given as countless Christmas presents and been shaped into numberless gingerbread houses and cookie people.

I hope that you will enjoy this recipe and pass it down to your own families. It is now well over a hundred years old and you won’t find a better recipe out there. : )

Ann Gardner’s Gingerbread Man Recipe
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ – 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • (if you like a little bite, add 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper – this is my own addition to the mix)

Cream sugar and shortening. Add molasses and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. Add dry ingredients. When it gets too stiff to mix with a spoon turn it out onto the counter and knead until all the flour is mixed in. Chill one hour.

Roll out ¼ inch thick on tin foil, parchment paper or waxed paper. (If I am making a house I roll it out 1/8 inch thick because I want to cut down on the weight and bulk.) Lift foil onto the pan. Cut out shapes. Remove excess. Make sure to leave at least 1/2′ between each gingerbread piece. Bake at 350* for 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a flat surface. Enjoy!

If you want to try your hand at making a gingerbread house these patterns will get you started. The frosting recipe for holding gingerbread house pieces together makes a huge difference too. Here is one that works every time. Be sure that you beat it until it is thick and stands up in peaks and then your house will hold together just right.

This frosting is easy to make and handle. Unlike royal frosting that is made with egg whites, grease does not break it down and it can be re-beaten for later use. It can be stored in a covered container for up to 6 months. Meringue powder can be purchased at some craft stores and any store that sells cake decorating supplies.

Royal Frosting (Meringue Powder)

¼ cup meringue powder      ½ cup water      4 cups or 1 pound powdered sugar

Mix the meringue powder and water…beat until it peaks. Add the sugar (1/2 cup more for stiffer frosting) ½ cup at a time on low and then beat on high to desired consistency. This will beat up a bit more quickly than the egg white version. Royal frosting dries quickly and as hard as cement so keep it covered at all times with a damp cloth or in a tightly covered bowl. Keep any utensils, tip, bags etc. covered also.

I experimented with transferring the pattern to a printed page. Right-click and save the photo. Paste it into Word, Publisher or a similar program. Size it to fit on an 8×10 sheet of paper and print. Cut out pattern pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you that want to make a gingerbread house with your children, I will be giving you all of the details and directions in my next article. It requires no baking!

SERVICE FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

During December I want to do some form of service each day. I want to increase my sense of joy and happiness during the holiday season as a gift to myself and to the Savior, and serving others does just that. “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25: 40

I found a link that gives you a calendar to download with one act of service to do each day leading up to Christmas day. It is family and time friendly. You too might want to check it out.

GREAT NEWS!!!!!! Just in time for the holiday season. On December 21st I will be giving away 5 copies of Becoming a Present Parent via a Goodreads Give Away. There are no strings attached. You won’t be added to any lists. So head on over and enter. You just may be a WINNER!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming a Present Parent by Mary Ann Johnson

Becoming a Present Parent

by Mary Ann Johnson

Giveaway ends December 21, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018 in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me. ​​​​​​​

P.S. You can learn more about how to connect with your children, even when times are busy, in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

Creating A Culture of Serviceability and Kindness

One day while helping a friend in her home she asked me if I ever felt as if I was at war with my family. She said that if anything was organized it wouldn’t stay that way. If it was clean it would get dirty. If it was peaceful chaos would inevitably show up.

I understood her frustration. After all, I had raised seven children. However, somewhere along the way, I had a mighty change of heart. I went from waging war to ministering to my family. It was a slight mental shift in how I looked at the work required to manage my family and it has made a huge difference in how I feel on busy and chaotic days.

When we step out of management mode we begin to ‘see’ the needs of those in our family and we’re better able to step into the service and kindness mode. We put ourselves in a place where we’re able to be Present. We see the ‘one’ and minister to them rather than being upset that there is one more thing to take care of.

As parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is to help our children become successful adults. I have found that the most successful adults I know are generous and kind. They serve others. They ‘see’ people and reach out.

Last Sunday one of my grandchildren was ill and one parent had to stay home with them. That caused the rest of the family to run late. In our church, the Sacrament is passed early in the meeting and my daughter worried that they wouldn’t get there in time. Sure enough, they missed the bread portion of the ceremony. She was deeply disappointed.

Then the children who were with her began to struggle to be still and they all ended up out in the hall. Her nine-year-old son, Jack, reached out and touched his mom on the arm and said, “Mom, I’m sorry we missed the bread and that we’re out in the hall.”

This is a perfect example of a person ‘seeing’ the need of another and this someone was just nine years old.

That same nine-year-old ‘saw’ me the other day. It had been a long day. I had been doing a lot of physical labor and I was tired. In fact, I was feeling a bit old. Jack came to me and said, “Grandma, I really like that shirt. You look good in it.” As you can imagine I felt better.

Jack has learned from the example of his parents to ‘see’. He has learned the value of kindness and service within his family because his parents serve their children rather than just managing them.

As I was beginning to transition from being in constant management mode in my family to serving my spouse and children I remember watching a video of a real-life experience that helped me see the difference between working in a family and serving the family.

A man with a very important job was leaving his home to go to a very important meeting. He had on a suit and tie. As he descended the stairs he saw his eighteen-month-old crawling up the stairs. He picked her up to give her a hug and say goodbye and found that she needed a diaper change.

This busy and important man, this father, did not call his equally busy wife. He got a diaper and wipes and sat down at the top of the stairs and changed his daughter. While he served his daughter he smiled and talked with her. He ‘saw’ his daughters need. He was also aware of the need of his wife. He served them both with great kindness and did not feel put upon while doing it. He was not in management mode but in the kindness and service mode.

WHY MAKE A MENTAL SHIFT

There are some very good reasons to work on this slight mental shift, from management to service:

• When we lose ourselves in service to others we grow and flourish. So do our children.
• When we feel that the work we do is serving rather than a burden we feel less overwhelmed.
• With this slight mental shift, we’re able to remain calm when things aren’t going well.
• When we serve our family we model it for our children who become kinder.
• Families who have a culture of service and kindness sustain one another better.
• In fact, as we serve rather than wage war, we begin to create a culture of kindness and serviceability.

In today’s world, there are many opportunities to reach out and serve. Let’s begin in our own families. Consider it a privilege rather than a daily burden. You can’t and won’t respond this way all of the time. But if you can slip into this mindset even a few times each day you will feel better about parenting and you will have more joy in the work that you do.

What service have you given to or received from your children? Please comment. I would love to hear your experiences.

Here’s to more joy,
Mary Ann

P.S. You can learn more about how to spend less time in family management in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less.  You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com  It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!