Saturday, October 3, 2009

Life Lessons In The Kitchen...

I love our kitchen...  It's nice and open, it has a big island in it, many of our teachable moments are lived out in the kitchen.  We have a big table in the kitchen and it's where most of our family meals, and some great conversations, take place...

Some of my all time favorite conversations were what it means to be transformed instead of conformed...  When we were praying about adopting...  Creation vs. evolution...  What does it mean to do everything to the glory of God...  How to deal with a bully... I wish I had kept a journal of all of our topics...

The conversations have been fewer in the last year, but only because we didn't want Abby to feel left out, so we kept it to more topics that she could participate in...  But tonight was one of those great conversations...

It wasn't planned, they rarely are, but it started when something was mentioned about praying while cutting the grass...  And one of the kids said, "You mean you can pray when you are doing other things?"  After all these years, how did we miss making that clear?  It's funny though, I didn't learn that until I was well into my 30's...

Like our child, I always thought prayer was something you did a couple of times a day when you had a few minutes to sit down, center your thoughts on God and talk to Him...  It was all very formal...  I was embarrassed if I would accidentally burp when I was praying, I mean good grief, I'm before the King of Kings and I burp, how rude (seriously, I really thought that...  I seemed to forget that God created me to burp!)

But one day I read, Practicing His Presence by Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence.  Brother Lawrence was a monk who lived a really long time ago, but wrote letters to his friends about trying to live moment by moment in the presence of God.  And then Frank Laubach is a present day missionary who tried to live out what Brother Lawrence wrote about and wrote letters to his father about his experiences.

It was through this book that I began to understand that prayer is really about constant communion with God...  It can happen anytime, anywhere and it is what we should strive for 24/7...  Prayer keeps us in humble dependence on God and in close connection with Him.  The book COMPLETELY changed the way I looked at prayer.

So tonight, we had an incredible conversation about prayer...  Hopefully our kids have learned what it took me over 30 years to learn...  That the proper posture of life is a posture of prayer.

But then things kind of went downhill from there...  Since the kids are old enough (well, Abby is still exempt from this) their responsibility is to clean up the kitchen after dinner.  But lately, every week or so, we've had a major discussion over "it's not my job."

It inevitably starts with someone who didn't do their job earlier in the day and things have piled up and it dissolves into grumbling, complaining, and whining about how it's not fair that I have to do their job.  Tonight, I decided to let Scott handle it and I just kept playing with Abby...  But I was listening...

As I listened to this conversation, something occurred to me...  Where is their sense of family?  Of team?  It's all about protecting their time...their effort... about not having to do more than another person...  making sure that everything is fair...

And then it occurred to me, we (Scott and I, but really me) created this selfishness with our stupid job chart.  Several years ago, I got the bright idea to create a revolving job chart...  I spent hours developing a job chart that cycled by week, making sure that everyone had a fair amount of responsibility in the house.  As the years passed, the work became more balanced as the kids grew older and could take on more.  On the surface, it sounds great...but what I realized tonight is that it has created a very selfish attitude in them...

There's no sense of "he/she has a busy week this week, let me help them out..."  All I hear is "But that was my job last week..."  Or having to negotiate, since____ is gone this week, you do the dishes and next week, ___ will take your turn (what... I'm the mother... I don't have to negotiate ANYTHING...just clean out the dishwasher for crying out loud...)  But this cursed job chart had created all of that...

Well the job chart came off the wall tonight and went into file 13...  The garbage can...  Gone with it... "But it's not my job"...  Excuses to not take initiative... Reasons to not support a brother or sister...  Now, I am not disillusioned into thinking the battle is over, but at least we are back on the road to learning what it means to be and live as a family...  I'm a slow learner, but thankfully God got through...  Amazing, I was listening for once instead of lecturing!

Children need to learn responsibility, but that has to be balanced with a sense of team...of helping each other...of laying down your life for someone else...even if it is just cleaning out the dishwasher for them...  It has to start somewhere...  And once it again, it began in our kitchen!  I would say it was a rather productive evening!

6 comments:

Lori said...

Oh my goodness, sweet friend! I LOVE this post!! I can relate to every single word!!

The prayer thing...I have to say that I used to pray ALL the time when I was a kid on the lawn mower! I got re-saved many times cutting the grass...just to make sure I was covered. But I don't think I really understood constant communion with the Lord until my 30's as well. And I often feel weird about praying when I'm on the potty but...praying without ceasing means in ALL moments, I suppose..even THOSE moments! LOL :)

And I'm SO with you on the "it's not my job" attitude. Oh my stars. When I hear that, I usually say, "Well, JUST BECAUSE you just made that statement is exactly why I'm making YOU do it!!" And I love your thoughts on the chore chart. I think you are exactly right. Though I've never done one (only because I'm lazy...and it's not my job...LOL).

trina said...

Oh I so understand. Some of our issues are that 'the babies made the mess' so we are always dealing with that one. Yep, the babies make 97% of the messes. I too want them to do what they do from the heart. I know they love their baby brothers, no doubt. Lately, I'm encouraging them to teach the babies responsibilities. Zachary has been doing that for awhile...and he does really well with them. It is all about the family, the 'team' and loving each other anyway. Thanks for encouraging me..I'm not the only one. :)

Naomi said...

Wow what a wonderful lesson for me!!! I have been at that place of trying to figure out if I do a chart like the one you mentioned but after reading this post, I want to begin to do what you are now going to do; try to create that team also within our family! I feel that a similar attitude is beginning in our family and I would love for them to want to help each other out instead of fighting each other over their little jobs!! To be honest I hardly ask them to do much, but when I do, they feel that they are losing play time. I have so much to learn and I love what you have shared because it is such a revelation to me!! Please continue to share any more insight you may have with this!!!

Blessings to you Sharla!!!

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the job chart. I have tried several ways to do this, and I am still trying to figure out how best to teach them responsibility and team work. My kids are only 7, 5, and 2, but I still want them to learn these things. Please keep sharing as you all work through this!

Mom Of Many said...

I love your thoughts on the job chart.....I am going to have to ponder this and talk to the boss-man..I think we might do some reorganizing on that one!! Thank you! xo

Wife of the Pres. said...

Yep, ditto to Naomi's post. I thank you Sharla for your nuggets of wisdom in this post. I don't mean to make you feel "old" but seriously … you are more wise and farther along in your mothering than me b/c your children are older. I have had those st**id charts and they don't work anyway. But I never thought of it creating the attitude, but you are exactly right. It does!

I'm with you on this and I am like Naomi, still have a lot to learn. Thanks Sharla!