Friday, February 3, 2012

Recipe for a Happy Home, Part 2

INGREDIENTS:  What you get out of it depends on what you put into it! 

For Christmas I was making a special skyscraper red velvet cheesecake and my son asked me why I had to sift the flour, and why I had to use cake flour.  He wanted to know if it really made a difference.  I said that of COURSE it does – otherwise I wouldn’t do those extra steps!

Just like in making a special recipe, when putting together an out of the ordinary home life, an exceptional home, you are going to have to make special efforts to put special things into it. 

What are some of the necessary ingredients for a happy home? 

The Bible gives us some clear guidelines for what ingredients make people happy:

Happy are people saved by the Lord, when the Lord is their help (Deut 33.29, Ps 146.5), happy are people God corrects (Job 5.17), happy are those that have many children (Ps 127.5), happy are those who walk in the ways of the Lord and do what they know is right (Ps 128.2, Ps 144.15, Prov 29.18, John 13.17, Rom 14.22), happy are those who are wise (Prov 3.1, 3.18), who trust the Lord (Prov 16.20), that have mercy on the poor (Prov 14.21), and happy are those that endure (James 5.11)

What are some of the things that detract from a truly happy home?     Consider the list of the top five reasons for divorce:  Financial Issues, Excessive Arguing and Poor Communication, Infidelity, Lack of Commitment, Substance Abuse.  Interestingly enough, if you are applying the things that the Bible tells us make up happiness in our lives, these things cannot become issues! 

Some of the things I knew were important to put into my family’s recipe for happiness have yielded amazing results.

*A sense of purpose. 
This is what holds it all together, like the butter does in a recipe. This is what many teenagers and even parents don’t have that leads to depression.  Here are a few ways we have developed a sense of purpose from a very young age that you can expand on and develop in your own homes and circumstances:

         Mission Statement – Every year or so we redid our mission statement of what our family’s mission was as a group.  We accepted input from the children and made a small laminated card and gave it to each family member.  We had things in our mission statement like “Helping those in need”, “Visiting the sick” and things we purposed to do as a family.
         Part of a group – at home – at church.  We did projects like puzzles showing how each piece is an important part and what happens when you lose that last piece.  We worked together at home and at church.  Even at a young age the children helped me bring meals to the sick, visit people in mourning, and visit senior residents’ homes to pass out cookies and make a difference. 
         Able to make a difference:  We purposed that people would miss them when they were not there:  their teachers, coaches, Sunday School teachers, etc., incorporating ways that they could be a blessing so they’d BE missed.
         Their role – NOT the sun!!!  We taught them to consider others.  The world did not revolve around THEM.  They were not the sun, and their parents and everyone else the planets.  They could not walk into the room talking and interrupt.  We would put names in a jar and when we had a free day it wasn’t always “Let’s see where we can take our little idols” – it was more like “Who needs us to be a blessing to them today??”   We trained them at how GOOD they felt when they helped others.  My favorite memories today aren’t the ones where I was taking my children to the circus (although those were fun times too), but when Jesse was 8 years old mowing his great-bobcia’s lawn with an electric lawn mower while the girls “edged” the lawn with scissors!!! 
         It IS more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20.35).  Know this:  children do NOT learn to give by TAKING.  You MUST train your children to know the joys of giving by GIVING.  This will take planning and dedicated energy and sacrifice that will pay huge dividends.

*Accountability and authority.
When you are making a cake, you can’t just go dump any kind of flour into it:  Using regular or bread flour will not allow the cake to be crumbly enough because of the amount of protein in the flour:  instead it will be hard as a rock.  You have to use just the right ingredients to produce the desired results.        
Too much control or misuse of authority can bring hardness too…
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (MESSAGE) Love GOD, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.  Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
         Teach your children respect for authority.  How do WE respond to authority?  How do your children see you respond when you don’t agree?  When we disagree is most important.  This starts with respect for God and His commandments.  Then it filters down to other authorities in our life.  Without realizing it many parents set themselves up for DISASTER by teaching their children that if you don’t agree with authorities you can discount or distain their input into your life.  Without realizing it, you are teaching your child that when they become teens and don’t agree with YOU they can discount YOUR input into their lives!  Teach them to RESPECT and HONOR authorities even if they don’t agree.  I taught my children that the umpire’s/referee’s opinion may not even be CORRECT, but it IS part of the game and needs to be honored and respected.
         By the rules and standards you lay down, teach them the WHY’s – so they trust that the rules and standards are for their own good.  I used to tell the children stories about Suzy Sleepless who begged her mom not to make her go to sleep then she fell asleep and fell into her soup and then off the swing!  Do little projects to teach them the importance of obedience and respect and support the WHYS of your house rules.

We have to realize that every good recipe has ingredients that may not be palatable in themselves, but together make an amazing creation!  My son has learned to ask me if what is in a bowl is “good” before he licks the beaters:  he has once too often grabbed an egg white beater thinking it was whipping cream! 
For example, baking powder and soda are important leavening agents that cause batters to rise, neutralize acids to add tenderness, and cause a reaction which first produces carbon dioxide then expands causing the batter to rise and become light and airy.  Too much of either can cause the batter to be bitter tasting or to rise too rapidly and then collapse; yet too little can result in a tough cake with poor volume and crumb or soapy tasting. 
Even so, what we mix into our families may not seem good until it is all mixed together.  We need balance to produce the desired result. God created each family to have a distinct impact on His world.  You will gain specific things that your family will need at different times. 

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Teach your children DISCIPLINE – ways to be quiet (at libraries, funeral homes, etc.) – ways to wait to talk, etc. – that discipline will come into play as they become DISCIPLES!  We’d take walks and learn to not walk on others’ lawns.  We would read books and every child would have a small smarties stick, and then who talked would lose a smartie.  At the end whoever had the most smarties got the “taken” ones! 

Too many children have ZERO restrictions from birth til about age 10, then their parents literally pull their hair out trying to teach discipline and self control to an out-of-control child.  Playpens are OK!  You can have your child in a restricted area to play while you cook, even in your sight.  I’d play games and sing songs with them but they’d be in their playpens while I had to get things done.

Let your baby sit in the highchair until the family is done eating.  Too many parents don’t even sit their child down until THEY are going to eat, and then as soon as they are done, off they go before every one else if finished.  NO restriction, no discipline, just the world revolving around their schedule.  These little things will help your child make self control and discipline and consideration for others a part of their every day lives.

As they get older, never take away from them the ability to WORK towards a goal and achieve it.  Let them earn the things they want.  When younger, use stickers and when they achieve so many make a big deal about taking a trip to the dollar store and letting them pick something out!  As they get older, they will love working towards goals and you will find they will value the things they work for way more than things set before them that they didn’t even realize they wanted.

Vanilla is used to flavor, sweeten and provide aroma when baking, like humility in our lives.
Psalms 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Successes failures, ups downs, victories defeats, goods bads, all can turn out to bless the Lord.  We need to teach our child that we don’t have to be “everything” to be “something” and to rejoice in their gifts AND in others’ gifts knowing that we ALL possess unique strengths and weaknesses and experience successes and failures.
With high priorities in our homes, we can’t make our children feel they need to be “perfect” to “earn” God’s love or favour.  Sometimes they can be harder on themselves than God is!  Teach redemption/repentance/change too!  Let ALL that is within you:; strengths/weaknesses; joy/sorrow:  bless His name!
What are some of the ways to come against pride in your children and in yourself?  I’d let my children know I loved them the same whether they were obedient or disobedient, but when they were disobedient it stopped me from giving them the blessings and rewards I could when they listened. 
Don’t start dressing your babies and toddlers in designer clothing so they look like they can be on the cover of a magazine and expect that they will be humble teenagers if their self image is based upon their clothes!  My rule of thumb was if it wouldn’t be cute for a teenager, don’t practice it on your little ones and train them that way!  Teach humility:  which is knowing who you ARE as well as who you AREN’T. 

*Add generous portions of Love
When sugar is used in baking its role becomes more complex as it also adds volume, tenderness, texture, color, and acts as a preservative. Hence, recipes that contain a high sugar content produce a baked good with a more tender crumb  Second,  because not as much gluten is formed, the batter will be lighter. When baked, the batter will be able to rise more and the result will be a baked good with more volume. 
Sugar also makes bakery goodies taste sweet which makes us want to eat them.  Sugar is like love in our homes.  You can’t live ONLY on it, but without it nothing is very sweet!
Make sure that LOVE PREVAILS in your home.  Know that no one goes out shopping for something they already have in the house!  Your children need to know they are accepted and loved at home so they don’t seek it elsewhere!  Same with your spouses!
Look for ways to serve one another and show your love to each other.  We had bank account booklets which showed how you invested in each other!!!  Have “Secret Santas or Angels” where you do little things for each other.  God so loved the world He GAVE – love is not easily provoked – if your children are provoked with one another they haven’t “given” enough to that person.  Have them practice jobs together or play games together!!!  Start first with harmony at home and THEN add other people.  If they can’t get along with each other, curtail other activities until they can!

*Fun! – the extras!
Cookies need SOMETHING to make them special – chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles, something!  So our families need fun traditions that make them special:  things they can count on, look forward to and celebrate as a family.
Make as MANY special days, traditions, recipes, and hobbies as you can together.  Keep laughter alive and well in your home… 

Remember, you cannot give what you do not have: 

If I don’t have certain ingredients in my home, I have to go and GET THEM.  If you are lacking in any of these areas of parenting, ask for wisdom from people that have families you want to emulate and that have gone before you.  Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson have a four part series “Let’s Make a Memory” including Special Times with Special People, Making Ordinary Days Extraordinary, Hiding the Word in your Heart, and Creating Family Traditions.  You can order them here:  They are a valuable tool, and there are many tools you can utilize to help you in areas you lack as you parent.

Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.    STARS – can navigate by them
2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue…

NEXT:  Recipe for a Happy Home, Part 3:  Utensils and Equipment, and the End Result!!!

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