Monday, May 31, 2010

Did You Ask Me?

"Sonya, would you be willing to give a little encouraging talk to the Mom's of the preschoolers next month?" Asked the preschool teacher at my Christian school.

"I'd love to!" I responded.  Immediately, I knew what to talk about. I would make journals for the moms (all 18 of us) and then talk about how fast they grow up; and how we need to keep a journal for all of the little things we want to remember about this time with them.

The weekend before the talk, my children helped me decorate the plain journals we bought.  This was a project we had made before, so what could possibly go wrong? EVERYTHING!

The night before my talk, one of my daughters informed me that the journals had not dried, in fact, they were tacky to touch! OH NO! I thought. It was too late to run to the store, so I just went to bed and prayed. The next morning, I prayed this, "Lord, what am I going to do? I cannot give the planned speech, without the journals."

In my heart I heard the Lord whisper, "Did you ask Me?" 

My heart sank, I realized in my excitement, I forgot to ask God what He wanted me to talk about. So I sheepishly said, "I'm sorry, what do you want me to tell these mom's?"

Teach them to come to Me whenever they are at a decision making crossroad with their children. At those moments, no matter how big or small, if parents would hear Me saying, "Did you ask Me?" They will be blessed, and I will answer them.

Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

The speech turned out to be encouraging, both to me and some of the other mom's.  God is good!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Being a Good Investment

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much and he who is unrighteousness in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."
Luke 16:10

When my son turned 16, we gave him our old car and my husband got a newer car for himself. It was probably the first large ticket item we had given him that required any regular upkeep and care. The car was certainly not a fancy car. It wasn't sporty. It was far from new. In fact, it had over 100,ooo miles on it! It most assuredly didn't make the grade as "cool"- it was the old family wagon! However, my son was content with it. He called it the "Honey Wagon," mainly to get a rise out of his mother and never complained about it not being as nice as the cars some other kids at school drove. I was proud of him for that! He was not pretentious that way.

Over a period of time, however, my husband and I began to notice that the wagon was beginning to look a bit "beat up." The hood had all sorts of dents in it, which I found out later was from allowing other boys to jump on it! Eventually, we noticed there was a huge scrape down the side too. (We found it when we happened to wonder why the car was parked in the opposite direction in the driveway from how it usually was!)

When questioned, my son was very forthcoming with the truth. He had made the bad decision to "goof around" in an empty parking lot (going a bit too fast by our observation of the damage) and had swiped a pole. He admitted his wrong doing when confronted and repented to us for "being stupid."

I wish I could say that was the last bit of damage that occurred, but by the middle of his senior year, the car had taken on a great deal more abuse. The front bumper was actually dragging on the ground at one point! Even then, he never asked us to fix the car. He and his friend went out and "took care of the problem" themselves. I still don't know for sure what they did with the bumper. I didn't want to know! I think it involved wire and Gorilla Glue!

It was certainly an interesting dilemma we had at that time. Naturally, we were extremely frustrated with how he was taking care of the car. In addition to that, it was beyond our comprehension how he was so totally content to live with a car that looked like his did!

One day, as his high school graduation was approaching, I was experiencing frustration again with his same attitude toward school and grades as he had shown with the car. With the costs of his freshman year in college right around the corner, it occurred to me that the "investment" he was asking us to make for him was similar. The car he was driving had cost us around $15,000, pretty much the same as 1 year of college. This gave me an idea.

I took him out to the driveway and shared with him how much we had originally paid for the car. I also shared with him that as his parents, we had given him the car to use because we wanted to bless him. I let him know how disappointed I was in the way he had taken care of the "gift" we had given him and explained that soon he was going to want us to bless him in a similar way by paying for his first year of college. I made the comparison in costs for him. Lastly, I suggested to him that as I considered the "risk" in making just such an investment again for his education, I take one look at his car in the driveway and think...BAD IDEA!
I now had his attention!

I realized during the conversation that followed, that my son had never seen his care for the car in the same way we did. He thought if it didn't bother him to have a "beat up" car, then there wasn't any problem with it. He never considered who really "owned" the car, nor did he consider how his treatment of the car made us feel.

From that day forward, I'm happy to say that my son has taken much better care of his car. It's still a mess on the inside, but that's another issue...We made a deal with him to fix the car somewhat (primarily that "glued" bumper) and from that point on, he made a more conscious effort to be more careful and take better care of what we had given him. He also just finished his first year in college and made good on that investment as well!

This whole experience was a wonderful example of how we can confuse "stewardship." Everything we have is a gift from God. He is making an investment in us. How will we take care of what he has entrusted to us? Being content with what we have doesn't make us a good steward. Remember the parable of the talents?

God wants us to take care of his things and use them in such a way that it glorifies Him. When we do that, He know he can trust us with even more. It's not how much we have but how we use what we have for Him!

How would our world change if every Christian sought to use all of their gifts from God in ways that glorified him. What if we looked to maximize His investment?

"Small things are small things, but faithfulness with a small thing is a big thing."
Hudson Taylor-

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where Would I Go?

Did you ever want to run away from home when you were a child? Maybe even as an adult. I think most of us can remember at least one time in our life when we wanted to. When I was about eight years old I had gotten in trouble for something, I don't remember what, but I do remember that it made me angry enough to decide I was going to run away. I packed up as much of my belongings as I could and then I realized that I had no place to go so I unpacked everything and put it all away.

I lived with my grandma and she was the one who took care of me. She was the one who gave me a place to live, food when I was hungry, clothes, a warm bed, and lots of other extras out of love. When she wasn't treating me nice enough by my standards, I didn't trust her love for me and wanted to leave.

Life can be pretty disappointing sometimes and downright devastating at other times. When trials come we find ourselves grappling with our faith. No matter how deeply rooted in Christ we are, we all experience trials that stretch our faith so thin that we wonder if it will hold. These are the times when we face what we say we believe about God and His love for us, and have to come to terms with whether or not we really do believe.

When God allows a tragedy to happen to your child, the loss of your job, homelessness, a shattered dream, these are the times we question His love, His care, His provision. It's easy to say we trust God when things are going pretty well, but when trials come, that trust is put to the test. It is during the trials that we not only seek God for what He can do for us, but we strive to know and understand Him because of who He is. These are the times we are faced with the question Jesus asked His diciples in John 6:67-68.

Then Jesus said..., “Do you also want to go away?”
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:67-68

Questioning God isn't a sin when we take our questions to Him, it is a stretching of faith. God doesn't frown on us when we bring our doubts about His character and His purposes to Him. He knows that we will have doubts, and He allows us to experience trials so that we will question Him. Then He shows us His love at a greater level, teaches us deeper truths about Himself, and strengthens our faith in Him. We may not understand, but we can choose to trust God and keep walking with Him.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct[a] your paths. proverbs 3:5-6

Rich Gifts Blog Designs for Christian Ministry

Friday, May 21, 2010

There's Only One Perfect Person In This Marriage

And it isn't me! And, while he's a wonderful husband, it isn't my husband either.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecc. 4:12

Our Third Strand -- Jesus. He is the only Perfection in our marriage. "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." Deut. 32:4 He is the rock of our lives and our marriage. His works are perfect, though we may not always understand them at the time. His ways are just. He does no wrong. I do wrong. My husband does wrong. Yet, as we abide in the Lord daily, drinking from His Word and yielding to His Spirit, the Perfect One rights our wrongs. He cleanses us and makes us holy.

Remember the question: What if marriage was intended to make us holy rather than happy? And what a blessing it is when your marriages bring happiness AND holiness! I believe when two saved sinners say "I Do" and yield their hearts completely to the Lord, holiness and happiness are a beautiful marriage duet.

This Sunday, May 23rd, Jim and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary! My life's testimony is that of God's mercy and grace. The husband God has given me, our marriage and our family are all wonderful gifts of His mercy and grace. I am very aware of that. I truly am thankful and worship Him in reverence and awe for His amazing goodness. "...let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe..." Hebrews 12:28

Our hearts and our marriage are anchored in Him. Jim and I love each other deeply and are both very genuinely content in our marriage. Yet we still struggle. We still have cold shoulder moments. We disagree. We can be selfish, defensive and prideful. We had a few rough days this week. But we are abiding in the Lord, we are committed to Him and to each other. So repentance and forgiveness come. We move forward in Him.

Hearts yielded to God and desiring to honor and obey Him above all else will always bring forth fruit of righteousness and life. Jim knows I seek the Lord daily and desire to obey Him. I know Jim loves God and His truth and is unwavering in his devotion and faith. Our hearts anchored and abiding in Him have beautifully led us to now celebrate 18 years of marriage. That may seem like a lot to some, and like piddly to others. We rejoice, and we give God the glory.

We have learned so much over these 18 years. One thing we both know for sure: there is only One Perfect Person in this marriage. And our hearts are surrendered to Him.

So, we say thank you to the Perfect One in our marriage. "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 18:30

To celebrate our anniversary, we'd like to say CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER OF THE BOOK "WHEN SINNERS SAY 'I DO'"! THE WINNER IS: CHRISTCHILD - OUR BLESSED FAMILY. Please contact me so I can mail the book to you!

I pray you all have a blessed weekend. Take some time to enjoy a date with your spouse! We will be doing just that as well!

(This is one of my "life verses" that I also apply to our marriage:)
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't Shut the Door Behind You

I live in a semi-rural community. It is a popular community because it is only about 20 minutes outside of a metropolitan area; but because it is not in that area property is cheaper, lots are bigger and crime is lower. Because of that, many want to move from the city to what was once a rural area. Now it is only semi-rural, because of all the "come-here" folks, as they are called. The community has experienced lots of growth because of the come-heres.

Funny thing about the come-heres. They move into the area, and then they shout, "Stop the growth!" They try to pass laws keeping farmers from subdividing their property into housing developments. They want to keep it rural...once they get here. Although they don't mind that their new home is on what was once a farm too.

Sometimes in the Christian community, we too can want to come in, and shut the door behind us. Once we are saved and walk away from our past life of sin, we get comfortable in our upstanding Christian community. Then when the "sinner" comes to our church, we don't want their kind there. We yell "Stop the growth!" or "Shut the door!"

As Christians we try to hide our past, because we know we may be judged. It is said that "Christians soldiers" are the only army that shoot their own wounded. When someone in the Christian community stumbles in their walk, we want to kick them out, not try to restore them.

Today I want to encourage you to be brave enough to show your own "mess." When you show your mess it gives other people permission to have messy lives too. None of us Christians are perfect. God can turn our mess into his message. That is a message of change, hope and joy.

Don't shut the door on the sinners. Open the door and share with them how you too once were lost, but now are found. Grace is amazing, isn't it?


Friday, May 14, 2010

One Mind or Two?

In today’s changing political and economic climate, Christians are continually be challenged to examine what they truly believe. Our eroding foundation of biblical morality is beginning to resemble a culture clash not all that different from what was occurring in Jesus’ day between the Romans and the Jews.

The Romans were a pagan culture. They worshipped many gods and did not operate under the laws of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the Jewish people did.

Today we see much of the same. How many gods are worshipped in America today? What do we devote ourselves to? Money? Sex? Power? Ourselves? What values are dominating our culture? It would appear that secular values are increasingly dictating that “fairness,” “equality,” and “tolerance” should reign supreme over any singular set of “religious” values.

Luke 20:19-26

“Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.”

“So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”

In this day, the Romans were occupying Israel and placing very burdensome taxes on the Jewish people. How similar is this to what happens today as Americans are being forced into paying higher and higher taxes to an administration of government that supports values that fly in the face of the Christian values that founded this nation? Are we as Christians beginning to feel a sense of “duplicity” or double-mindedness over such issues? Could it be that God is drawing a “line in the sand? Where do we stand? What should we do? God’s people faced the same sort of dilemma in Jesus’ day and asked him what to do…

“Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?"

"Caesar's," they replied. He said to them,

"Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

Jesus is differentiating between levels of authority-earthly authority that has been placed over them vs. the authority of God. Remember Jesus is always concerned about our hearts. We must fulfill our obligation to obey the authority over us to preserve our witness in the world, but we must be diligent to preserve our ultimate “allegiance” to the one whose image we bear. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26

The lines ARE being drawn. Where will we stand? How will it look for us to submit to government authority and yet preserve our soul? We need to think it through...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Applying Understanding

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. - Matthew 5:44

This was one of my granddaughters' memory verses. As we were practicing it one morning, I realized from the look on Miss Personality's face, that she didn't know what an enemy was so I asked her and she said "no". I explained that an enemy was someone who was mean to you. Then I told her that God wants us to love and be nice to people even when they are mean to us and He wants us to pray for them.

She looked a bit surprised and said "Why!?". I explained that when we are nice to people who are being mean, it helps to change them so that they will be nicer. I said that sometimes it takes a little time, but if we keep being nice it will help that person to change.

Computer Girl was behind us listening to the conversation and suddenly said "Like the Beast!" They had watched Beauty and the Beast just before this conversation and she made the connection.

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. - Proverbs 2:6

A few weeks later when I went to pick up Computer Girl from her Sunday School class, the teacher asked me who "so and so" was. I don't remember the name she used so I'll call her Addie. She explained that the kids made cards that day that they were to give to someone they knew and that Computer Girl said it was for someone named Addie. I figured it was one of her friends. On the way home from church I asked Computer Girl who Addie was and she told me it was a girl who was mean to her. She said that she wanted to give her a card to help her learn to be nice. *Big Smile*

Her action makes me stop and think about my own response to those people who have crossed my path and have not been very nice to me. Do I lash out at them? Do I hold a grudge? Do I seek revenge? Or do I apply scripture to the situation? Praying for, and doing acts of kindness to those who have hurt us is difficult, but it keeps our own hearts pliable for the Lord to shape into His likeness.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child  will lead them. Isaiah 11:6

This is an update from one of my previous posts Gaining Understanding.

Rich Gifts Blog Designs for Christian Ministry

Monday, May 10, 2010


Happy Mother's Day

One way dads can foster love and unity in the home is giving healthy attention and recognition to their wives. The love dad shows for mom not only cements their relationship, it builds security in their children. Mother's Day is a great way to do that (just as Father's Day is a great opportunity for a mom to show love and respect for the children's dad).

Observing Mother's Day actually allows honor to be shown through several generations. We pay tribute to our wives, but also to our mothers and grandmothers. I want my children to know two true stories about my own mom:

1) Mom always ate the white meat at Thanksgiving. One year she asked for a leg. We all went, "What? When did this change happen?" "You kids all like the dark meat so I always let you have it. But now you are grown so I figure I can start eating it again."

2) Mom and Dad lived in a new house for a few years when they accepted jobs at a Christian college. My sister asked mom how she could leave a new house. Mom said, "My home is where my family is (and not in any particular house)."

Your family surely has similar stories of love and service. Remember them and tell them so they can feed the spirit of the next generation!

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't Ignore The Warning Signs!

"But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself." Ezekiel 3:21

A burning smell permeated the air, and the house was filling with smoke. Our sweet bed-time rituals with the cherubs were abruptly interrupted when smoke began pouring out of a light fixture. Though the light fixture itself was on the upstairs ceiling in the hallway between the cherubs' bedrooms, the wires were burning in the attic and we couldn't see if there were open flames.

The operator at the 9-1-1 call center instructed me to get our children and ourselves out of the house immediately. Our cherubs responded so amazingly to this emergency and promptly exited the house with our dog Holly. They walked quickly to our neighbor's home for safe shelter. I moved the cars out of the garage and down the street while our neighbor made sure there was a clear path to the fire hydrant in front of our home.

On this crisp spring night dressed in my pajamas, I stood on the sidewalk in front of our home praying for my husband who was still inside investigating. Blaring sirens of emergency vehicles got closer and closer.Though the sound of emergency sirens is not uncommon, this time I knew the vehicles toting those sirens were headed to our home. While it only took them a few minutes to arrive, it felt like forever. Tears streamed down my face as I prayed for God's protection and covering over our family and our home.

The smell of the smoke had crept outside just as a squadron of emergency vehicles converged in front of our home. Football-stadium-esque lights were erected and our home was lit up in the night sky so the firefighters could see. Concerned neighbors ran to us to be sure we were safe and to see if they could help.

I'll never forget the vision of one of the firefighters racing up to our home with an ax in his hand. Trying to be light-hearted in this scary and unknown situation, I asked him to please not use the ax on my walls unless really necessary....or unless he was going to take down the wallpaper I've been wanting down for years. He nodded his head with unspoken understanding of my heart's deeper concern, and I felt God's peace fill my heart knowing that He had placed us in good hands.

Tears of thankfulness poured down my cheeks as I waited for the firefighters to come back outside. God had been so gracious and merciful to us as a family, and I knew that already...before even getting a report from the firefighters of what was going on with the electrical wires in the attic. This could have been much worse. I knew that already.

God has given us warning signs. For months, that light fixture was asking for help....with light bulbs flickering and then burning out one after another. To us, this was just a nuisance. We would change the light bulbs but not address the root problem. These warning signs were saying "I need attention; I need repair". Instead of investigating and addressing the root problem, we just kept changing light bulbs and ignoring the fact that there was a problem.

As I stood outside make-up-less, in pajamas and bare feet on the sidewalk just a few weeks ago during this incident, I praised our God who was tenderly whispering into our hearts, "Don't ignore the warning signs". He is so gracious and merciful. We had ignored them. We pushed aside the gracious warning signs and called them a "nuisance". Yet, God was good. He protected us.

The fire chief came outside to me with the burned light fixture one of the firefighters removed from our ceiling. He assured me that they had done a thorough search, that there were no open flames in our attic or upstairs bedrooms and that the heat sensor device gave them the "all clear" that the dry wall and surrounding insulation were all cool and safe. This was a miracle. The wires of the light fixture the point of leaving a burn mark through our upstairs ceiling. Yet, there were no open flames and no further fire damage. "Mrs. Sloan, the good news for you is that you get to go shopping for new light fixtures tomorrow!" Honestly, I wasn't much in the mood for shopping. My heart was so thankful and humbled that I just fell to my knees and thanked the Lord.

The smoke and smell lingered, and we slept with our windows all open that night. Though the smell was unpleasant, it served as a sweet reminder to us. God is faithful. And He loves us enough to remind us "Don't ignore the warning signs". God is gracious.

We had ignored the warning signs. This electrical burn emergency in our home a few weeks ago has made a huge impact on my husband's heart and my heart. "Don't ignore the warning signs." Don't ignore the warning signs of life. In marriage, with your children, in friendships and in all relationships.

Are you ignoring God's gracious warning signs in your marriage or elsewhere in your life? Don't. Address the warning signs in His love and with His truth. Tend to them. Get to the root of the problem. Remove and throw out the hazardous lighting fixture and install a brand new one. Don't just change the light bulbs.

Ask the Lord to search your heart and mind today. Ask Him to reveal clearly to you the warning signs, which are evidence of a deeper problem. The Giver of New Life wants you to start fresh. He wants to restore, heal and transform your relationships. In His courage and strength, address the root problems with determination and perseverance. Consider the possible devastation and don't ignore the warning signs.

"Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares...If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you."
Proverbs 1:20, 23


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just Do It

"Do as I say, not as I do" was a common quote my mom used when I was growing up. She smoked several packs of cigarettes each day, all the while detailing the dangers of smoking to us kids. "But mom, you smoke," we'd point out. Then she'd quote that infamous line to us. She knew what she should do, but for whatever reason she didn't do it.

Many of us are still like that today. Consider all the plans, pills and patches on the market for weight loss. We all know the two things need to lose weight: Eat less and move (or exercise) more. Yet we spend millions of dollars each year for gimmicks because although we know what we should do,w e just don't do it.

Nike, the famous athletic apparel company, coined the phrase "Just do it." But it's not that easy. The apostle Paul was more on target when he said, "What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing." (Rom 7:19) So we keep on smoking or overeating or failing to do what we know we should.

The Bible gives us a summary of what we must do to put feet to our faith:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind:; and, ""Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

Focusing on these two commands alone is a full time job, so to speak, yet we waste time instead of spending time with God, and find fault not only with our neighbor, but also with our coworkers, family members, and practically everyone else.

God wants us to do more than just listen to His Word. He wants us to obey it. He wants us to spend time in the Scriptures strengthen our understanding so that we can "just do it" without arguing, complaining, justifying or denying. He wants us to repent of our tendency to expect others do as we say but not as we do because we know we're doing the wrong thing.

Just as Nike would have you believe you can't "Just do it" without their shoes, the Bible truthfully states that we can't do it without Jesus. He did what we couldn't - He lived as a human without sinning. But when He left earth, He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us do what we should.

God's Holy Spirit prompts us to make the right decisions, to stop doing what we know is wrong, and to live a life worthy of being called children of God. We can overcome the sinful nature with God's help and do what He calls us to do.

Once you start doing that, you'll find another change in your life. You still won't be able to "just do it" as easily as the Nike ads claim. But you will be able to do it justly. And doing it justly is better than just doing it every time.

Originally published in Vista Journal for Holy Living, March 21, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just like Putting on a Coat

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."  Isaiah 61:3 (KJV Italics mine)

As adults, we've all had times when we were down about this or that and then we forced ourselves to praise God. Suddenly, we noticed the feeling of heaviness lifting off of us. I know for myself, it works every time!

I love the verse in Isaiah that talks about an actual garment of praise which will replace the spirit of heaviness. It is powerful truth, so how do we encourage our children to try this? Have you ever tried to force your child to sing a praise song when they were in a bad mood? I have, and it hasn't worked for me! I can't force them to praise. Choosing to praise is an act similar to that of putting on a coat. I can give you a coat, but unless you lift your arms and put it on, it won't keep you warm.

Just last week, as I was driving my children to school, three of my kids began bickering in the back seat. It was the second day in a row that fighting broke out on our 15 minute drive. Trust me when I say that by the time we got to school everyone was in a bad mood, and you could feel the heaviness in our van. Noticing this bad pattern, I decided to try a different approach the next morning. We got into the car and as soon as the bickering began I simply turned on the childrens praise CD I had secretly inserted earlier. By the end of the second song, most of my kids were singing along and the rest of the ride to school was delightful! They even began talking about "funny" things that had happened to them recently. What a delightful change!

Hey, sometimes us Mom's need to be sneaky in our teaching!