Whatever You Do

What if … What if everyone in your church was commissioned? What if you stood before your church and your elders laid hands on you for your calling … as a teacher … as an accountant … as an engineer … as a crossing guard … as a parent?  Or whatever you do.


My sometimes workspace at The Goodness in Willmar.

My sometimes workspace at The Goodness in Willmar.


I don’t mean commissioned to witness at work — though I do believe that we are all to take hold of the Great Commission and spread the Good News and make disciples wherever we go.  But what I mean here is … What if we recognized that God’s calling might not be done in a church or under a parachurch banner?  What if God has called you to be a funeral home director (as my cousins are).  What if God has called you to be a CPA (as my dad is)?  What if God has called you to be a janitor (as one of “my boys” at Lifetree is)?  What if God has called you to be President of the United States?  What if God has called you to be a roofer (as a friend of mine is)?


Glorify God by being the best medical transcriptionist, grandpa, lathe worker, preschool teacher, air traffic controller, street sweeper, doctor, cook, waitress, hairdresser, farmer, mail clerk, air force pilot, barista, scientist you can be.


Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do  (whatever you do!) work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  (NIV)



I invite you to email me, discuss through the comments box, or journal about the following:


Journal or discuss:  How does that look for you — to be commissioned by God?  What does that mean in your job?  Do you have a calling?  Have you taken it up?  Have you discovered your fingerprint?  Are you leaving it strategically in the world?  How do you glorify God in your work?


Dream a little:  What would your commissioning service look like?


Action Challenge:  For the next week, start your work day with a short prayer, asking God to anoint your work.  See what happens!


About a week after writing this post, I saw this article, which I think is excellent and goes along with this topic:  http://faithlikes.com/2014/04/05/this-is-why-switchfoot-wont-sing-christian-songs-anymore/



What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Therapy?

Since life coaching is a relatively new profession, it’s easy to confuse coaching with therapy.  I’d like to address some of the differences here and hopefully clarify this for you.


The easy definition of the difference between a therapist and a life coach  is that therapists help you work through your past, the things from your past that are keeping you from being the best you can be in your future … and a life coach focuses on your future:  Getting from where you are now, to where you want to be.  A therapist also will help you with emotional problems or mental health issues.

In a coaching relationship, we aren’t dealing with how you got where you are or whose fault it is, how people hurt you, etc.  Those are important things to deal with and a therapist is a great person to work with you on that.  When you work with a coach, you’re ready to get working on your future.  Moving forward is what coaching is all about.

It’s like being involved in a sport.  If you suffer an injury, whether it’s something you caused yourself or someone else caused, your coach is going to send you to a doctor or physical therapist.  The coach isn’t going to deal very much with whose fault it is, or what you need to do to heal from it.  Your coach is certainly not going to perform surgery on you!  His concern is for you to be the best you can be on the playing field.  That’s very much like what a life coach does for you.

In some ways, it may be easier to  understand the difference between coaching and therapy by telling you what a coach does.

The bottom line for a coaching/client relationship is to enhance YOUR quality of life and to make YOU more effective.  What I do is provide you with guidance from a completely unbiased vantage point.  This is why a coach can’t coach him or herself — we can’t get outside ourselves.  It’s also why it’s possible for us to coach you in things we’ve never experienced personally.

My job is to find out what your goals are — this may be overcoming something that’s blocking you from success, or it may be a skill you want to learn or a habit you want to start; it can be helping you get better at something you already do; it can be figuring out the best approach for accomplishing something you really want to accomplish, such as your legacy … there are millions of things you may be working on with a coach.  These are all things that are important to both discovering your fingerprint and leaving it indelibly on the world — something I consider to be of utmost importance.

Working with a coach can be like taking a class — but you’re the only student!  Your class is custom-designed for you and your teacher is giving you their full attention, tweaking even the custom-designed course to fit you absolutely perfectly.

If you’re a Christian, part of my job as your coach is to help you bring your life into alignment with the Holy Spirit.  Something that’s important to me, personally, is that I pray for my clients.  I would not be able to give you the insights I can offer, if I didn’t have the help of the Holy Spirit — both in giving me those insights and in preparing you to be receptive to them.   My personal philosophy of coaching means that I want to help you become fully aligned with God’s will for your life — He’s the one who gave you that incredible, individual fingerprint, and He has a specific plan for where He wants you to place it.  So I need to rely very strongly on the Holy Spirit when we’re having our sessions together.

A coach will require some serious work from you — after all, that’s what it takes to meet your goals!  At the same time, we’ll have fun, you’ll learn more about yourself and you’ll develop your character, skills, and gifts to a level you may not have thought possible.

If you’d like to try this out and see what coaching can do for you, sign up for a free coaching session … I dare you: Take my 90-day Change Your Life challenge.

Until we talk,


How to Teach Children to Complete A Chore

So you want to teach your children how to do chores, but you’re not sure how to go about it?  Here are some ideas, from The 21st Century Kids’ Book of Chores, to help you out.

Ages At Which To Teach Chores

Everyone teaches their children how to do chores at different ages … and within those ages there is a big variety of maturity levels.  Teach the chores at the level that’s appropriate for your children.  For example, a 4-year-old may not be able to fold towels as intricately as you do.  Come up with a simple way for now, and as they get older, you can teach them the way you really want them to do it.

There are many resources for figuring out what chores are appropriate to teach at which age.  I’ve pinned some of these resources on the Tools For Godly Living page on Pinterest.  http://www.pinterest.com/tools4gl/chores/   I do suggest that you take these lists and charts with a grain of salt.  Children — and even families — have varying maturity levels.  Something that’s not appropriate for one child at 4 may be completely appropriate for another at 2, depending on the maturity of the child, the perfectionist factor in the parents, time and family resources, etc.

Avoid the temptation to follow behind your child and redo their work to bring it up to your standard.  They should be doing the best they can, and this is a great opportunity for you to practice accepting them as they are, just as God accepts us in our imperfection.  If you can do this, you’ll help them understand how God loves us when we honor Him with our best, but He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.

Steps in Teaching a Chore

Before you teach a chore, do it yourself and think through every step.  Break it down into the smallest steps possible.  You don’t want to just say, “Pull the sheet up.”  What exactly does it mean?  Do you want them to tuck in the bottom first?  Do you care how far up the top is pulled?  Do you want them to smooth out the sheet after they pull it up?  Do you want the sides of the sheet to hang over the sides of the bed?  Don’t tell them too many steps at once.  Show them how to do each step and make sure they understand by doing it, before moving onto the next step.  Children who are 4 and older can usually handle 2-3 steps at a time, if they are simple.  Children who are 6 or older may be able to handle more.

I’ve found that the best way to teach something like this is to take 4 steps:

  1. Do it in front of them.  Make the bed yourself, explaining as you go.
  2. Have them do it with you.  Make the bed, with them, helping them with any parts they have a problem with.  You may need to do this a few times on subsequent days.  It’s very important to be patient.  Encourage their efforts.
  3. Have them do it in front of you.  Have them make the bed by themselves, with you watching.  Remind them of anything they’re forgetting.  Praise them for doing a great job.
  4. Let them do it completely by themselves.  Once they’ve mastered step 3 and are able to make their bed without any help from you, you can leave it for them to make their bed without supervision.  You should check it before letting them check off the blank in their book or put a sticker on their chart.  Once they’ve been doing the chore consistently, you’ll only have to check occasionally.

Give your children tons of positive reinforcement.  Tell them how proud you are of them.  Brag on them in their hearing.  Post their achievements on Facebook — you’re welcome to post these on the Tools for Godly Living page, as it will feel kind of like a club when they see other children’s accomplishments.

By the way, most kids really enjoy learning to do chores.  After all, this means they’re a big kid!  So don’t approach it as a dreaded task.  This should be exciting and rewarding for your child!  Make chore time fun.  Put on some happy music and sing along while everyone does their chores.  Put on a cheerful attitude yourself and your kiddoes will likely follow suit.

The above is an excerpt from The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores by Alyce-Kay Hanush.  To order the book, see below.  The book contains information about teaching chores, ideas for motivation, etc., but the bulk of the book is the program for kids, which is an organized system of learning new chores, practicing them, and constantly reviewing chores which are already learned, along with memory verses and mini Bible studies for building a solid work ethic.  The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores is recommended for ages 4-10.



Worry: Mind Your Own Beeswax and Kick Satan in the Balls

Picture this:  A little, tiny girl, overshadowed by a gigantic, strong, menacing bully.  She kicks at him and says in her little, squeaky voice, “Take that, you big ole bully!  That’ll teach you to mess with me.”  The bully staggers back, surprise and pain written all over his face, as he doubles over and protects his weakest parts.

Okay, so I’m not a diminutive, sweet, squeaky-voiced girl.  I’m a fat, old lady.  But compared to Satan, the biggest bully of all time, I am all those vulnerable, pathetic things.

Now pan back and see the big picture.  There’s an enormous, even stronger, shining person behind the little girl.  He’s the one who is actually delivering the blows, but He’s there because the little girl called Him and asked Him for His help.  He’s there to make sure her pitiful, albeit somewhat brave efforts are powerfully enforced.  Oh man, she just kicked the bully in the balls!

That little girl is me.  And you.  (If you’re a guy, you can picture a wimpy, skinny guy with horn-rimmed glasses and not an ounce of muscle.)  Satan loves to bully us.  He enjoys making us think that we have to cower in fear of him.  It’s his happiest moment when we become ineffective because we don’t want him to hurt us.  And you know what one of his most successful strategies is?  Worry.

He gets me to worry about finances.  I’m then afraid to step out and do what God asks me to do, because I’m worried I won’t have the resources to accomplish it.  Worry can distract me from loving on people.  It can tie me up in knots so that I’m ineffective at just about everything.  I become bitter about not being paid more for my hard work.  I become stingy with the resources I have because I think that they’re in short supply.

I worry about what’s happening in our nation.  That anxiety can sometimes consume me.  Every possible outcome (all bad) sinks my world.  I lose hope.  I stop praying for our leaders.  And yeah, bitterness sets in again.  I get worried about what this world is going to be like for my kids and grandbabies.  What are they up against?  I can imagine a lot, but I also know that it can be worse than I imagine.

Substitute whatever it is that you tend to worry about.  How does that effect you?  How does it keep your focus away from God?

Worry draws my focus away from gratefulness and worship.  When my worries loom huge, God seems to recede into the distance … and He looks awful small from so far away.  Thanksgiving sucks when I’m filled with anxiety.

I realized something interesting today.  Worry only happens when I mess with other people’s business.  It’s when I start taking responsibility for things that aren’t mine to worry about.  Here’s my analysis of my financial worries, since financial anxieties are probably something many of us can relate to.

1.  Not being paid what I’m supposed to be paid?  That’s not my problem.  It’s between God and those who are supposed to pay me.

2.  Having to accept charity and be on food stamps?  I tend to think that means I’m inadequate.  But I’m working hard, doing my part, and for now at least, this is God’s way of providing for us.  I do my part, He fills in the rest … and teaches me humility in the process.  My business in this is to work hard and with integrity.  His business is to fill in the gaps.

3.  God calls me to do something and I don’t have the resources?  That’s not my problem.  His will, His bill.

4.  Trusting God and praising Him for His provision.  That’s MY business.

See how this works?  Suddenly, my only responsibilities are things I can handle:  Work hard, with integrity.  Trust God.  Praise Him.  All that other stuff that’s too much for me is not anything I need to concern myself with.  In the past week, in addition to how He normally provides for me, He has also had various people pay my electric bill (they had no idea there was a need, because I didn’t tell a soul), provide money for a Christmas tree, offer to prep and deliver and set up our Christmas tree, give us a turkey … Our needs are provided and some non-necessities as well.  I had things I was worrying about for the future, too, but this process has helped me differentiate between my responsibility and other’s and God’s … and that worry has mysteriously dissipated like the morning frost.  If I mind my own business and no one else’s (God’s included), I have nothing to worry about.

Which brings me to Satan’s balls.  Satan’s desire is to reproduce his nature in me and those around me.  He wants to get me to despise God … or at least not trust Him.  When I worry, I’m not trusting God to do His responsibility.  I take on some of Satan’s traits:  Pride, bitterness, etc.  That affects others in that I’m not encouraging them to trust God, and maybe I get grouchy or withdrawn.  And it infects them with worry, bitterness, etc, too.  It reproduces Satan’s traits in them, as well.  When I recognize what’s my responsibility and do it, and I keep my cotton-pickin’ fingers (and mind) out of everyone else’s business, there is no cause for worry or anxiety.  I have peace and Satan hates that.  It causes him pain.  I severely impair his ability to reproduce.  That’s what I call a good ball-kicking.

We’re on the cusp of two important holidays:  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.  (You knew I would get there eventually, right?)  And those holidays are really about God working through people to give Satan some serious ball-kicking.

Hanukkah is about the people of Israel, who had been conquered and were being ruled by an evil man:  Antiochus Epiphanes.  Antiochus defiled the temple.  He tried to force God’s people to bow to false gods.  He committed horrible abominations.  God strengthened His people and provided by His nation through a family, the Maccabees, who were a lot like the Wolverines in Red Dawn.  When the bad guys were thrown out of Israel and the people cleaned up the Temple, all they could find was 1 flask of the Holy oil.  It was only enough to light the Menorah for 1 day … and it takes 8 days to sanctify the Holy oil.  It was the people’s responsibility to light the Menorah and make more oil.  It was God’s responsibility to fill in the gap of 7 days’ without oil.  God miraculously made the oil burn for 8 days.  They did their part.  He did His part.  And now their/our responsibility is to praise Him for what He did.  That’s Hanukkah.

Back in the 17th century, a group of English believers wanted freedom to worship God according to their beliefs.  They came to America, where they suffered many hardships.  Many of their number died, and at one point, their situation was so grave that they each only had 5 kernels of corn to eat in a day.  It would have been very easy to stop trusting God at this point.  I would guess, since they were human, that they fought anxiety.  But they didn’t give up.  They didn’t turn away from God.  They worked hard and they believed in His faithfulness.  That was their job.   God provided them with Native American friends who shared their resources with them and showed them some of the things they needed to know in order to survive in the New World.  He also provided them with a good harvest the next year.  The celebration feast with their Native American friends and its ongoing celebration in our homes is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  The turkey and many of the traditional foods we use, and having more than enough food on our tables that day remind us of God’s overwhelming provision.  (And I, for one, am additional thankful that the turkey did not make it as our national bird, my apologies to Ben Franklin.  I much prefer roast turkey to roast eagle on my table.)  Oh!  And I guess you could look at the football games as a celebration of our forefathers giving Satan a good ass-whooping.  (Is that taking the analogy too far?)

May I exhort you to do something this Thanksgiving?  Think through what’s your business and responsibility, and what responsibility belongs to God and others.  Remember that if others are not doing their responsibilities, it’s not your problem:  It’s between them and God.  Recognize that filling in the gaps that are left is not your responsibility:  Trust God to fill in the gaps that irresponsible people leave.  This will free you in ways you can hardly imagine.  Lift your voice in gratitude.  Call on God to stand behind you and lend you His strength … and go kick some balls.  (And I don’t just mean footballs.)

Worry. It’s the New Black

My Dad likes to say that he’s proven that worry works:  99% of the things he worries about never happen!  He’s being facetious, of course, and his point is that most of the things we worry about never would happen.  Which is true.  Worry is pointless.  Beyond that, God tells us not to worry.  But here’s where I stumble:  Many of the things I worry about really do have the potential of happening.

There’s so much to worry about in our world today.  You don’t need me to name the possibilities, and I won’t, just in case there’s something to worry about that you haven’t thought of yet.  🙂   Let me just say, I’m a skillful worrier — Olympic quality.  And public anxiety has become fashionable.  It’s the new black.

I have a friend in India who’s an evangelist.  He shares the gospel with Hindus.  It’s hard.  Sometimes, it’s frightening.  He and his family (wife and 3 adorable little girls) had to leave their home region because of persecution.  Now, he’s suffering in other ways.  Recently, he was threatened with eviction because they couldn’t pay the rent.  (His landlord has since shown him mercy and allowed him more time to get the rent.)  His little girls cried themselves to sleep the other night, because there was no food.

We talk nearly every day, and he has been distressed this week.  I’ve not known what to say.  Oh, I know all the verses and platitudes … but I also know how I feel when someone says things like that to me when I’m distressed.  It doesn’t cure my anxiety.  It just tells me to make a note not to share my fears with that person in the future.  (I know that’s not the “godly” response, but it’s true.) When God brings Scriptures to mind that I’ve memorized, it helps me.  But when other people say, “Don’t worry, blah, blah, blah,” all I feel is condemnation.  I’m not saying that’s a commendable response, just being transparent here.

I prayed for him while we talked, but I didn’t know what to say.  I wanted to offer him some kind of help, but I don’t have money to offer, so I kept my mouth shut.  The thought that kept coming to mind was where Peter said to the lame man, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee.”  (Yes, I sometimes think in King James, lol.)  I kept asking God, “But what do I have that I can give him?  What is the ‘such that I have?’ ”

Then, the dreaded thing happened.  My friend asked me for help.

But do you know what he asked for?  He asked me to tell him stories of how God has provided for me and my family.  Well, that really is a “such as I have” because I have loads of stories to tell!  He listened intently, and his comments after each story were things like, “God is really good.”  “This is strengthening my faith.”  “Now, I know God will provide for us!”  “God will take care of us, even if it’s not the way we expect.”

I learned two really big things from this.

1.  We NEED to share with each other, over and over, the stories of how God has worked in our lives.  It’s necessary for our own faith and that of others.  (More on this another time.)

2.  The magnitude of the stories isn’t what matters.  I have never, ever come close to suffering what my friend has suffered and is suffering.  I would not have thought that my stories of what God has done for me and my family could possibly be an encouragement to him.  But reminding ourselves and each other of what God has done (and therefore, what He CAN do) is like making deposits in our faith bank … it all adds up.

Here are a couple of my stories.  I’ll share more in the future.

Once, when we didn’t have much food, my girls and I prayed together and asked God to provide.  God had shown me early on that I needed to include my kids in my praying and not hide from them what our circumstances were, because they needed to see the answers, in order to build their faith.  So we prayed.  Our doorbell rang.  It was a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years … with a box of food.  She said that God had told her to bring it over.  I remember there was bread and cheese, and I forget what else.  There was also a pie.  My girls (Jon wasn’t born yet) crowded behind me and when I closed the door, Lois, who was probably about 7 or so, said in wonder, “Mama, God didn’t just provide what we needed!  He provided what we wanted, too!”

Another time, I prayed, “Lord, my kids are growing and I don’t have money to buy them clothes.  I would be happy to sew their clothes, but I can’t even afford fabric.”  Another knock at the door.  A friend of mine who sews a lot said that God had told her to clean out her sewing room.  She brought over bags of fabric and wanted to know if I could use them.  🙂  They were fabrics in my kids’ favorite colors.  There were patterns — also in their sizes.  This is my favorite part:  There were some patterns pinned to fabric that had already been cut out.  (Cutting the fabric is the only part of sewing I really don’t enjoy.)

When I needed to find a home for myself and my two remaining children a year ago, I was looking at run down, little apartments that were barely within my means if I worked a lot of overtime.  It was depressing.  One day, God told me to drive around Lake Como.  Lake Como is one of my favorite areas in the Twin Cities, because I love the conservatory during the winter.  The whole time, I kept saying something that has refreshed my faith over and over.  I think I heard it from Joyce Meyers:  “Lord, You know what I need and You know how to get it to me.”  I didn’t get the sense that God was necessarily going to give us a place in that area, but simply that He wanted me to set my sights beyond the run down apartments.  A week or two later, I was offered a cute Victorian for less than the apartments.  The outside is somewhat run down, but the owners plan to work on it in the future, and to be honest, the outside doesn’t matter to me.  The inside is GORGEOUS.  And spacious.  The perfect combination of new plumbing and appliances with the old, original woodwork, doorknobs and hinges.  It is beyond what I could have imagined.  Beyond what I believed I deserved.  (Sometimes, I forget I’m a princess.)

I would like to ask you to do 2 things:

1.  Could you please pray for my friend and his family?  I don’t want to share his name publicly, as I don’t know if it would cause him trouble, but God will know exactly who you’re praying for.  Pray for God to provide for them and protect them.  But more than that, pray that God will strengthen their faith.  Pray that their landlord will be blessed because of his mercy.

2.  What are some of your stories about how God has taken care of you?  I would love it if you share them below in the comments.  We need to be strengthening each others’ faith.

How Tools For Godly Living Was Born (and why I think it’s important to teach children to do chores)

I started this blog (in May?) with a post about how Tools For Godly Living has grown up.  Recently, I’ve been asked, “But how was it born?”

One of the things that was very important to me in raising my kids was that they know how to do some basic chores.  There were a few reasons for this.

First of all, I believe that childhood is the time to train for adulthood. It seems like a no-brainer, but honestly, what I’ve seen is that many parents these days have so much pressure and are basically just trying to make it through life in one piece and don’t feel they have time or energy to really train their children.  (Me, too!)  We can get so caught up in soccer and work and church activities that we don’t have time or energy to teach them necessary skills for keeping a home.  Believe me, I understand.  I’ve spent the last 9 years as a single mother.  I have very little “free” time and when I have it, I’m exhausted.

Secondly, I wanted my children to learn responsibility.  I wanted my children to grow up with a sense of responsibility, not entitlement … and I wanted them to experience and get hooked on the wonderful sense of accomplishment.  I also wanted them to learn to practice what Jesus taught about serving others.

Third, it was a practical move for me.  I homeschool my kids and didn’t have money for curriculum, so I had to write my own.  That didn’t give me much time for taking care of the house, so I decided not to just teach my kids how to help with the house, but to let them do it.  This actually happened more quickly than I had planned.

When I was expecting our fourth child, I ended up spending 2 months in bed.  My 3 older girls, who were 6, 7, and 8 years old, knew all their basic chores, but I had always told them when to do what and had supervised, as well as doing a good deal of the housework myself.  I homeschooled them from bed during those 2 months of my pregnancy.  When I was finally able to get out of bed and go to the living room (which opened onto our dining room and kitchen), I braced myself for the horrible mess I would have to start tackling.  Instead, I was amazed:  My three little girls had kept the house spotless and running smoothly on their own initiative and without even telling me.  They were truly incredible.  And from that point on, they took over the housework with pride, freeing me up to not only write their curriculum, but share it with others, teach others how to homeschool, run an umbrella school, and teach another student in our home.

When they were ready to go on summer missions trips, they earned much of their money by doing housework for others.  When all three of them went away for the summer on Teen Missions trips, they were actually worried about how I would be able to run the house without them.  🙂

Today, all three girls have homes of their own, and I’m proud of how they have each found their own way to keep their homes and teach their children.  They got practice in teaching children to do chores, too.  They were 8, 9, and 10, when their little sister was born, and a couple years later, they were rewarded with a baby brother.  The three older girls helped teach the younger ones to do their chores … actually, I should say that they did most of the teaching and I may have helped!  And now, some of my grandchildren are using the same chores program their moms did.  🙂

At the time I started writing this book series, I only had girls, but I think these skills are important for boys, too, and my son has learned to do all of these things.  (He’s going to be quite a prize for some lucky girl!)  Many families bought the book to be used with their sons as well as their daughters.

My daughters were 3, 4, and 5 when I began having them doing a lot of chores.  Before that, they had helped in little ways — I remember my eldest daughter folding diapers and washcloths with me when she was 15 months old.

Now, before you start thinking of me as a boot camp drill sergeant, let me tell you that I believe life should be fun while you’re being responsible … and if not fun, at least very interesting.  I wanted to teach my children that keeping house could be joyful.  I didn’t want them to see it as drudgery, and I wanted them to know that serving others is very rewarding.

Along that line, I wanted my children to grow up knowing the satisfaction of delayed gratification — another element I think is sorely missing in our society; as a result, we have an epidemic of out of control debt, both on a familial and national level, and a society in which self-control is almost non-existent.

I set about to make our chore time into a club of sorts, where they could earn “tool tickets” to “buy” tools for their fun and growth (hence, the name “Tools for Godly Living” was born).

I’ll let you in on a secret:  Many of the things they were able to buy with their Tool Tickets were things I wanted to give them anyway.  Earning those things made it more fun … and you know how you place more value on things that you’ve worked for.  I bought things on sale, got a lot of Scholastic books for very little, thought of things they would enjoy doing, privileges like staying up an hour late, and made those into things they could buy with their Tool Tickets.  At the same time, I was teaching them some economic skills.

As my friends heard about what I was doing, they asked if I could show them how.  I ended up printing many copies of my children’s program out from my home printer.  Then, my best friend, Kathleen, called me and told me she and her husband were starting a publishing company and they wanted to publish my program as a series of books.  It took me aback, but it didn’t take long to realize that it made perfect sense.  We sold out our first small printing at a homeschool retreat, then started sharing the books (which had by then grown to a few titles) at homeschool conventions and through mail order.  (This was pretty much pre-internet, if you can imagine.)

Since Tools for Godly Living went out of print 10 years ago, I’ve had many requests for these books, especially for a new generation.  If you grew up with Tools, you’ll find that the new edition of Household Management (now called the 21st Century Kids Book of Chores) has similarities to the old one, but it’s also changed, as families and the way we keep house have changed in the past 20 years.  There are still Bible lessons and memory verses, and just as I did with the first edition, I’m asking the parents to teach their children how to do each chore.  There’s an extensive chapter (29 pages) for parents, explaining the book’s system, 10 pages about how to teach the chores (including some suggested resources and a step-by-step method for training your children to be able to independently do their chores), ideas for reward systems using various philosophies, an explanation of the memory verses and Bible lessons, along with some ways that often work with children for memorizing Scripture, things that are important to remember when teaching young children to study God’s Word, how to build good habits (including thoughts on the debate about whether or not to pay for chores), and ideas for effectively continuing with chores once children have completed the book.  The rest of the book is a program for teaching children to do chores in various rooms of the house, take care of their pets, and help with yard work.  It concludes with a chapter about getting ready for church (including their hearts) and the final chapter walks them through the steps of planning a party.  There is lots of review of previously learned skills throughout the book.  The 165-page book is spiral bound, which makes it much easier for kids to write in, and 6×9 inches, which I’ve found is just the perfect size for a parent to hold with one hand while checking chores.

Most of the above is an excerpt from the Intro to the 21st Century Kids Book of Chores.  The picture below is of some of the original Tools For Godly Living books.  Ordering info for the new Chores book is below.  Chore areas include bedroom, general housekeeping (dusting, vacuuming, picking up, taking initiative, etc.), kitchen, laundry, caring for a pet, bathroom, light yard work, getting ready for church, and planning a party.





Down Memory Lane: Second Grade, 1969-1979

My grandson, Owen, was asked to find out from his grandparents what it was like for us when we were in second grade.  It’s possible that I may have mixed up my years and included things from third grade as well … it was a long time ago … but I thought I would share my walk down memory lane, just for fun.  (PS – Owen went to a Switchfoot concert one time when I was visiting, so we have a running joke about how I mix up what kind of foot the band was.  You’ll see that reflected throughout the letter.)

I would love to hear your memories.  What was your favorite thing about second grade?

Dear Owen —

I’m glad you’re taking the time from listening to Swingfoot CD’s to learn about second grade in other times.

The main thing I remember about second grade was a trip my family took during the summer.  You know that Gigi and Poppy are my mom and dad, right?

We took a trip to Canada that year.  When Gigi took me shopping for my clothes for the trip, I got a dress that was green with white and yellow flowers … and a matching hat.  That hat was the most important part.

I knew that we were going to ride on a ferry — a big boat that you take your car on — to Vancouver Island.  When we were preparing for that trip, I day dreamed a lot about about standing on the deck of that ferry in my new dress and hat, with big white sunglasses … like a movie star.  In my day dream, a man fell off the ferry into the water.  Having passed my beginner’s level in Red Cross swimming, I kicked off my shoes, tossed my hat to Gigi, and dove with perfect form into the sea to rescue him.  I was a heroine … in my day dream.

In real life, we did ride that ferry from Washington to Vancouver Island, but no one fell into the water and I didn’t get to be a heroine.  We saw real totem poles.  And we visited Buchart Gardens.  Poppy had given me my first camera — his old Pony camera.  I took lots of pictures, black and white, because we didn’t have color photography yet.



On our way home, we visited Uncle Stan and Aunt Lois — this is not your Auntie Olo, but the aunt she was named for, Gigi’s big sister.  We swam with our cousins in a river or a creek.

In addition to color photography, some of the other things we didn’t have were computers and the internet.  You probably can’t imagine that, can you?  We didn’t have CDs either.  We had long-playing records.  They would break or scratch easily.  We had to play them on a record-player.  My favorite record album was Sound of Music.  I hadn’t seen the movie, so I made up my own story to go with the songs.  My favorite song from that album was Do-Re-Mi.  If there was a scratch on a record, it would just play the same phrase over and over.  When that happened, we would all yell, “Scratch” and my brother, Uncle Russ, would jump up to fix it.  Can you imagine listening to Stompfoot on long-playing records?

When I was in second grade, I loved to read.  My grandpa, your great-great Grandpa Hanush, loaned me my first chapter book, Cheaper By the Dozen.  Have you seen the movie?  It took me a long time to read that book, in second grade.

We used to visit Grandpa and Grandma Hanush in Visalia.  Grandpa and Grandma Hanush were Poppy’s mom and dad.  Grandpa would cook a fancy supper and Grandma would keep their cocker spaniel, Jody, out of the carpeted rooms and especially away from the dinner table.  Aunt Toni was 9 years older than me.  She taught me how to use an eyelash curler.  Grandpa had a cactus garden that I really liked.

We would also visit Grandpa and Grandma Black, who were Gigi’s mom and dad.  They had a ranch outside Visalia, where Grandpa grew walnuts.  Grandma made pickled peaches, which were my favorite.  She canned them and had shelves and shelves full of jars of pickled peaches.  She also had a lot of pots of African violets.  She would set them on her dryer, so they would stay warm and get plenty of humidity.  When we had Sunday dinner with them, Grandma would let me cut out the biscuits and eat some of the biscuit dough.  After supper, she would take Grandpa’s eye out and wash it.  Then she would set it on a spool of thread on the kitchen table to dry.  I was afraid to walk past it.

My cousins also lived on Grandpa’s ranch.  Luanne and I liked to feed the goats hay.  When there were babies, we got to play with them.  In the summer, we would go across the street to the St. John River, which was mostly dry, and catch little, tiny frogs.

When I was in second grade, my teacher was Mrs. Bettencourt.  I had to go to a new school, called Brown School, where I made new friends.  I started helping in the library at school.  I learned to put away the books in the right places.  I also wrote my first poem, which was published in the school paper.

An important thing that happened that year was that men landed on the moon for the very first time!  You can see what we saw on TV that day here:

One of the things people were afraid of at that time was that we might have too many people on earth before too long.  There were 3 billion people then, and the number was growing rapidly.  In our Social Studies textbook, it said that when we grew up, people would have to live in space stations and other places.  It showed a drawing of people riding on a rocket, kind of like a bus, to go shopping in space.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about what it was like for me in 1969-1970, when I was in second grade.  One thing I never imagined then, was that I would have a wonderful grandson like you, Owen.  You’re so smart and caring.  I like the way that you are helpful and funny.  I miss you.  Do you still go to Snailfoot concerts?

I love you!