Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Too Big, Too Small

Hello Friends,
We apologize for falling off of our it an excuse to say that we're learning to be flexible with our schedules?! Maybe it is! Anyways, here is last Friday's post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section - we'd love to hear what is on your heart (in relation to the book).

Jenna -

In this chapter, us first borns are called out on some common weaknesses:

  • Bossing younger ones around or nagging them
  • Making all the decisions
  • Demanding or expecting too much
  • Constantly finding fault or criticizing
  • Being too bus for younger siblings
  • Overlooking the needs of the younger ones
  • Being embarrassed by them, rather than being proud of their unique features and strengths
  • Pushing our own ideas
  • Leaving the younger ones out
  • Considering ourselves more important than them
  • Being too controlling
  • Trying to change the faults we see in our siblings
  • Teasing and laughing for fun, without realizing the hurt we are causing
  • Taking advantage of younger siblings

I have one sister with special needs - on some days I find myself correcting her on everything; seeming like she can't do anything correctly. I try to control her, change the faults that I see in her, I constantly find fault and make all the decisions. Often times I feel like it's so hard for *me* to deal with all of her special needs, but this sibling not only has to deal with her special needs; she has to deal with me and all *my* faults that I listed above.

This chapter has helped me to see that I need to quit correcting her so much, and ENCOURAGE, not tear down. It is not my desire to tear her down.

I can:

  • Set a good example
  • Be willing to learn from her
  • Express love
  • Protect her from wrong influences, wrong friends and wrong information
  • Include her in my life
  • Pray for her daily
  • Don't have expectations
  • Take initiative to do projects with her

We can all apply this loving method of the "older sibling" to our younger siblings, and Lord willing have some much better results in improving our relationships!! Let's build each other up!

Stephens Definitions:

Cheerfulness - It may be contagious, but it seems like some people have been vaccinated against the infection

Chores - What to say you're doing if you want a few minutes by yourself

Etc. - The perfect word when you can't think of the right one

Firstborn's philosophy - Never put off til tomorrow what you can order someone else to do today (wouldn't you hate to be known as this??)

Golden Rule - Something that may be old, but hasn't been used enough to show any signs of wear.

Energy - Something little brothers and sisters save for rainy days

Females - People who take their time taking your time:)

In Christ,

Jenna for Bethany and Josh!!

BTW, Bethany had to give her book back to the library and can't get it again right now, so that is why you don't see her wonderful posts...we should all be back soon!! Do you want to help me out in the comment section, and add to my thoughts??!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Door to My Room is Locked

{Three Life-Changing Attitudes}


Sensitivity: "Seeing beyond the surface to the real needs of those I am with." Sensitivity is vital to a relationship of any kind. If sensitivity is not found in a relationship, people will be hurt, little encouragement will be given and no one will feel happy or loved. This is one area that I really need to work on myself. Being a person who is not very sensitive to things other do to me, I am often not near as sensitive as I should be with others.

Meekness: "Giving up my rights and dying to my wants, knowing that God is actually in charge." I always enjoy reading these chapters in this book because you can so tell the Mally's birth order by their writing and stories. Sarah is definitely the oldest. Grace - obviously the youngest, and Stephen stuck right in the middle. Being the oldest in the family, I enjoy reading Sarah's section since I can often relate and struggle in the same areas (sibling wise). Being a leader is natural to the eldest child in the family but often it comes out bossy even if it's not meant to be. It's not easy for many older siblings to show meekness to their younger siblings, but another vital role in your relationship with them.

Compassion: "Gently healing hurts because we are able to feel how other have been wrongfully injured." Okay, another tough one for me. Now, if someone "wrongfully injures" one of my siblings (both physically or hurts their feelings), they'd better watch out 'cause I'm going to come after them. However, I'm not a soft gushy person and am not about ready to cry whenever someone else is or comfort them when they get hurt. I'm more of a "buck up and get over it" type of person but I know that isn't always appropriate. Yes, another one of those things to work on!

"Everyday, almost every minute, we can be demonstrating these three traits of godliness. As sensitivity, meekness, and compassion become a pattern in our lives, we will see unexpected benefits in our relationships with our siblings. We may never know just how much we have impacted their lives." (p. 176)


Bethany, Josh and I are all "first borns"...we and all the other first borns out there can usually relate to the hardship of meekness and "voluntarily putting yourself underneath another...". It takes surrenduring pride and showing humility, sensitivity and compassion.

This book has been a tremendous encouragement, but it has also stretched me and given me a different outlook on being the oldest sister.

Number 1: I am NOT supposed to be the boss! I have the tendancy to quickly (and efficiantly!) divide the chores and "encourage" (though often perceived as nagging to my siblings) everyone to keep at their chores and get them done's become a habit to me and annoyance to them. I am working on breaking this habit because I want to be a Sensitive...and Meek...and Compasionate sister.

This is a constant journey for me, and I'm sure many of you ~ I'm just sharing from my experiences and my heart!

Don't get discouraged. Keep working on your part of sibling relationships and ask the Lord to help you:)

Stephen's Definitions:

Charity - Something that should begin at home, but most people don't stay at home long enough to begin it.
Character - Have it. Don't be one.
Mistake - The first one usually made is opening your mouth.
Conscience - It may be a stil, quiet voice, but it sure yells loudly afterwards.
Diplomacy - The art of letting someone else get your way.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh Brother!

Dealing with "Bothers" and Sisters


When I saw the title of this I just had laugh.  Our previous Youth Pastor always referred to siblings as "blisters" (sisters) and "bothers" (brothers).  Of course he was joking, but the point was made.  It's sad to say, but siblings don't get along perfectly all the time (imagine that!!!!!).  

I'll give you a quick example of situations.  Last year we had 4 foster girls (on top of our already 6 children) which put our family at 9 girls and 1 boy all 15 and under.  Talk about hormones!  All of them were homeschooled by my mom and it was dead in the middle of winter (that seemed to never let up).  I tell ya, we were bored, sick and tired of each other and about ready to pull each others hair out (inside joke, just bear with me).  This was the perfect situation to just all about "go at" each other.  I think sometimes just changing the situation will help.  If you can help in any way change what everyone is doing (like as in, we were all closed in together with nothing other than schoolwork and pick on each other, so Dad packed us all up for the weekend and we had a little family vacation) DO IT!  When we got back from our little vacation, everyone was in much better spirits and had a better outlook on things.  Now, you can do something way smaller such as all the kids are about ready to drive you balistic (they are being loud, annoying, obnoxious, etc) give them something to do.  Bring them outside, read them a book, tell them a story, etc.  Set aside your pride and selfeshness and help address the problem!

Just to let you know...I'm talking right to myself.  I need to remember all the time!  Currently having 3 brothers 9 and under, yeah it gets a little crazy.  Sometimes I'm just about ready to blow up but I've gotta remember, think about them, not myself.  I've gotta learn to respond with humility and patience.    Okay...putting that on my mental list. :)  Always lots to learn!


We all have things that bother us... maybe it's when 2 siblings (my sisters!) are running through the house singing at the VERY TOP OF THEIR LUNGS (they claim that they're praising Jesus!), or when you've got a younger brother that TRYS to purposely do every little thing to BUG you?!? My goodness, life can be full of little things that are BOTHERING us, but how are WE responding to the irritations? It comes back to our heart again

If our siblings are "bothering" us, than maybe we're looking at them as pests instead of friends?
We all know that if we respond and say "STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!! You're driving my CrAZy! WOn't you just quit it?????????????" they get that wonderful reaction that they had (possibly) hoped for and everything explodes.

 What happens if we say something kind to them, encouraging, helpful? Then we don't get angry and {hopefully} they'll stop whatever they're doing to be annoying! Maybe you're getting easily offended? GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS and PRIDE!
If things continue to escalate, than go to your mom and dad for help INSTEAD of fighting - the perfect change to practice humility, right?

Just a few tips on what to do with a bothering sibling:
1. Accept this irritation as from the Lord
2. Examine yourself for what you may h ave done to cause this irritation.
3. Determine what you can learn through this irritation.
4. See his/her need.
5. View this as a test from the Lord.

Stephen's Definitions
Anger - Just one letter short of danger.
Self-Control - Something that comes in mightly handy when you're eating salted peanuts.
Temperance - A trait learned from a tea kettle - though it's up to it's neck in hot water, it continues to sing.
Peace - The period of confusion and unrest between two wars.
Patience - The art of concealing your impatience.
Cooperation - Doing what I tell you and doing it quickly.

Do any of you have examples to share of situations/ways that you have irritations in your life? :)

~Bethany and Jenna~

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Home Survival Kit

The Number One Key to All Relationships

Bethany ~

"Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6)

The key of humility...this is one of the best chapter in this book so far. Without this key of humility, we will not find our problems in the home, desire to serve others in our family, admit you are wrong, or do anything else we have previously addressed in this book. Humility. What an amazing character trait that so few people have.

The first person that comes to mind from the Bible that was a very humble man, was Abraham. When his nephew Lot's herdsmen were fighting with his herdsmen, he first said told Lot that there must be no fighting between them. Abraham allowed the younger Lot to pick the land first...the green lush grazing land, or the rugged, desert mountains. Of course Lot chose the lush land and Abraham was left with the rugged mountains.

Don't let pride get in the way of a relationship. It's so easy to do, as we are created with auto-pride machines in us. Yet with God's help, we can conquer that pride and let humility reign in it's place.

Jenna ~

Applying humility. It's one of those things that *seems* easy at first, but it magnifies once you actually try!! How do you show humility? Here is the list of ways to start applying humility - I like these lists (if you can't tell!)...

How to Apply Humility:
- Be willing to listen to them (siblings or friends) instead of talking about yourself.
- Ask for their help and advice
- Consider your siblings more important than yourself (Phil. 2:3-4)
- Be willing to do things THEIR way. Don't make all the decisions (this is especially hard for first-borns like me;)
- Let others be the first to tell the latest news.
- Say, "I was wrong," and explain why.
- Ask forgiveness
- Share your struggles
- Be quick to give in when there is a problem.
- Never put them down by joking about them
- Express gratefulness and thankfulness for the ways they benefit your life.
- Be willing to do the things no one else wants to do.
- Look for ways to serve them
- Submit to them (Ephesians 5:21)
- Try to fit into their schedule, rather than forcing them to fit into yours.

Many of you know that I am the "first born" daughter and almost the first born child and yes, I suffer from the oldest child bossy syndrome. It's a terrible syndrome that makes your siblings suffer more than you do - it makes them miserable and often times makes them build up brick walls in the relationship because you're being bossy.

Here's an example for you of OCBS (Oldest Child Bossy Syndrome): I love to work - I love finding a job/chores that show tons of progress or even little things that will never be noticed. I Enjoy making a difference, working is just something that I love!! On the other hand, one of my sisters LOVES and I mean LOVES to read...I think that reading is a good thing, but I also think that she sits in the chair too much doing it:) So, being the one with OCBS and having ever so much "knowlege" (JK), I'll say "sister, you need to get out of the chair now and DO SOMETHING!!! Anything besides reading, really. She gets offended and I'm now the bad guy for being bossy! I've just caused her to put another brick on the wall that grows between a relationship. I made a mistake, but I also have the opportunity to take that brick back off the wall and practice humility!! I can (and will work on) going back to her and saying "I'm so sorry for being bossy to you, please forgive me - I was wrong..."

This is an example of me talking too much and not humbling myself - I think that I'm right, and that she needs to obey me. Sometimes I think that she needs to like work and cleaning like I do but that's not looking for ways to serve her...Where is my humility?!

I see in my life, that there are literally HUNDREDS of opportunity's each day for me to practice humility. Here I go again, ready to conquer another giant with the Lord's help!

Stephens Definitions!

Public Opinion: What people think people think.
Mistakes: Something made only by others; we only make unavoidable errors.
Faults: When looking for these, use a mirror, not a telescope...
Argument: When two people are trying to get in the last word first.

What blessed you in this chapter? What are your thoughts on Humility? Would you care to comment with your thoughts on this chapter?!?

In Christ,
Jenna and Bethany

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Peace Treaties in the Living Room

Healing Hurt Relationships
Bethany -
The Three Types of Conscience.....A good conscience, a guilty conscience and a dead conscience. This chapter talks about the importance of asking forgiveness and the relief of guilt off your conscience.
I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old we were at my grandparents house and I broke something in their home. Rather than going and telling anyone, I just left it be. A few hours later at home I was a miserable mess. I had no appetite, didn't want to do anything and just felt like crying. Finally I told my mom and she let me call my grandparents and I told them what I had broken and told them I would replace it. What a relief! I was so glad to have that burden off my conscience!
Don't keep a guilty conscience, it's miserable and you aren't right with God. It may be difficult to ask forgiveness, but it's better than being separated from our Heavenly Father.
Jenna -
"Little sins that are never made right will affect us for the rest of our lives. If there are little offenses we have not taken care of, we have guilt which willl be a hindrance in our relationship with God and others. Guilt does to relationships what injuries, handicaps, diseases or poisons do to the body. They hinder the way if functions." Pg. 105
I have had this in my own life, where I'll put off asking forgiveness for something and HOPE that the other person that I offended will forget what I did. That DID hinder my relationship with Jesus Christ and once I took care of my offense, I was able to keep growing in the Lord.
Don't put off asking forgiveness. It can sound scary to have to go up to someone and confess your wrong, but as Bethany said, the guilt will consume you! You will be a miserable mess.
Take a few moments, and make a list of things that you have never asked forgiveness for. Go to the person that you hurt or offended and take care of the matter... Don't put it off 'til tomorrow for you don't know what it may bring.
Stephen's Definitions
Answers - What wehave for other people's problems
Popularity - Knowing that there are two sides to every question and taking both of them.
Conscience - Something that keeps more people awake than coffee.
Clear Conscience - Often the sign of a bad memory.
Problems - Psychiatrists tell us that talking solves these - it also causes them
Eraser - The perfect invention for human beings.
Mind - A high tech, fully automated, non-battery-operated excuse maker (now with more memory!).
In Christ,
Jenna and Bethany
~ If you are interested in writing a guest post this month, please email Jenna at We would love to have other youth participating in this discussion!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Problems Come and Problems Stay

Finding the Root Problem


My Dad always says, "The issue is not really the real issue."  For instance, when one sibling says something that hurts another siblings feelings, the hurt sibling may go and yell at another sibling because of t.  The issue then seems to be the one yelling at the other, however it really has more to do with the one sibling hurting the feelings of another sibling.  

These issues should not be addressed in any other way that with forgiveness.  This is the ONLY way that is really going to work to get everyone on the same path again.  Humble yourself and ask forgiveness of the one you have hurt.  If you don't get to the root of things now, it's going to get worse and worse.  

3 Keys to Forgiveness

1. Remember that God has forgiven us, so we should forgive others as well.

2. Remember that people are like little lambs.  May do not have the teaching and leading of a good shepherd.  That is why, when Jesus was suffering on the cross, He said about those who had mocked, ridiculed and tortured Him unjustly, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

3. Remember to ask God why He let this unjustice happen.  These reasons may include:
  a) It is a test from God.
  b) It is a temptation from Satan.
  c) It is an assignment from God.
  d) It is a souce of unseen benefits which God want to give us in an unusual way.

As we search for the "unwanted strangers" in our lives and sibling relationships, we have to humble ourselves as we peel away each layer of our heart. Let me be painfully honest here, I have a hard time searching out problems in my life. It is a pride issue (that I AM dealing with.), and when I am proud or haughty, it is impossible to HONESTLY evaluate my rights and wrongs.
Getting rid of all pride and sin is's's humbling and it is FREEING! Pride is such an issue in most sibling relationships...I deal with it every day.
Ask yourself these questions as you search and pray:
  • Have I hurt them through unkind words or actions?
  • Have I lied to them or stolen from them?
  • Have I made fun of them or teased them? Especially in front of my friends? Or their friends?
  • Have I neglected to do something that they were expecting from me?
  • Have I been hard to please?
  • Have I been angry with them or lost my temper?
  • Have I been insensitive to their feelings?
  • Have I treated them unjustly in any way?
  • Have I put my own friends and priorities ahead of them?
  • Have I gossiped against them?
  • Have I caused frustration by not noticing or praising them?
  • Have I had a competitive spirit against them?
  • Have I failed to fulfill something I said I would do?
  • Have I ignored them with an attitude of unconcern?
If there was a circumstance that came to your mind while you meditated on those questions - that you never addressed, ask forgiveness for it. Your sibling will be blessed by your humility. They will follow your own example, especially if you are older.
~Bethany and Jenna~

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Skunks and Mothballs


"In the same way, each of us will be either a 'polluting influence' or a godly influence to those around us. God desires that we spread the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go. We want to saturate our community with the fragrance of Christ. Our godly attitudes, purity, and willingness to stand for Christ will spread His fragrance. Just as my bag spent it's time sitting next to mothballs, so we want to spend our time with Jesus. If we are abiding with Christ and His Word, His fragrance will automatically flow from us."

While this quote does not directly relate to making your brother or sister a best friend, I feel that it does possess some coherance, in the context of the big picture. If you take a step back and look at the big picture of your relationship with your sibling, you can make the connection between "saturating the community with the fragrance of Christ" to saturating your sibling relationship with the fragrance of Christ. With Jesus Christ as he heart and focus of a relationship, love for one another will stronger than ever! Just as we want to be a "godly influence to those around us", all the same, we should strive to be a godly influence to our siblings as well...

Jenna -

"As Sarah, Stephen, and I are growing older, our relationship is changing. We used to play Legos and games together, but now we like to talk, laugh and do projects together. We haven't drifted apart because of our own separate friends, interests, and schedules. No, our relationship stays strong...If we can learn to love and work well with our families as we're growing up, it will help us when we need to get along with other people in life." Pg. 69

My mom and I have talked many times about not letting our schedules get so busy that we don't have any time to invest in our siblings. I know that it is very easy to get wrapped up in personal interests and activities...and, when you're struggling with getting along with a sibling, "running away and hiding" in your personal interests and activities is the perfect solution - at least that's what we're tempted to think.

A helpful relationship strengthener, is to find an area of interest that you and your sibling(s) share...for our family that is animals:) Most of us really like goats, and so we do barnchores 2x a day together, we prepare them for a show and show them together, and everything that we do for goats and animals is TOGETHER!! We have learned how to work together - though we're still working on communication between some of us. This year Abigail is joining Josh and I in showing hogs...we do that project TOGETHER which makes it so much fun!!! We work through the rough spots together, compile our notebooks together, laugh and talk while we work together etc. 4-H has been a great resource for our relationships.

Another idea is reading. For a while Josh read the Hardy Boys to Caleb and Abigail and every afternoon they looked forward to it! Every afternoon before rest time, we read books to Anna and Natalie - they LOVE it!!!

I encourage all of you to find a COMMON AREA OF INTEREST and invest in that interest...maybe it is animals, maybe it's some sport, maybe it's cooking. Your siblings will really enjoy the time that you invest in them.

Bethany -

It is so easy to look at the small picture and what is going to affect us now. It's so easy to say "my sister/brother absolutely hates me so why would I even try to work on our relationship" but in the long run, your siblings are going to be around you for pretty much forever and a life with love is way more enjoyable then a life with hate. My Dad always told my sister and I, "Friends have an end, but sisters (or brothers!) are FOREVER." In the long run, your hard fought fight to have a good relationship with your siblings is going to pay off and you will have some of the best friends of your life.

The big picture includes three things to focus on:

#1. Cleanse Your Life "One essential step in seeking God's best is to get rid of any "polluting influence" that you are allowing in your life or home or family". (p.66) This would be getting those things that are hurting your relationships such as corrupt music, bad books, friends that are causing you to take too much time away from your family, etc.

#2. Spend Time with the Lord and His Word. By spending time in God's word and talking to Him, you will glean wonderful encouragement and learn how better to love your siblings. Plus, why wouldn't talk to the King of Kings if you had the open invitation?

#3. Submit to Your Parents "Parental authority is a concept that most people to not seem to grasp. One of the main things that people have difficulty understanding about authority is that it is a GOOD thing, not a BAD thing." (p. 69)

Parents are a wonderful authority that God has given us. If we submit to them, we may learn more about our family and how to treat them."You can only see up to the next bend and you don't know what is ahead.

"From the sky you can see the whole river and where you are going, but from down below you can only see the next step. We need to look at our life from God's perspective. Sometimes we only know the next task or the next step, but the Lord has a much bigger plan in store for us." (p. 80)

The Benefits of Being a Good Brother or Sister:
  • You will bring honor to your parents.
  • You will have a good (powerful and effective) testimony to others
  • You will be laying a godly foundation for generations to come
  • You will get more accomplished (because you will have cooperation instead of conflicts)
  • You will experience a peaceful home
  • You will be building vital character traits of godliness in your life
  • You will have excellent preparation for your future marriage and ministry
  • Your investment in the life of your sister or brother will be a priceless treasure to them
  • You and your siblings will avoid the trap of needing approval from friends, because you will find security in each other
  • Your love will be a demonstration to everyone that you are Christ's disciple
  • Your brothers and sisters will be one of your greatest resources of caution and counsel, and help in times of need.
  • You will find great joy!
  • You will enjoy the rich, lifelong friendship that God intended
  • You will gain experience and insight which will help you get along with other believers - your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Stephens Definitions

Perplexed - One boy who must write one sentence.
Cofused - One boy who must write one paragraph.
Disaster - One boy who has a deadline set by his sister!
Skunk - A creature with enough "scents" not to play hide and seek.
Future - A time to schedule all of your work.
Campers - Nature's way of feeding mosquitoes.

Blessings to you all as you work on INVESTING in your siblings and look to the future - you want your relationships to be strong and close, right?

~Josh, Jenna and Bethany