Thursday, October 31, 2019

Each Perfect Gift~~Book Review

What do you do when the sins of your past rise from the dead? 

Ben Picoletti’s conversion astounded the little town of Chetham, Rhode Island – and no one more than the pastor’s daughter, whose heart Ben seeks to win… despite his shameful history. After all, the cross of Christ has removed Ben’s sins as far as the east is from the west, hasn’t it? 

Yet, as Christmas 1937 draws near, Ben’s past returns to trouble him – and to force Ben to grapple with the practical meaning of forgiveness and grace in his own life… and in the lives of those around him. 

A story for anyone who has ever been haunted by the consequences of choices they once made, Each Perfect Gift brings a message of the true redemption that is found in Christ alone. 

Each Perfect Gift is the first story in the series A LEGACY OF GRACE, an off-shoot of the original A TIME OF GRACE series, featuring beloved Grace Picoletti and Paulie Giorgi. If you crave emotional, old-fashioned stories with strong spiritual heart, a reaffirmation of God's continual work in everyday people's lives and hearts, and memorable characters whose redemption is deep and realistic, you've come to the right place!


From my sister's desk comes another beautiful, deeply moving novel just in time for the Christmas season. If you have read her A Time of Grace Series, you will recognize the characters from those books as their story continues to unfold in Each Perfect Gift. For those of you who have grown to love Paulie, Grace, Sarah, Dr. Giorgi, and Ben, this book perfectly draws Ben's story to a painfully swelling and then beautifully satisfying close while including those other characters that we have all come to love from Alicia's previous books as she offers us glimpses into each of their journeys. 

I think that I love Alicia's books not just because they are so very well-written and researched, but because she writes with conviction and with compassion; I don't think that I have read one of her books without crying at some point or without relating to at least one of the characters in her books on a deeper level. She writes with conviction in the sense that her books are deeply scriptural and based on scriptural principles without being "preachy." She writes with compassion in the sense that there is always mercy for the sinner in her stories as well as mercy and compassion for those who are often the "outcasts" of Christian "society." 

As usual in Alicia's books, a beautiful thread of redemption runs through--and Each Perfect Gift is no exception~both for the newly-born saint (Ben) and for the sinner (Annie)~~ a thread of redemption that glistens red like Rahab's rope hanging from a window in Jericho. 

The book follows their stories (Ben's and Annie's), giving exquisite attention to detail and drawing the reader's mind and heart back~~again and again~~ to the hope that is found in Jesus Christ despite the mistakes that have been made in the past or the sins that have been committed. 

There is always a way . . . perhaps not a way "out" in the sense of running away from the consequences of sin or from past mistakes, but a way of redemption~~

This book is laced with the truth that God takes even our sinful choices or the choices that we have made in ignorance and works good in and through them when we come to Him in a spirit of humility and repentance and with submission to His perfect plan for our lives in and through our mistakes (not despite them). 

The Lord is able to redeem, restore, rebuild . . . and this is seen in the lives of both Ben and Annie. 

Things that I loved about this book~~

~Ben's struggle to do what is right and his willingness to face the consequences of his past sins rather than running away from them.

~Annie's "hardness" at the beginning of the book that turns to softness near the end at the time of her conversion.

~The characterization of Betty, the Pastor's daughter; I really enjoyed her "inner dialogue" and the glimpses into her mind and heart throughout the book-- I loved the way that the softening of her heart somewhat reversely mirrored that of Annie's softening. 

~The very clear, scriptural salvation message and that message's implications for a believer's everyday choices expressed throughout the decisions that Alicia's characters make throughout the book. 

~The historical accuracy and careful attention to detail.

~The ending of the story and the way in which Alicia beautifully ties all of the details together in her book. 

I won't give away too much of the story, but I would encourage you to read Each Perfect Gift . . . even if you haven't read the A Time of Grace series, Each Perfect Gift may be read as a stand-alone. 

So go on! Pick up a copy and make your self a great big mug of steaming hot chocolate and read this beautiful book . . . it will deeply bless your heart. 

The softcover may be purchased HERE and the Kindle is available HERE

Purchase HERE:

Monday, September 30, 2019


On Saturday, my son went to the barber for the first time. He is five years old, but I've cut his hair up until last Saturday. I thought that it would be a good experience for him to go to a "real" barber and he was very excited. He half-nervously, half-excitedly sat up in a booster chair in that old fashioned barber shop and relished the haircut. The barber was a kind older man who is probably in his early 80's. His is the only barber shop run by a male barber in the county in which we live that is open 5 days a week; there is one other barber shop that is open for just a few days a week. He told us, in between haircuts, that many men do not go into barbering anymore--the hairdressing profession has been overtaken by women since the requirements to become a barber were changed and men were expected to attend beautician school with women. Many men simply weren't interested in going into the profession after that, and barber shops have become few and far between in favor of "hair salons" and beauty shops. He informed us that the number of barber shops had gone down from 17 in our county to 2 since he began his career as a barber. 

I sat in that little barber shop, that old fashioned barber shop with the squeaky leather seats and looked at the elderly barber's certificate for barbering on the wall. And I felt a sadness come over me as I left, and after I heard the barber's story of how barber shops were fast becoming obsolete. And I thought to myself; What will happen when this man dies? And what will become of his little barber shop with the red, white, and blue barber's pole turning at it's door? 

Will it even be remembered?

This feeling has come over me a lot lately, maybe because I'm turning 37 in a few weeks, maybe because I "feel" older, maybe because so many things have changed even from the time that I was a little girl. Technology has moved so quickly --things have really changed--and sometimes, I just don't want them to; I want things to stay as they are for just a few more moments in this speck of eternity--but the world whizzes fast, and moves forward at a frightening speed. 

There are some things that we want to forget . . . some things that are painful, or that burden us in our walk with the Lord, that weigh us down. There can be a "good" forgetting--

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV)

But there are many things that ought to be remembered. 

It is good to remember. 

In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord reminds His beloved people to remember how He led them out of Egypt, how He brought forth water from a rock, how He fed them with manna (Deuteronomy 8:15 NKJV). 

He reminds them to teach these things to their children (Deuteronomy 6:20) and of the importance of remembering all the works that the Lord had accomplished for the Israelites in bringing them out of the land of Egypt~~

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. (Deuteronomy 6:20-23 NKJV)

Time after time in the Scriptures, the importance of remembering is stressed. We are called time and time again to remember God and his works; here are a few examples--

Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me . . . (Isaiah 46:9 NKJV)

I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 

Psalm 77:11 NKJV

and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (I Corinthians 11:24 NKJV)

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5 NKJV)

God also remembers us--

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
(Isaiah 49:15-16 NKJV)

Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:20 NKJV)

For He remembered His holy promise,And Abraham His servant. (Psalm 105:42 NKJV)

A few days ago, we were driving home and noticed two crosses under a tree around a strong curve in the road in the country close to where we live. There must have been a car accident there, and two lives had been lost, finished in a moment--someone had placed two crosses there--someone who had wanted to remember. Again, a sadness passed over me--how long would anyone remember? How long before the weather and the huge plows that clear the roads here in the Midwest would sweep the signs away?

But God remembers. 

Every life, every drop in the bucket of eternity. Every sparrow that falls. Every tiny ant that crawls over a leaf in the spring when days are new and every cricket that dies after singing his last song in the fall.

God remembers. 

He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust.

Our days are short here on this earth. 

Only one life, twill soon be past--

Easily forgotten, easily eaten up by the quickness of the passing years--but there is one thing that is important--

Only what's done for Christ will last. 

And so we remember--

We remember God in the days of our youth; we remember His work--we seek to walk in the ancient paths where the good way is and there we find rest for our souls (Jeremiah 6:16). 

And God remembers. 

Every hair on our heads, every tiny breath, every sigh, every tear, every good and perfect gift that brings our hearts joy and that points back to a remembering Creator. 

And so I look back on those "olden" days, those old fashioned times that I cherish and they remind me that there is value in remembering, in holding on to the good things of the past, the things of value. 

My old farmhouse reminds me of that. Every time I smell the old scent of it's 1860's foundation when I plant flowers around my house, when I walk into the aged barn and think about the animals that lived there once--when I try to preserve the beauty and memories that linger on the beloved land that God gave me to take care of and to share with others. 

I remember. 

God remembers. Even at the end of all time, the Lord will take out His great Book, His book of remembrance when He gathers the saints to Himself--

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.

They shall be Mine," says the Lord of hosts,
On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.
Malachi 3:16-17 NKJV

And He will remember--when sorrow is forgotten; when tears are past--when all things that were unjust or crooked or tainted with sin are made right. 

Even when He makes all things new, the joy of His remembrance will reign. 

You might find me on these link-ups:

Inspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomRaising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story,  Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdayGood Morning Mondays,  Counting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter WednesdayTea and Word

Friday, September 13, 2019

Teaching Children Sensitivity Towards God's Creation

This is my Father's world;
The birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their Maker's praise.

We were supposed to re-model our dining room late this spring and into the early summer. We live in a very old farmhouse and many of the rooms need to be refreshed and repaired. I had been waiting to tackle this particular project because of the extensive work that was involved. We needed new windows and a new back door as well as re-insulating the walls and "gutting out" all of the old horsehair plaster that had been there previously. The south side of the room needed to be completely re-insulated and vinyl-sided on the outside of the house where vines had been growing against bare wood. The room is freezing in the winter (and the winter is cold to put it mildly ;-)) here in the upper Midwest. My husband gutted the room with a local Amish boy who helped him. They removed so much debris from the room~~we carted it off to the dump, burned what we could, and vacuumed  from top to bottom. I was increasingly excited about finally finishing this room~~our home is intended to be a place of hospitality and this was the room that I needed to complete before I could really have families over on a regular basis. 

We were planning on having the Amish company that my brother in law works for part time finish the job. The room was completely gutted and ready! And I was excited~~we called them and they agreed to come for the next two days (it was just before their really busy season and they could squeeze us in and spare a few of their men)~~the Amish do things incredibly efficiently and quickly~~we had almost all of the materials and we were ready~~

And then I went outside. 

It was a warm day and I walked around the house where we have a trellis that holds the vines that previously grew against the house. The trellis sits literally almost right next to the house and we have been training the vines onto it for the hummingbirds. 

There was a nest~~right up against the house~~exactly where the old windows would need to be torn out and replaced and the vinyl siding put on. Oh no! I thought and then immediately hoped that there were no birds in it~~The Amish are willing to come tomorrow! I had just about all of the materials at that point~~my husband was going to run to the hardware store for the remainder of things that we needed before they began the job in the morning~~ but a nest! Right where they would need to work~~right there--a nest!

Oh no. My heart sank. I thought and paced; I eventually looked closer at the nest~~a little head popped out. 

A sweet little chipping sparrow . . . nesting in my trellis. I knew that she might be on eggs or babies at that point. And I knew in my heart of hearts, even through my disappointment, that I would put off the much-anticipated project. It wasn't worth it to me~~and it didn't make sense to destroy her home so that I could make mine more attractive~~it was more important to wait--to teach my children--who were with me and watching how I would react to this situation-- mercy and compassion towards God's precious creation than to improve our living space. 

It was more important. 

When we make decisions about how we treat the Lord's creation, we say something to our children. Our actions and our words and interactions will send a very clear message to them about how they should in turn treat God's creation~~either with respect and tenderness and compassion, or with ambivalence or roughness and a lack of caring and concern. 

I believe that it is important to teach a child from the time that that child is very young to be sensitive towards God's creation~~towards birds, animals, even insects. I have a clear memory of sitting on our wooden steps in Rhode Island while my mom gardened nearby. I must have been about 3 years old. A bumblebee landed next to me. My mom read my sisters and I many, many books when we were little, and a great deal of them focused on sweet little friendly creatures such as this bumblebee. Innocently, I reached out my hand to pet the bumblebee that I perceived in my childish heart as friendly. It stung me, and I learned a lesson that bumblebees were not the kind of insect one could pet :-) but I write this as an example to show that children can be taught from a very young age to be sensitive towards God's creation. I thought of that bumblebee as a friend--like Babbity Bumble in Beatrix Potter's classic stories; no thought came to me to harm it or to shoo it away. 

Growing up, my Mom's attitude towards birds, animals, and even bugs helped to shape my thinking in this area; as parents, we have this awesome responsibility and opportunity to influence and to shape our children's thinking as well. 

My Mom spoke in a caring, sensitive way towards birds when they were hurt or attacked by a cat. Sometimes we took them in and tried to restore them to life. We fed the birds in our backyard and she banged pans to keep the hawks away when they came. Our elderly dog was treated with kindness and compassion even as she aged and wasn't able to walk down our steps. We carried her up and down the steps for over a year. Toward the end of her life (she was 17 when she died) we took turns sleeping downstairs with her as she would wake up in the night and become disoriented, getting stuck under the chairs near our kitchen table. We slept downstairs with her in order to free her if she got stuck! We took in rabbits, feeding them when they were orphaned and trying to restore them to life. My mom would tell us to kill a bug in the house quickly (she hated to see anything suffer) or to put it outside if it was a cricket or a harmless beetle. We trapped mice in safe traps and then released them far from the house. I learned through all of these things that God's creation was not something to be trampled over or irritated by, but respected and loved and enjoyed and dealt with in a caring rather than a cruel way. There were times when one would need to spray bugs to keep them away from the house, but it was not something that we took pleasure in. My mom even preferred that flies died quickly! She would tell us to make sure that when we swatted them that they were dead--not, as she would put it, "half dead and half alive!" :-) I learned through my Mom's caring, sensitive example, that creation was given to us by God to protect and to cherish. 

I strongly believe that teaching children this kind of sensitivity towards creation will aid them and enable them in other facets of their lives when they relate to people. In fact, I believe that it is integral. 

This doesn't mean in any way that every person needs to be an "animal lover" or a "tree hugger." I believe that the Lord gives different people different personalities and ways that they relate and interact with creation in general, but I do believe that when we become Christians, Christ transforms our hearts to see everything (and especially in some ways) His creation with new eyes and hearts. He opens to us realms and rivers of sensitivity and caring that we never had eyes to see before we knew Christ~~the kind of sensitivity that stops and helps a turtle across a busy street~~the kind of sensitivity that urges us to pet an animal for a few moments longer than we normally would have~~the kind of sensitivity that reaches out with compassion rather than with detachment when we see a bird or an animal suffering and we try to alleviate that suffering in whatever way we can. 

Lately, and throughout my life as a believer, I've been disheartened by the attitudes shown by other believers towards creation. Often, our attitude mirrors the world~~that God's creation is merely something to be trampled over and treated in many ways, with contempt. Our children, observing our behavior towards creation, will pick up and imitate the attitudes that we hold. If we laugh or take it lightly when an animal or a bird is hurt, this says something to our children and speaks about the state of our heart. If we ignore suffering or wink it away in the world, on any level, this speaks to our children about how they should relate to suffering and treat those who are suffering. 

Teaching children to love and to respect and to care for God's creation in a sensitive way encourages thoughtfulness and understanding in other aspects of following the Lord and in their relationship with Jesus Christ. 

How does it do this

Sensitivity towards the weakest members of God's creation encourages understanding towards the weakest members of humanity--the elderly, the infirm, those going through suffering or trials, those disregarded and labeled by society as "worthless," the mentally retarded, the blind, the lame. It nurtures the kind of sensitive attitude toward suffering and pain in the world that mirrors Christ's acceptance, compassion,  and love towards the "least of these." 

Sensitivity towards God's creation teaches children that it is better to preserve and to protect rather than to tear down and to destroy. When we teach children care and protection towards God's creation, this attitude follows into other facets of their lives. We live in an age where all of the foundations and values that we cherish as a nation are crumbling, and an attitude in Christians of preservation and protection and of fighting for what is good and true is so desperately needed. When children learn from a young age that it is important to cherish and to protect~~and that it is worth it to do so, it enables the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ to be poured out through them to His glory. 

Sensitivity towards God's creation teaches children early in their lives to listen to the Lord's quiet, still voice, and to become less distracted by all of the allurements of this passing world. Taking nature walks, pointing out birds and animals and insects to small children and teaching them their names and behaviors opens a child's mind and heart up to the wonders of God's created world around them. Bringing children up in a "quiet" way rather than in a busy, distracted manner will yield benefits for them in terms of their walk with the Lord later in life. A child who grows up connected to the natural world will have less barriers and distractions preventing them from connecting with the Creator of those things. Take walks with your children; point things out to them; demonstrate a sensitivity toward trees, flowers, birds, etc. and then connect all of these things back to their glorious Creator. children will reap the benefits of those actions as they grow and relate to God. 

Recently, my children and husband and I were at a nearby lake swimming. Many tiger swallowtails were flying over the sand and landing periodically on it near the water. All of a sudden, a group of children, probably around 10 years old, ran across the beach hurling handfuls of sand at the butterflies trying to knock them down and to kill them. My kids stared, wide-eyed at the children; we had been talking about how sweet the butterflies were and here these tiny destroyers--who had probably never been taught to do differently (and this is key) blazed across the beach. 

The children continued hunting the butterflies, even after my husband approached them and asked them to stop. They weren't satisfied until one lay dead in the sand. And then they lost interest. 

How sad that these children took delight and pleasure in killing things rather than protecting, appreciating, and preserving the beautiful things of God's creation. How sad that their parents either encouraged this kind of behavior or never taught them to do differently. 

As believers, we have sanctified hearts that can see things differently. We can teach our children to love, preserve, and to protect rather than to destroy. We can teach them by our example; we can teach them through our words. Jesus Christ gives us the power not to be apathetic, ambivalent, and unconcerned even about the little, seemingly insignificant things in life such as these beautiful butterflies. Their little lives point toward the majesty of a Great Creator. His creation should be appreciated, respected, enjoyed--and on a deeper level, preserved, protected, cherished in that it points back to Him. 

May we learn and may we teach our children to be sensitive towards His creation. Remember that our Savior didn't mind the sparrows and swallows nesting in his house--even in His altars. May we have the same mind--and teach it to our children . . . 

Even the sparrow has found a home,

And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.

Psalm 84:3 NKJV

Friday, August 16, 2019

Kids and the Value of Hard Work

I'll never forget it. The time the team of Amish men did work on our home. We were putting on an addition. The foundation had been laid earlier in the fall and the men returned to work on the actual construction part that winter. We live in the upper Midwest and our winters are bitter and brutal. It was around 15-20 degrees, I remember, and they came to work early each day. I marveled at their work ethic. Each and every man's. One day was particularly cold. We kept the men supplied with black coffee (the way that they usually like it) to keep them warm. To get an idea of how cold it was, the men were frequently stomping their feet to keep the circulation flowing. What was fascinating to me, and I think that I'll always remember this, is that on one particularly cold day the men started singing to keep warm. The Amish crew stomped their feet and sang old German hymns together as they worked in the bitter cold. I'll always hear their voices in my mind as I listened to them and looked out the window that separated the warm part of the house from the construction area! I didn't hear them complain; they accepted the weather as part of life and just went on working very, very hard. 

What produces such a work ethic in the Amish? Here in the Midwest, where there are many Amish families to observe and to interact with (my brother-in-law works for the Amish construction company that was mentioned, so we often get to interact with the Amish firsthand) we are able to see how this happens--

The Amish learn from a very early age that work is a part of life. They are taught to help with great and small tasks around the farm as part of their responsibility. They act together as a family, supporting one another in the tasks that are needed to be performed. The family structure exists partly as a catalyst to keep the farm effectively and neatly running. The children mow the lawn, collect eggs, work at their family farm stands. Everything that they do revolves around family life and incorporates an emphasis on working together as a family. There are few distractions. Amish children do not watch TV or play video games. Their lives and minds are undistracted and therefore free to focus on the simpler things which surround them. And I think what is integral is that the Amish learn that work, hard  work, is a part of life from a very early age. 

I admire that. Especially in a society where children have for the most part, forgotten the value of hard work. 

Many times, I observe children in the time that we live in and think of how they would have benefited from learning the value of working hard. 

Oh; the value of work!

Helping, listening, learning to persevere, learning how to complete a task without complaining, learning to focus on a job until it is completed, obeying parents; these are all helpful lessons that a child learns through working. 

Partly because of the society in which we live which focuses on self-fulfillment, constant leisure and fun, children are simply not being taught from an early age to work hard. 

Awhile ago, I felt this impressed upon my heart. It was confirmed by someone talking to me about how children should learn how to work when they are young. I looked around me and saw the entitled attitude of this society and of how we are raising our children to believe that everything comes to them on a silver platter. I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit impressing upon my mind the importance of incorporating the value of hard work and of helping upon my children from an early age (although I believe that it is never too late to begin and that the Lord can redeem years that have been wasted). 

We live on almost 4 acres of land and so you can imagine that there is plenty of upkeep to do! We have a vegetable garden as well as a perennial garden and so I use this as my place of action in pursuing what I believe the Lord is teaching me with my children. 

The home itself is also an excellent place to begin. There are so many tasks that children are able to help with, simple and more difficult. I have learned that children at almost any age can complete various tasks. They may not complete them perfectly, but perfection is not the object; loving our children and teaching them to pursue discipline and hard work in their lives is. 

Here are some ideas that I have been gleaning over the past few years of areas where children can learn to help along with teaching them the value of diligence and hard work~~

  • Start with their bedroom. Make it an expectation that it needs to be kept (relatively) neat. Help them with making their bed at an early age--don't let them grow up learning that it's "ok" not to make their bed!! :-) This is something that can be incorporated into the daily routine of your life with your kids. 
  • Children should pick up their toys. I've been working more diligently on teaching my children to put away a toy after they use it. My sister had a really neat idea in this respect because my kids would be frustrated when they had made a "magnificent" block creation and didn't want to take it apart. She told me that she had always told her kids when they were younger that they would take a picture of it, so that they could have a memory of the creation. This would make her kids feel better about taking it apart; I've found that it works with my kids, too! Of course, there are times when I allow my kids to keep up their creations for a day or so, as long as they are put neatly to the side (at least, we try! :-)).
  • Kids can help with the dishes. My kids weren't too thrilled about this at first, but now they enjoy it, and actually argue over who gets to dry each night (so we take turns :-)). I try to make helping with the dishes/after dinner cleanup fun by having a special apron that each child wears. Recently, we put up hooks in the kitchen to hang aprons on and my kids love to wear them. Obviously, clean-up tasks like drying dishes, etc. have to be adjusted according to age. My children are 5 and 6 years old, and so they are able to dry and put away dishes, sweep, put things away that are on the table, etc. Younger children could probably help an older sibling or a grown-up with these tasks. 
  • Children can vacuum, dust, clean windows, sweep, polish furniture, etc, etc.!! :-) They usually enjoy it and I usually give them a choice of what task they would like to do`~my son enjoys vacuuming (with any kind of vacuum! :-)) and my daughter is an avid duster and windexer. :-) At times, we will pick a "room of the day" and clean it. It is amazing how much little ones can help with this. Set a timer and see how much you can get done in 20 minutes or a half hour. Your house will be sparkling. :-) (at least for a day!! ;-)) 
  • Kids can help to clean the family car or van. They love Windex! I get the cheap 99 cent kind and let them clean away! (within reason ;-)) They enjoy holding the vacuum with the long nozzle and you can always go over it quickly afterward if they miss a few crumbs! They can organize the glove box (my daughter loves this job dearly :-)) and clean their carseats with Windex when needed. 
  • Children can help in the garden and with outdoor upkeep. My kids help with weeding, mulching, carrying weeds to the composter, harvesting, watering, etc. They fill our birdbaths every day (I've made this into a routine) and help to clean them out every few weeks. They also help with mowing the lawn (with an adult or older child) and my daughter and I walk in front of the ride on mower through the paths around our field that we mow with long sticks in case there are any rabbit nests, etc. (so that they won't be hit by the mower). They also pick up sticks, rake, and hoe the garden. My daughter enjoys weeding and often reminds me and her brother to make sure we "get the root" of the weed!!--something my Mom, her Grammy taught her when she was very tiny! She also enjoys "deadheading certain kinds of flowers--I've found that this is a great substitute for children who enjoy picking flowers (flowers that you don't want them to pick! ;-) Let them "deadhead" instead to their heart's content! 
  • Children can help with pets. We have 2 rabbits who live outdoors in an enclosed structure and a pheasant. My children help to clean their hutches, bring them food and water, and let them out each day. Kids can help wash a dog, brush him gently, etc--this is a great opportunity to help children learn gentleness and patience with pets. 
  • Children can help with laundry. They can bring their dirty laundry to the central place where the family's laundry is brought, put it in the washing machine, put it into the dryer (or help, depending on their age) and help to fold it afterward.  They can also learn to put their own clothing away in the correct drawers! This is something that we've been working on. 
  • Children can help with cooking. They can bread zucchini, chop strawberries with a butter knife, mix dough, add ingredients, knead bread, etc. And then they can set the table and learn how to arrange dishes, forks, knives, and spoons neatly. Something that I've discovered that both my son and my daughter enjoy doing is "setting up" the coffee pot. They like to put the pieces back in after I wash it and then add the little paper filter--ready for the next day. They can help to clean and organize the silverware drawer~~this also helps with teaching them organization and putting things away neatly! They can neaten the pantry; they can neaten cupboards, etc. There are so many things that kids enjoy helping with in the kitchen!
  • Children can help with grocery shopping. Let them pick the items off the shelf that you name and put them in the carriage. Let them take turns putting the quarter in the cart if you have an Aldi's (we do :-)). Let them return the cart to the cart stall if they are old enough. Let them help to put bags in the car or van and then take them in when the family returns home. Let them help to put food away in the refrigerator, cupboards, or pantry neatly.

There are so many ideas and ways that children can help and learn the value of hard work and diligence; the above is not an exhaustive list~~and the Lord may show you unique and different ways to incorporate work into the context of your family life and schedule. 

Begin with small tasks; don't overwhelm your kids, but don't be afraid if they complain a little either! I like to remind my kids of Phillipians 2:14-16-- Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain--when they have a grouchy attitude and bring it back to the idea that we are working to please the Lord. Sometimes, in a joking way, I remind them of the Scripture in II Thessalonians 3:10 that states that he who shall not work shall not eat! (Don't worry; this is just in jest--my children are very well fed! ;-)) 

As this has become a habit in our home, I have noticed that the complaining and/or whining has greatly diminished. There is an expectation that in general when we go outside we will do some yard work, fill birdbaths, water flowers, etc. before we play. I make sure that the work is not overwhelming to young children and I break up the work with water breaks, nature walks on our paths, a game in-between. But we work. And it is generally consistent; consistency is key. This has been extremely helpful to me in that I don't have to "worry" about my kids behaving while I do a project--they can do the project many times with me and then I can come up alongside of them while they play. Or I can continue working  after my kids have worked for awhile----in the garden when they play with a ball next to it, in the sandbox while I am weeding flower beds near to them, etc. I have found this routine extremely helpful to me with the amount of upkeep that our land requires and as someone who loves gardening and outside work! We work a little and then play a little and everyone is pleased! :-) 

And I just want to be very clear here--my kids are not perfect workers--they complain, whine, and moan and groan at times when I announce what project we'll be working on. But the more that we have pursued this habit, the more I observe them becoming diligent workers, by the grace of God. They have come to learn the expectation without balking. They know that after we weed on a hot day, I will let them jump in the kiddie pool or the sprinkler! They understand that they must keep their room neat and help after supper and put their shoes neatly by the door. Again, they don't do it perfectly or 100 % of the time, but we have established an attitude and habit of work and helpfulness in the home and outside.  In other words, it is becoming a habit and an expectation in our home. It is something that I need grace to continue and to persevere in and I see how the Lord gives me this grace as I come to Him each day for His help and strength. 

Anyone can do this! Anyone! Start where you are, regardless of kids ages--start small--and gradually increase expectations. Your children will eventually get a sense of fulfillment from it and begin to enjoy work! Pray with your kids--pray when they complain and ask the Lord to give each of you hearts that would be cheerful--sing while you work! Sing hymns; sing Bible songs. Work can be made more pleasant this way! 

Don't "give up" because it is "too late." The Lord is able to redeem things that seem lost. 

Above all, depend upon the Lord. Bring everything back to Him. Remind children that you love them and want the best for them. Remind children that they are under your authority and that you will ultimately give an account to God; they will too! Remind children that everything is done to please the One who created us~~for work and for play~~and ultimately to bring glory to the Lord and to reflect His character in our lives. 

Teach kids to work; to work hard. And then step back and praise the One who works in us and gives all grace to do His will~~in our families, in our homes, with all of our lives. 

You might find me on these link-ups:

Inspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomRaising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story,  Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdayGood Morning Mondays,  Counting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter WednesdayTea and Word