Saying Yes More Than I Say No

Years ago I boarded a plane bound for somewhere. The details escape me now, but I have never forgotten the lovely older couple who sat in the two seats next to mine. 

When asked what I did for a living, I replied, "I am home with my two little boys. I'm expecting our third in October." 

They smiled ethusiastically and told me that they had four children, grown now, who were born within five years. "Best decision we ever made!"

We chatted about parenthood and leaving careers to stay home with children. And then the husband, in his grandfatherly way, leaned over to me and said, "Do you want to know the best piece of advice I can give you? Say yes more than you say no." 

He smiled again, large and warm and compelling.



Say yes more than you say no.

I haven't always heeded that kind gentleman's words. I have said no a lot, particularly when I have been tired or not feeling my tip-toppy best. But I can tell you that I never regret saying yes. And the no's - the no's have impact because they are said less than the yeses. 

May we play in the mud? Yes.

May we make cookies? Yes.

Can we take a walk after lunch? Yes.

Will you make us popcorn on the stove? Yes.

Christian has been learning to read this year, and if you've ever taught a child to read, you know they get stuck along the way, frustrated and impatient with themselves. He was hard-pressed to read a page from his Pathway Reader without that little almost-whiny catch in his voice.

"Mommy, when I'm done with the page, will you read it back to me?"


His smile erupted and he leaned over into my side, cuddling my arm and squishy 42-year-old body. It was a compelling, contented smile, and it reminded me of that elderly man on the plane so many years before. 

Say yes more than you say no. It's totally worth it.


Grateful for Grace


So many of you are writing and tweeting and posting your thoughts on living in grace and freedom, and it has been a total blessing to me. Thank you. Linda emailed me last night and I loved her words:


Thanks for all the posts on grace. Not like I'm ancient or anything, but the older I'm getting, the more I realize how much I need grace and how it allows me to be a grace-giver.

I don't need legalism and judgement. I just need Jesus and his grace. I'm finishing up Grace for the Good Girl and downloaded Give them Grace. Learning so much, little by little and tasting freedom.

I think a lot of it started when we brought our daughter home from China. Raising her has turned my parenting ideas upside down and forced me to focus simply on loving her with grace and freedom. Discipline, anger and neglect left her as merely a shell of a person. I've wrestled with how my heart has led me to parent her versus the way I've always done it and worried about what others might think. I finally had to shake all that off and listen to the grace of the Spirit. In turn, it has made me do a lot of personal soul-searching along the way.

I'm sure there are some, even some family, that think we've turned into heathens and our children are surely going to hell now, but instead we are slowly learning the freedom and joy that comes from being released from the oppressive burden of legalism.

Again, thanks for having the courage to speak up. People need to hear grace and sometimes they just need someone to give them permission to be free.


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What Do I Do About a Child Who Lies?

Recently I asked on the Preschoolers and Peace Facebook page what you all would like to see covered on the blog before I take a summer break. So many of you responded with great questions and ideas! Thank you. I'll try to get to them all as best I can.

Preschoolers&Peace Lying Child.jpg

Rebecca commented, "[I'd like] creative ideas for disciplining a three year old (almost four) who is having problems telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Back in 2010 another reader asked the same question, so I'm just going to double up. Here's how I answered Stacy about her child who was struggling with lying:

We consider, and probably you do too, lying to be one of the worst habits a child can form.  We try to snuff out lying and deception as expediently as possible because when trust is broken down within a family, it's very, very difficult to regain.

Therefore, lying carries the heaviest discipline around here.  We communicate that, too.  We've only had two who have lost our trust for a long period of time because of lying, and they feel the consequence of that loss sorely when we say, "I'm sorry honey.  I'd love to believe you but I just can't."  In the case of the child who is the oldest of the two and who seems to have conquered this ugly habit, the loss of trust was felt deeply enough that it reformed him.

However, I know that this isn't the case for everyone.  We have friends who have children who chronically lie or are sneaky, and it is emotionally taxing for them as parents.  I say that because I don't want what I wrote above to give you the false impression that after a period of mistrust, your child will be cured of lying forever.  Life's messier than that.  So if that's the position you're in, I'm just going to encourage you to stay the course.  Do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season you shall reap!  I was a liar as a child and young adult, and it wasn't until the Holy Spirit got ahold of me in this area that I changed my ways.  Keep praying for the work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of your children. And tell them, everyday, that only Jesus can be their righteousness, no matter how hard they try. His grace covers all!

All that said, would some practical ideas help? Charts with stickers can be a great motivator. One sticker for each day telling the truth and then a celebration when the chart is filled. This gets into a little bit of muddy water for me, though, because I never want to just deal with a child on merely the behavioral level. If you do something like a chart, be sure you're telling the child they are loved and they live under the banner "It is finished!" even if they slip into lying.

I love stories that illustrate a character issue and the consequneces that can arise when we fall into a particular sin. Lying is a sin that can easily become a habit very difficult to break, so stories about people whose lives were gravely affected by a lie can be very powerful. Look for story books that deal with lying, such as the classic Pinnochio. Conversely, steer clear of books that weave some lying in (particularly child to parent), and where that lie told produces a good result or at least goes undetected. 

And then tell that lying child again the good news: Jesus is perfect! When God looks at you, He sees Jesus! Even when we lie, we can never lose His love. The law never motivates, but love and grace always win!