How I teach my kids to do their own laundry

Laundry is one of those things I actually don’t mind doing. Before we had kids, folding laundry meant I could sit down and watch an episode of “Friends” guilt-free because I was still doing work while having fun.

But with 3 kids, a husband and ME to do laundry for, it can be hard to keep up. Plus, I really hate when laundry gets behind. Seeing a basket of clean clothes that need to be folded is like seeing the last chocolate chip cookie on an empty plate. The clothes scream at me to be folded and the cookie screams at me to be eaten. I almost always acquiesce to one of those screams for help. I’ll let you guess which one it is.

So back to how I teach my kids to do their own laundry.

Let me first say that teaching your child to do laundry is a process. You will want to decide what aspect of laundry you want them to do. Do you just want them to learn how to run a load of wash? Or do you simply want them to fold their own clothes? My kids start their own laundry, switch loads, fold clothing, and then put it all away. But we had to build up to that. Here is what I did to teach them to do their own laundry:

Training is key. Two summers ago, I implemented a summer chore system that involved teaching the kids to do laundry, among other things. I taught them every single step in the process.

I first explained how laundry was done, and then we did a load together. I also designated roles for each kid. At the time of training, my oldest was the only one who could reach the knobs on the machine so, to this day, she’s the one who actually starts the washing machine and dryer. Her brothers help get the clothes in and out of the machines and they also switch the loads.

how i teach my kids to do their own laundryWhen the clothes were all clean, the kids carried the basket upstairs and dumped the clothes on the floor. Don’t worry, I asked them to do this. With all of the clothes dumped out, it was easier for them to search for their own clothes and pull them into a pile for folding. Once they had created their own pile of clothing, I showed them how to fold a shirt. Then a pair of shorts. And so on and so forth. Their clothes were not folded perfectly but that’s ok. The point is, they were learning to clean their own clothes and put them where they belong. I didn’t care if the clothes were folded perfectly.

Have low expectations. Let’s talk about expectations for a minute. When I say I taught my children to do their own laundry, I don’t mean I taught them to do laundry like I do laundry. To be honest, the boys are TERRIBLE folders. The 5-year-old is the worst. Their shirts look more like a wad of clothing than a neatly folded shirt. But I’ve learned to let it go. Also, their shirts are often falling out of their drawers because they don’t fit in as well when they aren’t folded neatly. Again, I’ve learned to let it go. There are more important things to be doing in their little lives than perfecting their shirt folding skills.

At the end of the day, my children clean, fold and put away their own laundry. Even though it’s not done to my standards, it’s still done.

A few final thoughts:

  • I have bins for their play clothes that are separate from their dressers. Play clothes do not have to be folded. That helps the task of folding clothes not take as long.
  • Socks and underwear also don’t have to be folded. They just have to be organized and placed in the correct drawer.
  • None of my kids have traditional dresser drawers. We use a variety of Ikea organizers with plastic bins. This makes it easier for the little boys to put away their own laundry.

And lastly, a true confession: I go into the boy’s room every once in awhile and fix their shirts because sometimes I just want the drawers to look like I fold their clothes perfectly. Yes, I lower my expectations. But sometimes, I just have to raise them even if it’s temporary.

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How I teach my kids to do things around the house

A few weeks ago, I was making my bed and realized how much work I would have to do around the house if I did everything for everyone. Imagine if I cleaned every toilet, made every bed, washed every piece of clothing, and cleaned every dish. Because I work full-time now, there is no way I would be able to do it.

how to teach your kids to cook

Sammy’s first meal he made all on his own.

I’m truly grateful that our kids are now old enough to actually help. But I also want to teach them the value of work for their own sake. Kids need to feel valuable. One easy way to make them feel important is to teach them to contribute to the family.

Of course, I also felt this topic would be great fodder for my blog.

I’m finally done turning my nose up at the title “mommy blogger” and embracing it fully with a new series called “How I teach my kids.” I want to show you how I teach my kids to do things around the house like laundry, cook, empty the dishwasher, and clean toilets.

Later, I hope to share with you how I teach my kids economics, business, and entrepreneurship. Some of the things we’ve been doing for years like taking virtual flights around the world, memorizing Bible verses through songs on YouTube and learning about other cultures may turn up in blog posts as well.

And . . . I plan on making them short blog posts. Because really, who has time to read a long blog post these days?

Stay tuned. More to come. And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the posts in this series, subscribe to my blog and I’ll send them your way!

Thank you, America.

I almost cried at the polling station today with my three children standing near me.

All around me stood people who were most likely voting differently from each other.

There were elderly citizens using walkers to get to the voting booth. A high school student in front of me was voting for the very first time. I wasn’t the only mom with kids taking it all in through their small eyes.

Outside the polling station, a black man passed out political flyers for his Missouri state candidate. Nearby, a female Trump supporter held a sign near Clinton supporters.

Everyone waited patiently in line. Everyone followed the rules. The polling station volunteers were kind and helpful.

As I stood in line observing everything I saw, reflecting on this very crazy 2016 election, I really did become emotional and almost started crying. In my mind, I envisioned a bolder version of myself standing atop a table a la Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society” and saying to everyone in the room:

Will you all look at this? How beautiful is this?
We are all exercising our right to vote for our leaders. All of us. The young and old, the educated and uneducated. Black and white. Male and female. All of us.
And we are doing it peacefully.

I would, of course, then climb down from the table to the shocked and embarrassed children I brought with me. But I would still believe everything I said.

It really is amazing. Please don’t miss this about our country. We have such a deep-seated belief that every adult citizen has the right to vote that we would never dare interfere with that.

If we didn’t truly believe in equality in American, perhaps we would become violent every 4 years to stop “The Other” from voting his or her conscience/preference/political stance.

But we don’t.

Every 4 years, we all calm the heck down on election day and patiently wait in polling lines with people who will vote differently than us.

This is amazing.

Thank you, America, for already being great. Thank you, America, for already being strong together on election day.

thank-you-americaFellow citizens. Because you were strong and great today, I get to vote. And my children watched me vote amidst a very calm environment.

Which is awesome because I want them to look forward to the day when they get to cast their own vote without fear.

Thank you, America. No matter the outcome, I’m genuinely proud of you today.

Get your children to do chores this summer without going broke

Allow me to introduce my system.

Hey, all you parents out there about ready to embark upon a long summer of kids at their feet . . . this blog post is for you!

If you want to get your children to do chores this summer, you will need a good system in place. For the past 2 summers, I have tried to implement one. Both years, my system was a bit of a flop. 

We tried a system that involved a folder and a dollar bill for each day they completed their set list of chores. We tried a daily checklist and a weekly allowance. Both systems involved us needing cash on hand and it cost us more than we thought it was worth. Another reason these systems probably didn’t work was because of the ages of our kids.

But this summer . . . .

I was determined to find a system that worked!

And I think I did it. I finally developed the (almost) perfect system to get my kids helping around the house and doing it (mostly) on their own. Which is one of the most important parts of a good system, amiright??

You see, I’ve worked from home almost my entire motherhood and once the kids started going to school, working from home got a lot easier. However, that meant summers also became quite a challenge. I needed my kids to be more independent in the summer so that I didn’t have to micromanage their work or time. Of course on the front end, it’s required a lot of time and effort from me, but a week into it, I’m seeing this system manage itself.

So what is this “system” I keep talking about? I’ll go into way more detail in the rest of this blog post but here is the basic gist of it:

Each day there are “jobs” available for our kids. We post these on our Job Board. Each job is worth a certain amount of tickets. If they complete the job and do it well, we pay them in tickets. These tickets can be cashed in for certain privileges (special treats or screen time).

It costs us basically nothing.

Our kids help around the house.

Their screen time is limited.

What’s not to love??

Ok. So now you know the basics of our summer job system. I’ll take some time to explain in detail how we make it work. Stick with me. I know it’s a doozy of a blog post! If you just want the downloadable PDF, scroll to the end of this blog post.

The nitty gritty of the system.

First of all, you need to know the ages of my kids. They are 8, 6, and 4. This system is really designed for the 8 and 6-year-old. We’ve modified it for our 4-year-old and I’ll explain that in the Appendix. Overall though, if you have children between the ages of 6 and 12, I think my system will work for you.

**Anything in bold below is part of my free PDF.

Step One: Prepare your children.

A week before we began jobs, I posted the Job Board along with the various jobs and the Job Shop on the hallway wall. Of course, the kids were curious so we began talking about what jobs they’ll be able to do and how many tickets they will earn for each job.

Get your children to do chores

We explained how they would have to pay for certain privileges with the tickets they earn doing jobs. 

Spending a week talking about the summer jobs that were coming up got them excited. They asked questions and began dreaming about how they would spend their tickets. Our 6-year-old was determined to earn enough tickets to buy ALL the privileges in one day. He’s the ambitious one while the 8-year-old is the diligent one. So we’ll see how that pans out . . .

Get your children to do chores

The night before our training day, we actually had interviews. It was hilarious. I let the kids go into the oldest’s room and work on them together. My daughter (age 8) helped the 4-year-old with his application. Once they were done, I brought them out one by one and gave them some interview pointers like looking the “boss” (my husband) in the eye, smiling, and answering the questions clearly. I recorded the entire interview for the 4-year-old and I definitely caught some nose picking. He was still hired, though.

Step Two: Train your children.

Get your children to do chores

On the first full day of summer, I set aside almost an entire day to train my kids on each job on the Job Board. Here is how I ran my training day:

  • 9:00am-Kids gather around dining room table for part 1 of training
  • Pass out the Job Procedures Worksheet, Reading Log, and journals
    • Explain journals and Reading Log and where those will be kept. (I keep mine in a drawer in our dining room so all 3 kids can easily access them at any time they want to read or journal for 30 min.)
    • Teach kids how to set the timer for 30min using the microwave timer.
    • Show them how to fill out the reading log after they read for 30 min.
  • Work through the Job Procedure Worksheet.Get your children to do chores
    • Have kids cut out the pictures of the supplies from the bottom of the worksheet.
    • Glue the appropriate supplies to the corresponding job. (ie: to clean the toilet they cut out a paper towel, toilet cleaner and sponge.)
    • After they cut out and glued all of the supplies on the worksheet, we took a dance break! We cranked up Justin Timberlake’s new song “Just Dance” and danced our way around the house. I ended our break time with a cookie. This is an optional step. 🙂
    • After the break, we filled out the worksheet step-by-step until we’d explained how to do each job.
    • Then it was time to actually DO the jobs.

I’ll be honest . . . this next part took longer than I thought it would. In fact, I had to put the 2 boys to bed for a nap after we cleaned the bathroom because I realized they’d had a late night, were over tired and we were all low on patience. I made an executive decision to move the rest of training to the next day.

At the beginning of our Training Day, I told the kids they would get paid 5 tickets if they worked hard during training. That gave them motivation and was leverage I could use when they were losing interest.

Now that the kids were trained, it was time to see if this system actually would work.

 

Step Three:  Put your children to work!

Get your children to do chores

I created pictures of the jobs using clipart found on Google and PicMonkey. They sit on my kitchen counter near the “cash register” I made out of a cardboard yogurt box. Shortly after I wake up each morning, I grab some of the jobs that I want/need completed that day and place them on the Job Board. I’m using paper clips to attach them to the edges of my Job Board but you could use sticky tack or something else.

Around breakfast time, I usually announce to the kids that new jobs are up. One day this week I had all of the bathroom jobs available (toilet, mirror, sinks, bathtub) and only one kid claimed one job (the mirror.) While that meant I had to clean the bathroom myself, it also meant the kids saw that they earned hardly any tickets that day which meant they didn’t have much to spend the next day.

But guess what . . . . they spent that day playing outside, pretending in their rooms, and they earned tickets other ways by reading and writing in their journals. This is still ultimately a win for me.

 

Step Four: Pay your children.

Get your children to do chores

Our currency includes the faces of their cousins.

For us, we decided that a job has to be approved before they can get paid. This might not be the case in a few weeks when they are better at their jobs, but for now, I feel like I need to come in and check their work when they say they’ve cleaned a toilet.

Once I can see that a job is completed to my satisfaction (please note-that doesn’t mean it looks perfect),  I go get the appropriate amount of tickets from the cash register and pay them. I remind them to go put the tickets away in their ticket bank that they decorated after interview night.

Get your children to do chores

This is how the youngest decorated his ticket bank.

 

Step Five: Allow them to spend their tickets!

Here is our Job Shop. These are what we have as privileges in our house and how much they “cost.” (T=1 ticket)

get your children to do chores

The way we do this is that they can cash in their tickets any time of the day as long as their daily chores (see Appendix) and their chosen jobs are done. So far, the oldest is best at saving her tickets for the bigger items like Wii time and Netflix time, and the youngest wants to buy a special treat each day. 🙂

Now, one of my concerns was that I’d have kids coming to me every 5 minutes asking to buy something from the shop. I thought I may end up spending a lot of time organizing their screen time they’d paid for.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Really, they didn’t spend many tickets each day-only enough to buy a treat. It wasn’t until Friday when they cashed in most of their tickets for screen time. I think, all in all, we had the iPad on for 30 minutes once this week and the Wii on for an hour. That’s it! The rest of the time the kids were busy reading and writing to earn tickets, or pretending and making up their own fun since they knew they didn’t have enough tickets to have screen time.

This is what I love most about this system.

My kids know their parameters.

They know what is expected of them if they want screen time or a special treat.

They know what their options are for keeping busy during the long summer days.

In so many ways, it’s a self-managing system! I love that the kids can make independent choices. They don’t HAVE to do any of the jobs. But they chose to do a few so they can earn privileges. Then they get to choose how they spend their tickets on those privileges.

I love that my kids are learning independence.

I love that they are learning the value of work.

I really love that it’s not costing us hardly anything and it helps me with household chores. I really love that one. 🙂

That is the basic gist of my system. I’m going to go live on my Facebook page tomorrow at 2pm CST (on June 7th) if you want to jump on and ask me questions about all of this. It may seem a little overwhelming, but I promise it’s actually pretty straightforward once you get it up and running.

OK, are you ready for the FREE downloadable PDF?? 

In my FREE downloadable PDF you will get:

  1. The Job Board (what I use to post available jobs)
  2. The Job Shop (with my rewards and ticket prices)
  3. The Job Procedures (what I use for Training Day)
  4. The Job List and Instructions for Finding Clip Art 
  5. The Job Application (for your kids to complete before an interview
  6. The Reading Log 
  7. The Tickets 

Get the PDF here. You’ll have to enter your email to get it but don’t worry . . . I hate spam. Your email address is safe with me. I’ll never sell your email address and I won’t bombard you with emails. Promise.

Here is what’s NOT included in the FREE PDF:

  1. No clipart/images for the jobs or supplies. Sorry folks, but I don’t own the images I used for my own jobs and I can’t distribute those. You will need to find your own pictures/clip art or take your own. This is better for you, though. I’m all about the super powerful cleaning supplies that are laden with chemicals. If you prefer more natural cleaning supplies, you’ll want pictures of those things to show your kids. But don’t worry . . . included in the PDF are instructions for finding clipart.
  2. Personalized tickets. I made tickets with pictures of my nieces and nephews on them. These are the cousins my kids hardly every see because they live all over the world. If you’d like me to personalize your tickets with pictures of your kids, family, dog, whatever . . . go here.
  3. Fun and creative tickets. I also created a bunch of fun themed tickets (animals, aliens, flowers, etc). I’ll be adding more in over the next few days.

That’s it, folks! Below I have an Appendix that tells you a few miscellaneous tips to make sure this works well for you and your family. If you want to read another popular blog post read my guide for creating a safe and secure Gmail account for your child.

If you are someone who wants to learn the fundamentals of blogging, join my Blogging Facebook group or get my Blogging 101 Course! 

Appendix:

  • For kids younger than 6, this is what I recommend:
    • Many of the jobs on our job board require some prep work. We call this the Picker-Upper job. This entails picking things up off the floor before vacuuming, clearing off the sink to be cleaned, taking things out of the shower before cleaning, etc. While our 4-year-old can sort of clean a sink or mirror, it’s not the greatest job and it’s a little bit above his capabilities. So we told him that his job is to be the helper. If one of the kids chooses to do a job that needs the Picker-Upper, that’s his job and we usually pay him about the same as the person that does the actual job.
  • Rules for the day:
    • All daily chores must be done before any jobs are done and before they can play. “Chores” include picking up their room, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, making their bed, etc.
    • In general, all jobs must be completed by lunch time.
    • They can only buy one of each special treat per day. We have not had to enforce this one yet but they may eventually have enough to buy 2 ice cream sandwiches and 2 popsicles in a day and we don’t want that, now do we? 🙂
  • Sharing privileges
    • If one child pays for 30 minutes of Wii time, he/she is welcome to invite siblings to play with, but it is not required. Same for Netflix or movie time. If one child wants to play/watch alone, the others cannot watch.
    • Children can combine their tickets to pay for a bigger ticket item like a movie in the basement.
  • We only use this system on Monday-Friday. Though if we find it would be useful to run it on the weekends we may adjust and do that.

get your kids to do chores

How to take the KC Streetcar with kids to see everything in downtown Kansas City (for free!)

how to take the kc streetcarYesterday I ventured out with all 3 of my kids to take advantage of the free KC Streetcar. We lived in Madrid, Spain for 2 years and there are many days that I desperately miss hopping on a bus or subway to get around. Even with kids. Yes, even with kids!  So to the River Market we went for an afternoon of adventure.

You guys . . . I feel like I basically just discovered the perfect kid friendly KC adventure. I spent a little more than 2 hours downtown and didn’t spend a dime while the kids had an absolute blast. So I want to share what I think is the PERFECT way to utilize the KC Streetcar with kids for a half day of  (free) fun in Kansas City.

If you’re coming from the North . . .

Northlanders, you’ll want to park at the River Market. Depending on what time of the day or week you go, finding a free parking spot shouldn’t be too hard. Take note that if it’s a weekday, most spaces will only allow you 2 hours of free parking, though.

Step 1:
Get on any of the River Market Streetcar stops. There are 3:

River Market North-near the north entrance of the City Market.

River Market West-near Quay Coffee.

City Market-near The Opera House and the main City Market entrance.

kc streetcar butonPeople on the streetcar will probably push the button to open the doors, but if it’s a fairly empty car, you simply need to push the little round button on the doors to open them.

Ride the streetcar all the way until you get to the Metro Center stop which is right before Cosentino’s. Be sure you press any of the red STOP buttons on the streetcar to let the driver know you want to get off at the Metro Center stop.

Step 2: Get off at the Metro Center Stop and walk down Mainstreet to the crosswalk. You’ll see Cosentino’s directly across the street. Cross the street (or run if you’re a 6-year-old boy) and head back up Mainstreet on the East side. There is a door directly past Cosentino’s that leads to a set of elevators that will take you all the way to a rooftop “park.” I am a mean Mom (who needed to burn some serious calories) so I made the kids take the stairs to the top. It was only about 4 flights up. Once we got to the top I let the kids do races around the walking path and explored the rooftop. It’s a great view of Downtown KC from up there. If you’ve ever wanted to have a photo of your kids “in the city” this is a great place to do it.

kc streetcar with kids

Just be sure you watch for dog poo in the grass . . . and of course, for the love of humankind, please teach your kids to not be jerks. People actually live downtown and they use this park for their dogs and their own respite in the city. Let’s make sure they keep letting us suburbanites into their free rooftop park.

After your kids have run out their wiggles, head back to the Streetcar stop where you got off. Or if you’re a fun Mom, let them pick out a cookie from Cosentino’s.

[Tweet “How to take the #KCStreetcar with kids to see everything in downtown Kansas City (for free!)”]

Step 3: Ride the streetcar from Metro Center all the way to the end of the line at Union Station. Once you get to Union Station, there are oh so many choices.

If you’re not opposed to spending money, head into Union Station and visit Science City or the Extreme Screen. There is also a free train exhibit that kids of all ages will love. I’m so serious. My 62-year-old Dad loves it.

If you want to keep the budget-friendly theme going, take the catwalk from Union Station to the  Crown Center. At the Crown Center you can get artsy at Kaleidescope or get imaginative with the ever-changing interactive exhibit at the Crown Center Showplace. In the past, my kids have explored the world of Peter Rabbit, the Wizard of Oz and Curious George.

Of course, if you planned this trip so that you’d land at the Crown Center by lunch time you can pack a lunch and eat out by the fountains or you can buy your own lunch from one of the many eateries. Most kids prefer Fritz’s because who doesn’t love it when a train brings your food to the table??

When you’re ready to head home, walk back to Union Station and get on the streetcar at the same place you got off. (It’s the end of the line.) You can ride it back without stopping or you can make other stops on your way back.

Get off at any of the 3 City Market stops. I recommend you walk through the City Market with your kids to show them the many ethnic restaurants and food available. I obviously highly recommend you buy something delicious for the kids to snack on from any of the fruit vendors. My favorite place is The Habashi House. It takes me back to our days living near the largest mosque in Europe and the summer I spent in Turkey. Whatever you do, use the time to teach your kids that there is a whole other world out there full of people from different cultures.

kc streetcar with kids

If you’re coming from the South . . .

Park at either Union Station or the Crown Center. If you want to visit those places I suggest you do it all at once before you ride the streetcar or save it for after.

Step 1: Get on the streetcar at Union Station. It picks up and drops off on the far east side of the building, almost directly underneath the catwalk. Ride it until the Metro Center stop near Mainstreet and 12th.

Step 2: This is the same for those coming from the North except you get off on the side of the street where Cosentino’s is.  There is a door directly past Cosentino’s that leads to a set of elevators that will take you all the way to a rooftop “park.” I am a mean Mom (who needed to burn some serious calories) so I made the kids take the stairs to the top. It was only about 4 flights up. Once we got to the top I let the kids do races around the walking path and explored the rooftop. It’s a great view of Downtown KC from up there. If you’ve ever wanted to have a photo of your kids “in the city” this is a great place to do it.

Just be sure you watch for dog poo in the grass . . . and of course, for the love of humankind, please teach your kids to not be jerks. People actually live downtown and they use this park for their dogs and their own respite in the city. Let’s make sure they keep letting us suburbanites into their free rooftop park.

After your kids have run out their wiggles, head back to the streetcar stop where you got off. Or if you’re a fun Mom, let them pick out a cookie from Cosentino’s.

Step 3: Get off at the City Market stop. You’ll get off directly in front of The Opera House. Cross the street at the crosswalk and wander through the City Market. You can even go past the City Market and head out to the look out over the river. My oldest loves the Chinatown Market which is just northeast of the City Market. It’s also a fun place to walk through as you can buy fun Chinese candy for your kids and show them the seafood sold in the store.

To get back to your car, get on the streetcar at any of the 3 River Market stops (see above) and keep riding it until you get to Union Station.

kc streetcar with kids

There are many other things you can do from the KC Streetcar without your kids, too. Obviously. I think I’ll plan my next date with my husband for an evening on the KC Streetcar. We may take it from the River Market up to Power and Lights for a dinner at BRGR. On our way back I imagine us kicking back at Kaldi’s Coffee while we laugh about all the parents we see hauling their kids around downtown on a Friday evening while we enjoy a kid free evening. Just kidding, we aren’t that cruel. Maybe . . .

What are the routes you use to enjoy Kansas City using the KC Streetcar? I’d love to hear them!

Starving my kids #ForTheMission

forthemissionTonight I did something a little different as I tucked my kids into bed. We’d been with others from Emmaus Church helping paint to get the building ready for the official launch in January. Well, we mostly stayed out of the way while the professionals painted. The kids were wound up by the time we came home so I decided that a story wouldn’t calm them down enough. Because I’m very much so a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of mom, I threw our regular routine out the window. Once the kids had decent smelling breath and were tucked away into bed, I turned off all the lights and we listened to some music.

First on our play list was “Try” by Colbie Caillat. I know, I know. Kind of random. But it’s a song we all like to sing along too (yes, even the boys) and it’s quiet and calming. I’ll admit I hope my 5 year old doesn’t pick up on the mantra of “you don’t have to try so hard” because he definitely does need to try harder at anything that involves effort. Ahh laziness. It starts early in some.

However, the song I really wanted them to hear before their eyes closed for the day was a song that moves me to tears every time I hear it. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you probably have never heard it. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are probably sick of this song by now. Chris Tomlin came out with the song, “How great is our God” sometime when I was in college. But in recent years, a new version of the song was released and it represents everything that I live for in life. Let me explain.

As a child, I think God was preparing me to understand His immense love for the nations of the earth. My first friends at church were Egyptian. (Hey Slyvia and Annie!) My first BFF at school was a cute Costa Rican girl. I pulled pranks on people with an exchange student from Australia in the 5th grade. In 6th grade I remember attending the birthday party for a girl from Nepal. I was pretty white bread middle class all through junior high and high school, but I could never stop thinking about the different language and cultures that existed. When I went to college, I lived on a co-ed international floor my 1st two years. One roommate was Korean and the other was from a small town in Iowa. We had a blast hanging out with kids on our floor from Norway, Switzerland, Malaysia, China, Dubai, Hong Kong, Syria, and Jordan. So in some ways, I wasn’t surprised that God sent me to Turkey after my sophomore year of college. I went because I finally understood that I wasn’t blessed just to be blessed. Turns out that God actually blessed the Israelites so they could be a blessing to the nations. God still blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. In short, when I decided to follow Jesus, I decided to make my life about Him and His mission. My deep desire is that God will use me and my family to somehow be a part of what God is doing to tell people all over the world about Him and His plan to save them.

So tonight, the reason we listened to the new version of “How Great is Our God,” is because the new version is sung in part by people from different countries. I’m moved to worship when I hear this sung. As I sat in the rocking chair in our kids’ room I couldn’t help but raise my hands in worship (yes, us Jesus followers can be a bit strange) and thank God that one day there will be millions of voices singing songs of worship to God, all in their own languages. Or maybe not! I mean, who knows what we’ll be speaking in Heaven. The point is, one day, I’ll get to worship my King with people from every tribe, tongue and language.

I desperately want my children to understand this. I want them to know how much God loves people from different cultures. But how do I do this? We watch Families of the World videos when they are available from the public library. We live on a fairly diverse street. Jesse’s brother AND sister both live overseas. We pray for people from different countries. Are they getting it though?

This week, I’m trying something new. The International Mission Board (IMB) is an organization that sends out thousands of Jesus followers around the world to live and work amongst people who don’t know anything about Jesus. These people invest into their communities, build relationships and ask God to give them opportunities to speak about Him.  This week, my kids are going to skip a meal and give the money we would have spent to the IMB. (She drops the mic.) Before you report me to CPS, let me explain. I’m going to take my kids to the store tomorrow night and I’m going to let them pick out their favorite food to eat. I think I’ll even have them put it in the cart. But instead of buying it, we’re going to donate the money we would have spent and give it to the IMB so that more people can go tell others around the world about Jesus, and what He has done for them.

I honestly don’t know what they will think and to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure how I’ll explain the purpose to them in a way that helps them understand. But I do know that our conversation around the table tomorrow night will center around the reason we didn’t buy that food, and the God who loves us enough to let us be a part of His missions to tell the whole world about His love.

What about you? How do you teach your kids to care about taking the Gospel to the nations? What are some other ways you can “skip a meal” with kids and donate the cost of a meal to the IMB? I’d love to hear your ideas and I’d love it if you joined me on social media by using the hashtag #ForTheMission. You will find many others doing the same thing so don’t be shy, y’all!  In fact, to prove others are doing it, here is my friend Caleb Crider with his empty plate of food:

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Please consider joining me. imb.org/meal Or, text 4mission to 80888 and donate the $10 you would have spent on a meal!