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Pam McKee

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Prayers, Choices, and Couches

Posted on Feb 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

 red couch

My friend and her husband have lived in their three-bedroom one-bath row home, raising their three children, for the past 20 years or so.  As the kids have moved into their teenage years, their parents have renovated the basement somewhat into a bedroom and finished off a partial bath in order to accommodate this growing family.  And give Mom and Dad a little privacy.  I have asked my friend several times if they’ve considered moving to a larger house (one with a dishwasher!), but her continual reply is that she and her husband have chosen instead to send their kids to Christian schools. This might not be for everyone, but it is for them.

One day she was telling me how their whole family is sharing one computer.  All three kids use it nightly to help them with their homework and she isn’t able to log on until everyone else is in bed.  That makes for a lot of late nights.

I said to her,  “You need another computer!”

She sighed,  “Actually, what we need is another couch.  Ours has recently bitten the dust.  So our family of five doesn’t have enough seating in our small living room.”

A few days went by, and I don’t know how to explain it, but I began to have an overwhelming urge to pray for God to provide an affordable couch for my friend’s family. So I prayed.

One Monday, a couple of weeks or so later, my friend and I were exchanging family weekend sagas with each other and she told the harrowing yet hilarious story of how they managed to get this couch that they had found on sale from the store and into their living room.  And how one of the kids (who shall remain nameless) was totally embarrassed because this couch was a not so subtle shade of red.

I said,  “Wait -  You got a new couch??”

She nodded yes with a questioning look on her face.

“I’ve been praying for God to give you a couch!  And He did!”  I think I was more excited about her new couch than she was. I’ll have to admit though, I hadn’t prayed for a specific color.

So maybe I should now pray for an additional computer for her family.  Or a dishwasher.

A few years later when my friend’s daughter (the one who was embarrassed by the red couch!) became engaged, she and her fiance were collecting furniture for their future marriage.  Ironically they stumbled across a “free” couch.  So my friend rented a panel truck (90 inches of couch was a little long to fit in their mini van), drove halfway across Baltimore, through the tunnel, picked up the “free” couch, and delivered it to her daughter’s future home.  

Too bad it wasn’t red.

Questions to Consider:

  1. When we pray, do we really expect God to listen and answer?

  2. Are we willing to sacrifice and look different to what the world expects in order to be obedient?

  3. Is there really anything wrong with a red couch?

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Teaching Thankfulness to Your Children

Posted on Jan 23, 2016 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

teaching thankfulness to your children

When we come back to school after the holidays I always start my classes by asking my students something specific about their holiday time at home.  After Christmas I said to them,  “Now, you are probably expecting me to ask you, ‘What’s your favorite thing you got for Christmas?’ ”  And their faces lit up, hands shot up, all eager to share the answer to this question.

“However,”  I said, “My question for you is this:  What is your favorite gift that you GAVE someone for Christmas?”  Hands slid down and little faces drooped.

What message are we imparting to our kids when we don’t teach them how to give to others during the very season when GIVING is the whole point?

Ok.  So you are thinking, Someone should have mentioned this to me before Christmas...It’s a little late now.

So let’s look at this from another perspective.  It’s not too late to teach your children to be thankful for the gifts they received.  In fact it’s just about the right time to help/encourage them to write thankyou notes/emails/texts to family members who gave them gifts. There are several blogs/sites out there giving great detailed suggestions and ideas for ways to write a creative thank you note for kids of all ages.


Being thankful can also be as simple as modeling for your child, saying please and thank you to the person at McDonald’s who takes your order, even when you’re talking to a box in the drive through line.

Some families have a tradition at Thanksgiving of going around the table, giving each person the opportunity to say what they are thankful for.  How about if you do this in your family, starting with Dad and Mom, at the dinner table once a week?  That way thankfulness can grow to become a natural way of thinking.

Everyday events might present opportunities for you to teach your kids how to be grateful.  Seeing people on the news who are affected by natural disasters, speaking to a homeless person on the street who is in need of money, putting together a Christmas shoe box to send to a child who probably will not have much.  All of these situations can trigger emotions in your children that they may not understand. They just feel like they want to do something.  Here is your opportunity to lead your child in ways that express gratitude.

Children learn by watching, especially watching their parents.  You are their best model. If you are not outwardly showing gratitude to others, how will your children see it?  

You may feel gratitude in your heart, and yet in the busyness of everyday life you just don’t think to let it show on the outside. But your children need to see what you are feeling. They need you to share what’s in your heart with them.  That's how they will learn how to be thankful.

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Topics: Parenting Tips

Managing Kids and Conflicts: Tips and Tricks for Parents

Posted on Jan 20, 2015 3:00:00 PM by Pam McKee

kids and conflict

Did you enjoy the holidays with your family?  Wasn’t it great to have the kids out of school... the whole family together at home?  The socially acceptable answer, of course is, Yes! It was so much fun with the kids home.  I’m sorry that they had to go back to school.

But honestly?  Hmmm….having everyone home day after day sometimes results in conflicts between family members.  And having the kids return to the regularity of a school schedule is….a relief!

How can we as parents make the time when our kids are at home for days or weeks at a time more fun, more productive?  More...conflict free!

Kids may complain about schedules, but the truth is when their time is structured it helps them feel more comfortable and less irritable.  So when you know there are weeks coming up in the near future that you and the kids will be with (or at?) each other a lot, pull out your calendar and get creative.  Make plans to take your kids places you wouldn’t ordinarily have time for.  For instance, during the Christmas holidays, find an ice skating rink to visit.  During spring break, find an indoor pool where you can spend the afternoon.  Or if the weather is warm enough, take them miniature golfing. Or if not, go see a movie. And don’t forget to buy popcorn. movie tickets and popcorn

But don’t feel like you have to always be entertaining your children in order to avoid conflicts or arguments in your home.  Loosely schedule everyone’s in-the-house time.  Each day at home ought to include your child doing one or two age-appropriate chores, not just busy work, but household jobs that your child could be responsible for.  At first, especially if they’re young, you will need to spend some time showing them how (modeling) to do a particular chore. But remember, you’re not in a hurry.

Try to include both indoor chores, such as cleaning bedrooms, doing their own laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher as well as outdoor chores like raking leaves, shoveling snow, washing the car or participating in organizing the garage.  Burn up some of that childhood energy!

Schedule a time, after chores have been completed, to watch a TV program or DVD.  Have a plan for what happens after the program is over.  Then, turn the TV off.

Letting your pre-teens or teens fix the family dinner once a week also takes advantage of their creativity and energy.  Have them choose something simple to make, such as hamburgers with baked beans.  This will involve planning the dinner together and going to the grocery store to buy the needed items/ingredients. And again, the first time you do this, you will need to explain and model how certain things are done.  But once they know what to do, they will probably be able to do at least some of it on their own.  They should feel a sense of accomplishment.

And of course, one very important aspect of extra time at home - your child should be reading about 20 minutes every day.  This could include you reading from a chapter book to one child or the whole family.  Or you reading one page out loud from a book on his reading level, your child reading the next page. Or after a book has been completed, let your child paint a picture to show something that happened in the story.


Make trips to the library, if there is time, during this school break. Ask Grandparents to give Amazon gift cards to your child for Christmas or for her birthday.  Then spend time with your child browsing and ordering her some books.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself,  How does doing these activities with my child keep us from having conflicts?  In fact, it seems like these activities might even be the source of MORE conflicts! 

Intersperse the obviously fun activities with the obviously work-type activities. Firmly and calmly make it clear that fun naturally follows chores.  This is pretty much the order of life, so you are teaching your child a life skill.

And will this be work for you?  Oh yes. God has given you this child to love and raise in a world filled with conflict, some of which your child contributes to.  As do you.

Again, this is an opportunity for you to model living daily life without contributing to the conflict...and apologizing when you do.  This is hard. The hope is that the more you model this for your child, the fewer the conflicts there will be between you.
happy kids
Topics: Parenting Tips

Signs of the Season

Posted on Dec 6, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

Church at Christmas

What are some things you think of as you start hearing Christmas music and seeing the glittery trees and wreaths in the mall?  During the holidays there are so many signs and symbols that remind us of our Savior.  Not all of them were originally Christian in origin, but as a follower of Jesus I don’t think that life has to be divided up into sacred and secular.  After all, God is the Creator, isn’t He?  So when I celebrate the birth of His Son the symbols that go along with that celebration automatically make me think of certain attributes of God.  And they are good pictures to use to explain to our kids what we are really celebrating at Christmas time. 

The Christmas Tree.  Evergreen that it is, of course makes me think of God’s eternal-ness.  And the fact that we chop down the tree and put it in a stand in our living room where it sort of takes on a life of its own for the season - that is but a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Christmas tree

 Lights. The first decoration we put on our tree is the lights.  Once they are all working and hung (an act of God in itself!), how can these shining little points of light not remind me that God Himself is Light, and that in the beginning, He created light for us to have in this world?  And the lights that we blend with the garland on the stairs, and the glow of the candles that are burning on the dining room table….When we turn off the house lights, hasn’t an atmosphere of beauty been created?  We worship a God of beauty.  This is a great way for our children to experience just a small part of His beauty.

 Candy Canes.  One of the ornaments we hang on our tree is candy canes.  The colors give us an easy visual way to explain to our children that the reason Jesus was born was to pour out his blood for us (red) and that He can make our hearts pure and clean (white) for our heavenly Father.  

Bells.  I’ve always liked the Christmas song “Silver Bells”.  In the Old Testament (Exodus 28) Aaron, the priest, wore bells on part of his clothing as he entered the Holy Place to atone for the sins of the people.  Tell your kids this story and explain that the reason Jesus was born was to be our High Priest.  Celebrating Christmas is a huge celebration that Jesus, our High Priest, has atoned for our sin once and for all. Painting this picture in the minds and hearts of your kids will remind them of what Jesus has done for them as they hear the bells at Christmas time. 

It seems that the signs of the season come earlier and earlier each year.  But that’s okay.  Because it’s never too soon to start talking to our kids about the real meaning of the birth of Christ.


Topics: Christmas