Right Away, All the Way and with a Happy Heart

I am not a super mom.  I don’t cut out the cute projects I find in parenting magazines.  I don’t make the interesting food snacks that look like animals, nor do I use things around the house to make inventive crafts.  But I was desperate.  So I grabbed the kids, loaded them into the car and drove to Target.  I bought the poster board, the ruler, the magic markers, the stickers and a handful of treats.  I came home, spread the materials out and did it.  I made two Happy Heart Charts.  They looked just like the ones I had envisioned when reading an article from Growing Kids God’s Way.

Why was I so desperate?  Because I couldn’t stand the whining, pouting and stomping of feet that followed every request I made to my 4 year old twins.  While Cooper & Lucy usually ultimately obeyed, it was not without significant drama that ensured I knew that they were not happy about my request.

That afternoon, I sat them down in front of the charts.  “I’m proud that you all are learning to obey, but now that you are four, it is time to do something more,” I explained.  “When I ask you to do something, I want you to obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart.  When you do this, you get a sticker on the chart.  When you get ten stickers, you’ll get to pick a treat.”  We walked through lots and lots of examples.   We role-played having happy hearts and obeying quickly, and then we pretended to have not so happy hearts and procrastinate.  I felt like they actually understood!  And ever so slowly, over the next few weeks, I saw a transformation.  It took lots of praise and positive reinforcement (and a little negative reinforcement too), but the results were worth it.  Oh the joy it brought when I asked for something and heard a cheerful “Yes, Mommy” followed by immediate obedience!!

But I didn’t get to bask in the joy of having obedient children long before the Holy Spirit whispered to me…, “And what about you?”  When God impresses something on my heart, do I make excuses?  Do I groan inwardly as I agree to help someone in need?  Or do I cheerfully exclaim, “Yes, Father”?  Am I joyful for the opportunities that God provides….or do I think “Why me?”

I had to think.  For me it was a mixed bag.  There are times I am genuinely happy to obey.  But there are also times where I obey out of duty.  Then there are times where I make excuses, grumble, and procrastinate.

Fortunately, I don’t think God keeps a Heavenly Happy Heart Chart.  But I do believe it pleases him when we serve him with righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17-18).  So the next time I get that little prompting, I will think of the joy that I bring my Father when I not only obey, but do so right away, all the way and with a happy heart.

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5 Responses to Right Away, All the Way and with a Happy Heart

  1. Lorri Winkcompleck says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Julie. We expect so much out of our children…it is wise for us to remember that our “heavenly parent” is delighted by our happy-heart-behavior as much as we are delighted by our children’s!

  2. Marilyn says:

    “Immediate obedience” is something we talked about recently in staff meeting. In
    Luke 5: 1-11, Jesus asked Simon to put his nets back in the water, followed by His asking Simon, James & John to come with Him. The verse says they just pulled their boats on the shore, left everything and followed Him. Right then. No tying up loose ends. It convicted me that I might be more likely to say, “Can I finish this one thing first, then I’ll be right there with you?” and of how much I want to have “immediate obedience”.

  3. Kristin Wright says:

    Thanks for the great reminder and challenge, Julie! I often feel like I learn much more from the four year old than she does from me :-)

  4. Fran Upton says:

    What a great reminder that we need to obey our heavenly Father, quickly, and with out grumbling or eye-rolling. Thanks.

  5. Kristen says:

    I can’t wait to make a Happy Heart Chart! My son Noah does his fair share of grumbling and fussing. I think he will LOVE to add stickers to the Happy Heart Chart and get treats when he reaches a goal.

    We do this with prayers, too. When he asks God for something, we add it to a chart. Then when God answers, we add a cross sticker so that he can see how God answers his prayers–even the No answers. When his friend Hunter was sick, we prayed that he would be well soon. We got a YES! When Noah prayed for a wii, he kept looking in the fireplace (Santa sometimes “drops” presents there at Christmas), he finally said, “Why isn’t God bringing me a Wii?” We got the opportutity to talk about how God gives us what we need, but not always the things we want if those things aren’t His best for us, or if we are not ready for them–how sometimes God says “Not yet.” I know he understood because when I commented on my friend’s beautiful necklace, he said “Mama, God says ‘no’ on that one.” LOL! (he was right).

    Thank you for sharing this great idea, and this wonderful reminder for us to model happy hearts, and to answer God with a resounding Yes! when He calls.

    Blessings, heavenly answers, & our precious kiddos,
    Kristen

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