How to Cure a Dawdler Without Strangulation, My Five Tips

Passive aggressive children (coworkers, siblings, roommates) suck the energy right of you, don’t they? People don’t wake up one day and decide to be passive aggressive. No, they act that way because of years of practice, but it begins in childhood. It is most often seen in a child who is given a job–be it getting dressed, cleaning a room, or doing schoolwork, and who then dawdles through it. The child professes to be working at it so shouldn’t be chastised, but in reality is ignoring it, and it drives you to the point of pulling your hair out. That’s the key point in diagnosing passive aggression. If it doesn’t make you crazy, it isn’t passive or it isn’t aggression. But when you see it, before you reach the crazy stage, implement character training. It must be weeded out before it takes root and becomes a way of life.

We see this in the lives of people, not animals. First of all, no mama rhino would let her child be non-compliant. And secondly, dawdlers in the animal kingdom are eaten when the lions chase the pack. Therefore they cease to exist. The mama rhino knows that and trains it out of her offspring. Let us do likewise!

In us humans it’s different, and all too often we make allowances for it. Sometimes we think we can reason it away. Nope. The child (and counterpart adult) seldom voices the reason for passive aggression, and may not be cognizant of it. Thus scolding, talking, reminding and yelling are all ineffective. In our household this week, passive aggression came in the form of a young miss who just sat and did no math, while professing three hours later she was doing it but it was just so hard. (sob, sob) Sound familiar? (Let me just clarify here that when forced to do it, she completed her work in less than 15 minutes. Let’s not fall prey to tears, feeling sorry for the tyke. No, she was dawdling.)

Obviously a spouse, sibling or coworker acts outside the realm of your authority, so you cannot compel a change. Only influence can be brought to bear. But a child is your responsibility.  Your primary job is raising up a righteous generation, and refusing to deal with dawdling hurts not just the rhythm of the present day, but will impact your child in future years. No one enjoys being around a passive aggressive person, no employer likes to hire a passive aggressive person, and few spouses remain married to a passive aggressive person. Fail to deal with it, and your child will pay the price for a very, very long time.

Ready to fix the problem? These are my five tips for dealing with dawdlers:

  1. Move the child next to you. Children who see constant eyes upon them finally dig in and get the job done. K did her math in minutes once I had her within arm’s reach and kept my eyes on her. Of course it upsets your day and requires your attention, but putting in the required time pays off in the end. It’s your job. Just do it. Be the rhino. Everything else can wait when your child needs correction.
  2. Reward dawdling with consequences. K had math, math, math, math, math for all her subjects until I saw a change of attitude and performance. Only then was she allowed to work independently (away from my side) and then still on math, until she proved her good workmanship. In the words of an old song, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” For another situation it might mean cleaning the bathroom and the hall and the kitchen after the original chore was accomplished (with mom lounging in full view with iced tea in hand.) Life has consequences. Don’t thwart that natural order if you wish to raise a responsible child.
  3. Apply the Word. Scripture study and memorization of applicable verses reaches the soul. There’s the heart of the problem, right? Apply eternal light to a little speck of darkness. One of my favorites is 1 Samuel 15:23.
  4. Talk. Inspire. Praise. Passive aggressive children–after consequences have been applied–need a heavy dose of conversation. Why do you suppose you didn’t do your math? and Did it make you happy to be disobedient? and How do you feel now? Many of us act unconsciously when upset until we are able to sit down, ponder, and figure out what made us feel that way. If we have trouble pinpointing a problem as adults, surely we shouldn’t expect that same self awareness in a child. Focus on the situation at hand and let your child grow up a little before you try psychoanalysis, lol. But talk. A lot. Growing love inspires a child to be obedient.
  5. Do this as often as necessary. Your child needs to know that he/she will NEVER win the war of passive aggression. Clear the calendar as often as necessary and get ‘er done. Expect recurrences. Never let your child win in the game of dawdling.

be the rhinoParents, be the rhino! Of course if you home school, this is easier for you. You aren’t racing off with a non-compliant child to be on time somewhere. You can devote yourself to child training. Your reward? A few weeks of happy compliance before it starts all over again. But those few weeks? They’re worth all the hassle.

Let me encourage you, parents, to do your duty. Take the raising of your children as your primary source of employment, and do the job thoroughly. It takes time and effort, but you’ll love that youngster all the more as an adult, an adult who isn’t passive aggressive.

What To Do When Capitalism Goes Awry

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in capitalism over all other national forms of economic structure. I do believe, however, that something has gotten our economic system out of whack.

Right now the old aphorism that it takes money to make money has never been more true. Entrepreneurs, inventors, craftsmen and authors find themselves disenfranchised when it comes to getting noticed or marketing their products. It takes a hefty bankroll to break into the public consciousness.internet

Social media leveled the playing field for a short time, but then Facebook began manipulating the posts, so no one knows who actually receives what is put online. The ever mysterious metrics on Google make reaching people on the world wide web more a case of hocus pocus and less a marketing strategy that anyone can implement with precision. The slow demise of the printed newspaper has compounded the dilemma. Even catching the eye of a reporter is difficult when the electronic age insulates them from from unwanted solicitation. The cost of advertising on any of these platforms also favors the lucky recipient with a bankroll.

The result cheapens the market because we see is not necessarily the best of the best. Cream doesn’t always rise to the top in a manipulated market. And it’s not up to you or me to judge the difference…that’s been done for us and we’ve been spoon fed what we are allowed to see. The invisible faces of people pulling strings do that for us.

My question is: How long are we going to let the invisible entities muddy up the waters? It’s time to rise up and figure a way around the stranglehold. I have ideas. Pockets of people could create accounts for startups and we could finance ourselves. The successful startup would then pay back for the next recipient. We really need to get behind a new and more transparent form of social media. And finally, we need to champion the worthy causes we see around us.

internet2It isn’t easy, I know. I am one of the sisters organizing The Ultimate Expos. I see fabulous artists who go largely unrecognized despite our every attempt to showcase their work on Facebook. We commit ourselves to advancing their careers…we just have such a twisted and tightly regulated medium in which to do it.

I welcome other suggestions. It’s up to we the people to change things. What are your ideas?

Would You Vote for a 28th Amendment?

I know, we only find 27 amendments to our Constitution, a tribute to the foresight and wisdom of our founding fathers.  I think we need a 28th, however.  You see, I think government has gotten out of hand, and I see no inclination by those in power to reign it in.  Yup.  We need a 28th amendment on term limits.

Our founding fathers evolved into statesmen from a variety of occupations:  They worked as farmers, soldiers, shop keepers, journalists.  They served under penalty of death at the hands of the British, not for a lifetime stipend beyond the imaginations of the citizens, but for their love of country.  Their labor was a sacrifice of time, money, and in some cases, life itself.

Fast forward 200 years and we now see men and women who consider themselves career politicians with the bank rolls to prove it.  I mean no disrespect.  I merely state the obvious.  The best get the same pay and benefits as the worst scoundrels, and have you taken the time to count how many voted against their last pay hike?

I wonder how many would covet the office if they had to turn in expense receipts for reimbursement and served at the same wage we citizens earn as a standing jurist, $6 a day.  That’s right.  If the expenses were met for airfare and staples, but their only compensation was $6 a day, whose love of country would flame so passionately that he/she would serve at a sacrifice for the good of the country?

Of course, I can’t prevent money flowing under the table.  Evil will seek its own.  But I can lessen the damage done by giving each one less time and a better reason to serve.  Our two-party system may be so fatally flawed that not even a Constitutional amendment can fix it…but we owe it to our children to try.

term 1I was honored with the opportunity to meet Vice President Pence, Josh Hawley, and Roy Blunt when they flew into Kansas City last week.  I long admired our Vice President, and he was just what I expected.  Integrity gleamed from his eyes.  I loved meeting Josh Hawley.  His shy smile and honest eyes won my vote.  I already knew Senator Blunt, and I appreciated seeing him as well.  Why do I bring this up?  Do you know what goes into a visit like this?term 2

Airplanes the size of Nebraska (just kidding) fly in their armored cars.  Oceans of suits with ear buds scan the perimeter.  It’s a pretty big deal, and I realized how BIG our government has grown to require such measures.  We were but one stop…I can’t fathom what it costs to ferry around all these candidates spouting the same rhetoric we see on every commercial on TV.  I know.  It’s part of the process.  I respect that…but not what a huge thing it’s become.term 3

Will a 28th Amendment solve every problem?  No, I freely admit it won’t.  But would it be a reasonable first step?  Yes, I believe it would be.  I firmly support term limits.  I’d love to see a few million people agree with me.

Is Your Vision 20/20?

Am I 20/20?  Nope, not even a little bit.  People…I don’t know, people like doctors, maybe people who know me, the DMV, all wonder why I never wear my glasses.  Am I myopic?  Yes.  But here’s the thing:  I can see cars, signs, people.  If I know where I’m going, they aren’t necessary.  Truthfully, I suffer from a chronic malady rendering eyeglasses insignificant.  I am afflicted with chipmunk cheeks.  My glasses fog up when it’s hot and they fog up when it’s cold, so really, what’s the point?

Much more important to me is developing 20/20 spiritual vision.  Recognizing the signs of the times.  Realizing good for being good and evil for being evil, and rightly discerning the importance of world events constitutes perfect vision for me.  It requires stepping back, back, back…and looking at the big picture.

foggy statueThe minutiae of life makes everything fuzzy when we fail to look at the big picture.  Big ideas like liberty, salvation, faith, who God is…you know, the things that span eternity…require clear vision to fully appreciate them.  A recent trip to NYC brought that home for me.  I’ve seen Lady Liberty in gorgeous sunshine and brisk cold weather.  This was my first time to see her shrouded in fog.  It reminded me of how hazy the big picture looks these days.

Perhaps people become spiritually myopic in life because their God is so small that their frame of reference diminishes to a pin prick of self-righteousness.  Their vision gets hazy and they miss the big picture.  I see God in bold brush strokes painting an elaborately choreographed picture of His return.  If you agree, join me for further discussions!

How to Avoid a Moldy Life

The choice is yours:  A moldy life or living instant in season.  The Bible offers this one short phrase as an injunction for all of life.  At first I wondered what it could possibly mean, but I learned its lesson the hard way.  I now base much of my life upon it…but what does that mean to you?

Nike says it succinctly: Just do it.  I add the now.

I like this wry explanation. “Someday is not a day of the week.”  Penned by Denise Brennan-Nelson, her tongue-in-cheek view of the antithesis makes me smile.

Defined by action, being instant in season requires immediacy.  Thinking of someone?  Call or pen a note.  Yes, I’m old school.  Our children text or email, but the result remains the same.  The lifeline you toss to another may be just that.  Solomon talked about it:  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  A prayer into the universe gets directed to you and what? You procrastinate? You choose not to answer?  Whose hope, whose life drowns because you chose to do it someday?  Lifelines save lives and heal hearts, as I’ve learned so poignantly these last few months.  Instead, be instant in season.

We once lived in an over-sized garage. We never redecorated or made it our own because, of course, it was just temporary.  Why pour money into something we’d be leaving behind?  Four years later it looked exactly the same as when we moved in, and I learned my lesson.  Make your life your own today.  Live in the now. Embrace the tangible and make it real.

The basis of living in season is falling in love with your life.  Create a life beyond mere existence, a life of passion.  Yes, goals may be long term, but actionable steps make the promise real today, not tomorrow.  Distilled down into the nitty-gritty, it requires taking responsibility for your hopes and your dreams, being the architect of your own future.

neverWhat happens when we fail to live our lives instant and in season?  Ever have to clean moldy food out of the refrigerator?  Your hopes and dreams become diseased and unhealthy when harbored past a designated shelf life.  Turned in upon themselves, you create your own desert of depression.  The cure?  Toss out the old and dream up some new.  My planner for 2018 reminds me of a favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.”  I look at it and read it several times a day.  Yes, I believe that.  With all my heart.

When Bitter is more than Sweet

It’s a bittersweet day at the Rhoads house.  After 8 years of having Alma’s family closer than/better than neighbors, they move into town today.  Of course we support their decision and wish the best for them.  At the same time, I’ve been crying for days now.  It’s like losing Alma all over again.

How do we deal with these times of bitter change that don’t feel sweet at all?  I ask because boomers face more and more difficult changes as they age.  Knowing we traverse an expected transition does little to ease the angst, however.  Surely something moves the sweet into the bitter?  I mean, I’d love a sweetbitter experience over a bittersweet any day of the week.

So what helps?

  • Of course, counting blessings tops the list.  I am grateful we enjoyed so much time with these precious ones.  And hopefully out of sight doesn’t mean we’ll be out of their lives!
  • Crying helps.  Wait! What?  Yes, it’s okay to grieve loss.  I feel Alma very close these days.
  • Self-indulgence is permitted.  One day I have got to give up sugar again, but I still comfort myself with little treats.
  • Find new interests.  We’re working on that.  Easier said than done, because while we are a pair, we are still two very different people.  Writing helps me a lot.
  • Figure out how to survive without help.  Really?  Alma did 90% of the upkeep, and we see no viable solution here.

So, three out of five isn’t bad, is it?  The only problem is that we’ve been mired at this stage for months now.  How long do these transitions last?  Is there ever really a cure for a broken heart, broken dream, broken life?  We wear smiles.  We stay busy.  I write a lot.  But underneath the veneer little changes.  The bitter still outweighs the sweet, and this day more than most.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Flag Down

flag downThe midterm elections lie inches away in my calendar timeline and I, for one, cannot wait. The cacophony of ads every time I turn around hurts my ears. He said, she said…and precious little corroboration for anyone’s claims. The vitriolic nature of discourse dim my hope for our nation. I fear it will soon be flag down, for good.

Now I’m not a political pundit.  Trust me on that.  Still, I think two simple words shade my voting tendencies.  I think two simple words will determine the outcome of this election for many of us.

Kavanaugh.  No matter where you fell on the Kavanaugh spectrum, the Kavanaugh spectacle made me sick.  Literally.  Have we sunk so low as a nation that judicial confirmation hearings look like an episode of Jerry Springer rather than an august deliberation?  And none of the participants in the debacle seem bothered by that? I fear for my country.

Word two: Caravan.  A mob of Hondurans march to cross our border. Again. And our response is…what?  Do we welcome them with open arms or arms fully loaded?  I hear little discussion on how to meet and greet these folks, but this only serves to highlight the tension surrounding border control.  Am I the only one who sees a problem here?  No matter where you stand on humanitarian immigration, I think we can all agree that should we accept thousands at a time we might as well switch our national language to Spanish. Habla espanol?

we the peopleI don’t know about all y’all, but I’m a two-word voter this election.  Kavanaugh.  Caravan.  You don’t have to sit on my side of the kitchen table to agree…these are two defining moments for our nation.  And our response to them will change the course of our nation. We the people better be figuring it out, because I don’t see a lot of answers coming out of either side of the aisle in DC.


Forty-one years is a long time to live in one place.  These days people change jobs and homes and marriages with less stress than this one life-changing decision is causing us.  We are planters, not hunters, by nature; yet we feel anachronistic when we look at the picture-studded walls depicting the epic saga of a life lived all in one place.

As we bravely look 70 years of age in the face, we wonder: Is it time to move?  A practical mind urges us to move.  Alma took care of the ten acres, and with him gone, it’s a burden for Bill.  Finances suggest the wisdom in staying put.  Zero debt is pretty compelling.  Town living is expensive.  Chronology pushes us to move.  How many more years do we have without a major illness forcing us out?  The heart begs us to stay.  All our memories of Alma lie buried within these four walls.  Our home is perfect for family dinners when all the clan comes home to be together.  In the end it will probably be decided for us, because it’s not all about us.  We have Alma’s widow to consider.

I feel like a roulette wheel, spinning round and and round and where will I land?  Nobody knows.  At least nobody living and breathing on this earth.  Pragmatic by nature, I lean toward moving while it’s our idea and we can do the choosing.  The question is simple:  Is there life beyond these walls?  Would anyplace else ever be so sweet?”  Yes, I’ve been humming Fiddler on the Roof.  My biggest fear is ending our days in a place that feels like a motel where we’ve overstayed our welcome, with no home to go to.

We’re setting apart a time for prayer and fasting before we decide, because we simply cannot see far enough down the pike to make a wise decision.  This much I do know: I don’t want to feel like I’m loading a few earthly possessions into a cart and trudging into the unknown.  If I must leave my home, I want to be excited and passionate and already imagining a new life.  But I’m a planter.  Something tells me this isn’t going to go well for me.

How to Improve Your Life in 30 Days

Ever want to embark on self-improvement?  Take a stroll through the Word.  I find no better path in life than one made by following the footprints of the Master-.  Digging deep into the Word fills my soul and sharpens my mind.  Thus I begin a 30-day challenge for the month of October.  Join me if you wish!

Begin with Jeremiah 10: 12-13.  I will be sending these daily meditations via email to each person who asks to be included, but not posting daily on the blog, so let me show you how this works for me.  Begin by reading the verses:  He made the earth by his power, he hath established the world y his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.  When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. 

Then I hone in on whatever captures my imagination.  I love the sound of His voice.  Imagine a super hero who can speak and rain fills a thirsty land (Psalms 84:6).  Imagine a voice so soft and sweet that you hold it close to hear its every word (1 Kings 19: 12-13).  Imagine a voice so dear that it never ceases to call for you and you run toward it each and every time you hear your name called (John 10: 27-28).  These images deepen my love and soften my heart.

Next I read an amplified version of the same passage, because it helps me personalize its message.  Read two verses before the passage and four verses past the passage.  Realize its context and find God speaking to the heart. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.  Jeremiah goes on to describe the makers of idols as being senseless and without knowledge, making worthless objects of mockery, and concludes by saying, “He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Master of all things, including Saraleethe daughter of His inheritance….  See what I did there?  I inserted my name in the generic spot of a noun for a person or group of persons, making the passage personal for me.30 days

Thus I am called along the path my Savior walks, ever by my side.  He leads me, calls me, loves me, and I lean in close to hear His every whisper.  Care to join me for 30 days of self-improvement?  Leave a comment and I’ll get with you!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required


( mm / dd )

How to Define the Ubiquitous Term “Friend”

What is it that both frees and horrifies me about Facebook?  For me it’s the mirage of faces and personalities that feel real, that Facebook calls my friends.  In some cases they do represent tangible people I see, love, hug, and know.  Sometimes I scrutinize features and wonder if I’ve ever really brushed shoulders with them.

Yet these intangible entities talk to me, correspond with me and are my friends  My Facebook friends.  Let’s not lose the importance of that distinction.  If some of these people lived next store, went to church with me, or had to eat what I fixed for dinner, the friendship might come to a tragic and untimely end.

The term “friend,” since Monica, Ross, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, and Rachel first graced us with the illusion of relationships that seldom exist, has changed.  Dramatically.  The munchkins at my house struggle sometimes in distinguishing the difference between a friendly acquaintance and a friend.  A friend, a real honest-to-goodness live and in the person friend, cheers for you, cries for you, laughs with you, and hugs you when the hurt spills over and runs down your cheeks.  I enjoy my online friends, but I hope I never lose perspective on how priceless a friend really is.  The 2018 loose definition imposed by the internet concerns me.

Alma’s death crystallized this important concept for me.  The outpouring of support from friends lifted us and still carries us as we try to adjust to the changing landscape of our lives.  I cherish my friends.  I appreciate my Facebook friends.  I’d love to meet each and every one of them.  And call them friends.