Our Family Challenge over the next 40 days really resembles a big TIME OUT!
We’ve prayed over the kids (from the time in the womb) for them to have “a happy heart, a healthy body, a teachable spirit, a peaceful soul and awareness—an understanding of the world around them.” 
The kids know that there is such a thing as first-time obedience, and that “to not obey right away means that you did not obey.”
They also know that if they have to take a Time-Out, that before they are allowed to resume playtime, they must have an eye-to-eye conversation with Mommy or Daddy that ends with a gentle eye-contact apology, “I’m sorry that I _____. Will you please forgive me?” The entire thing concludes with all manner of hugs and positive words, reinforcing the “happy heart and teachable spirit.”
 
Now, Mike and I (as God’s kids) have been convicted lately to do a bit of self-examination.  And for the next 40 Days, we are taking this verse into the Time-Out Chair in order to live each day with first-time obedience, surrounded by a happy heart and a teachable spirit.

“For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to will and to act for His good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”  Phil 2:13-15 (HCSB)

Practice does not make perfect, but it sure does allow for some things to become a little more permanent!  Within weeks of our dating, Mike and I recognized that to have the best relationship we desire, we’d need to remove sarcasm from our daily talk.  We’ve both at times felt like we’ve lost some quick-wittedness, but we don’t regret this decision at all!  Our relationship’s trust was made strong because of the daily practice of sincerity.
Here is a funny look at The Time Out Chair from Sadie’s very first time sitting in it!  And in honor of Father’s Day, I challenge you to ask your Heavenly Father what needs to be “thrown off” of your lives or the life of your family in order to have better face-to-face, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart days… You see, the ultimate goal of the Time Out is to completely remove what got you there in the first place, and well, that takes practice!
It was her first birthday.  Touching buttons on electronics was always her biggest temptation…
So, she landed herself in a new seat!
“Surely Mommy doesn’t mean to keep me here!”
“This MUST be a game!”
“But she seems to be serious about this.  Maybe I should listen.”
“But Mommy, I am ONE! And that camera has BUTTONS!”
“Okay, so she IS serious!”
“This entire ‘no, no, no’ thing is a game I will challenge… you just wait!”
But Mommy WON the round, and it ended in lots of hugs and kisses.
 
Yet IMMEDIATELY, there she ran… ready for another round!
For the next THREE years, Sadie would learn that the LOVE of her Mother and Father was not based solely on her behavior, but we love her because of WHO SHE IS (her identity)… our daughter.  Being such the free-spirit, her most effective Time Out Chair became Daddy’s Lap, in what Mike calls “The Spank Hug.”  He simply holds her in a giant hug until she will calmly sit for the minutes needed.  Her wild eyes in these moments have always shown the desire to cling with all her might to the ornery behavior.  So unlike her brother who was quickly willing to let things go, Sadie and Daddy began to regularly “pray [every day] for the yuckies to go away.”  And over time, Sadie has built a sweeter level of trust.  Trust in our love, AND trust in letting go of the things that are unwise.

It’s hard for all of us to let go of our natural “yuckies.”  It was hard for the Israelites, for men and women throughout the Bible, and for you and me today.  But imagine what will happen to us if we will not only sit ourselves in Time Out with our Father, but let the complaining and arguing GO!  He knows what is best for us and He wants what is best for us.  So for 40 Days, will you join us and “pray every day for the yuckies to go away?”

We are not alone; we have a great example.
Recognize your identity.
Make the eye-contact.
And when all else fails, climb up in a “Spank Hug.”

How Deep the Father’s Love
“Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1,2 (HCSB)
Here’s to HAPPY HEARTS! TEACHABLE SPIRITS!  Now, on to the practice and perfecting… it took a nation 40 years to get this… I’d much rather prefer it in days.

Day One… 39 to go!