Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments

I recently listened to a sermon by Mark Batterson, and in it he told of a study conducted to see how long individuals would work to solve a series of puzzles before giving up. What these people didn't know was that the puzzles were unsolvable. (Did I mention that I hate puzzles?)

They were also unaware that the "taste" study they participated in prior to this was not an independent study but actually directly related to the puzzle study. In the "taste" study, the subjects were led into a room containing a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and a plate of radishes. (You're already salivating, aren't you?) Half the individuals were told to go ahead and eat whatever they wanted (read, "Have at the cookies!") while the unfortunate remainder were asked to consume only the radishes (as they smelled the freshly baked cookies.)

So what was the connection between the two studies? The researchers discovered the people who were allowed to eat the cookies spent twice as much time trying to solve the puzzle as those who resisted the cookies. Why? Because cookies are good for your patience! Eat more cookies and have more patience! The end.

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Actually, the researchers determined we have self-control in limited amounts. In other words, we can use it up. I realize this is not a newsflash, but now you can be assured that your waning patience is not your imagination. In the studies, the "radish" group had already spent a measure of their self-control on avoiding the cookies, which left them with lower supply of patience when it came to working the puzzles.

This is how we store our toilet paper after
the "pirate" has removed his "spyglass!"
Dude and Bubba, my 3- and 2-year-old grandsons, have been living with me a month now, and I can tell you from experience that the results of this study were spot-on. Caring for them two days a week, I had plenty of patience to deal with the exploits of two active and curious toddlers. Living with them 24/7 I find my patience is tried on a regular basis.

The fact that patience and self-control are expendable explains why even the time of day is a factor. It's much easier to deal with issues like a "pirate" in need of a "spyglass" early on in the day (with a full supply of patience) than it is at the end of the day (when much of it has been spent.)

It also explains why that cookie that you've resisted all day ends up in your hand at the end of the day. Or why that one minor offence sets you off when you've successfully dealt with issues of greater magnitude.

It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32

So, does the fact that we possess these fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in limited quantities mean that its okay to "loose it" once our supply has been depleted? Obviously that isn't the case, because that's what we humans tend to do when relying on ourselves and it never is to our benefit. So then, what are we supposed to do when we need more patience than we have?

1. Be Rooted in God's Word. I find I have much more patience and self-control if I've spent some time with Jesus at the beginning of my day. Sometimes it means letting the boys sleep in longer than they should and sometimes it means my husband watching them for a while in the morning so I can start the day off on the right foot.  (During this season, getting up early is not an option - these boys exhaust me!) When this isn't possible, I plant my Bible on the kitchen counter and read a verse or two every time I pass. Put the phone down and rather than looking at it, look at the Bible instead. Trust me, you'll be much better off in the long run.

2. Eliminate stressors.  When the boys moved in, the first thing I did was shelve all my plans (which is the primary reason my posts have been so few and far between.) There's no way I'd be nearly patient as I have been if I was trying to meet deadlines, keep a perfect house (is there such a thing?), making time for the gym (I think hefting 40 pound toddlers up and down the stairs should count for something!), etc. We're in survival mode here. I make sure we eat and have clean clothes. Anything else I get done is a bonus. (I'm only writing this because their Mama was able to come home for a day, giving me a break.) Look at your schedule and determine what you can remove from your load, even if only temporarily?

3. Remove yourself from the situation (or away from the cookie). My husband is great about giving me a break when he can, but most of the time it's just the boys and I. In addition to accepting help when it's offered, I take advantage of things like story time at the library where I can take a back seat and let someone else be in charge, even if only for a short while. Worst-case scenario: I give myself a time-out. If time out for the boys isn't working (i.e. they're not I tell them grandma needs a time-out. They're not sure how to respond to that, and are actually much better at behaving themselves during my time-out than they are for their own. 

4. Pray! James (1:5) tells us that if we're lacking wisdom we should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. There are certain things God wants to give us, and the fruits of the Spirit definitely fall into that category. One thing that I'm doing with my grandsons (that I wish I knew back when my own kids were growing up) is to stop and pray with them - out loud - in the middle of a situation. I'll ask God to give me what I need (usually patience) and then suggest to the boys that they should ask God for what they need (to be kind, cooperative, etc.)

The first time we did this, Dude prayed, "Dear God, we thank you for this food," just like he does at dinner time. But over time, with encouragement, he's learning that he's not going to find what he needs within himself but God has an abundant supply of it all. Oh, how I wish I learned that when I was three!


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

In my recent posts I've mentioned that I've been overwhelmed lately and life has been crazy here in my neck of the woods. That has everything to do with 3-year-old Dude and 2-year-old Bubba moving in with this old grandma a few weeks ago. 

Their mama went back to work when school started, which meant I went back to watching the boys two days a week. Just a few weeks into the school year, my 29-year-old son-in-law got the call he had been waiting for - a heart and kidney were available and he would be getting a transplant later that day! I was already watching the boys, so rather than getting some much-anticipated relief when Momma came home instead received the news that I would be keeping the boys for the near future.

I thought I was ready.

I wasn't.

The first thing the boys did was to share their sickness with me. Runny noses for them morphed into a debilitating illness for me while, of course, they were as active as ever. My house looked like a cyclone hit, and most of our time was spent watching videos. (Many times the same one over and over and over.) 

This world is full of uncertainty, isn't it? We make our plans, we think we know how things will go and how we'll act or react, but everything can change in an instant. 

I didn't know my grandsons wouldn't be going home that day.

My son-in-law didn't know that day would bring a new lease on life.

The donor didn't know that day would be his last.

But God knew.

He determined the times set for [men], and the exact places where they should live. ~ Acts 17:26

Nothing is a surprise to God. Either He planned it, or He allows it. Thankfully, I've learned a few things as I've experienced unexpected changes in my life.

1. Let go of what was and live in the season you are in. 

If I tried to do everything I originally planned on doing in addition to caring for two toddlers, I would be one frustrated mess. Just about everything on my agenda has been shelved, which is why you haven't heard from me for two weeks. (I actually started this post on our weekend away; it's just taken me this long to finish it.) I know this season with the boys will be short, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. Plus, between missing their parents and having their lives upended, Dude and Bubba need all the attention and patience I can muster, and that wouldn't be much if I tried to do it all. Which leads me to the second point:

2. Accept the help God sends.

I don't know what I would have done without the support from the body of believers. Not only has my daughter received an outpouring of support, but it has overflowed to me as well. That first week, when I was so sick, several people brought meals and lent us kids DVD's. My single son came over on his day off to watch the boys (and changed his first-ever messy diaper in the process) while I got some much needed sleep, and the other set of grandparents have been great about taking over on occasion to give us a break. My girlfriend's daughter even came over to play with the boys for a few hours so I could catch up on a few things around the house.

3. Embrace it!

I haven't been writing, but I've had lots of adventures with Dude and Bubba these past few weeks. Here's just a sampling:

They were stinkin' cute and the talk of my niece's wedding.

We made cupcakes for Mama's birthday. First they snuck a bite off the top, then licked off all the frosting rather than spreading it.

Bubba modeled the "Halloween hair."

We have a fabulous kid's room at the local library that we've taken advantage of in addition to going to story time every week. They make great crafts and I don't have to clean up the mess!

The boys have been missing home so I try to get there once a week and let Dude nap in his dump truck bed. They said they were missing Tucker, their neighbor's dog, so last week we visited him too. 

It may be a while before I get to the computer again, but God's giving me plenty to write about as He teaches me through these little ones.


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