Tag Archives: children

Dance shirtless on a hill

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.
Image via Wikipedia

For many of us,  school has begun.  Today, I prayed as I stood beside my kids and they prepared to enter the classroom.  I prayed for them and their ability to make wise choices.  I prayed for their teachers.  I prayed for the school and district leadership.  This is but the beginning, the prayers will continue all year because God directs me to do so.

I’ll offer guidance and struggle with them as they face life issues in this compact environment.  But my inabilities shout their presence within my mind.  I can’t open their eyes and enable them to pick their friends wisely.  I can’t sit in the room every day seeking understanding of how to better strengthen their minds.  I can’t whisper in their ears calming thoughts in anxious moments.

God can.

Because I believe in His strength and fortitude no matter what the circumstance, I hand off my precious people into the arms of others.  Some whom I know and some I don’t.  But God’s guidance remains within me and my husband.  His directions enable my children.  I trust Him.

In the midst of prepubescance and angst ridden second graders, my hope is this:

they will feel so confident in their faith, they will be capable of dancing shirtless on a hill. 

But, what does that mean?

I’ve provided a link to a 3 minute TED talk given by Derek Sivers.  His talk encourages and guides leaders, but I saw something else.  I saw one kid.  A boy whose passion for music and love of life burst out and became contagious to everyone around.

The kid’s gutsy and energizing wish to move inspired and brought others along for the ride.  That’s what I hope for my kids. 

Watch it here. 

May my children love the Lord and trust Him enough to stand out and dance, even if it seems like they stand alone.   The Lord wants our joy to overflow in such a way that we dance (literally or figuratively) before Him.

“Then young women will dance and be glad,
   young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
   I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. ”  Jeremiah 31:13

If we know this is true for our children, maybe we’ll be capable of living within that truth ourselves.

My choice today:

Dance shirtless on a hill.  (Okay, as a chick, I’ll wear a shirt.  But you get the imagery, right.)

Do children ever inspire you?  What have you seen or heard that makes you want to become better?

 

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Last day of summer break: things to do

An orange check mark.
Image via Wikipedia

1.  Sleep in one last time, check.

2. Watch a favorite T.V. show together, check.

3. Take that bike ride you talked about for the past few months, check.

4. Organize backpacks and supplies, check.

5. Return books and videos to the library (otherwise I’ll forget and build up fees), check.

6. Look in their eyes long and hard, check.

7. Talk about the summer and all we did, check.

8. Sort through at all those pictures, check.

9. Plan the clothes and food for tomorrow, check.

10.  Give solid and squishy hugs off and on all day, check……

 

No regrets, no take backs or do overs.  This summer’s a wrap.

My choice today:

Wrap up this summer with God’s blessing, and pray for the teachers and this next school year. 

5 steps to better bonding with your kids

by freedigitalphotos.net

We adore them, those worming, squirming, strong-minded kiddos of ours.  But that doesn’t mean we get them.  Closeness to them matters more than job security and a good credit line, combined.  Yet, try as we might our ownership manual never arrived in the mail.

We must push their buttons and coax their minds in the hope that we will parentally succeed where others have failed.  What can we do?

5 steps to better bonding with the most complex gadgets we have, our children:

1.  Ask questions. 

Not inquisition style, but inquisitive style.  We ask because we care.  Their thoughts are way more fascinating than TMZ.  Even silly questions build foundations.

I enjoy ones like, “If you could bring any toy with you on a long plane ride, what would it be?”  Remember, when they answer, they share their opinion.  Opinions aren’t wrong.

2.  Think ahead and make the questions complex. 

Remember the good ‘ol days, when your family asked you questions, and you responded with the standard one-word response? Conversation didn’t get very far.

Solid questions require thought.  If you were answering, could you respond quickly in one word or with detail.  Kid convos which include details grow the conversation, lack of details kill it, and not in a good way.

3.  Answer questions.

If our children know they can approach us on any topic, and they won’t be chastised or criticized, the likelihood they’ll return for more questions increases.  I knew a teacher who had a poster in her class which stated, “The only stupid question is the one you never ask.”  If we stick to that attitude, our kids know it and welcome our involvement in their lives.

We will have to let them know we’re open to their questions, though….especially if we have older children.  A simple statement like, “Do you have any questions for me?” opens the conversational door to our lives.  We will have to repeat the phrase often before we hear strong content questions, but silly ones still help them trust us.

4.  Make eye contact.

Ever have someone talk with you who doesn’t look at you?  It’s disconcerting.  This happens to children constantly.  We often need to stoop down to make eye contact, and this small workout pays off more than regular trips to the gym.  It shows how valuable we feel they are.

5.  Plan play times.

Not play-dates with friends, but family play time.  Make sure it suits your family’s personality.  Play could involve word games or rhyming.  It includes video games or Twister.  Play can be as detailed as a full-fledged family baseball game or as simple as a round of Angry Birds in the doctor’s office waiting room.

As parents ,we often tell our kids what to do and not to do, but play enables us to simply enjoy being together, because we like one another.  You could sign up for every movement activity in town and join team after team, but if your family doesn’t enjoy time together, you’ll miss valuable connections which last a lifetime.

My choice today:

Make the effort to build bonds with my kids.

 

In comments, share ways you strive to build better bonds with your kids.

6 reasons to see Cars 2

250 px
Image via Wikipedia

Our family made a plan, we read an online listing telling what to expect in movies this summer.  Only one caught the mutual family eye.  That’s right, one

Cars 2.

Since movies have become so amazingly expensive, we don’t want to catch gazillion mediocre flicks.  One good one will do.  Of course that places serious pressure on the movie to come through.  I mean, mathematically speaking, even at an early play time, watching the regular version (no IMAX or 3D), if you include the snacks for the family, the event cost us $67.00.

Can I hear a Mater-like, “DANG”?

Again, that flick better rock.  And it did.

Here are our family’s reasons for enjoying CARS 2:

1.  It’s family history.  We own the original CARS and love the music and the characters. Continuing the journey ignites the engine of our family.

2.  Action and adventure.  From the moment the pictures began dancing on the big screen, we saw chases, mystery, intrigue and a CARS take on Tokyo, Paris and London.  (Let’s just say Lightning McQueen vacuum cleaner ads in lights)

3.  Friendship factor.  Much like the first CARS, this one holds true to the value of friendship.  In spite of previous lessons learned, you can take those same cars and put them into a different space and the lesson becomes new.

4.  Tension hugs.  As the action picked up, our kids clung close to mom and dad.  They felt the tension and sought parental security.  We happily obliged.

5.  Roaring laughter.  Pixar knows that perfect balance with tension and release as they help kids to enjoy learning vital lessons.  When the release came, our munchkins burst out with outrageous giggles worth bottling and selling.

6.  Memories.  When all was said and done, our youngest informed us that we will, of course, need to buy this movie when it comes out on DVD.  Thus the memories continue.

(other less noteworthy reasons for parents to like this one: no bad language, mediocre violence, same great characters with extras added, great relationship building skills.)

As you can tell, we enjoy our movie fun, but if you aren’t movie people, check that list again.  These are vital criteria for any family experience worth doing.

My choice today:

Have fun with my family that uniquely fits my family.

How to build healthy family habits

The Andy Griffith Show
Image via Wikipedia

As parents, we ache to see our families succeed.  Our hearts long for that picture perfect, almost Andy Griffith life.  Okay, so Andy Griffith is old and black and white, but come on, they never argue and always encourage with the right words at the right moment.  Who doesn’t want that?

Our families are outrageously complicated, but we do have multiple choices to help our family develop into the true beauty we’ve always dreamt it would be.

Here are a few ideas I’ve discovered about building a healthy family:

Where to start?

1.  Becoming a better lover   is a post about what real love is, how to identify it, experience it and give it.

2.  Family goals is a poll on what kind of goals you have for your family.  Use it to get you started thinking about your goals.

3. Plans for the family journey shows our family’s goal setting process.  Making the goal is the first step toward getting there.

4.  Did you know you are a mentor? helps parents to look at their roles in a new light.

The discipline dilemma

1.  Unwrapping the ropes of fear, one bite at a time  enables us to face our fears.  One big fear parents face centers around the arena of discipline.  Let’s not get tied up any longer.

2.  Do you hear me now? reminds us to value the ears we’ve been given.  The better we listen, the better we’ll know how to connect with our kids in vital ways that matter.

3.  Even a garden requires discipline opens our eyes to the value of boundaries in the lives of our children.

4.  Does solid discipline create a solid disciple? For those of us who long to see our kids grow closer to Christ, discipline plays a huge role in that development. 

5.  Put on a helmet, you’ve pummeled the wall too long encourages us to look at our struggles from a different angle. 

Breaking the mold

1.  Overcoming chaos in our lives is a post about how easily we can get caught up in what other people think we should do.  Let’s break the mold and allow our family to be unique by not enabling chaos to control our decisions.

2.  Build your day one hour at a time allows us to slow down and think about the start and not the finish.

3.  You’re welcome, no really, you are reminds us of the value of hospitality, teaching it and living it.

4.  Why we don’t do the toothfairy, and never will enables us, as parents, to choose our family traditions.  We set the plan for our kids, and we can do it creatively and joyfully.

5. 6 steps to a smooth summer lets us break the mold by stepping outside the norm and appreciating the warmth of each day.

Further food for thought

1.  Things I never ate until I had kids helps us bond with one another over the issue of food and how it changes when parenthood comes.

2.  Stay-at-home stereotypes revealed – cooking shows all of us who stay at home, there isn’t just one way to do it. 

3.  Feed that family reminds us, we all gotta eat, right? It contains great ideas to help us feed ourselves and our family.

4.  Feeding children to hear and receive God’s word is a post about a different kind of food, one that matters just as much or more than the traditional pyramid shows.

My choice today:

Learn more to do more, and begin building a healthy family.

Put on a helmet, you’ve pummeled the wall too long

Helmet + evil face
Image by Reinis Traidas via Flickr

The day I gave birth to my first daughter, a friend promised I’d understand God’s love better than ever.  In some ways, I’ve seen the truth of this statement.  In other ways, I understand God’s frustrations better.

If God is our heavenly father, then we parents can relate to how He might feel with us occasionally.   Today is one of those days.  Maybe it’s happened to you too.

You start with the best intentions.  Tell the kids, step one:  do this.  They do it.  Awesome.  Step two: do the next thing.  One does it, the other swears you never said a thing.  To clarify, you calmly restate step two.  Your wonderful child does a completely different activity convinced the guidance came from you.  They state this opinion quite adamantly and with great emotion. The calm and uncalm collide.  What?

You find yourself seated on the floor bamming your head into the wall, trying not to become angry at one small person’s inability to understand the English language.  What went wrong?

My days look this way occasionally, and then I remember my friend’s promise.  In spite of my frustrations, I adore the blond people God created through me.  I believe in their present and their future.   My love continues even as the wall banging comes to a head.   I guess I am learning about God’s love for me.

I do the same thing.   I read in scripture about what kind of life God wants for me.  I hear sermons on improving my faith walk and I think I understand.  Then, I do what my confused brain has instructed, only to find myself praying for forgiveness because not only did I mess up, but now I have a big clean up.  Has that happened to you?

I wonder, does God occasionally wish He created a wall to bang His head against? 

As the parent seeking to help my child get unstuck and grow, sometimes she needs a time out.  She needs a different choice, a calm uncomplicated choice.  Once the emotions subdue, she’ll be able to start fresh and take another crack at getting step two done.  Or, I might give up on step two for today and delay it for another day.  I remind her of my ongoing love.  We continue our relationship, in spite of wall banging moments.

If we’re the ones causing God to want to bang His head,  what can we do to start fresh?

My choice today:

Give myself a time out when I find myself messing up.  Pause.  Calm down.  Try again.  He still loves me.

Did you know you are a mentor?

Dad and Kid Carving
Image by TGIGreeny via Flickr

You volunteered.  You’re already doing it.  You may not realize it yet, but if you are a parent, you serve as a mentor.

Mentoring is all the rage.  All the cool kids are doing it.

From salesmen to CEO’s, people seek out wise mentors to take them to the next business level.  They’ll pay big bucks, take classes, and invest in books.   If you write, you need a mentor.  If you garden, you need a mentor.  Chefs require mentors, and so does much of life.

Find someone you respect and trust, ask them if anyone ever guided them.  Chances are you’ll hear about that amazing person who helped them on the next career track.  So, it’s only a career thing, right? Wrong?

Have you heard of life coaching?  That’s a form of mentorship.  Therapists and counselors serve as a type of mentor.  Those stinking mentors are everywhere.  Wish you had one?

You did.

The first and main mentors in our life develop from the continuous caregivers with whom we live out the first years.  Our speech patterns and style of walking get copied by the kids.

If you are a parent, you know it’s true.  Our kids echo back to us the things we say, and it often doesn’t sound as good as we thought it would.  We cannot teach by merely saying the right words.  If you’ve had a mentor, you know observation is the best teaching tool.

Dancers first see dance teachers move the pattern, then they can recreate it.  Parents send their kids to driving school, knowing they will follow what they see.    As the saying says, “Experience is the best teacher.”

Heads up Mom and Dad, they don’t do as we say, they do as we do.  If we chow down on candy repeatedly, the odds show they will too.  If we drink excessively, visual example teaches more than DNA.  If we jog or read or eat leafy greens or indulge in tons of T.V., well you get the point.

It’s a big responsibility and occasionally is scares the snot right out our noses, but that’s parenthood baby.  All the whining in the world won’t change the truth, the day we became parents, we became mentors.

So, knowing that truth, let’s decide what we most want to teach.  Guess who has to learn it first?  That’s right mentor Mom and Dad, we have to learn it to teach it.  If we don’t, they’ll learn what we really teach, whether we like it or not.

My choice today:

Open my eyes to see what I’m teaching my kids, and do something about it.

Food for thought: things I never ate until I had kids

Peer pressure’s strength endures, but parental self-pressure outweighs it every time.  Here are five foods I never ate, until I became a parent.

1.  Sweet potatoes

2.  Fried kale chips

3.  Butternut squash soup

4.  Lemonade, made with lemons

5.  Star fruit

My choice today:

Try something new.

Choosing family time

A family walking along a beach.
Image via Wikipedia

A great event popped up on our family schedule and today is a chance for me to put my words into action.  In spite of the fact that I adore writing for  you.  Today, I’m choosing family.  So, I thought I’d give you a chance to check out some of my earlier posts you may not have seen.  These are some of my favorites.

Walk now to enable to walking later

Does solid discipline create a solid disciple?

Discovering positive parental power

Wanted: Female mentors

I hope you enjoy. May you know and live the knowledge that “this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

6 steps to a smooth summer

Sandy Toes
Image by Clearly Ambiguous via Flickr

Kids exit school in droves for the summer break.  As parents, we figure out how to deal with the changes often at the last-minute.  The rest of us think of summer as break season even if our work environment disagrees.  The calendar may not call it summer yet, but we feel it.  It’s either here already or coming on like a locomotive down the track.

How can the chaos of summer smooth out and glide by?

Here are six simple steps to a smooth summer:

1.  Laugh liberally

Our schedules wiggle around.  Our sanity gets tested.  We can find ourselves frustrated and depressed or embrace the irony of each moment.  When the dog eats your child’s favorite toy which happened to be on the floor after you’ve requested its removal multiple times, you could say, “I told you so. ” But why not laugh.  Why not appreciate the beauty of dog slobber and the overlap of kids and canines and just laugh.

2.  Greet the heat

How easily we complain when the temp grows past 90 degrees and the mosquitoes increase in number.  But that’s summer.   We’ve wanted warmth when the goose bumps covered us from head to toe and now that it has arrived.  Greet it, and welcome it.  Since we know what to expect, lets load up on ice and ice packs and make or buy popsicles and ice cream.  Fill whatever will hold with water and immerse ourselves in it.  This season has value and joy if you look at it with open eyes.  Just say it, “Howdy heat, welcome aboard.  I’m ready for you.”

3.  Seek out silence

Many voices crowd our minds: the kids, the spouse, friends, the T.V., the radio, the internet, hulu,  youtube and much more.  The more we hear, the more we become incapable of further absorption.  Whether you call it meditation, jogging, prayer, or beach babe-hood, silence is your friend.  You may not realize it because it’s been a while since you’ve hung out, but silence demands nothing.  Silence gives pause and peace and perspective.  We all need those elements desperately, and they are worth seeking.

4.  Build the boundaries

The temptation of overcompensation creeps in each summer.  We think of all we want to do: the dream trips or adapted stay-cations,  the ten books of summer, the kid classes in everything from macrame to mountain climbing.  One thing gets added to another and another until we find ourselves swamped by activities.  We need discipline.  Instead of finding joy in the experience, we feel stress.  Let’s think ahead.  It’s not too late to cancel, if we’ve already over bought from the parks and recreation program.  Down time holds value too.  In the same way too many cooks spoil the stew, too many activities stress out our summer.

5. Focus on Friendships

As Bill Clinton posted in his office the day he became president, “It’s the people stupid.” Our summer can become so clotted with stuff we forget the people.  But beware, just because people are part of the stuff doesn’t mean the friendships are truly being fostered.   Sometimes, too much is just too much.  Real friendship take time and personal moments.  Our friends aren’t simply those outside our family but also within the walls of our home.  After all, moves happen and changes occur, but family stays family.  Who better to build into a friend?

6.  Keep church consistent

The temptation rises to take a break across the board when we pause from one area in life.  If there is one place where a break holds little value, it’s church.  The reason to attend centers on strengthening a relationship with God and growing closer to His family.  That family extends across the globe and reaches into every people group.  The one relationship which opens doors and gives wisdom to all others is the connection between us and Christ.  He never takes a break from us, so let’s keep hanging out with Him and His family.  A solo walk of faith gives little strength when the tough times of life hit, if Jesus kept connected with believers, so should we.

What ideas have you learned to keep your summer smooth?  Share them here so we can all grow together.

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