Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sometimes you have to encourage yourself

Most of the time I talk about encouraging kids in a variety of ways to boost their self-esteem. But what do you do if you’re not a kid anymore or you don’t have someone around who consistently encourages you? Create a folder or box (this can be physical or digital) and keep cards, notes, and momentos that make you smile and keep you going. On those days, in those times, when you are tired of the same-old-same-old or you are afraid of something new, go through your folder or box and remind yourself that you are special and important and of all the people who believe in you.

And a big THANK YOU to all the fans—you are an encouragement to me everyday!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Listening to what isn’t said

I surprised my daughter for lunch at her school's Thanksgiving feast. While I waited in line, two girls vied for my attention. My daughter naturally hung on my arm, claiming me as her own, but these girls still told me their stories. As they talked, I listened. I looked them in the eye. I wonder if anyone at home listens with undivided attention.

By giving them my attention this way, I validated their existence. Now, trust me, I know kids can talk, and talk, and talk … I remember my elementary teachers commenting on my report cards that I was very talkative—almost every 6 weeks! And my girls have, as my husband says, inherited my "gift of gab." But is anything more important than showing your child you care? There is so much more to their stories and tales than what is said. Listen to how they tell, their tone of voice. What details do they put in? What do they leave out? What can you learn from what they don't say?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bullied Survey

If you have ever been bullied, please help me help others by filling out this survey. No names are necessary. I will use the information gathered to research how to best help those who are currently being bullied. You can email your completed survey with Bully Survey in the subject line to mailto:jennyrosewriter@yahoo.com If that email does not work, you may use mailto:jwidner76@yahoo.com just be sure Bully Survey is in the subject line. Thank you.

  1. Were you bullied in gradeschool (K-5th), Middle School (6th-8th), Highschool (9th-12th), College?
  2. How were you bullied? Physical? Please explain. Verbal? Please explain.
  3. Do you know why you were bullied? Please explain.
  4. How did you react?
  5. If you are completing this survey, then you survived the bullying. What helped you get through it?
  6. Some kids these days are not surviving. They are giving up on themselves, on life. Do you have any advice or encouragement for those who are currently suffering being bullied?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My opinion on Shirvell vs. Armstrong

I came across this early this week.


Andrew Shirvell authored a blog against a college Senior and sociology major

Shirvell's lawyer, Phillip Thomas thinks it's political and blaims the liberal media--why, because Shirvell is a Christian?

Shirvell was whining about being bullied? Who's the bully here?

Where is the precedent that the First Amendment allows people to bully others on a blog? The precedent for use of the First Amendment has been related to people complaining about the government. Cox claims that bullying is protected under First Amendment rights?!

But Shirvell didn't get in trouble for the blog (supposedly, I guess because sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can't hurt?)

Shirvell says he is a Christian exercising his First Amendment right--to stand outside the kid's house and call him Satan's representative? That's Christian? What about "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?

While I'm glad there were repercussions for his actions, I'm disappointed in the logic used.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Connection? Correlation? Coincidence?

Yesterday, one friend posted this article http://childrensmedicalcenter.blogspot.com/2010/11/costume-is-just-costume-and-bullying-is.html where parents, not children, were being unkind about a child's costume. Then another friend posted how rude customers are, apparently forgetting all manners. There is a group called Social Smarts (http://www.socialsmarts.com/,http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/SocialSmarts?v=info) that has designed an entire curriculum for schools (from toddlers to teenagers) to teach appropriate social skills in order to create a better learning environment and all but eliminate bullying. I remember in elementary school we had a slogan, complete with buttons, "Manners count at SCS." So when did "we" stop using manners? When did "we" forget social skills? Did "we" stop teaching them?

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to see a connection. Bullying is getting worse. Basic manners and social skills are becoming a rarity. What if we respected one another enough to use our manners—please, thank you, excuse me; could we see a decrease in bullying? Sure, sometimes we have to get a little pushy with sales people (the ones who are more concerned about making money than about the customer), but how about if we start with kindness and see how far it takes us.


Monday, November 1, 2010

When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer.

This is a great Bible study that every parent should read. But there's no reason to wait until your child is hurting and then quickly read this for damage control. This is a great Bible study to do before your child is hurting. The study questions at the end of the chapters encourage you to look at your own life to sort through negative behaviors that we as parents can unwittingly pass on to our kids.

Whitwer covers important topics such as bullying, stress, grief, anger, disappointment, as well as when to consider professional help. While she tells stories from her life and her children's, she doesn't claim to be an expert; just a fellow parent offering advice on what she has found works and why. Frankly, I'm tired of "experts" telling me they know my child. It's refreshing to hear Whitwer's take from the trenches.

I found this book encouraging and thought provoking and will be recommending it to many of my parent friends and my church. We can't put our kids in bubbles, but When Your Child Is Hurting can help parents and kids survive the hurts life inevitably brings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The last straw

I found this activity in the March 2008 issue of Family Fun: Constrawction Zone

"Looking for some instant fun on a rainy day? Grab a box of bendable straws and invite your child to try his hand at a building activity that takes all kinds of whimsical twists and turns. Connect the straws by squeezing the end of one and sliding it into the end of another. Kids can also slide straws through one another by snipping a slit (bend straw and cut through the fold, do not cut off the fold). Then they can make twists and turns over, under, and through the structure."

We had some dud straws lying around (cheap 4th of July red, white and blue straws that all seemed to have holes in them when we tried to use them). This weekend I pulled them out and expected my kids to make a few shapes and be done. My older daughter however spent a couple hours going well beyond a triangle and square to create silhouettes of animals.

From now on, I'm going to keep lots of straws around, just in case!

Challenge: Can you name and create multi-sided shapes such as triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon …

Monday, October 18, 2010

Too hard, too soft, just right

Ephesians 6:4 (New International Version)

4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

While it is a good thing to teach and train our kids to gradually take on more responsibility, if you are consistently frustrated with your child's performance at a particular task consider if it is age appropriate. We should expect great things of our kids, but sometimes they are not ready (mentally, physically, emotionally). Compare your child's abilities with your expectations and consider adjustments.

Prayer Suggestion: Talk to God about your expectations, for yourself and your kids.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spreading Seed

Exodus 12:26 (New International Version)

26 And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?'

Not only pray with your kids and read the Bible and or Bible stories together, but also let them see you reading your Bible and praying on your own. Allowing them to see God's role in your life is a living witness to them. It could be contagious.

Prayer Suggestion: A.C.T.S.

A is for Adoration - Praising God for who He is

C is for Confess - Agree with God about your sin

T is for Thankful - Gratitude, thanking Him for answered prayers

S is for Supplication - Making your requests known

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forget about it

Psalm 103 (New International Version)

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Kids will make the same mistakes over and over again. Yes, it's frustrating and annoying, but do every find yourself making the same mistakes? Why hold your kids to a higher standard than you can keep? If there are minor offenses, forgive yourself and your kids.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you forget about those minor mistakes and remember forgiveness and grace.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Got 2 B Tru

Colossians 3:23 (New International Version)

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

Are you trying to be a super-mom or super-dad? Working full-time, being a room-parent, involved in PTA, exercising, cooking everything from scratch, keeping a perfectly clean house …

You can't do it all. You don't have to do it all. Spend some introspective time thinking about what you really enjoy doing. Forget about what you think others think you should be doing. If your child is asking you to do more than you have time or energy for, use this as an opportunity to talk about priorities and choices.

You can be your child's hero without being a super-hero.

Prayer Suggestion: Talk to God about your motivations.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I want to live

Deuteronomy 30:19 (New International Version)

19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Does anything distract you from enjoying your kids or having fun with them? Is it housekeeping? Try doing it together, involve them. Is it the TV? Can you find time for it when your kids are in bed? Or maybe you're watching too much TV. Is it work? Sometimes this is unavoidable. Sometimes you need to find a way to relax from the stress of the day and leave work at work. Are you tired? Can you find a "playschool" so you can have a break or coordinate with a sitter or other parent (perhaps a co-op situation)?

What's the point of being a parent, if you can't enjoy your child(ren)?

Prayer Suggestion: Talk to God about priorities.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pop culture

John 14:26 (New International Version)

26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Research a popular TV show, movie, video game, book, singer, etc. NOW decide if you would expose your child to it. Don't let it stop there. Inform your child why you choose to watch the shoes you do and why you choose not to watch others.

Then ask your child "What if your friends ask you if you watch/listen to/play …?" Help them form an educated response. As they get older, "Because my parents won't let me" will become uncool; but a "I would rather …" or "I don't like …" response shows they are beginning to think for themselves, giving them confidence. It may not squelch all teasing, but your child will not feel completely out of the loop.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to give your child courage and wisdom in confrontation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sheltered or Protected

We want to keep our kids safe. It's part of our job description, but there's a difference between protecting our kids and sheltering them. As parents we need to be aware of what is out there (TV, music, movies, books, etc). We can't just hide our heads in the sand. We need to be proactive and plug into resources that help us stay current so we will have a better idea of what our children are dealing with.

If you are keeping your child unaware of all things you deem unacceptable, you are sheltering them. For example, I do not like SpongeBob Squarepants (this is just my opinion and just an example, so no arguments or lectures, please). If I sheltered my daughters, they would not know this show exists, much less why I don't like it and why they are not allowed to watch it. They would not be able to look at anything related to the show. I would have to hide their eyes every time I entered a store. But I try not to shelter my girls. Instead, they know this and other shows exist and why I don't like them and why they are not supposed to watch them. There is some subject matter that my older daughter is not ready to deal with yet. I have explained to her that though her friends watch those shows, that she doesn't need to worry about those topics at this point in her life. I have also told her that it isn't just about the subject matter on the show, but also about making choices. There are other shows and activities (that she can share with her peers) she likes better. This is protecting. I am informed. She is informed, yet protected.

Are all their friends watching or listening to something you don't allow? Why don't you allow it? Can you explain it so your child understands? Can you offer an alternative? When all their friends are doing one thing, and your child must say "My Mommy and Daddy won't let me do that", your child may be teased and called a baby. They may be excluded.
This protective environment is not only evidenced in what shows they watch, but also in the things they do, social skills they have. In a protected environment where a child is not allowed to speak for themselves at appropriate times may be embarrassed in grade school by their undeveloped social skills

Keeping yourself and your child informed will increase their confidence and self-esteem. Your child will be able to deal with why they don't do certain things in the face of their peers. The more confidence your child has, the less you as a parent need to stress about what they are exposed to.

You can't keep your kids so safe, so sheltered that they live in a bubble or under a rock. Otherwise when they are in the real world they 1) won't be able to deal with it and become more withdrawn further stunting their social skills and affecting work and relationships; 2) try everything you told them not to.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eenie, meenie, minie, moe

Psalm 34:11
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Physical Touch

  1. Tender squeeze of the shoulders
  2. High five

Words of Affirmation

  1. "I like it when you …"
  2. "You did a good job when…"

Quality Time

  1. board game
  2. craft


  1. a necessary item that's special (cartoon character, special scent or flavor)
  2. pick out something to give to someone else

Acts of Service

  1. Teach them a new chore
  2. do one of their chores for them

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you show Jesus to someone today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tic, Tact, Toe

Proverbs 12:18 (New International Version)

18 Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Kids will say whatever comes to mind. They may be brutally honest. Train your child, leading by example, how to encourage and look for the good in others. Help them look for those who need a friend and reach out to them.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you and your child choose your words carefully

Monday, September 27, 2010

Borrowed post on bullying

Today is a special post on bullying that I borrowed from Glynnis Whitwer, author of When Your Child is Hurting.

"Should you stand up to a bully?"

You might think the topic of bullying isn't fitting for a devotion.  Yet, throughout Scripture we see God's heart for those oppressed.  Psalm 9:8-9 (New International Version)

 8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
       he will govern the peoples with justice.

 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
       a stronghold in times of trouble.

Jesus was sent to bring hope and help to those oppressed.  He read these words written by the prophet Isaiah about Himself: Luke 4:17-19 (New International Version)

17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
 18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,
    19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And this same loving God calls us to a life of mercy and justice: Micah 6:8 (New International Version)

 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

I sense a call to action when it comes to bullies.  As I said in my devotion, tolerating offense willingly is one thing.  Submitting out of fear is another.  I believe it's time to empower our children to stand up to bullies and not pretend it isn't happening.  Because it is in alarming numbers.

So what can parents do if you think your child is being bullied?  Here are a few tips from my book, "When Your Child is Hurting:"

Identify if the actions are true bullying or just childish meanness.  A definition for bullying might be when one child or a group regularly torments another child psychologically or physically.

If it's bullying, allow your child to talk uninterrupted about the problem. Show compassion and empathy, but not anger. Let your child know you take his comments very seriously, but don't over-react. Share your own experiences to let your child know she isn't alone.

Then casually ask specifics such as:

 Refrain from interrogation techniques, and write down the answers without your child seeing you. 

If your child has any injuries to herself or her possessions, take photos.  Do this calmly, without making a big deal. 

By this point you probably want to take matters into your own hands, but don't.  It's important for your child to handle it as much as possible.  Remember, you are training him to deal with bullies the rest of his life. 

What you do next depends on the extent and the location of the offense. If something criminal happened, you have a responsibility to report it to the police. If it happened at school, a library, after-school program or other public place, you and your child together should report it to those authorities. If the offense was relatively minor, you can help your child deal with it one-on-one, and with God's help, take steps now to avoid any further bullying.

Steps to avoid bullying

Some simple practices can help you bully-proof your child. I think most parents would agree that it's better to be pro-active than re-active when it comes to bullies. Most experts agree on the following:

Connect with friends – Having a group of true friends is one of the best defenses against bullies. True friends affirm your child's worth and value. True friends will stick up for your child in a difficult situation.  Empower your child to do the same for his friends.

Be direct – Teach your child to be honest and direct about what she wants or needs. This is a good training ground for setting healthy boundaries.

Respond calmly to a situation – When your child is hurt or offended, teach him to respond calmly, rather than give in to emotions and react. Taking a minute to think through a situation and formulate a response will help your child learn self-control and teach him relationship-building skills.

Stand up for yourself – As your child learns her worth is based in her position as a child of God, she begins to see her value. No one has the right to intimidate her, or her friends. There should be a sense of holy justice that rises up in us when we understand that fact. When someone bullies your child, she has the right, and the responsibility, to tell the bully to stop. This starts at home. Allow your child to speak his mind freely with respect.

Be assertive, not aggressive – Teach your child the difference between standing up for what is right, and retaliating. As Christians we follow a moral code of how to treat each other, given to us by a holy God. We have the right to speak out against injustice.

Teach social skills – We all need to learn how to live in community with others. If you see your child has a difficult time relating to children her age, spend some time going over rules of common courtesy.

Thank you, Glynnis, for letting me repost this. You can check out Glynnis's blog at http://www.glynniswhitwer.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding Time

Jeremiah 6:16 (New International Version)

16 This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'

We all have routines and things we like to do. Maybe, just once, you could leave the dishes a little longer, skip the TV show, or maybe it's staying away from Facebook for a day. Instead, spend extra time with your child—or even together as a family.

Prayer Suggestion: Talk to God about your time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Send off

3 John 1:14 (New International Version)

14I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

What do you say to your child as you send them off to school? Remember what you say and do carries them through their day.

Do you have a bedtime routine? This can be valuable quality time to wrap up your day. You can talk about what happened, read a book, make up a story—whatever it is, make it special. Even if you think they have outgrown a "bedtime routine" find a time—maybe not at the end of each day, but at least the end of the week—to keep up with their life.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to stay with your child when you can't.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Greetings and Salutations

1 Peter 5:14 (New International Version)

14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

How do you greet your child in the morning? After school? Can you think of a new way to greet them or welcome them home that lets them know how much you love them?

Prayer Suggestion: How do you greet God in your prayer? Include praise and adoration today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bullying vs Teasing

I've been hearing a lot about bullying lately from different sources. Here are my thoughts.

Dictionary.com defines tease:

1.to irritate or provoke with persistent petty distractions, trifling raillery, or other annoyance, often in sport.

And bully:

(n)1. a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

(v)6. to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.


Teasing is supposed to be done in fun, without the intent to hurt. Bullying, however, is intended to hurt and intimidate. I think teasing is a necessary part of life so that we can all learn to laugh off and laugh at our blunders. Children need to be taught the difference. Children need to be taught to consider the feelings of others. It is true that some people are more sensitive than others. But is someone is extra sensitive about something and "your" intent was to tease, then "your" response should be to apologize, love on them, and build them up again. A bully wouldn't care.


My question, where would you draw the line between teasing and bullying? Do you think it is an easily defined line, a fine line, or a gray area?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Action vs Reaction

Galatians 6:4 (New International Version)

4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,

Our kids can irritate us. Write down some of the ways your kids irritate, bug, or frustrate you. Brainstorm some solutions. Talk to other parents. Talk to older parents.

Now brainstorm new reactions for yourself. We can't always change or control our kids, but we can control and change our own reaction.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to show you what you need to change about you

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Penny for your thoughts

Proverbs 18:15 (New International Version)

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;
the ears of the wise seek it out.

Ask your child if there is anything they wish they could change—about themselves, about chores, about the way things are done, about anything. You might be surprised what is on their mind.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God for discernment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Growing Sponges

Joshua 1:9 (New International Version)

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Is there an activity or something new you can encourage your child to try? Encourage them to try something new. Expose them to new experiences. As you stretch you grow and learn to adjust you become a more well-rounded person. Young children are like little sponges. Just be careful not to overwhelm and try to do too much at once. Pace yourselves and have fun!

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you and your child choose opportunities and experiences.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What’s up

Psalm 51:6 (New International Version)

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ;
you teach [
b] me wisdom in the inmost place.

Ask your child how they are doing, how was their day at school? Have a conversation. Pay attention. Ask about their friends. Ask what they like to do. Ask them what is popular. Don't treat it like an interview though. Listen. What's similar to when you were growing up? What's changed? The important thing is to show your child that you are open and willing to talk about anything; and to try to be the one who knows your child best.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you have a sincere conversation with your child.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rain, rain, let it rain

Deuteronomy 32:2 (New International Version)

2 Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.

I usually like rainy days. I find them inspirational and spiritual in a way. Although there are the rainy days when my kids whine and fuss and fight. Those are the times when I must rely on divine creative inspiration. What will the weather inspire you to do today? Curl up together and read a book? Do something by candlelight? Build a fort? Color? Do a puzzle? Play a game? Even popcorn and a movie can be quality time if you have the right heart attitude and mindset.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask for God's inspiration and creativity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Don’t be afraid to try

2 Corinthians 9:8 (New International Version)

8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

It's ok to try something that may not work. You won't know until you try. You may stumble onto a wonderful solution. And if it doesn't work, you and your kids will survive, bounce back and try something else.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God for new ideas.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Other things to grow

It's fun to watch plants grow from a seed: beans, flowers, grass. I wanted to do something different (try something new!) I was thinking there was a way to grow an avocado pit and remembered as a kid that potatoes would start to sprout if left in the pantry too long. I bought an avocado and did a little research on the internet


I couldn't find anything on the potato, so I stuck it in the pantry and forgot about it. Literally.

Now 3-4 weeks later, this is the progress:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Try something new

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4,7 (NIV)
1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven …

4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance …

7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak …

When was the last time you tried something new? Could you try a new hobby? Learn a new skill? You're never too old to learn and grow. Do you need to release some stress or find a way to relax? I find it's easier to deal with curve balls and monkey wrenches when I don't have pent up stress.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to give you the patience and the courage to try something new.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Deuteronomy 4:9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Choose two ways from the list to show love to your child TODAY.

Physical Touch
1) pat on the back
2) play with their hair

Words of Affirmation
3) "I like the way you …"
4) "Thank you for …"

Quality Time
5) work on a puzzle together
6) do some yard work or gardening together

7) the next time you give your child something he needs, tie a ribbon on it, add a note or card, or wrap it up and present it
8) reward your child for effort made toward improvement

Acts of Service
9) invite them to do one of your chores with you
10) do a service project together (shopping for angel, pack shoebox, find things to donate)

Challenge: How many ways can you use this week?

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to show you who else you could show love to today, this week.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take time for yourself

Hebrews 4:10 (New International Version)

10for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

Everyone needs a hobby of some kind. We all need stress relief. As moms and dads we can lose sight of our individual selves as we put the needs of our children first. But if we don't take some time for ourselves from time-to-time, we will be neglecting ourselves. We also need to show our kids the importance of hobbies and individualism.

Try to find even 15 minutes a week to enjoy your hobby. Seek out 15 minutes each week for stress relief. There are so many health benefits!

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you find time to rest and relax.

Monday, August 30, 2010

E for Effort

Luke 1:17
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Does your child struggle with doing homework? Doing their chores? Cleaning their room? Set up a system to help them earn points for their efforts and help them improve.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to open your eyes to your child's efforts, however small, and help you encourage them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It’s perfect!

Why do people strive for perfection? Do we need to be in control? Are we trying to measure up to a certain standard? Are we trying to impress?

Do you know a perfectionist? Why are they striving for perfection? What are their motives?

Any thoughts? Any insights?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Make note

Romans 5:5 (New International Version)

5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Did your Mom or Dad ever write a note and put it in your lunchbox? What better way to remind your child that you are thinking of them. Why don't you write several notes to your child? Make them all different. Use different colors of pens, markers, pencils, paper, stationary … add doodles and designs. Don't forget to put one in your child's next lunch!

Prayer Suggestion: Consider praying for the school staff.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Delicious dish

Peach cobbler in a mug

I came across this recipe earlier this year in my Texas Co-op periodical. The entire article was called "Kitchen Magic for Kids," but this one recipe caught my eye.

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon instant nonfat dry milk
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt
1 snack-sized container (4 oz) diced peaches, well drained

Microwave butter in mug [coffee mug, minus the coffee], until melted, about 20 seconds on high. Add sugar, flour, dry milk, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons water [ahem, why wasn't that listed in the ingredients?] to mug. Sir with fork until well blended, then add peaches on top of batter. Do not stir. Reduce microwave power to 70 percent. Cook for two minutes, then let stand in microwave one minute. Remove from [microwave] oven, and let cool.

I would also recommend using a cooking spray, and you may want to play around with the cooking time to get the desired fluffiness and done-ness. Since each cobbler is made in an individual mug, this worked out well for both of my girls to participate in at the same time and make their own cobbler. I found small kid-safe bowls in my kitchen in which I measured and doled out the ingredients for them to pour in and stir on their own. No fighting over who gets to add what or who stirs! And it really turns out very good! Though it couldn't hurt to add a little ice cream, now would it?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blank Slate

Psalm 112:4 (New International Version)

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

Remember we have to teach our kids everything they are going to know. So, think of a social skill (empathy, talking on the phone, ordering at a restaurant, manners, etc) your child can and needs to learn and devise a plan to start training and practice.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to show you other children you can minister to.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monkey see, monkey do

Psalm 119:66 (New International Version)

66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I believe in your commands.

I don't know about you, but I find that if I want to improve myself, discover any bad habits I've overlooked, I only need to look to my kids

Does your child have any bad habits? Do you? If possible, make yourself accountable to each other and gently remind each other when you're caught in the bad habit. Can you think of a positive habit you can replace the bad one with? Your child will be more likely to want to change if you are setting the example.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you be a good/positive/better example to your kids.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (New International Version)

16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

If you couldn't think of a way to encourage/praise your child before, and you didn't make a list, make a list today and tell your child something encouraging (make it specific) TODAY.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you watch for a new way to encourage your child

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Write this down

Proverbs 16:3 (New International Version)

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

School is starting up again. Schedules are changing. Whether you have a child in school or not, look at your calendar. Can you schedule some special time with your child? Maybe a lunch date at school? Maybe a special outing on the weekend? Maybe some time alone at home? Now mark it on your calendar as an appointment you can't miss. Setting aside time with your child (each of your children) not only makes them feel special, but also helps you focus.

Can you make this a regular occurrence? Once a week? Once a month? Every other month?

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to show you ways to spend special, individual time with your child.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Expectations

Proverbs 13:4 (New International Version)

4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Give your child age appropriate chores. Remember, your child will not perform or complete the chore perfectly the first time. They will need to be trained and need practice—lots of practice (maybe lots and lots and lots … of practice!) The time (and patience) you invest now will pay off in the future and everyone will benefit in the long run.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you find ways to break down even big tasks into little chores your child can learn.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Keep reaching for the stars

Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who has regrets—things I wish I hadn't done and things I wish I had. Sometimes I wish I had talked more and studied less. Sometimes I wish I had hung out at the mall instead of hiding in my room behind a book. There are things I can't change about the past, but that's not to say I can't improve my present and future.

Instead of focusing on the regrets of the past, think about what you can do now to affect your future. Is there a childhood dream you can revisit? Was it lack of opportunity or resources? Or were you just afraid to fail? Can you give it a try now?

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you be an example of stretching and growing as encouragement to your child.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Got skills?

Psalm 32:8 (New International Version)

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

Not only are there many chores we can start teaching our kids early, there are also many social skills as well. In Hide or Seek, Dr. Dobson says, "I read recently that 80% of the people who get fired from their jobs have not failed to perform as required. In other words, they do not lack technical skill or abilities. Their dismissal occurs because they can't get along with people. They misunderstand the motives of others and respond with belligerence or insubordination."

I have seen many books on the shelves of the library and bookstore that teach manners and etiquette. You can start with basic decisions (make sure you only provide choices that you will be OK with your child choosing) and table manners of eating with utensils and using a napkin as well as how to introduce themselves and ask someone's name. By allowing them to introduce themselves even to adults, you will instill in them a confidence that can be applied when choosing and ordering food in a restaurant and making phone calls. Help them practice "small talk" when you enjoy a meal together.

Confidence and proper social skills will help our kids in school and in the world.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you counsel and instruct your child.

If at first you don’t succeed …

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (New International Version)

5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

Is there anything you failed at the first time but didn't give up? You tried again (and again, and again, and again …?) and were finally successful? Remember what made you keep trying? Remember the journey and what you learned?

Remember that as you encourage your child and coach them through their life and experiences.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you remember what it felt like to be a child.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Super Slide and Slip

In Family Fun magazine August 2009, there was an activity called Zoom Flume.

"Transform your ordinary backyard slide into a water park wonder by adding a steady trickle of H2O and a soft off-ramp that extends the ride. To make one, use duct tape to attach a garden hose to the top of the slide. Place camping pads (or other cushioning, such as lawn-chair pads) end to end on the ground at the bottom. Stretch an 8'X10' or larger tarp across the pads and place tent stakes in the tarp's grommets to secure. Note: Because water can make slides extremely slippery, parents should provide supervision to keep play safe."

Since we have a slide and it gets a little *ahem* warm here in Texas, we gave this one a try. Instead of camping or seat cushions, I used Kindergarten nap mats—we had two around anyway from naptime and sleepovers—and these already have a vinyl cover. Instead of a tarp, I used our Slip-n-Slide. I attached a sprayer to the hose and instead of a steady trickle, I randomly sprayed my daughters and the slide to make sure everyone and everything got good and wet. They love it and ask for it again and again!

WARNING: Do not leave hose unattended or innocent bystanders may unintentionally (or intentionally) get wet.

Friday, August 6, 2010


In Dobson's Hide or Seek, he argues that one of the best tools we can give our kids to overcome obstacles in this life is to help them find their strengths and capitalize on them. For example, if your child has a strength or talent for music, help them develop that skill. The more confidence they have in their strength (talent or skill), then when someone tries to degrade them, they can remember the confidence they have in their skill. They have the strength to compensate for their weakness.

He goes on to say that the child doesn't have to be particularly gifted. But as parents we need to help them find something they enjoy and we can encourage them to develop that interest. This still gives them a way to compensate.

Unfortunately, this may mean pushing our kids. Any strength, talent, gift must be developed and practiced; and we don't always want to practice. Though my daughters love to dance, sometimes they don't want to have to buckle down and practice a particular choreography. I don't always want to write, but I must if I want to improve (Ok, so the voices in my head typically beg me to write, but we won't go there). But in order for this to work on any level, we have to know our child well enough to recognize their strength(s), encourage them, but not push them so hard that they burn out and resent you. It is a fine-line, but with God's help, we can do it.


1 John 4:19 (New International Version)

19We love because He first loved us.

Have you told your child "I love you" today? Every morning and every night, each member of my family says this to each other (usually accompanied by a hug and kiss). If you cannot be with your child every day, write them a note. Send them an email or a text. Send a video message!

Use your child's name and make eye contact. Give them your undivided attention. Say it sincerely from your heart.

Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your child will know that you love them no matter what.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Like any mom, I love to brag about my girls, but today I am giving a shout out about my husband. He can build and debug a computer. He can play Barbies, puppets, and tea party. He can design and build a bed, a playset, and a shed. He can proofread my writing and improve it, no matter what the topic or type. He can cook the best French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches. He knows all about basketball, football, and hockey. He has a degree in psychology and a minor in Biblical studies. He is a leader at work and a spiritual leader at home. (I could go on and on …)

I consider him a well-rounded person. He can adapt and function in a variety of situations. As parents we need to begin early to equip our children to do the same. This isn't about making sure our child can read Charlotte's Web by age 2. This isn't about teaching our 3 year old to recite all the states and capitals or presidents of the United States. This is about exposing them to different things: foods, recreation, book genres, music, etc. It doesn't even have to be an organized event. You can teach them to throw, catch, and kick different kinds of balls in your own backyard. You can attend story times at the library and check out different kinds of books. Try stretching beyond your comfort zone and see what you can learn and how you can grow.

Hide or Seek by Dr. James Dobson

I thought The Five Love Languages for Kids by Gary Chapman was good. I thought How to Really Love Your Child by Dr. Campbell was great. This book is even better.

Dr. Dobson begins by explaining how self-esteem can be eroded. Next he illustrates strategies for parents to help their child overcome low self-esteem. There are also "Question and Answer" sprinkled throughout the book which help emphasize the points he is making. Then there is a section on coping with self-esteem trouble. He also includes a section on preparing for adolescents, but I think I'll come back to that section another time—maybe next year.

My favorite part is where Dobson covers the strategy of compensation. This strategy isn't really addressed in either of the "Love" books I have reviewed because it is not a way to show love, but rather a way to teach a child to rise above. Compensation is … a post for another day!

Even though this book came out in the early 70's, the information is still so relevant today that it is almost frightening. This should be required reading of anyone thinking about having kids AND RE-reading at each stage of a child's development.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I wish I hadn’t done that

Psalm 78:4
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.

Is there anything from your past that you regret doing? By not telling your kid about any of your mistakes (whether big or small) can create an image in their mind that you are perfect. If they want to grow up and be just like you, they are striving for an impossible standard of perfection. Think about the mistakes you have made, which ones you could tell your kid about, when and how. Think about how you dealt with the mistake. Did something positive come out of it? What did you learn? What can your child learn?

And if you haven't made any mistakes, then you probably don't need to read this blog.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God how you should guide your child: when to help them learn from other's mistakes and avoid their own, and when they have to learn from their own mistakes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Building or blocks

Sometimes as adults we long for the carefree days of childhood. Sometimes parents can fall into the trap of reliving their childhood vicariously through their children by letting their kids run free without responsibility or boundaries. While it is important to enjoy our kids and encourage them to have fun, it is vital to the development of our children to learn boundaries and responsibility. It is important for our kids to learn chores. It teaches them responsibility and shows them they are important to the family. This builds up their self-esteem. Dr. James Dobson in Hide or Seek and Dr. Ross Campbell in How to Really Love Your Child agree. If you want a responsible adult with confidence and self-esteem who is prepared to face the world on their own by the time they are 18-21 years old, encourage them to think and gradually give them more responsibility when they are children.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Service with a smile

Romans 12: 1 (New King James)*
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 (New International)*
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

If your child has chores, consider helping him with one. This isn't about doing it your way. This is about doing something nice to help them (while demonstrating an act of service and spending some quality time as well). Make a conscious effort to be available for conversation.

If your child does nto have a chore, consider training her, side-by-side.

Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your child will always be willing to talk to you. Ask God to help you be available.

*[Yes, I posted two versions of the same verse. Notice that acts of service can also be translated as acts of worship to God?]

Child labor

I've heard mothers complain that they can't get anything done because their little ones get in the middle of things. When my girls were at the age to get in the middle of things, I put them in the middle of things. I figured they would either learn to help or go find some way to entertain themselves.

Let's take a walk through my house and I'll tell you the chores my girls have (age 8yrs and almost 5yrs) and how I got them started.

Kitchen Counters: Put them on a chair or stool with a dry or damp cloth and let them "wash." Or you can give them a towel after you have cleaned a counter and tell them to "shine" it. Now my older daughter does a pretty good job on her own.

Dishes: turn the faucet on low or put a little water in the bottom of the sink (depending on the depth of the sink and your child's height and reach). Allow them a few small cups or spoons—nothing that holds a lot of water, because it will end up on you, your child, and the floor. They can scoop and pour. You can even give them a small brush. Both of my daughters can rinse dishes as I wash. When my girls tried to help with the dishwasher, I switched to dishwasher and kid friendly dishes. Have them hand you the dishes (as they get older, they can stack them on the counter). If you don't want slobbery toddler hands on your clean dishes, have them load the dirty dishes (perhaps after you've rinsed them).

Floors: I got my kids the college dorm type sweeper vacs and brooms (these tend to be smaller sized).

Dusting: Depending on the fragility and location of your decorations, they can dust shelves, table tops, blinds, etc.

Bathrooms: The sinks and counters can be done like the ones in the kitchen. For even more fun, hand your child a small spray bottle of water and set them in the bathtub and/or shower. You can give them a brush or rag, too. My younger daughter has recently learned to scrub toilets as well. I keep cheap, liquid hand soap in the toilet brush holder (make sure it's the type that can hold a couple inches of liquid in the bottom).

Laundry: A great first step is training your child to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket as they get ready for bed at night. My daughters love to drag the laundry baskets to the laundry room for me. Would you believe that they get upset if I do it? I only sort my clothes in four main categories: darks, lights, reds/pinks, towels and washcloths. As your child learns their colors, they can learn these categories, too. When they learn to read, they can learn how to read the clothing labels as to how they need to be washed. Emptying the dryer is an easy task for little ones to help with. You can always have them help fold their own clothes (I personally don't care if their clothes look a little wrinkled because they are going to get dirty and wrinkled as soon as they are put on anyway) or hand towels and washcloths.

Toys: When teaching preschool, to help the kids know where to put the toys away, I printed pictures off the internet of the various toys then attached them to shelves and baskets of where the toys were to be stored. You can cut a picture off the packaging of toys, take a [digital] picture and upload to the computer then print, or just search the internet for a picture and print. Attach the picture to the basket or shelf (only on plastic—I'm not responsible for wood, wicker or other materials) with clear packing tape or clear contact paper so you can see the picture.

Garage: If your child can stomp, make sure they have on shoes and let them stomp those cardboard boxes (cereal boxes and such) that are ready to be recycled. I collect the trash, tie off the bags and leave them by the garage door for my older daughter to take out to the trash bin. She also takes the recycling out.

As you can see there are lots of ways for kids to learn to help out around the house early. Why should mom (or dad) have to do all the dirty work? Isn't that why we had kids?

Monday, July 26, 2010

It’s the time of year …

Psalm 23:1 (New International Version)

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

It's the time of year for school supplies. You can use this as an opportunity to choose a practical gift (school supplies, backpack, lunchbag, school clothes) and wrap it. Plain old number two pencils might actually be exciting wrapped in pretty paper. Maybe even the reluctant school-goer can be a little happier after they open a school necessity imprinted with their favorite cartoon character.

Prayer suggestion: Pray for your child's teacher and the other students in the class.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time is tickin’ away

Ecclesiastes 6:3
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity …, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

Ignore the phone, TV, and internet and spend some time with your child on an activity the two of you agree on (sometimes what you want to do isn't what they want to do—strange).

If you want to take a walk on the wild side, allow them the power to choose the activity—and find some way to enjoy it!

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can improve as a parent.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who else?

Job 16:5 (New International Version)

5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Most of my posts address showing love to kids or children. Though I definitely want you to find a way to encourage the kids in your life today; I also want you to keep a lookout for anyone else who could benefit from an encouraging word. You might be surprised how much it brightens their day to know they are noticed and appreciated.

Prayer suggestion: Ask God to help you be an encouragement to those you encounter today.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reach out and touch someone

Psalm 103:13 "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him"

So now that we all know how to show love through physical touch, words, time, gifts, and service; it is time to put it all together. Today, choose an act of physical touch to show someone you care about them and they are important. Here are some ideas to get you started:

wrestling, gentle squeeze of the shoulder, quick shoulder massage, high-five, play with their hair, tousle their hair, hug, kiss, pat on the back, back scratch ...

Prayer Suggestion: Pray for your child's friends.

Next: Words

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bubble Snakes

Over the last several years I have been collecting activities to do with kids. I finally got them organized this year--well, somewhat. This summer I wanted to test them.

Bubble Snakes--or The Foamerator as Family Fun magazine and Betz White of http://blog.betzwhite.com/ call it--is fun and cheap. You'll need plastic water bottles (the individual drinking size), scissors, rag or towel, rubber band, and dish soap or bubble solution.

"To make one, use scissors to cut the bottom off a plastic water bottle. Cover the open end with a circular piece of twoel that's a few inches wider than the bottle. Secure the towel with a rubber band and dampen it with water, then dip it into a shallow bowl of dish soap. Blow gently through the mouth of the bottle to create snakes of tiny bubbles."

My girls and I made these last week and discovered a few things. Your mouth has to completely cover the mouth of the bottle to blow (or blow like a trumpet). If it doesn't work at first, check to make sure the rag/towel piece and rubber band are tight. it is best to breathe in through the nose to help avoid sucking the bubbles into your mouth. Other than that, we had fun with this one. Try having a contest to see who can make the longest snake before the bubbles fall off or blow away. The winner gets ... a bit dizzy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I use it myself

Have I tried any of the languages on my own kids? Do I do any of the things I suggest? Have I noticed anything?

Yes, I have used these products myself--I mean, yes, I have applied these things to my own life and kids. On days when I ask my kids to do their chores first and play later, I get the usual whining, complaining, arguing ... But when I take the time (usually on a Saturday morning) to play a video with my older daughter right after breakfast, I find she is more willing to be helpful. Does it work perfectly every time? No. I am not perfect, so why should I expect my kids to be perfect? I have noticed an improvement, and that's what's important to me :)

Love with Service

Psalm 90:16 "May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children."

Though we want our kids to be happy, building self-esteem in our kids is not about making them happy. Just as with words of affirmation and gifts, acts of service is about doing what is best for our kids. It is about making sure they know they are loved, not about pleasing them.

Acts of service is a time to model behavior and activities--everything from every day chores and skills to charitable acts as well. We serve our kids ALOT when they are little. As they grow, we train them to do things for themselves. No, this is not easy. Their first attempt is not perfect. As parents (and mentors) we may have to put aside or at least change the expectations we had before kids.

While it is good to build independence in our children--in fact it is absolutely essential to train them early and appropriately!--acts of service can also be given as a special gift. I know my daughter is capable of picking out clothes to wear and brushing her own hair. Yet, sometimes I can make the effort to do these things for her to say, "I love you. You are important to me. I am not so self-absorbed and busy that I can't take time out to do something simple for you once in a while."

Prayer suggestion: Ask God to help you use each of these "love languages" as you communicate with the kids in your life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I'm Sorry

Ok, all right, I'll admit it. I had a horrible, aweful, rotten morning with my kids this morning. Arguing and yelling-and not just from my kids either. Have I mentioned that I'm not perfect? Well, this morning was a "perfect" example of everbody making bad choices and having bad reactions. In fact, I think I did only one thing right this morning ...

I told my daughters I was sorry. I apologized for yelling and losing my cool. We hugged. I told my daughters we would try to find something fun and nice to do this afternoon since we had such a rough morning. I wasn't looking to give them gifts or bend over backward to make everybody happy. I just wanted to spend some positive time with them after such a negative experience. But my older daughter said and did something that melted my heart and proved to me that saying sorry was the right thing to do. She told me that we didn't have to do anything special this afternoon, she just wanted a hug. Wow.

I choose--no, I make the effort to apologize to my kids if I realize I am wrong. Whether I have gotten after them in error or chastized them too harshly for the particular crime. I want my kids to know that I am not perfect and I do make mistakes. I also hope they will learn from my example of apologizing so that they too can give a sincere apology when necessary.


My older daughter's birthday is coming up. Nearly every time a commercial comes on I hear, "I want that" or "Mommy, can I have that". I usually tell her I'll put it on her wishlist (which I conveniently forget to do) or tell her she has to get rid of something to get something new. And this whole scenario is replayed at Christmas time (which starts right after Halloween, apparently) and seems to be even worse as every company wants to push some new product. Last year I remember my kids wanted the large animatronic dinosaur or pony. *rolling eyes*

I know I've been suckered into a couple infomercials myself. There was one for perfect pancakes and another for donuts. Though I did wait until they were available in stores--yeah, I know, it's not an excuse. They still got me. Commercials just seem to breed discontentment.

As a recovering packrat, I have stuff--lots of stuff. I used to hide the things I was going to get rid of and get them out of the house without my kids knowledge, because they would tell me they wanted it or have a meltdown because they loved it (even if it was never theirs).

So I'm trying to change my strategy. I'm telling and showing my kids what I am getting rid of and why. When commercials come on telling me something I "need to buy", I'm going to start telling them what I don't need and why. I want to be an example of contentment and a cheerful giver. I want my kids to know that we don't have to have everything we see on TV and that some people live with much less than we currently have.

It's hard in today's world to not listen and pay attention to what we hear on TV. But just imagine that if we can teach our kids not to listen to toy commercials, then maybe they will learn they don't have to listen to the other commercials and TV shows, too. You know the ones that tell our kids they have to dress a certain way, listen to certain music, wear a certain perfume/cologne in order to be considered cool and acceptable by the world. Imagine a kid who grows up confident in themselves, not swayed by media bias. Hmm, could that be too big a dream?