Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Take My Advice...

Very few young adults seek someone to mentor them or to give them advice. I am so glad that we taught our children at a very young age to seek out, respect, and consider advice from others. While your children are young, be sure you encourge them to call someone that knows about different things they are going into. Encourage and even set up meetings with and for them starting at a young age to talk through different occupations they are considering, job opportunities, and direction for school, sports, etc.

Ways you can encourage this when your children are young are:

*Encourage them to speak to their teacher about questions concerning their homework or test results, and how they can do better.

*Encourage them to speak to their principal regarding opportunities to help out at the school.

*Encourage them to speak to their coaches as to why they aren't playing or strategies, asking how they can improve their game.

*Give them advice as to how to "tweak their style" as I call it. Sometimes it IS just a "tweak," a little change.

It is important to teach your children to speak to others they don't know when you are around, so they are comfortable with speaking to new people.

Now that my children are older, it is a delight to see them seeking advice from people they know are knowledgeable in certain fields before they make big decisions.  It is great to see them get wisdom from a variety of (very wise) sources before just using their own judgment period.  

Proverbs 12:15   The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Challenge:  Teach your children to seek our advice.  Teach them to value the input of others.  Far too many young people learn to scorn others' input into their lives.  I have seen many parents undermine the advice from others and belittle others for some reason.  It is a wiser parent that teachers their children to take advice from wise people.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Working Through Problems

Children need to be taught how to handle confrontation and problems with their authorities with a good attitude, and with a successful end in mind.   Teach your children to be problem solvers with problems and they will be able to work through issues they will come across all their lives.

Can your children look at you and see a good example of how you work through problems in relationships?  Remember, how you handle problems is what defines who you are; not when you are floating down the lazy river at Disney World!

Challenge:  How do you handle problems in relationships?  How do your children handle problems?  Teach speaking the truth in love, a soft answer that turns away wrath, submitting to one another in love, preferring someone else's feelings above you own... and the multitudes of other Bible verses that teach us how to handle problems successfully.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feeding Your Children Poison!

So many wonderful parents take special care of what they feed their children.  Often I wish more parents would be concerned about how they POISON their children's THOUGHTS and MINDS by the way they talk about other people.

I know so many people who grow up hearing only negative things from one or both parents.  Poisoning HOPE in your child is horrible!  I know many people who grow up hearing their parents pick people apart, criticize others, and undercut other people.  Poisoning LOVE in your child is VERY HORRIBLE!  I know parents who leave fractured relationships with friends and family -- they don't talk to so and so because of this, and they don't associate with so and so because of that, etc.  Poisoning FORGIVENESS in your child is crippling!  I know parents who sit around and watch television constantly.  Poisoning CREATIVITY in your child encourages laziness!  There are so many examples -- you think of ones that you need to address!  We can all think of some areas to pay attention to in this regard!

Be careful of what you feed your child on the table, for sure!  But be EXTRA CAREFUL of how you can POISON your children's character by how you live!

Challenge:  If you have allowed POISON to creep into your home, DETOX immediately and pay attention to giving out GOOD THINGS to fill your child's life and future with!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Earning Your Children's Trust

One of the most important things I have is my children's trust.  They know they can talk to me about anything.   Here are a few things I worked hard at to earn their trust:

*I did not speak negatively about my children to others.
*I would not ever never no-matter-what share secrets they told me.
*I gave them impartial advice, usually from the standpoint of the other person.
*I give them my full attention, and what concerns them is very important to me and they know it.

Make sure you earn your children's trust.   It is the best bridge you can build to their hearts!

Challenge:  Make sure you take time to earn your children's trust every day!  You could become the best counselor and friend they have!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who Should Pick Up Your Dog Poop?

As gross as the title is, I often wonder as I watch people walking their dogs and their dogs poop, and the people just walk on...  I wonder "WHO do they think should pick up their dog poop??!!"

I teach my children the same thing:  WHO should hang up clothes you try on in the dressing room?  WHO should put away your glass or dish after you use it?  WHO should put your cart away after you shop?  WHO should hang up your jacket?  In other words:  YOU SHOULD!

Get your children into good habits early by teaching them to pick up after themselves.  Even in a restaurant or when shopping.  Even against the attitude "people work here to do that."  My response is "they work here to stock and other things; NOT to pick up after people.  If they have to pick up after everyone, ALL our prices go up!!"

Challenge:  Teach your children an EXTRA MEASURE of consideration in our inconsiderate world!  Teach them to push their chairs in, clean up after themselves, and be considerate of everyone, even workers.  Let's teach our children to shine their lights brightly!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Every time the offering plate went around, I encouraged my children to "put SOMETHING in," a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, five dollars... something needed to be put in if it was a worthwhile cause.  If everyone put just a little bit in, the needs would be met!

I believe that training my children to put SOMETHING in has been a strengthening process:

*They don't have to feel that they have to cover the entire cost of funding something worthwhile; rather they can be even a small part of many worthwhile projects.

*They know they have given something to many amazing ventures.

*They have a passion and a background to put something in, even if a little bit of time to help others.

Challenge:  Try to find some worthwhile things to put something of yourself into with your children!  Make it a fun habit!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

While We're On the WORK Subject...

I have been hearing a lot about work lately, so thought I'd share a few things I've taught my children about WORK:

*It is a GIFT from God to be able to WORK!

*We should WORK with joy and unto the Lord!

*Whatever we do, do it 100%!

*Find the FUN in it -- play little "games" while you work! Put the music on, sing and be happy! ("Whistle while you work?!")

*If it's scrubbing toilets, scrubbing floors, folding clothes, be THANKFUL you have the things to take care of and pray for those who don't!

*Let your work glorify God!

*When my kids work, I constantly tell them I LOVE to see them working hard! It REALLY does make me so HAPPY to see my children WORK HARD...

*The Bible tells us we will "enjoy the fruits of our labors" - so that means to get to the "enjoy" we have to do the "labor"!

Challenge: Teach your children a much-forgotten hard work ethic.  Find ways to encourage them to work hard.  DON'T lay around -- let your children see you enjoy working around the house getting things done, and then they will learn to enjoy work as well!  Don't encourage them to lay back on anything, but to work hard to achieve results!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


When my children were younger and started earning allowances, we started them off with the 80-10-10 savings plan:  10% tithe, 10% savings, and then you can spend the other 80%.  Although my children were good savers, and usually saved way more than that, it was a good exercise to get into early.  I as happy to hear the financial analyst share the same formula at our Financial Seminar last week.

Challenge:  Even with just a little money, get your children used to good savings habits.  If you begin early, they will keep the good habits you instill in them!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Everybody has a Story!

My family is big on telling stories from their past.   When my children were younger, I encouraged them to find out things about their grandparents' and others' pasts.  A few times they would actually take notes to discover things about their grandparents!

I invited missionaries and others over our house so my children could get to know people from different areas of life better.  I would have my children ask them questions and find out more about them.

When I did Creative Memories, I always relayed to my children some of the heroic stories, sentimental stories, or challenges people were facing that were shared at our get-togethers.  I made sure we had a steady stream of "biographies" going forth in our home.  In these "biographies," I relayed the information the way the Lord would see it -- from HIS perspective, to emphasize His heart of mercy, compassion, redemption, and reconciliation.  

We read a lot of biographies -- some together, some I read and relayed information, and I purchased a LOT of biographies written for children so they could read the books themselves.

I believe that my children learned to love others and to hear their "life stories" from some of the ways I encouraged them as they grew up.  I would always tell them "every person's life is an amazing story that you can learn something from!"  

Challenge:  Instill in your children that every person they meet has a life story that they can benefit from.  Read biographies and instill the preciousness of people into your children.  Teach your children that every life has value and every person has a unique story to tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008


We had our financial seminar yesterday, and I was extremely happy to see Jesse, Amber, Hannah, Gabe, Michael (Bethany HAD to work), Christa, Daniel and Emily there, as well as several of my nieces and nephews, brother and sister, and parents, and other friends.

As a family, we have often attended seminars to grow spiritually, as leaders, and other financial seminars.  I encourage you to take time to attend seminars together.  Let your children be used to taking time out of busy schedules to grow...

Challenge:  Look for a leaders' seminar, motivational seminar, or other seminar in your church or in your area, and encourage your children to attend with you.  Once a year try to make time to attend something like this, so your children are used to making the time and keep up with it as they grow older!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mid-Week Service

We never made mid-week service an option in our house.   It is very important to place a priority on getting to service not just on Sunday but mid-week as well.  We always believed that when all is said and done, at the end of our lives we will never feel like we spent too much time honoring the Lord... in fact, I believe that going to Church to hear the Word and be actively involved with the Lord's people is something we can't do enough of.

It was often difficult to get to service on Wednesday nights.  When our children were young, a lot of time it involved even bringing them to service in their pj's!  We didn't allow ourselves to make excuses.  Many times other people would refuse to keep their children out "that late" but then for other not-as-important things they'd keep their children out even later!

It is important to place a high priority on time with the Lord and assembling together with other believers.  As your children see you place a high priority on mid-week service, they will too.  And God will never owe you anything -- if you offer time for Him, He will give it back to you in other ways!

Challenge:  Make it a point to get to mid-week service!  It is such a special "family" time at Church, with many age-appropriate activities and extra classes.  Let your children see you place a high priority on getting to Church mid-week.  In this challenging time, we need to get together with other Christians as much as possible to face the onslaught against our values and beliefs!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Healthy and Happy!

It is very important to get your children into active habits early.   If the weather is bad outside, be sure you do not lean on the television to keep your children occupied!  Be sure to limit video game, computer, and television usage, all of which are tied to When my children were young, I didn't have a television set except for videos.  We would watch a children's exercise video and "work out" together.  

I made sure we took a lot of walks, bike rides, roller blade excursions, trips to the park with relay races and many other activities.  It was easy for me to do a lot of fun activities because I had so many children to do them with.   If you have only one or two children, try to get a few friends together and have your children play together.  

Take your children swimming to the local pool.  Usually each city has swim times available where they can swim as a regular routine.  I took my children to playgrounds regularly, and made sure I visited every "good" playground within a 30-mile radius.  We washed the car together, did yard work together, shoveled snow, and went bowling.  On vacations, we stressed hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, skiing, and other healthy activities.

I also made sure that they didn't link food with anything except mealtimes and snack times. It may be surprising when I began this type of "schedule" - when they were INFANTS!!!  As soon as they were drinking about 4 oz. I would wait between bottles approximately 3-4 hours, giving them water in between.  As soon as possible, I had them on an every-four-hours schedule, 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m., midnight, 4 a.m.  When they began to sleep through the night, they stuck with the other times, and it was easy transitioning into regular eating and sleeping schedules!  Plus when infants waited for their bottles, they didn't just drink 1 oz., then 1 oz a half hour later, then 3 oz. an hour later...  I see many new mothers doing this and no wonder they're pulling the hair out of their heads!

As my children grew older, I also didn't want them walking around eating all the time.   When it was snack time, we sat at the table together and enjoyed a healthy snack - usually fruit, celery sticks with peanut butter, yogurt, etc.  Children don't need to walk around nibbling things all day any more than we do!  I eliminated sugar so that when other people gave it to them it was something special.  I tried to teach my children healthy attitudes about exercise and eating early so it would become part of their routine and be easy to continue as they grew older.

We kept eating before bedtime to a minimum, focusing on healthier choices if they were truly hungry.    I would tell them if they were hungry at bedtime, "Wait until breakfast -- we call it 'breakfast' because we 'break' a 'fast'!"   As they grew older, many of the habits I started when they were toddlers stuck with them.  

Challenge:  Take a look at your children's exercise and eating habits and be sure they are ones that are healthy and will inspire them as they grow older.  Tweak your style in any areas you need to change!  Make sure that you limit sedentary activities and encourage active lifestyles!   Don't let your children start any bad habits when they are young that they will have a hard time breaking!  Also, examine your own habits and ensure that they are habits you want your children to follow...  if not tweak your habits, because many of them will be caught by your children without even being taught to your children!  Keep it fun and exciting!

High Expectations

I often thought about Samuel's mother (Hannah) bringing a coat to Samuel each year.  I figure that the coat she brought had to be a larger size or he couldn't have grown into it!

This realization confirmed what I had always considered:  teach your child and expect things from them a little larger than you normally would and they will surprisingly "grow" into it!  While training my children, I always talked to them several levels higher than others would normally think they were capable of understanding.  I asked them to do things a little beyond what others would normally have considered them capable of.  And most of the times they rose to the occasion!

Don't "hem in" your child by thinking they can only comprehend what other children their age can comprehend!  Give them something "bigger" and watch them grow!

Challenge:  Challenge your children to help, understand spiritual concepts, or accomplish something a little more advanced than you normally would.  Keep giving them areas that they can "grow" into!  You'll both be delighted!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Notes

I love when my grown-up children still write everyone little notes at Thanksgiving and go and hand them out.  It is amazing how they have not only kept a tradition we did earlier of writing our grandparents a little note and now they hand out quite a handful on Thanksgiving.

I was blessed today as I watched them get their pile of notes together...

Another tradition we started early is having everyone work together to get the kitchen cleaned up after we eat.  Cleaning the kitchen has become just as important a part of our Thanksgiving tradition as eating the Thanksgiving meal!  We all work together, laughing and talking.  Sometimes a group of girls take the silverware downstairs and wash the silverware separately.  The guys clear the tables and put away extra chairs.

Challenge:  Make traditions worth keeping year after year.  The traditions will cement your family together!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Children of Influence

With so many children, we always made a big deal about influence in our family.  We showed the older ones many examples of how the younger ones followed after them, emphasizing the importance of every little thing we did when others' eyes are on us.  Here is a great poem I read to my children, and put with Jesse's and Daniel's picture:

There are little eyes upon you
and they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol,
you're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he's grown up just like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow
who believes you're always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who's waiting
to grow up to be like you.

Challenge:  Make sure your children know that they are an example, for good or bad, to others that they influence.  Embed in their hearts and minds the realization that what they do and how they behave impacts the world around them.  Accentuate occasions where they realize their impact on others was for good, and use examples to teach them when their impact on others causes them to do wrong so they take responsibility for their influence.  If you start this early, your children will learn well before they are teenagers, and when they are teens they will be able to take responsibility for wiser choices and know the effects on others as a matter of course.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


"Oh, Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." ~William Shakespeare

Thanks to Jessie for the great quote!!!

Time for thankfulness letters and notes!  Have your children write out why they are thankful for a few people and send out the notes and letters!  Send one to the police station, fire station, anyone you know and love or service people you don't even know -- like the postman, etc.

A great week to let people know they are appreciated!

Challenge:  Make Thanksgiving a great time to really show your thankfulness for others.  Include a Scripture on your notes for a great witness!  And have a blessed Thanksgiving week...

“Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.”  (1Th 5:18 GWORD)

Monday, November 24, 2008


When your children are younger, you can teach them any songs you want.  Every day we would sing a hymn together as a family.  I loved singing hymns because there is so many profound testimonies and thoughts in hymns.  I am glad that my children sang hymns then, because I would have a difficult time asking them to sing hymns together now (they are ages 18-1/2 - 24).

We would sing the hymn and discuss the words each day.  These were awesome experiences I am glad we worked through!

Challenge:  Sing hymns with your children that have great meaning!  Talk about the testimonies and precepts in them!  Deepen your faith together by getting the history behind some of the hymns.   

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Special Treats!

While growing up, our special treats were often great fruit.  My Dad would peel apples and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them and I would love it.  We'd cut open a watermelon, or slice strawberries up, and it was a special treat.

When my children were younger, I began instituting the same "special treats" at our house.  I would make a fruit plate for a special treat.  We get pomegranates and peel them open together (tonight Daniel even surprised Gary and I and peeled us EACH an entire pomegranate! -- THAT is an awesome treat because it takes forever to get the little kernels out of the pomegranate!)

We try to keep the majority of our snacks healthy so that when it is time for someone's birthday or an event where there are not such great choices, it isn't a habit but an exception.

Challenge:  Make fruit and vegetables regular snacks in your home.  Cut up carrots and celery sticks and have them in the refrigerator ready to eat.  Cut up cucumbers.  I learned that if the veggies and fruit are cut up already, they are more inviting!  Encourage healthy snacking!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Group Decisions

A lot of times it is so difficult making a "team" decision, when everyone has such strong opinions.  Where to go eat, what to eat, what activity to take part in, what time to leave:  every decision with a family our size can turn into a huge event.

What we try to do in our family is let my husband make the ruling decision if he's home; if not, we try to consider what the majority wants, with the oldest getting the most input, while considering people who have strong opinions for valid reasons.

Most times, some people have to accede to others.  It is good practice to start early and teach your children to give in to what someone else wants or take turns choosing what you do, etc.

Challenge:  Exercise strong group communication skills by talking through a decision where everyone feels differently.  Explain to your children how this would be in a working environment, and teach them to consider others' choices while making their decisions with a group.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

Family Vacations

We always made sure we had a little get-away as a family.  Whether it was up north camping or driving a trailer behind us to camp in Walt Disney World, we took time to make vacation memories.  Most were inexpensive, and the Disney camping trip we saved for over a year and literally ate rice and hamburger and such as our main courses for quite awhile to get the money together!

Our ideas for vacation were to bond as a family.  I know a lot of people take their children's buddies with them on vacation, but we never did.  We made it an investment in the lives of our children to make it so they would bond with each other and have some down time together just enjoying each other.

Even to this day, with our children older, we make it a point to have our family vacation stay our family vacation.  Although with Gary's travel we've been able to slip a weekend in here or there and get away with one child and let them bring a buddy, when we take our family vacation it's just our little family.  

My larger family often vacations at the same time and bonds together as a larger unit, but even then we may just take one or two children and go as an extra vacation if at all.  We prefer to use our family vacation time to just take time out with each other.

I believe that is another reason our children have remained so close is that they have consistently had these relaxing fun times together.

Challenge:  Consider protecting your family vacation times by keeping it to your family.  Plan fun games and outings to really bond and make your vacations worth the investment!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things You Can COUNT On!

Some things are constant, you can count on them.  Here are a few things I have worked at making constant in my life and as a result my children can count on them in my life as well:

*I prefer to be shocked at evil, twisted, ultra-violent, explicit language and explicit sexual scenes in movies.  I will not watch an R-rated movie, and I will fast forward or turn off (if fast forwarding isn't possible because it's the whole movie!) anything that shocks me in other movies.  I will walk out of a movie theatre too.  My kids know it and count on it.

*I hold to God's standards for living, and I will not say that things that go against it are okay, such as affairs, having a baby outside marriage, living together, girls hanging around with other guys alone (who are NOT their boyfriend) when they have a boyfriend and vice versa, homosexuality, and immodest dressing.   As horrible as it is to say it, this makes me almost an alien in today's society where people just act like anything goes.  My kids can count on the fact that I don't just go along with anything!

*I believe the best about people.  No matter how bad the situation or the problem, nor how someone acted or reacted, I choose to believe the best and pray through.  My children can count on it.

Many parents try to be "cool" and go along with anything, or even worse do things that their own children know are wrong.  I am convinced that the reason our society is in such darkness morally is because we have either hidden our lights under a bushel, or the light has simply dimmed down and is ready to be extinguished completely in America.  

Challenge:  Hold fast to sound principles and be a good role model and parent.  Let your children see and count on your consistency!  Let them know what things you can never go along with because the Lord doesn't, and what things they can count on from you!

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”    (Rev 2:4-5 KJVS)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working Together!

My Dad and Mom taught me the joy (and pain!) of working together as a family to get big jobs done.  We would rake leaves together, shovel snow together, clean out the rocks, and even go and help clean up each others' houses when we grew older!  This is getting to be a lost art!

Every Saturday our whole family would clean house all morning before we could go on with our plans.  We learned the value of working together, and I still love the way the Girgenti family all chips in and helps one another when we have jobs to do!

Teach your children the value of "chipping in" to get the job done!  I was told once by a woman with seven children that you should never do any chores alone!   I would put several children on the "mating socks" job.  If I go to shovel the snow, everyone goes with me!  Enlist help or delegate!  

And keep the camaraderie going in your house!

Challenge:  Do group chores this week!  Make it fun and accentuate the joys of working together!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning to Sit Still

One of the qualities I taught my children early was to learn to sit still.  I did this several ways:

*I would read a chapter of a book while they sat still and listened.

*We would have Bible studies every day when they had to be quiet.

*We would volunteer at the senior residents' home or visit nursing homes where they had to sit quietly.

*We would have a contest while one was in piano or flute or violin or clarinet or drum (etc.) lessons on who could be the quietest.  Whoever won got a quarter!  They were also the winner, which we made a big deal of!

*We would have quiet time where everyone would have to read independently.  

*I would force myself to read a magazine or book for a short while and tell them they could not interrupt me but had to be very quiet.

These little games and incentives helped my children to learn to be still for awhile.  This really paid off when I had to take them all with me for a dentist's appointment or to other places where it was extremely necessary for them to sit still.  When we would go to the dentist's or orthodontist's or other places, people would always marvel at how well behaved my children were because they could sit quietly.  But the lessons had to be taught at home.

Challenge:  Institute some quiet times in your home, or times where the children are made to sit still.    These lessons will have great benefits!

The Golden Rule Extended

As Royal Rangers and Missionettes, my children learned the "golden rule" early:

Therefore, all things, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.  Matthew 7.12

But you need to get a step further and go the "extra mile" in the "golden rule:"

Don't just do what you would have others do for you, but pay careful attention so that you do what the other person would rather have you do, which is sometimes different than what YOU would want!  This prepares the boy/girl differences early, and hopefully trains your children for dealing with different personalities.

Practically speaking, when you do something for others with your children, do a little "spy investigation" together of what the other person would need, or want you to do.  If you do this regularly with your children, you will help them to be a blessing in the way the recipient needs!

Challenge:  Find someone to help or encourage with good deeds, and do for them something they would really like done.  Maybe pick up a few groceries for someone, and make sure you get all their favorite things!  Or walk a meal or a few cookies over to an elderly neighbor who lives alone.   Teach your children to "investigate" before doing something for someone so they do something that the other person will really appreciate!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Adding it up...

I learned early that I would never rob my children of the supreme JOY of working towards a goal, wanting something for awhile, cumulatively seeing yourself get closer to the goal, finally earning it, and the results so much better for the process.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas to begin the process when your children are small:

*When doing Bible quiz questions (or you could do it with homework, chores or anything), for each one right we'd put a kernel of popcorn into a measuring cup.  When it was 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels, we'd make a big deal out of having a popcorn party.

*We would keep a sticker chart (available at teacher's stores) with stickers, and at the end of the week paid allowance based on how many stickers.

*When we knew we were going on vacation, we would allocate certain dollar amounts for different chores and make different ways to earn money.  We'd then put the money into separate envelopes to give the children while on vacation so they'd have their own "spending money" for the general store or wherever.  It was fun when we were going to Disney because we went to the Disney store and used Disney dollars.  By the time we got to Disney, everyone had saved enough money to buy their own souvenirs and treats.

*We rarely watched television, but I would award "coupons" and when any child earned ten coupons they could watch television.

Challenge:  Think of different ways to help your children "work toward" something, earning towards it and seeing their progress, and then celebrating their achievement!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who Can We Help Today???

One of the things I loved to do with my children when they were younger is to find a few days a month to ask, "Who can we help today?" and make it our combined effort to do so.

Some of my favorites off the top of my head were:

*Going to visit a grandparent and bringing something for them, or taking them shopping or to lunch.

*Helping a neighbor rake leaves or shovel snow.

*Bringing muffins to someone on our street where we saw an ambulance come (turned out someone had passed away...)

*Visiting an older sick aunt who didn't ever have much company.

*Helping someone wrap Christmas presents.

*Visiting the cancer group to cheer them up.

*Going to cheer up a sick friend and bringing a game to play.

Challenge:  Next time you have a free day (or MAKE a specific free day!), ask "Who can we help today?" and start creatively finding people who need your help and encouragement as a family!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The "Art" of Conversation

I'm not sure whether it's from a lack of interest about others, an escalated view of ourselves, emails and texts replacing many telephone and face-to-face conversations, iPods and earphones shutting out the rest of the world, a hurried pace or all of the above, but the art of conversation, real and meaningful conversation, is being lost.

It is so important that you teach your children and develop in your children the art of conversation.  I used to rehearse how to talk to people with my children before we'd visit the senior residents' home each month.  We'd have a special topic each month, and my children were instructed on how to ask the topic question, and how to respond when the answer was given. 

Another good way to teach conversation that I have done with my children is to hold a ball.  They can practice on how to start a conversation.  Some good conversation starters with people they don't know are asking them where their favorite vacation was, where they live, work, etc., what their hobbies are, how many people in their families, etc., depending on the age of your child.  When they start the conversation you toss the ball to them, and then you respond, and they toss the ball to you.  It is then up to them to keep the conversation going so you can toss the ball back to them, and so on. 

Here are some good ways to teach this art:

* Conversation is a two-way process. Don’t talk about yourself or just give
your own ideas about things. Ask others directly for their views and listen
to what they say.

* Show interest in what others have to say. Remember personal details
about them. Be a good listener and give positive feedback to what people
say. Ask follow-up questions. Try to re-cycle their words in your speaking
to show that you’ve heard what they’ve said.

* Learn how to alternate between talking and listening. Make sure your
speaking turns are not too long or elaborate or repetitive.

* Conversations are visual too. Be aware of body language. Make good
eye-contact and at appropriate points nod supportively- even if you
disagree. A friendly smile and tactful humour help conversation to flow.

* Make a mental note of things of interest that can be used to start a
conversation. Current and local issues, sport, recent events and the
activities of others (public figures, celebs) will always make good
conversation topics whether at home or at the office.

* Beware of telling too many personal anecdotes. Always try to give
examples that lead you to general conclusions.

* Don’t keep changing the topic. It is better to pursue one or two topics than
to keep trying to juggle too many subjects. Don’t be afraid of shortish
silences. They can allow people thinking time.

* Be polite at all times. Do not interrupt others too much when they are
speaking. However, when you feel comfortable in a conversation, interrupt
calmly and in a friendly way to challenge an idea or point of view.
Conversation becomes debate when ideas are challenged.

Challenge:  Teach your children to be interested enough in others to engage them in conversation.  Have people over who your children can talk to and communicate with.  Early on, train your children to develop the art of conversation, and encourage them that it is a skill worth learning.  Practice this art with your child, and communicate thoroughly and often about a variety of matters.  (If you start this early, you will always have a lot to talk to your children about as they grow older too!)  If you know your child is visiting a relative or friend, help them think of some things they don't know about that person and how to develop a conversation to find out things.  You may even encourage them over time to start little books about interesting things they learn from communicating.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello and Goodbye!

One of the things my grandparents, then parents, then siblings, then children, are famous for are our "hellos" and "goodbyes".  I have many cherished moments of long heartwarming hellos, and endearing goodbyes -- sometimes with all our family in the middle of the block hugging and saying a final few words to everyone! 

It amazes me how many people haven't learned the simple courtesy of saying hello to people when they come in the door, or saying goodbye when they leave!   

Challenge:  Start by teaching your children very early that when they go to someone's home, they should say hello, and when they leave, they should say goodbye, and thanks for having them!   The respect shown will be appreciated by others, as well as by your children as they get older!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Magazine Subscriptions

I loved to incite my children to read.  One idea for a great gift (birthday, Christmas or other special occasion) is to give them a magazine subscription.  There are plenty to choose from at the Christian bookstore, and when they were smaller Highlights was a good one.  There are craft subscriptions, cooking subscriptions and many others.  Daniel used to love the Ranger Rick magazine.  My mom even got them the Reader's Digest for a year, and there are several good magazines on nutrition that I have subscribed to for them.  Here is a link to some ideas for children's magazines.  Highlights here.  More children's magazines.  Even more!

When you are thinking of a gift that keeps on giving all year, think of giving your children a good magazine subscription.  

Challenge:  Think of giving magazine subscriptions to your child or other children to encourage their love of reading and adventure, develop a penchant for animals or crafts, or to strengthen their love for the things of the Lord!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Memorizing the Word of God

Even when my children were very young, I memorized many Scriptures with them.  Click here to see Daniel at age 2-1/2 reciting the entire Psalms 23 from memory!   When my children were younger we were privileged to have Bible Quiz, where they competed after memorizing many Scriptures and principles.  It was a great way to hide God's Word in their hearts...

“Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
(Psa 119:11 AMP)

As they grew older, I paid them $25 - $30 for each chapter of Scripture they memorized.  I encouraged them to put their favorite verses on index cards, and even bought a laminator so I could laminate the cards for them.

It is imperative that we teach our children at a young age the importance of memorizing the Word of God.   The Bible says:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” (Amos 8:11 KJVS)

I believe the famine is here or at least well on its way.  In this fast-paced age, very few people take the time to study and meditate and memorize the Word of God.  Let's bring that back!  

Challenge:  Encourage your children to memorize God's Word.  Make it fun!  Reward them for it!  Let them see you memorizing important Scriptures as well!  Keep God's Word a priority in our homes!  And realize ALL the benefits of Psalm 119, which is ALL about the Word of God, knowing it and keeping its precepts!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Letting Our Children Know...

Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but we will tell to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonderful works that He has performed. For He established a testimony (an express precept) in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, commanding our fathers that they should make [the great facts of God’s dealings with Israel] known to their children, That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born might arise and recount them to their children, That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments”   (Psa 78:2-7 AMP)

“And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates."  (Deut 6:6-9 AMP)

I think quite often our children grow up and see where we are, and they never realize the extreme sacrifices and cost of HOW we got to where we are.  Little tiny seeds grow up into rich ripe harvests, whether for good or bad, and it is very important to let your children know, over and over again, just what you did and didn't do, to get where you are.  In fact, the Scripture above tells us that we need to "recount" the works of the Lord "[t]hat they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments”.

Interestingly enough, the Word tells us to rehearse (over and over again) the works of the LORD.  I never felt a need to "recount" to my children any sins the Lord forgave me of (after all, He cast them into the depths of the sea, and the only one that brings them up is the accuser of the brethren - Satan himself -- so why should I bring them up again??!!), except to tell them that each and every sin I ever committed was against the Lord and against myself, and there is always a penalty for sin.  

I am putting together a "Book of Miracles" where I am putting all the wondrous works that the Lord has done for us over the years.  I have been diligent and sure I have let my children know, over and over again, how we dealt with problems in our lives and watched the messes turn into messages, and the tests turn into testimonies.

Challenge:  Begin to tell your children the miracles the Lord has done for you and your family.  Begin when they are little, and tell them over and over so your children know and are fully aware that their family is nothing short of a miraculous gift of the Lord.  Let them in, age appropriately, on problems the Lord worked out, how the Lord directed you, and all the exciting things you have seen the Lord do!  As your children grow older, they will know some of your family testimonies, and will be stronger in their faith for their families.  And then they "might set their hope in God, not forget the works of the Lord, and keep His commandments"!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time for Crafts!

I was so happy to see Nina's blogspot with Nina, Matt and Madeline making a "thankful tree." We used to go to the library, order craft books, go to Borders, Michaels, Joann's, and swap ideas with friends to make crafts all the time!  It was great bonding!

We pressed leaves with crayon shavings between waxed paper, did tissue paper projects, made our own plates and cups, frosted glasses, had taffy pulls, made aprons, pillows, decorated Easter eggs, made Christmas ornaments, did food crafts,...  we still are constantly making crafts!  We had crafts at our parties, and my girls still make crafts when they have get-togethers with their friends!

Even if you're not crafty (I never considered myself a great craft person, although it became a learned talent!), go to the library, ask around, and get some crafts going in your house!   You may bomb a few but think of how much fun it will be to turn the television off and do crafts together!

Challenge:  Try to incorporate a fun craft into your schedule this week!  If you have a great idea, post it!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cleaning Blitzes!

When my children were younger, we had "cleaning blitzes" where we put the time on for only FIVE minutes or TEN minutes and we worked as hard as we could until the timer went off.  Five or ten minutes was such a little bit of time that no one minded throwing themselves into the work, and let's face it, with my five children and I that made six of us working for five or ten minutes, which amounted to a half hour to an hour of work getting done!  If we did that a couple times a day, I was getting a LOT done and no one was overburdened.

If we had a big area to clean, such as our basement or upper level room, we played a little "game" where every time we went into the room we would put 3 things away.  By the time we addressed the "big" project, a LOT of it was already done!

We always put music on, and made doing our chores FUN.  I always said that we spend way too much time in our lives doing chores, so we need to learn to have fun doing it!

Challenge:  Break big projects down into little pieces so it isn't overwhelming!  Make doing chores FUN!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ways to Give to Your Children

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”  (Phil 4:9 KJVS)

I love this part of Scripture, because it explains how we pass information to others, in this post particularly to our children.

If they have learned, we must teach.  We teach by example, word and deed.

If they have received, we must give.  We give precepts, ideas, vision, focus, priorities, explanations, value.

If they have heard, we must speak.  We speak truth and love, with kindness and grace.

If they have seen things, I must demonstrate.  My life should be an epistle to be known and read by our children.  My life should testify to the truth of the Word applied.

Challenge:  Teach, give, speak and demonstrate always, so your children can learn, receive, hear and see things that they can follow after those things, and the peace of God will be with them! 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Morning by Morning

[The Servant of God says] The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].”  (Is 50:4 AMP)

One of the most successful investments of my time as I was raising my children (as it still is now) is getting into the Word of God each and every morning.  By dedicating that time to prayer and Bible study, the Lord has supernaturally directed me through His Word.  Because He knew what I would face day by day, each morning it would seem that my Bible study would prepare me for what was ahead either that very day or soon thereafter.

Challenge:  If you really want to be prepared for your day, make sure you make time to start it with a Bible study and prayer time!  The Lord will speak to you through His Word and you will be ready to face your challenges!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Because someone ELSE likes it!

Teach your children to "give and take" early.  YOU pick the game every other time.  Let them call a friend who is coming over or who they are visiting to find out their favorite food or thing to do. Teach them to be considerate of others' feelings, and what it means to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes."  Teach your children to take turns picking the music, the television show, just about everything they can consider someone else on.

Let your child pack up some of their things and bring them to a shelter.  Purchase a meal and give it to a homeless person on the street together.  Pack up some of their old toys and send them on a missions trip with someone.  My friend, Jessie, and her daughter, Kaylee, sponsor a child that is Kaylee's age, and regularly send her items, cards, and money for necessities.  

Challenge:  Teach your child that because someone ELSE likes it is often reason enough to choose it.  Teach your child to consider others' needs and feelings, and to learn the JOY of putting others' desires first. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ability to Handle Disabilities

One thing I found is that children are an excellent source of encouragement when people are down and out.  I delighted taking my children with me when I volunteered at senior residents homes and at the cancer group support center, as well as when I went to funeral homes and to visit the sick.   I taught my children from a young age to be comfortable around people who were different and hurting.  It IS scary for children to be around seniors in a home sometimes, because children need to learn that seniors often try to hold onto them, are very loud, sometimes say strange things, etc.   I taught my children how to ask them questions and how to talk to them.  A few awkward situations which resulted in learning experiences, and my children were off and running.

When someone had a handicap of some sort, whether an obvious burn, in a wheel chair, some sort of disfigurement, I taught my children to be comfortable talking to them about it and trying to relate to people with disabilities.  We read a story together about a little girl that had cerebral palsy, to teach them empathy for children and others with disabilities.  We often went out of our way to help someone or talk to someone who was obviously disabled.

A common thing I've heard from volunteering at the cancer group and from those with disabilities is that people avoid them or are not comfortable talking to them or looking at them.  I know that I have put a dent in that problem by teaching and training my children to be able to relate and talk to those with handicaps.

Challenge:  Teach your children why other people may look or act different, and if possible teach them how to relate to the handicapped.  Read them a story about someone who is handicapped.  If you have a chance, ask someone about their experience who is handicapped, showing true interest and asking questions that show how you honor them for all the extra effort they have to expend just to do normal activities.   

“Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).”  (1Pet 3:8 AMP)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Do It With ALL Your Might!

If something is worth doing it, it is worth doing with ALL your might!  I taught my children that if they were doing something:  Get INTO it or get OUT OF it!  

If they made a commitment to something, they had to follow through on the commitment, even if they "changed their mind."  

I also made sure that they saw that I walked the talk, and that they saw me doing things with all my might.  It's a great reminder to start teaching early!

Challenge:  Teach your children early to put their whole heart into what they are doing, and to get INTO it or get OUT OF it!

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,...”  (Eccl 9:10 AMP)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Love Means ALWAYS Having to Say You’re Sorry!

When my children had to apologize to one another or to my husband or me, we made sure they knew how to apologize correctly.  A quick sorry wouldn't cut it, because they could say sorry without really meaning it.

We found that if they said what they were sorry for, it helped them identify what they did wrong. Then they had to say two sentences or reasons why they were sorry, and then ask to be forgiven. 

Sounds like a rote formula, but I believe this really helped keep accountability and forgiveness alive.

To give you an idea of how it worked, it would be something like

I'm sorry that I called you 'stupid'.  That wasn't very nice of me.  I never want to hurt your feelings.  Would you please forgive me?

Challenge:  Teach your child to identify what they are sorry about and give a few reasons why they are sorry so they learn how their actions affect others.  Make sure they ask to be forgiven, so the records are all kept clean!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Plan Number Nine

When I was younger, being the oldest girl I was responsible for a lot of "extra" things to help around the house.  After everyone went to bed, sometimes "plan number nine" would go into place.  After a little while (if I didn't fall asleep), when everyone settled down, I was allowed to get up and stay up for a little while longer with my parents.

It was a special fun time, not easily acquired.  It was a reward for the responsibility I assumed.  It was a little "perk".

In my family I instituted the same "plan number nine" for my older children when they deserved a special perk.  It was so fun to see them looking around and quietly re-joining us for a special dvd or game!  

The other stagnant reward the older child got for the assumption of extra responsibilities was that they could ride in the front seat.  My rule was that the oldest person there gets to take front seat.  Rule still stands today, although it's not as regular a benefit as it once was!

Challenge:  Make a "plan number nine" or special privilege at your home for the children who assume extra responsibility.  They won't forget it, and it will encourage them to receive that extra "perk" for the extras they help out with!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keep Laughing!

When I hear people laughing, my heart melts.  Sometimes we even watch cars going by and people walking by and see how many of them have a smile on their face (sadly, not usually too many).  Give your children the gift of laughter:  so start smiling and laughing as much as you can. Have a hearty laugh over every amusing situation. Laugh even at yourself and smile at the simplest pleasures in your life.

With laughter, your days will become lighter, more joyous and more bearable even on those crazy hay-wired days. A smiling face also looks much more appealing and inviting too.  

Give away your smiles freely and in abundance. Spread your laughter around as it's contagious.

A big plus is that you train your children to see the humorous side of life and to be full of joy.

I'll never forget walking into surgery with my mom, and we saw something protruding from the bottom of her pants.  We bent down and started to pull at it, and it kept coming, and coming, and coming... turned out it was a pair of pantyhose that got stuck to the inside of her pant leg!  We laughed together so hard on our way to surgery, that I know it made my whole pre-surgical attitude one that helped me float through the surgery!  I'm so glad my mother has always had such a good sense of humor!  I love her laugh!

I live by this credo: Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations. Even in your darkest moment, you usually can find something to laugh about if you try hard enough.  -- Red Skelton

A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one’s strength.” (Prov 17:22 GWORD)

Challenge:  Enjoy the humorous side of a situation!  Bring laughter, LOTS OF IT, into your home!  Let your children love to hear you laugh often!

Training Your Child's Will

How is this to be done?  The decisions of the will depend upon the impulses and motives which prompt it to action.  These impulses and motives again depend upon the objects presented to the mind, and the degree of attention they are given.  In our fallen nature, the soul is stimulated far more by the visible and the temporal, than by the unseen and the real.  The soul is deceived by what appears pleasing or beautiful.  The influence of what is present outweighs that of the future, even though it may be of infinitely grater worth. 

It is the work of the parent to present to the child the best reasons for taking certain actions and help him to refuse evil and choose good.  The parent must present to the child the beauty of virtue, the nobility and happiness of self-denial, the pleasure that duty brings, and the fear and the favor of God.  The parent creates positive emotions within the child which cause him to gladly will to choose the good.

The parent acts as a conscience for the child, calling him to be true to his higher instincts and convictions.  The parent leads him to the true pleasure with which duty rewards even the young.  The training of the child aims especially at teaching him to refuse evil and choose good when there is no parent nearby to help.  The conscience of every person is a guardian and helper of inestimable value in choosing the path of right.  Wise training can do much to establish the authority of this inner rule.  Proper training will lead the child to look upon his conscience; not as a spy, but as his truest friend and best companion.

The authority of the parent and of conscience should be linked together, so that even in the parent's absence, the weight of his influence may be felt.  The success of all true education involves helping the pupil to teach himself.  Therefore, the aim and success of moral training must be to form in the child the habit of ruling himself and always listening to the inward monitor.  Cultivate in the child the mental skills of reflection and quiet meditation, so that he may always wait to listen for the gentle inner whisper that tells him to refuse evil and choose good.  

Conscience, however, can only tell to do the right but it cannot always teach what the right is.  The mind may be wrong in its views of good and evil, and faithfulness to conscience may even lead the child to choose evil and refuse good.  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalms 119.105

One of the most precious influences of a godly education is the consent of the heart to take God's Word as the standard of good and evil, and the desire to let it decide in every choice.  The authority of the parent, of conscience, of God's Word is a threefold cord that cannot be broken.  This cord binds the child to the throne and the will of God where he knows to refuse evil and choose good.

When the parent realizes the meaning of the words good and evil, he will see how in every step of life there are two motives struggling to be master.  Choosing between evil and good is a lifelong task which is carried out every day.  The parent will recognize the great responsibility entrusted to him of awakening, guiding and strengthening the young will of his child.  The parent will feel that if he can do this one thing well, he has done his highest work.  To know to refuse evil and choose good will be to choose Christ and holiness and eternal life.

Parents, God's highest gift to man was the freedom to CHOOSE the will of his God.  Your highest work is to take charge of that will in your child and to be God's minister in helping your child choose His service.  Realize your own incompetency to influence your child's will in which the powers of light and darkness are wrestling for supremacy.   Depend upon the leading of the Holy Spirit for the renewal of your child.  May it be your reward and his joy to see his will given up to choose good, to choose God.

Challenge:  Lord God, teach me to form and train the will of my child to refuse evil and choose good.  Make me very gentle and patient with a sense of my own willfulness.  Make me faithful to fulfill my duties as a parent, trusting in you because You are my help and my Father.  Amen.

Taken from Raising Your Children For Christ, Andrew Murray

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exercising the Will

He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.  Isaiah 7.15

Of all the wonderful powers with which God has endowed man, his will - the power of determining what he does, and so what he is - is the most wonderful.  This is the deepest trait of the divine image.  Just as God was of Himself and not of another, He gave man to a very large extent the power of deciding and making himself.  The mind of man, the soul with all its emotions, man's moral and religious nature - all these have been given for man to make decisions and fashion his own being and destiny for eternity.

The parent has been entrusted with the solemn task of teaching the child how to use his will in the right way.  This delicate instrument is put into the hands of the parents to keep, to direct, and to strengthen.  The parent must train the child to exercise his will for the glory of the God who gave it.  To those who seek wisdom from God to fulfill their task, success is possible and promised.

To combine the greatest degree of personal liberty with perfect obedience is a very delicate problem.  God's Word has more than once taught that obedience is the child's first virtue.  He is to obey, not because he understands or approves, but because the parent commands.  In this he is to become the master of his own will by voluntarily submitting it to a higher authority.  Obedience from this principle will secure a double blessing for the child.  While guiding the will to form right habits, it strengthens the control the child has over his will.  When this has been attained, a sure foundation has been laid for the exercise of the child's free will choosing what appears to him to be best. 

In the first stage of childhood, before the child knows to refuse evil and choose good, simple obedience is law.  It is this that the parent must regard as his highest and most blessed work.  As the child matures, it is still a parent's influence that must train the young will to exercise the power on which everything in his later life depends.  The child must now be trained himself to refuse evil and choose good.

From Raising Your Children for Christ, Andrew Murray, The Child's Will and Conscience

My prayer from the time my children were young was that they would want to obey and not just obey.  I love this lesson on teaching a child to exercise the child's free will.  I believe your child, as Andrew Murray tells us, must learn that they have control over their will and have the power to refuse evil and choose good.

Challenge:  If your child is younger, just be sure they learn to obey you instantly, whether or not they want to.  As your child matures, train them to choose the right way and reject the wrong way.   One good way of doing this is to have them learn the "flick the switch" blog.  Bring them to a light switch and show them the power of the light switch, and then explain how God's power is within them to get rid of darkness by choosing light or the right things.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I love the etymology of the word "compassion:"  com = with + passion = strength.  Whenever my children were sick, I'd set up a little "sick table" for them with everything they needed.  I would tape a bag or bring a trash can near them for their Kleenix.  I'd then take the day off with them and watch old movies, or just keep checking on them if they were too sick to stay up.

When my children got hurt, I hurt with them and let them know I felt their pain with them.   I also encouraged each of my other children to do something for the person who was hurt or not up to par.  I really wanted to teach my children to feel another person's pain with them.

I believe compassion is STRENGTH.  If someone feels pain, is hurt, or overwhelmed, RELATE to them and FEEL their pain.  Your children will feel the strength of you walking through every situation with them.  Teach your children to feel others' pains too...  that way they can not only receive compassion but give it too!

Challenge:  Find ways to feel others' pain with them.  Pray for them.  Do what you can for them as a family.  Encourage your children to live with compassion!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Mail...

My Mom always sent our children "happy mail" and got them into a good habit of sending it to others.  "Happy mail" is mail that just makes someone happy.

We did a little different twist on it when my children were younger and had shoeboxes as "mailboxes" in front of each person's room.  We would put "happy mail" in each other's shoeboxes.  

Between trying to brighten someone's day by putting "happy mail" in their shoebox, or by sending "happy mail" to others, my children got used to making people happy via mail.

When my children were younger, we thought of letters to write to others just to tell them we were grateful for who they were or something they'd done.  Once we even wrote to the police department to thank them for protecting us!    After they received it, they contacted our family and a special scout car came over and showed the kids the car and gave them special buttons. They had never received such a thank you before!  

Challenge:  Start young by having your child(ren) dictate letters to others and maybe drawing something on them.  Continue the habit of sending "happy mail" to people to brighten their day.  Send thank you cards regularly to people who are special to you.  Let your children see how they can be a blessing via mail!

Joy is in the Journey!

So many times when you're hustling and bustling to get somewhere you may forget that JOY is in the JOURNEY!  I LOVED time in the car -- your child(ren) were buckled in and en route you could sing special songs together, talk and ask questions, play road games, or just get to know each other better.

We tried to stay off cell phones and really talk on our way back and forth (which was quite a bit considering how far school was from us and all the activities we were involved in!).  If you are at a loss for topic starters here are some tips:

*Keep a jar with topics and grab a few for the car.
*Talk about spiritual things they have been wondering or asking about.
*Talk about seasonal things.
*Talk about issues they have gone through lately and give your insight, even with a parable or story from your own life.
*Talk about issues you know some of their friends or family have been going through and how to correctly assess and minister through them.
*Talk about their dreams.
*Talk about their "favorite" anythings...  ask them "favorite" questions... (and don't forget to ask "why")
*Talk about things that have been on your heart.
*Talk about ways they can encourage and help others (and make a plan to do so).
*Talk about hobbies they want to develop.
*Explain passages from Scripture that are sometimes difficult to understand or that often are taken out of context.

Challenge:  Have fun on the journey!  Be creative and make car rides times everyone looks forward to!  Turn the radio down, phone(s) off, and make memories!  Before you even can blink, they'll all be driving off in their own cars and WHOOOOOOOOSH it's over!  Utilize every minute!  JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spontaneous Fun with Our Children Too!

Today in the Marriage Vitamins blog,  I wrote about spontaneity for couples.  Spontaneous fun is great with our children too.  Think of some fun things to do to make life a little more exciting and fun...  Here are a few of my favorites:

*While driving on fall days, I would literally PULL OVER and STOP the car and watch the leaves playing "tag,"  the birds in a "meeting" along the telephone wires, or look at beautiful fall trees (sometimes we'd get out and throw leaves into the air).
*One day after school I made everyone close their eyes and brought them to Dodge Park over the bridge, and then had them open their eyes to an incredible fall sight!  We threw leaves up in the air there too!
*Let the popcorn pop WITHOUT the lid on and watch the popcorn go everywhere!  (This is fun, but it can POP a little hot oil so be careful!)
*On the way to school on rare occasions, I would let them go in late and we would go and get breakfast at Denny's.
*Before school we'd go and get a canolli.
*On snowy days we'd just pack up and go sledding.
*We'd pack up a lunch and go to the park or someone's pool.
*When homeschooling, we'd go do school outside instead of inside.

Challenge:  Think of some spontaneous fun things to do with your children regularly!  Help them keep the surprise and joy in everyday life!  

Friday, October 24, 2008

Giving solutions before the problems

Based on my previous post, a wise mother foresees problems that could come as a result of the strengths and weaknesses of each child's personality.  

I saw and developed leadership potential in my children by reading them leadership books starting at an early age.  I foresaw problems that could come as a result of perfectionist tendencies, and read and shared information from books on how to overcome the negative aspects of a perfectionist, developing instead a "pursuit of excellence."  I foresaw the problems in tendencies to be shy and withdrawn, and helped my children develop confidence in the Lord and interest in others, and equipped them with training on how to interact and communicate with others successfully.  

A few of the other things I helped my children with, without being an exhaustive list, are:

*Helped them to see and learn from others' mistakes and "judge" whether choices were wise without judging the person or condemning them.
*Helped them to realize the negative impact of anger, and how to deal with it effectively.
*Helped them to be patient and understanding with others' viewpoints without them threatening what they know to be true.
*Helped them learn why they believe what they believe so they would not be easily swayed with vacillating public opinion.
*Taught them how to break projects into little pieces so they would not be easily frustrated.
*Taught them time management skills.
*Taught them compassion on people in need or that had experienced trauma, and how to communicate with them.

Challenge:  What problems could your child be headed for with their gifts and talents?  Teach and train your children about how to best develop and use their gifts.   Teach and train your children to develop gifts and talents that are not natural to them.  Teach them to understand others' strengths and weaknesses.  Pray and ask the Lord to show you where your child may need your help, and give your children lessons way above their age but brought to their level of understanding.  You will be AMAZED at how much your children can understand at a young age if you bring it to their learning level, and how they can utilize the information!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Your child's weakness can also be their strength!

In a little different light than the Marriage Vitamins blog today, your child's weakness can also be their strength when you train them how to "turn it around." 

For example, Jesse's strong will, which resisted having to do things he didn't feel strongly to do, once guided and directed, became his strong leadership ability.

Hannah's obsession for perfection, which made her frustrated when younger, enabled her to discipline her studies and get into U of M dental school early.

Bethany's artistic side, which was often a hindrance to a strict homeschool schedule when she was younger, became her artistic ability to do hair, and her insight into understanding others.

Christa's determination, which resulted in temper tantrums when younger, when turned around enabled her to swim against the tide of compromise and consistently hold true to her values on her own.

Daniel's intensity, which made him go through major periods of stress and misdirected intensity when younger, turned around enabled him to intensely study the Word of God and impact people around him.

This is a basic overview, but I can tell you time and time again of my children's weaknesses that when directed became their strengths!  It is EXCITING!

Challenge:  When you see the weaknesses in your children, train, direct, encourage and guide them to turn the weakness into a strength by using it correctly.  Look and observe and pray to ask the Lord to help you see what strength is underlying their weaknesses, and seek creative ways to develop those weaknesses into strength.  And in the process, don't wound your child's spirit or discourage them, rather help them to live up to their potential in Christ, and see them with their full potential as part of who they ARE!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faith comes by hearing!

Romans 10:17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told],...

Faith, trust, belief, comes by hearing what is told...  This is a primary truth when raising children.  

Our words have creative power in them.  If people are repeatedly told they will "never succeed," their belief system becomes built around those statements.  If you see the potential in your child, and you repeatedly let them know it, and build on it, they will grow up knowing that with God all things are possible in their lives.  The faith that is built on what is heard can be belief and faith for a NEGATIVE result or belief and faith for a POSITIVE result...

“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  (Col 4:6 MESSAGE)

I made it a point never to expect perfection with my children, but to be delighted with their efforts, with their learning from their mistakes, and with them striving to live up to the potential God gave them.  I would be disappointed if they lived or made choices below the standards God equipped them to live, but the words they heard me speak about them and to them were words they could hear and believe for success in their futures.

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”  (Eph 4:29 AMP)

Challenge:  What words do your children hear you speak about them and to them?  Is the faith, trust and belief in the things they hear you say faith for a POSITIVE future or a NEGATIVE one?   Make a mature choice and ask the Lord to help you to totally eliminate any negative, demeaning, or degrading words to your children.  Let your words constantly and consistently minister and be good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of your children, a blessing, giving grace!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Everything we stumbled on doing that was worth repeating became a "tradition" for our family. We thrive on traditions... Some have been going on for years and years, and some are newer and not huge "events" but little things that connect us. Here are a few of them:

Apple orchard every fall with two of MY siblings and their families and my parents, along with side trip to see migrating geese and finishing at Coney Island downtown.
Making gingerbread houses after breakfast at my parents.
Cookie exchange at my sister's house.
Making caramel apples every fall.
Candy corn out in fall.
Apple and pumpkin pies in the fall!
Buffalo wild wings with guys' friends and my husband late at night.
Peanut butter popcorn and orange juliuses when friends are over.
Spedini and strawberry shortcake in the summers.
Special birthday dinners -- whatever the birthday person wants.
October 31 getting a caramel apple at Rocky Mountain Chocolate at Somerset (this USED to be
an incredible harvest party at Uncle Tony's with a bonfire and activities, and pie throwing
at Gary!)
Family picnic.
Circus every year.
Game and Movie nights.
Up north trip every year (this USED to be camping every year).
CRAZY renditions of many different "happy birthday" songs.
Favorite place for lemon ice!
"Family secret" hot chocolate recipe!

Cherish, embellish, and guard traditions with your children! Make special days from nothing! Have special "family" recipes that are special to your children! Special games you love; special meals. Keep adding new traditions, and keep the old. Make some of your traditions events throughout the year that will connect your family for years and years, and be worthy of them taking off work and making extra effort to get to!

Challenge: List some of the traditions and special things you want to start with your family. Make things special and exciting: things they will fondly want to repeat over and over. Make some special recipes your family secret recipes - ones that bond your family. Sing special songs together. Celebrate your family's uniqueness and let it bind each of you together!

Monday, October 20, 2008


I loved to teach my children about "blindspots" -- by showing them the "blindspot" in my Suburban, I could explain to them about the areas we all have that we don't even realize we need to improve on.  

With their sports games, I always taught them that the perspective of the umpire or referee actually becomes part of the game.  So whether the ball is "in" or "out," if the ump or ref sees it as one or the other, it is the way it is called and thus part of the game.

If three people all stand equal distance apart and hold a huge globe, if each person explains what they see, each part is different.  Each person can stand and explain over and over what they see, and although everyone is holding the same globe, from each perspective it is different.

When one of my children really couldn't understand one of their "blind spots" in communicating that I could clearly see, I had them go around to each of their siblings and ask them to give them one good way they communicated, and two suggestions on how they thought the person could improve in communicating.  It not only taught my children the use of constructive criticism, but it taught them to consider others' perspectives on how they acted. 

I taught them that we are three people:  (1) the person we think we are; (2) the person others think we are; and (3) the person God really knows we are!  It is VERY IMPORTANT to know others' perspectives, and especially to learn God's perspective, despite who we want to think we are!  

We would regularly go over things that each child could improve on when we took them out for coffee or breakfast alone.  It was like a little "review" that you would get at work once a year detailing what was going great, and what needed a little work.  

Challenge:  Teach your children about "blindspots!"  Teach them to respect others' perspectives and value others' input into their lives.  Teach them to give and receive constructive criticism without defending themselves!