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!