Encouraging Compassion

We have already stated that parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior. Here’s a demonstration of this principle …

Question: “What are you doing?”
Answer: “Keeping the ant warm.”

His father works in security, protecting folks from harm. His mother nurtures the young. These consistent examples of compassion are already imprinted in his “code of conduct blueprint.”

Through our example children already have the foundations of integrity and excellence within them. They already have developed a value system simply by watching.

Therefore during special occasions, when children get caught up in the excitement of an event, when they get over tired, and when visiting children model inappropriate behavior, let’s remember that these are only occasional indiscretions. Any errors in judgement they may commit are all part of learning how to develop self-control, how to endure physical stress, and how to resist peer pressure.

For more information go to our article entitled Transferring Values to Young Children

Telemarketing – A View from the Other Side

The other evening at 8:39 a telemarketer called. From the Caller ID, I could tell that we were about to receive a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity. When I picked up the phone, I could hear an already ongoing conversation. Our caller was a telemarketer-in-training and she was receiving instructions from her supervisor. So I listened for a while to the protocol – how to convince an unsuspecting home dweller that they should take advantage of this offer.

First, the young woman was to assure us that she was not a telemarketer. We were selected, of course, because we were special. We were chosen from a long list of qualified recipients. We were among “the best” to receive a trip. The conversation faded until the supervisor’s voice became adamant …“Never – ever – mention PARKING! And if the customer asks, change the subject!” On and on she went about the forbidden topic of parking. Exactly what that was about I never did find out. But I did learn one thing: this young woman was being taught how to mislead and deceive. She was being given specific instructions on how to avoid the truth.

After we were suddenly disconnected, I planned my strategy for her return call. The first thing I was going to ask was …“What about the parking?” But after a while I began to see the more human side of the call. Here was a young lady – someone else’s daughter – obviously needing an income, being escorted into a career of compromise. No, she was not on the street. But, in a way, she was selling herself – she was selling her integrity.

What this young woman needed was not an agreeable customer, but prayer. She needed God to lead her into a profession in which she could speak the truth and prosper. A profession that met her financial needs while strengthening her spirit. A profession in which she would never again have to compromise her integrity. Because, in the end, that is all we have.

The Rocking Chair

When our daughter was accumulating furniture for her first apartment, we bought an old oak rocking chair at a yard sale for eight dollars. When moving day arrived, she decided that the rocker would not fit her décor so we placed it in a spare bedroom. For years it sat there.

A few weeks ago at our own yard sale, we decided to let it go. I sold it to a shocked gentleman for three dollars. After it was gone, I missed it terribly and wondered, “Why had I sold it … and for only three dollars?” The revelation came quickly.

Because I had paid so little for it, I never appreciated it’s real worth. I never considered the craftsman’s hands that had turned the spindles, the skilled furniture maker who had fastened the joints in place, or the babies who were rocked to sleep in it. I always saw it as just a yard sale bargain.

Our lives – and the lives of our children – are filled with blessings that cost us little:

  • a starlit evening
  • silly giggles in the night
  • a snow day
  • birds chirping at dawn
  • a peach tree laden with ripe fruit
  • a yard sale rocking chair

Let us teach our children to never measure the true worth of a blessing by the yardstick of its cash value.  Instead, let us give them wisdom, demonstrating how to appreciate each blessing as a gift, like an old friend who has come by to visit, and rock for a while.

The Fourth Gift

The True Story of a Modern-day Wise Man

During one Christmas season, I met a modern-day wise man. The old man walked into my classroom to thank me for what we would later call “the fourth gift.” On his behalf, I share his message with you now …

The school halls were empty and the janitor was making his final rounds. I was just stacking the last supplies for holiday storage when the classroom door opened. A thin, elderly gentleman stood in the doorway, his white hair and ragged clothes dimmed by the late afternoon shadows. For a moment I thought he belonged down the hall, in the now empty manger scene. When he inched closer I could see his eyes glistening, tears staining his weathered cheeks.

As he extended his hand, he whispered, “Thank you … for teaching my little girl … how to read.” Then he turned and walked away.

I stood and watched his bent frame shuffle down the dimly lit corridor, his foster daughter clinging to his outstretched hand. To this man who could not even pen his own name, the child held a treasure as precious as gold. She could read.

To teachers everywhere … Thank You.

Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 although his family and friends called him “Ted.” Educated in literature, his love for drawing led him to an early career creating cartoons and then writing successful advertising campaigns, which became his main source of income.

Twenty years after publishing his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), he published The Cat in the Hat. That book changed his career and the lives of children forever more.

Known for creating over 44 children’s books, Dr. Seuss focused first on teaching children to think. And then to read. Green Eggs and Ham, which uses fewer than 50 different words, is his best-selling title, followed by The Cat in the Hat.

As you enjoy a few of the gifts below that Dr. Seuss left behind, encourage your children to create words and characters of their own. Then read our article entitled The Imagination Station for more information on the value of illustrating.

(Slides Courtesy of Random House 2013)

Reading with Young Children

… “I want my 16 month old daughter to enjoy books but when I try to read to her, she isn’t interested. Is it too early to introduce books?” – Elizabeth

Great question, Elizabeth. We receive a lot of emails about this very issue. As you know, board books with simple pictures are available for children your daughter’s age. They serve well for when she is alone and wants to hold it without tearing the pages. She is learning many pre-reading skills already such as left-to-right progression, where the book title is placed, and that words and illustrations correspond.

When you read with her, however, she may find it more interesting if you choose a book with more detailed illustrations – something with characters she is familiar with or a more intricate plot. You won’t read the story per se, – not word for word – but you will be talking with her about the illustrations and perhaps later on, the story line. Many books labeled for 3 or 4 year-olds will fit this category. When you go to the library, let her pick out the books that interest her. She may be attracted to the picture of an animal, a cartoon character she can identify, or a child in a funny dilemma. Remembering that one of the reading skills an older child learns is how to interpret picture cues (or clues) in order to anticipate what will happen next, learning to pay attention to visual detail now builds an excellent foundation for literacy later.  

Modern Day Disciples

Parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior. One of the values we strive to transfer to our young people is our belief in God. However, sometimes we perceive our faith as weak and wonder what kind of example we are actually setting.

Here is PROOF that we are capable of great faith!

I used to think that folks who anchored their lives on God’s promises were somehow supernatural in themselves. That walking by faith – believing that God’s Word will come to pass – required great strength. When we read about how God moved a mountain in someone’s life, how they were healed, how a negative situation was transformed into a great victory, we sometimes think, “Wow, I will never have THAT kind of faith.”

But the other day I realized that although these events are wonderful, nothing takes more faith than driving in rush hour traffic. Think about it. Here you are, strapped to the interior of a machine filled with explosive fuel, with spark plugs firing under the hood, driving amid all the crazies of the world.

Careening by you at the speed of light, on the right, is a car filled with 16 year-old boys who are mesmerized by the beat from their CD and by the woman in the car to your left. As for the single beauty on your left, she is busy multitasking with her lipstick in the mirror, her pink cell phone, a mocha java latte, and the car of teenage boys. Forget about Grandpa talking to his dog, the windowless van weaving in and out of traffic, or the harried mother trying to stop the fighting in the back seat. Anyone in their right mind will admit that this exercise alone proves that the angels of the Lord are encamped round about us.

We read about how the disciples rowed out into the deep and met with high waves, and we think that their faith is unattainable. Yet, I believe that each day we more than measure up. Each time we slip behind the wheel and turn on the ignition, we exercise remarkable faith. We honestly believe that we will arrive safely at our destination even though, statistically speaking, it is not a logical conclusion.

Each day we believe as the disciples did, that we will get to the other side. We have faith – supernatural faith – faith that moves mountains, and we take it out for a spin every day. Knowing this, let us now go forth and do great things.

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed … nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

The Ideal Family

Do you remember the Biblical analogy that we are like sheep needing a Shepherd? It turns out that a community of sheep and their integral social interaction actually mirrors a healthy family unit!

The sheep …

  • form home groups and home ranges and willingly remain there.
  • teach the lambs the invisible boundary lines.
  • are easily corrected.
  • recognize human faces and those of fellow sheep.
  • can differentiate the emotional states of other sheep and humans through reading their faces.
  • recognize and respond to their names.
  • have problem-solving abilities.
  • remain in constant visual and verbal communication with others.
  • have 360° panoramic color vision, which is also binocular.
  • maintain visual contact and communication when grazing.
  • constantly monitor their position in relation to others.

So the Biblical analogy that we are God’s sheep and Jesus is our Shepherd is significant.

  • We are to recognize our home range and willingly remain there.
  • We are to teach our children the boundary lines.
  • We are to maintain close verbal and visual communication with each other.
  • We are to recognize, interpret, and address the emotional states of others in our midst.
  • We are to continually maintain an awareness of and communication with others as we graze.
  • We are to keep looking up to see where our Shepherd is so that we can continually position and orient ourselves to Him.

We know His voice. We recognize His face. We see clearly.

Our Seemers

The other day a friend of mine was involved in a fender-bender. No one was injured but the remarkable revelation was that before the collision, each person involved had an inward sensitivity of the impending doom. Each had been led to take another route. Unfortunately, no one considered the inward-knowing to be valid.

We are led by God’s Spirit through an inward knowing, through our spirits – our “seemers.” It is not a head decision – not an intellectual thought process. It is a heart issue, a knowing or impression of what to do. We conclude, “This seems like the right thing to do.”  For my friend, it seemed best to take the other road, but he didn’t. It seemed right for the other driver to just go home, but she didn’t.

Our children are going to be making thousands of decisions in their lifetime. What better gift can we give them than an awareness of how to develop a sensitivity to God’s leading? To His guidance. His protection. Children already possess a trust and closeness with God. It’s part of their initial equipment. We were once this equipped too. But as we grew we allowed intellectual reasonings to override inward leadings. Now, as adults, we base our decisions on gathered facts, studies, research, statistics, demographics, experience, opportunity, and a host of other variables.

And as important as these components are in making a mature and well-informed decision, before we take a step, the final decision should always come from that inward place where God’s Spirit resides.

  • “Do I have a peace about doing it?”
  • “Does it seem right – deep inside – that I should go in this direction?”
  • “I know what my head is saying, but what is my heart saying?”

In any relationship, the more time we spend with a person, the more we can perceive their thoughts and the intents of their heart. Why wouldn’t it be the same with God? He wants a relationship with us, too. And as we pray and spend time with Him, the strength of our “seem-er” increases. We can more easily recognize His leading.

Let us train ourselves – and our children – to always be checking on the inside for God’s leading, direction, and peace. Let us be watchful – rightly dividing our own intellectually based thoughts from our spirit-led impressions.

Looking for His wisdom.

Launching Out In Faith

Have you ever noticed that during times when you are about to bravely launch out in faith, circumstances become difficult? Obstacles appear out of nowhere? Or someone says something that takes the air right out of your balloon?

These are “living distractions,” and it is important that we recognize these hindrances for what they are: opportunities to put down our swords of faith and walk away from the power of God’s promises.

I am sure you can point to times in your life when you stood on a precipice, ready to leap, and came face to face with opposition. Maybe it was a career change. Maybe it was the prospect of opening your own business. Or maybe you wanted to move far away and begin again.

The Children: Now let’s think about our children. How many hopes and dreams will they see come to fruition? As we hold their hands and guide them through childhood, let us teach them this same truththat distractions will come. Knowing this, they can march forth with conviction and purpose. Stalwart. Confident. And immovable.

  • For none of these things move me …
  • For with God, all things are possible …
  • For He who has begun a good work in us will continue …
  • For we are fully persuaded that what He has promised He is also able to perform.

A Magnetic Personality

The other day I was at the grocery store, talking with a woman about her day. She shared that her 90-year-old mother-in-law had passed away and that they were busy making funeral plans. During the conversation she paused and stated adamantly that “Bad things come in threes! I just hope that this is the last of it!” Then she listed the two previous deaths in the last few weeks involving grandparents of people she worked with. When I tried to ease her away from this conviction, she just dug her heels in deeper. “No,” she said, “they come in threes!

People believe all sorts of things. Sometimes the belief is based on experience. Sometimes it is based on a wives’ tale. And sometimes it is based … on nothing. So let’s take a minute to examine the above belief.

First of all, the three deaths mentioned were of people who had run their race and finished their course. All were elderly and had come to the time when they slip out of their bodies and enter eternal life. It’s a natural course of events. Some day, when we are finished with our earthly assignments, we too will leave.

Secondly, if this “come in threes” principle is true, why is it not applied to good things as well as bad? Why don’t people believe that an unexpected financial windfall, a job promotion, and healing come in threes, too?

The truth is that setting one’s faith to believe for bad things to happen only attracts the negativity. And the stalwart conviction that something bad is coming can pull that negative event in like a forceful magnet.

But the opposite is also true. With faith in God’s promises, we can draw blessing toward us, as well. We can pull in God’s own life-giving power to make a difference or change a circumstance. This makes us ambassadors of blessing. Of mercy and peace.

What we believe about each of these forces – a belief system we inherited – is what we are transferring to our children. Do we want their minds to be dominated by fear or do we want to impart into them the confidence that comes from faith in God?

(For more information about transferring values to young children, visit our Character Education section here.)