Parenting: The Short Version

Concerned parents and guardians often ask us how to handle certain situations, learning challenges, etc. With online opinions from “experts” and those claiming educational expertise so prevalent, there are many voices adding to the often conflicting dialog regarding Early Childhood Education. To help them sort through the noise, we have compiled a list of the three most foundational principles of parenting:

1. Trust God‘s Choice: Children are a gift. Given by God. And each child has an earthly assignment. A divine purpose. It is not a mistake that you have been given this child. Nor that he/she has been given you as the parent. Knowing this, no one is more qualified to make better parenting decisions for this child than you. And although you may read books on parenting to become more skillful in this area, when all is said and done, you know best what the child needs and what it will take to make him or her prosper.

mother

2. Trust Your Heart: Above all else, above being on a sports team, self-defense classes, or music lessons, it is vital that your child know that you want to spend time with him. This may sound like a given, but we have had grown children tell us more than once that this is the one thing they missed as a child. On the outside, their parents did all the “right things.” But on the inside, the child always longed for that sincere heart connection where the parent honestly just wanted to spend time with the child.

3. Trust Your Intuition: A parent is equipped with a special anointing for knowing. It’s a gift. Part of the initial equipment. And this “knowing” can be cultivated through prayer and practice. Children cannot always articulate or explain what is going on. And lack of experience and immaturity prevent them from seeing clearly. So becoming sensitive to the leading of the Lord and trusting your spirit to inform you concerning what you need to do completes your parenting package.

Enjoy the journey!

The Indelible Life

Personal goals, career goals, community goals. We all make them. But what about longer lasting and more far-reaching goals? Goals that touch the next generation? And the one after that?

Recently we remembered my late grandmother’s birthday. Born in 1900 as the youngest of nine children, she often told us stories about her adventurous childhood. How her father would put real candles on the Christmas tree and how she had heard that America had streets of gold.

When she turned 18, a worldwide plague took her mother, sister, niece, and other family members. This one event shaped her into a singularly focused pillar of strength. From that moment on, life for her was only about family, which is why we were at the center of her universe.

Today I look around and still see glimpses of her pass by. In my family’s loving texts, when my brother makes me laugh, and in my daughter’s gentleness, Grandma is still here.

When we share a kindness, love moves forward to the next generation. If we show compassion today, the ripple effect of that one gesture can still be seen fifty years from now in the eyes of another soul.

This truth makes life eternal both in heaven and on the earth.

Our influence never leaves. It is never erased.

As we pass through, the world is changed forever.

The ripple is lasting. Our impact, indelible.

Let us make our mark thoughtfully each day, remembering that kindness and compassion live forever.

To Our Teens: Your Voice Matters

Parents: If you have a teen in your life, please share this …

In a world where we are made to feel insignificant and small, know this one thing: your voice matters. What you have to say can have a great impact on the world around you. The thoughts, words, and insights stirring within you have power – the power to change a life forever.

When I was sixteen, I was like many other teens in my world, searching for wisdom and truth. There was a war going on that we did not believe in. Our parents belonged to a completely different time and culture. And the stirrings within us were powerful forces we could not bridle. We sought justice for all men. A world filled with peace. And protection for all those less able. It was the sixties.

Before cell phones, before the internet, and before cable TV, we connected through the printed word.  Newspapers, books, and magazines were our lifeline to the outside world. We gleaned wisdom from Greek philosophers and poets. I nurtured the deep passions within me and expressed them through rants on social justice. But nothing seemed to quiet the painful compassion that simmered within.

Then, one day, I read words that changed my life forever.

My favorite teen magazine had just arrived. This quality monthly publication offered a wide variety of articles. It covered fashion, makeup and hair, fiction and non-fiction, dating humor, and opportunities for teens to submit original poetry and art. Unlike today’s issues, there was little advertisement. Instead, it was a vital source of information for the searching soul.

As I read through this newest issue, I noticed a short quote from a fellow sixteen year old. Her submission had been accepted and was used as filler at the bottom of one page. As I read, her words pierced my soul. From that moment on, I was never the same. In fact, her words went so deep that now, fifty years later, they still burn in my heart.  Her words guided my every move, laid the foundation, and set the course on which I based my life.

“And turning back upon the sterile desert,
I saw a sprouted seed, crushed in my footstep.”

From that moment on, my hard radical exterior softened. I worked at being careful to never extinguish another person’s idea or inspiration. I tried to nurture each life brought before me. I tried to be a safe place for all life to thrive. And after all these years, from time to time I still look back, making sure that I have not crushed a sprouted seed.

If you are wondering if your voice matters, remember that one word spoken from your heart can change the course of human history. One blog entry, written from words deep within your soul, can change a life forever. Your words have a lasting legacy.

Remember … your voice matters.

How to Make a Marriage Last

Remembering that parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior, we asked a group of long-timers to share their tips for marriage longevity. The consensus is posted below. In short, we found some basic principles upon which solid marriages are based. These guidelines provide a firm and immovable foundation, one that remains steady through “richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” … through the storms of life.

The Official Long-Timers’
Top Tips for Marriage Longevity

  1. Begin your union with God’s blessing:  A marriage is a living entity and subject to all of the temptations of the world. Asking for God’s support early in the life of the marriage helps to maintain respect for the union and supernatural assistance along the way.
  2. Selfless love: The marriage that lasts is the one that is firmly planted in unconditional love, mutual respect, and a sincere belief in the other person. Inherent in this mindset is a willing heart – a willingness to do whatever it takes.
  3. Trust: The heart must know that it can safely trust in the other. Shared hopes, dreams, and confidences must be protected. By never violating this trust, your spouse will have no need to seek support elsewhere. In our tell-all society, the standard is to seek the comments and advice of the multitudes. But an intimate relationship blessed by God requires safety – a safety that only comes through private and confidential trust.
  4. Prayer: A marriage is like a child, in need of protection, nurturing, and support. It requires prayer and divine counsel. Through prayer, understanding and insight are born.
  5. Courtesy: A marriage maintains strength and mutual appreciation through daily deposits of courtesy. Much like depositing money in a saving account expecting it to bear interest over time, invested kindness has its rewards, too. A lasting marriage requires a consistent and sincere expression of kindness, generosity, and appreciation.
  6. Affection: Through closeness, chemicals are released in the brain that encourage bonding. In fact, these are the same chemicals that are produced in the bonding process between a mother and her child.
  7. Keep your expectations realistic: Your spouse will never be able to meet all of your needs. Only God can do that. So when your spouse falls short of your expectations, remember that he or she is made of clay, just like you. Forgiveness and mercy are basic foundations upon which a marriage thrives.
  8. Change is inevitable: People change. That is a truth of life. One person moves ahead in a career, the other grows in knowledge of a specific skill, one changes priorities as maturity evolves, the other launches out to accomplish a dream. Through it all, when the best interest of the spouse is a priority, the marriage grows, too.
  9. A sense of humor: Nothing can dispel a glitch in a relationship better than a sense of humor. Repair misunderstandings quickly. And never – EVER – go to bed angry.

No matter how long a person lives, at the end, the realization that life is fleeting always takes center stage. So do not spend your energies on pursuing social status or on the accumulation of goods. Spend your energies on someone with whom you can share your life. The diversions that compete for your time are of little consequence when the final tally is complete. Give your heart totally to one person and, hand-in-hand, walk wholly under the blessings of a loving God.

A Potty Training Solution

Potty training can be trying for both parent and child. One young mother we know read the parenting books and tried the interventions. But her son was just not interested.

Finally, after his third birthday, she came up with a plan. Since everyone in the home had a job (Daddy’s was at a certain business, Mommy’s was in the home office, etc.), it was time for the little boy to have a job too. His job – for which HE was paid – was to use the potty.

Every time he remembered, he was given a nickel for the “potty bank.” On the following Saturday, he could fill his pockets with all the money he had earned and go to a dollar store. Within a week, he was potty trained!