Shedding Some Light On a Convenience Culture

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(This is a little sign I have hanging in my kitchen to remind me each day of the truth of which it speaks.)

We as a culture want what is convenient—quick, easy, efficient, comfortable, as little work as possible. We highly value convenience.

But should we?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for modern conveniences like washing machines and water heaters! And I mean that wholeheartedly because I’ve lived without both at various times in my life!
The problem lies where this desire for convenience permeates our parenting… and because parenting is area where we cannot rush or even control the process, the tension of living with what is “inconvenient” surfaces and our cravings for convenience stare us in the face.

When we place such high value on convenience that it undermines our relationships with our children and our parenting, things get very skewed….

Follow me to Mom Heart to read the rest?

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Giving Your Children the Gift of Reading {And a Giveaway}

My children are typical kids—they do not love to pick up their things or do chores, and it is an area in which I am constantly working to train them. But a curious thing happened recently. They became completely captivated in a way I have never seen, while I read aloud a little story from Eloise Wilkin Stories , called We Help Mommy. It is a sweet story about a brother and sister who cheerfully help their mother with chores around the house. When we were finished reading my kids asked—begged actually—to do some of those same chores in our home. Because of this book, my oldest has developed a newfound enthusiasm for doing laundry! It got me thinking about the gift and power of good books… and this post. :-)

Loving God With Our Minds… Jesus calls us in the gospels to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. One way to encourage our kids to love God with their minds is through reading. Reading engages the mind. As my kids get older I will encourage them to read diverse authors and books because it offers opportunities to exercise critical thinking as we examine a book’s message from a Biblical worldview. Paul modeled this practice more than once— as he quoted the poets of his day and interpreted them to his audience in light of Gospel truth. (This type of critical thinking also equips us to do what 2 Co 10:5 talks about.)

Literature and books cause us to think, they expand our imaginations, they captivate, instruct, mentor, and inspire. They enlarge our understanding of and capacity to reflect Him in whose image we were made. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a love for reading. And when we give this gift to them when they are young, we lay a foundation for reading to become a lifelong habit.

Read the rest and enter the giveaway at Mom Heart.

Lenten Reflections

I’m sorry to our few faithful followers that I’ve been absent around here the past couple of months! We have had just about every type of virus that is common in these winter months and with that, a lot of sleepless nights and I have been so, so tired! I also started a Life Coaching Certification course right after Christmas so I’ve had weekly homework assignments and appointments to attend to. I hope to share some of what I’m learning with you soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few resources related to Lent. I grew up in a non-denominatal Christian home which did not usually lend itself to embracing the traditions of old. Today— as an adult— I tend to like churches that are figuring out how to reach and relate to people here and now. The idea of contextualizing the gospel to unique cultures is a concept I love which is rooted in Scripture. Paul was known to quote the poets and philosophers of his day—  interpreting such sayings in a way that illuminated the gospel. John used the language of the Greeks and wrote his gospel to and for them using terms that would make sense to them. Likewise, Matthew wrote his gospel to Jews, showing how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures, Mark wrote to Christians in Rome with an emphasis and aim of encouraging them the midst of persecution, and Luke wrote telling Gentiles that Jesus came to seek and save them— the lost. So, churches that think about modern/relevant (I hesitate to use the word relevant because it often gets associated with “watered-down”) ways to relate the unchanging gospel—  excite me.

But in our modern culture I also see the value of tradition. Not as something to hold onto or over people like a law. We live under the covenant of grace and traditions in my opinion fall under the category of liberties. I agree with the theologian who said “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The benefit I see in celebrating church traditions— like Lent— is that they offer us an opportunity, reminder—  or call, to reorient our lives heavenward. Traditions cause us to slow down and recognize that all of life is sacred and an act of worship. I think traditions also help create strong family identities and memories for our children. Kids often need to see or experience a thing to understand and remember it… to learn, so celebrating traditions together both instructs and unifies.

So… where does Lent come from? The following is a passage from Family Celebrations by Ann Hibbard:

Since the early days of the church, this (the six weeks before Holy Week known as Lent) has been a season of self-examination, sorrow for sin, and commitment to Christ. The beginning of Lent can be seen in the early church’s practice of fasting before the Paschal feast, the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection on Easter Sunday. Easter became a time for baptizing new belivers, based on the Scriptre “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). Fasting preceded baptism as a means of spiritual preparation.

When Constantine declared Christianity a legal religion (AD 313), Christianity became very popular. Persecution, which has sifted out the “nominal Christians,” was no longer a threat. But now those who converted did not need to be so committed. It was at this time that Lent was lengthened to the six weeks. The purpose was to strengthen the commitment of those in the church… and prepare those who would be baptized into the church on Easter. It seems fitting that we too prepare for this celebration by examining our walk with Christ. Are there bad habits in our lives that we need to forsake? Are there good habits, like prayer and Bible study, that we should establish? This season reminds us to look at these things… and to reexamine our commitment to Him. … Lent provides a perfect opportunity for teaching our children about Jesus’ death for us.

To teach our own kids and those in our small group about Lent, we let each of them plant a seed in a little pot. We explained to them that planting the seed is symbolic of death— the death of Christ and the dying of self and our old nature. Then during Lent the seed (hopefully!) grows and comes to life, which is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ and the spiritual reality of His resurrection life that is alive in us. I came across some other great ways to celebrate Lent with kids here and here.

For personal reading I love Bread And Wine: Readings For Lent And Easter and Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. Also, you can sign up for free emails from the Henri Nouwen Society and with that they send weekly Lenten devotional readings.

Do you celebrate Lent? What are some of your traditions or favorite reads for celebrating with your family? I’d love to hear!

On Patience and Compassion

“The word compassion comes from (com-passion = compassion, to suffer, to suffer with, to suffer with other persons); that’s where the word patience comes from (patience = patior, “to suffer”). To be patient is to experience the pain of your life. And when you experience it with somebody else, you can be compassionate.”

                        From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation

In the Bible, patience is sometimes translated as long-suffering, defined as the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering or when provoked.

Patience is a quality of God and a fruit of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, we come to know a God who is very patient—slow to anger (and rightful judgment) because of the compassion and love He has for the people of Israel. Jesus embodied these qualities, as He was willing to suffer with and for all the world—to the point of death on a cross.

As I was recently reflecting on these things, I was struck by the relationship between patience and compassion—they work together and are intertwined. Patience isn’t simply refraining from yelling or waiting with contentment—it is others-focused, relational, an act of compassion. It is a coming alongside.

Will you join me at Mom Heart to read the rest?

Tabletop Devotions

This is a fun and easy way to do devotions as a family. It is a combination of this post on Fruit of the Spirit Trees and something I heard from Deb Weakly (a Mom Heart Leader)—  while attending Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Leadership Intensive a couple of summers ago. Deb shared with us her idea to put devotions or verses in a jar on the table. When you are sitting down as a family for a meal you can pull one out and discuss it. This is a great way to get dads involved and if you do the prep — the dads can easily step in to facilitate. I know my husband appreciates when I prepare such things— he wants to do devotions with our kids but works hard and doesn’t have the time that I do to plan them.

So, to get it all ready— I stuck some branches in a vase— to be our “tree”. Then I made little paper fruits and tied strings onto them so that they could be hung on the tree.  I printed and cut out a list of verses related to the fruits of the Spirit and put them in a jar. The tree and jar of verses were placed on our table.

Each night at dinner the kids would pull a verse out of the jar. We would discuss what it means and how that fruit plays out in our lives. My kids are little, so after describing one of the traits— like kindness, we would ask them questions like, “so when you grab a toy out of your sister’s hand, is that being kind? What would be a kind way to ask for the toy? How about when you help your sister get her shoes on, is that being kind?” We gave them both negative and positive examples. You can change the scenarios to fit the ages of your kids. We always talk about how we can’t make these good choices without God’s help because we all have sin in our hearts, that He forgives us when we do make mistakes, and that he wants to help us do better next time… so that we are teaching them the gospel instead of moralistic legalism.

In the days following, when I saw the kids exhibit any of the fruits of the Spirit, I let them hang a fruit on the tree. They loved it and it was a great way to train them in what is good. (I’ve found that training works best when you don’t wait until the middle of a meltdown to discuss whether something is right or wrong! It needs to be a part of our normal conversation throughout each day!)

Since we’ve finished our fruit of the Spirit devotions, we are now using Clay Clarkson’s devotional for families— Our 24 Family Ways. I photo-copied the “ways” (these are like household rules or norms— such as: we love, encourage, forgive, and serve one another) with their related verses and stuck them in the jar and we will be discussing these at dinnertime for a while.

What are some ways that you do family devotions? I would love to hear!

When Hovering Over Your Children Is a Good Thing

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” {Genesis 1:1-2}

Hovering… the Hebrew word—rachaph, means to move gently, cherish, brood (warm, protect, cover); it is a word that denotes love.

The Hebrew phrase for formless, empty void could be translated as a desolate, desert waste.

Most of us have read the creation account—in which God spoke and it was so. Yet, here in Genesis 1:2 we are shown how a desolate desert waste was transformed into the beautiful masterpiece of creation that God made: it was quite the labor of love. It happened through the hovering—that is— through loving, cherishing, moving gently, and warming. It was cultivated and that cultivation produced a masterpiece. He is God and He could have chosen to only speak this transformation into existence, yet He felt it necessary to rachaph over the empty void… maybe to show us the way?

 We mothers have been given little lives to steward and mold.  We have been given a great responsibility to carry out His work— by allowing His Spirit to work through us as we gently cherish, love, cultivate and provide protection and warmth for our children—His creation.

I want to rachaph over my children so that their souls would grow to become the beautiful masterpieces that God created them to be. Before I knew Christ I was desolate, empty and void, and I do not ever {at all!} want that for them.

The scriptures teach us that all are born into sin—and I fail many times as a mother yet my desire is to be an imitator of God—to be as Christ to them—to rachaph over them just as He has over me. At times I do lose my patience; I am not always gentle or loving, yet I have in me His Spirit who gently, lovingly shows me the way and enables me to follow it.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

As we fail forward in mothering our children, let us remember to invite, acknowledge, and spend time with the Spirit—that we may be enabled to do His work—the rachaph work, over our children, so that their souls are not left unattended, empty and void.

I’m not saying we should try to be or take the place of the Holy Spirit to our children and I’m not saying we need to watch over their every move, ready to correct every last thing they do. On the contrary.  As we offer them love and grace— as we imitate Him, we point them to who God is. We need the Spirit’s help, and He wants to teach us His ways— to help us respond gently instead of harshly, to cherish them instead of treating them as if they are an inconvenience, to create a home atmosphere of warmth, acceptance, and protection instead of one of yelling, shame or fear, to cover over their sin and immaturity instead of exposing them or making them feel belittled for their mistakes, to move gently instead of always hurrying and rushing about, to be intentional instead of negligent… to point them to God instead of leaving them empty.

 

Sending Them Out – Back to School

A lot of thought and prayer and seeking the Word went into our decision to send our children out of our home to school.  I know that most of you who read this blog made similarly agonized over decisions about how to academically educate your children, some landing on homeschool, others on different types of school outside the home.  Before I say another word, I think it’s important to remind us all that pride has no place as we talk about these personal decisions of Christian freedom.  I hope that we can keep an atmosphere of love, humility, and bodily unity on this blog.  I’m sure that what we can agree on is God’s call to us as parents to model and teach Biblical truth and the power of the Gospel to our children whenever we are with them.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9- “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Each year, when the air gets cooler and a fresh start to a school year is upon us, when the smell of new school supplies intoxicates me (yes, I love that smell!), my heart goes back to the callings and promises of God when it comes to my precious children.  It’s at this time of year that we get ready to send them out each day, which means a huge part of my heart is not in my physical presence each day, a small taste of the launching that will eventually take place when they’re older.  As we’re mapping out the year and making fresh goals for our family, I’m tempted to fear, tempted to doubt God’s ability to give me the wisdom and insight to do this well… but as I pray, the assurance comes, that these are not MY children, they are HIS.  His love for them is far more than I could ever give, His care of them far more complete than any sheltering tactics I could employ.  He has called me to love them, to care for them, to lead them, to teach them, to train them, to steward them well, but ultimately He has called me to trust Him with them.

Proverbs 22:6- “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

I hold to this promise and hold to the promise that God has plans for each of my children according to His sovereign will.  It is my job to be an overflowing cup of HIS love, HIS grace, HIS presence, HIS word, to be craving after Him for the filling up that only He can do so that I can be used by Him and for Him in the lives of my children.  I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus, that His power is made perfect in my weakness, that it is not up to me to attain perfection in my parenting by trying hard enough, but rather to lay flat on my face before a perfect God, begging Him for wisdom, begging Him to do His work in my children through me and through whatever means necessary to give Him the most glory.

Philippians 4:6-9- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

This Philippians passage is not only a huge encouragement to my own heart, but a passage I read to my kids often, truths I want them to hide in their hearts for the times they’re not with me.  Because the One who is always with them, even when I am not, He is the one I want them to turn to, I want them to know what a personal walk with God looks like, a relationship that is their own.  And hiding these truths of God’s Word in their hearts, I think this is one of the best ways we can send them out prepared to face a world full of lies, because it is God’s Word that has power, not our “superior” parenting.  It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and inspires right choices, not our constant lecturing.  Here are some verses we’re going to hide in our hearts this year:

Romans 12:9-21- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Proverbs 4:23- Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Colossians 3:23-24- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17- “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

James 1:19-27- “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 5:16- “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Philippians 4:11-13- “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Psalm 18:2- “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Isaiah 41:10- “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

I know God’s Word is full of beautiful truths to hide in our hearts, so please share some of your favorite scripture memory verses for kids with the rest of us.  I think one of the most important ways we can prepare our kids to be sent out is to teach them the very reason we are to go out into the world at all.  We are called to let our lights shine in a world full of darkness, and that call is not just for grown-ups, it is a call to every child of God, every person saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ into the family of God.  In fact, this is one of the foundational scriptures that God used to lead us to our decision to send our children to school.

Matthew 5:13-16- “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

And so we pray for our children, every single day, all throughout the day, that God will protect and lead and comfort and strengthen them, and that most importantly He will use them.  We pray that His light, shining through them, shining through our family, will permeate the classrooms and halls, the hearts of lost children and families, that He might use our family in the mission field of our school, to demonstrate God’s love and mercy and power to give new life.  And when I let this charge ring true in my heart, all fear melts away.  And I take a deep breath and smile as I face this new year.  And this prayer that Paul prays for the Ephesians gives me new courage:

Ephesians 4:14-21- For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Practical Ideas:

- Love notes and scriptures written on their lunch napkins

- Verses on pretty note cards to tape inside their desks

- Praise songs in the car to get hearts in the right place as we start the day

- On the way home, when they’re sharing about their days, take the time to pray for situations and people that come up.

- Surprise them by having lunch with them some days

- Organize some play get togethers with other families in the kid’s classes

- Arrange to trade off childcare of your younger children with another family in the school so you can volunteer in your child’s class regularly

- Have regular date nights with each of your kids so you can get that precious one on one time

- Set regular times each day to pray specifically for each of your children

- Make a special after school snack and spend time sharing it with them while you have a good chat

- Don’t fill their after school schedule up too full, less is more even though our busy culture would tell us otherwise.

Please share your ideas too!

First things….

When the pressing nature of the day rides on my back like the weight of a heavy pack, it can be paralyzing.

All of the things undone, before me.

Unexpected things clamoring for my attention, my family’s attention.

My tendency is to either shut down and avoid or labor in vain to get them ALL done! As if…

Why is it, at the start of the day I know I want to draw my family in to the feet of Jesus? My plans are to gather, lay low and humble our day before His goodness and truth, and yet some days the importance of “first things” gets thrown to the edges as if it’s just one of many things that day that we can put off…

I take comfort in Paul’s words from Romans 7:18:

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

My flesh is week. The urge to conquer and be productive outweighing what I know our souls need, what our day needs. I know we can’t live without oxygen so why do I think that it’s okay to live with out oxygen for our souls? The lifeline for my day begins and continues in quiet and communion— so why would I think it to be any other way for my littles? Believing the lie that “they don’t understand fully anyway”, that they won’t really notice if we move on with our day with out the laying low. Of course I know this to be false. I see how we grow in these times in the Word. I see how our relationship grows and God strengthens us to become more like Him as we live our days together at His feet.

Recently Ruth from the blog The Better Mom posted about the relationship of grace and obedience. Her words resonated so much in my own life experience. The willingness to obey, to ask him for the ability to carry out that which you know to be good and righteous, brings about abundant blessing and fullness in Christ. It is not so we can be the “good family”. It’s not to conquer one more thing on the good Christian list.  It is not so He will love us more. It is to worship the living God, to expose our children to His goodness and presence.

I don’t wonder in our efforts as evangelicals to not live our lives in legalism we have thrown out daily spiritual practices that help us to align our hearts and our tasks to the reality and presence of God. Is this not what we want to pass down to our littles? That we love and serve an amazing God who is worth getting to know? This place out of which we can live our lives continually?

It is awesome and humbling to know that when, by God’s grace, I live in obedience to shepherd all of us to wake up and become aware of His presence, He is waiting to fill our souls with His oxygen— bringing life and wholeness to our broken bodies. He is seeking relationship with all of us and meets each one of us where we are at. Not the least of which the “least of these”, our littles.

Today as the pressures and mess began to pile on me like a call to work, I was able to live into the moment of grace and collect Words, which would lead us into His truth.  And how apt they were…

 

July 25th  from Jesus Calling for Children by Sarah Young

 Search for Me 

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13

What a fitting passage today, as we get back in the rhythm of putting first things first.

His grace is abundant and He is found when we bring Him our whole hearts. What a great truth for my littles and me as we seek to live out of the place of “first things”.

(There are many days that our “first things” are done at noon! or through out the day, But to commune is the washing of all that is good no matter when we seek to encounter Him! It’s the seeking and awareness that makes the difference. )

What are some ways that you like to engage your children with the Word?

 

 

We are liking up here today:

 

Playful Learning

My very favorite place to find inspiration for beautiful activities to do with my kids is Playful Learning. Mariah (the founder) writes very thoughtful content that has been so helpful to me. Her book, blog, e-courses, and mini-courses, offer parents ideas and resources for creating learning spaces and experiences in their homes. Whether you send your kids to school— or homeschool like we do, you will find inspiration for nurturing in your children a love for leaning as well as great tips for organizing materials— from chore charts to books, school papers to art supplies, and more.

Here are a few of our favorite Playful Learning inspired projects:

Twig Books:

Phases of the Moon Journals (from the Playful Learning book):

Adalie’s DIY ABC Photography Book (inspired by this post):

Andy Goldsworthy Inspired Artwork (see this post):


And the design and materials included in our writing center and atelier

(thanks to the Playful Learning Spaces E-course):

Mariah has been so generous to offer one of our readers her book, Playful Learning, as well as a spot in the Playful Learning Spaces e-Course! I know you will find them both to be very inspiring and helpful. From the Playful Learning Spaces course description:

“Throughout the six classes we will explore and share ideas for creating areas that invite children to engage in reading, writing, science, art, and more. We will also discuss organization, storage, and selecting materials for different ages and stages of child development. Each class consists of  a video that contains basic educational principles, simple guidelines, and helpful photos.”

We’ll keep this giveaway open until the end of the week since it is such a big one.

I hope you win!

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up here today:

Spoiled with Encouragement?

Can you over encourage a child?

Can you give him too much praise?

Have you ever heard the statement that if you give a kid too much positive affirmation then they will become dependent on it, or that you can spoil a baby with too much love?

I am not a psychologist and do not claim to be.  I have no PHD, and have not spent countless hours pouring through literature on the psyche of a child.  I am simply a mom.  A mom with limited experience, but who watches her children’s signals and pays attention to the promptings in her spirit.  I am a mom who prays for and seeks parenting wisdom daily.  I don’t claim to know much on the subjects of children and parenting except for that which life has taught me.  With that disclaimer in-tact, I would like to share with you some of my own humble thoughts on the topic of encouraging our children.

One of my favorite mom’s on the planet is Michelle Duggar, who you may know from the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting.  I have heard Michelle say on her show and in her books (forgive me for paraphrasing) that for every negative comment that they receive, a child needs ten positive comments to build them back up.  Isn’t it incredible that one negative commment could have such a strong affect on a person that they would need ten positives just to bring them back up to par?

I am a mom of a toddler. Which means that every other minute it seems that I am correcting that toddler for one thing or another.

“No No Ella.”

“Don’t touch that Ella.”

“Listen to Mommy Ella.”

Part of raising happy and healthy children is to give them boundaries.  This is a good thing, they need this!  But when we are so busy correcting, training and setting boundaries for these little ones, do we ever stop to think about how much of our interaction with them is dominated by  “no, no…and…stop that?”

My daughter is getting negative (but necessary) enforcement what seems at times like every other minute?  I probably say NO thirty times a day, and don’t think twice about it.  Taking that into consideration with the ten to one ratio, I don’t think too much affirmation is going to be an issue.  Children can be spoiled by lack of boundaries and correction – absolutely, but by speaking too many positive things into their lives?  I don’t believe it.

I make it a point to encourage my children every chance that I get, every second I can!  I am not afraid to lay it on thick!  Know why? Because if what Michelle says is true, then I had better get to work bringing those positives about in their little lives!  There are seasons when I feel like and I am correcting my toddler constantly – there is no way that I could ever keep a tally system of every positive and negative word that I spout her way!  So, knowing that the negatives are inevitable,  I take advantage of every single tiny opportunity that I get in the day to reinforce the positives.  If I lather my children with positive expressions of love and encouragement, then I can hope that this and the enforcement of loving boundaries and correction will work in harmony as I attempt to raise children who are emotionally healthy, happy and well-balanced people.

Proverbs talks often of the “quarrelsome wife” but what about being the quarrelsome mother?  If I am not balancing my motherly duty of reproof and training with positive affirmation, then in my child’s eyes, I could very easily become nothing more than a nag.  If my child’s most common interactions with me are based on  “no, no, stop that, you need to…”  then I believe it will slowly eat away at the natural relationship of trust that exists between a mother and her children, because it is not balanced with words of nurture and affection.  I think it is possible for this to bring damage to their identity as well.

Call me silly, mushy, or “spoiling my children with affection”  but I want my kids to know without a doubt that they are special, loved and believed in. I want them to trust in the fact that  I am someone who wants the best for them; whether I am making corrections or praising them in their character/behavior.

I want them to have the confidence to face their dreams and have the gumption to say,  “Look out world, I  am flawed, but I am a child of God who is loved beyond life itself!”  and are ready to bring that love with all the fire and passion that God can put inside of them to do it with.  I want to raise children who believe they are capable of being world changers!

I am a very sensitive, person.  A positive comment can be life changing for me, but a careless criticism can haunt me with hurt for a long time.  Sometimes I need to hear the same positive comment over and over before I actually start to believe it.  Why should it be any different with a child?

I exhort you mommies, to nurture the precious souls that have been entrusted to you, by being their greatest champions.  Don’t just flatter them at  lip-service but really look for opportunities to genuinely compliment your kids.  Notice improvements they have made in something they are working at and speak up about it.  Share with them about positive attributes that you see in their characters, or the thing you noticed them do that was kind, or thoughtful.  Praise them if there is something that you see them excelling at or believe they are gifted in.  Choose your criticism carefully, and use it constructively.

There is a big world out there that is waiting to pounce on our children’s shortcomings, and an enemy of their souls who is prowling for opportunities to lie to them about who they really are.  If we, the people who know them best are assuring them of the truth about themselves consistently and constantly, then I believe that they will be better equipped to deal with the world’s sometimes cruel realities and stand firm in the truth of their identities when the temptation to believe otherwise comes to whisper in their ears.  I want to wring every last delicious drop that I can out of out of the incredible privilege of recklessly loving my children – so I am going to give this ten to one thing the best shot I can!  Who’s with me?