Looking at the Beatitudes through the Lens of Parenting

Parenting and the Bible
source: MarcosReis07 via Flickr

John MacArthur wrote, “The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness.”

Parenting isn’t about feeling good all the time.

Make it that, and you’ll have kids who run the house and don’t understand the word no. Some of my best parenting moments are when I feel the worse, I think. Holding a screaming, flailing 5-year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum – when really I just want to shut her in her room and go eat chocolate cake. Taking a deep breath and explaining to my 3-year-old onemoretime that “I need” is not the way we start sentences to ask for things. Not biting back when my 17-month-old decides to gnaw at my shoulder.

Often parenting is going against my human nature and trying to latch on to my Jesus-nature instead, asking for His power to flood me. Because seriously, there is no way I can do this on my own.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us a flip-flop view of His kingdom versus the world’s. He says, “You’re going to mourn. You’re going to be persecuted. You’re going to need to show mercy and peace and gentleness when you don’t want to. But I am going to bless you for it, and it’s how I am going to work through your life.”

How many times as a parent do you feel mournful? Poor in spirit? Persecuted, even, by your children or other parents? Jesus blesses that.

The Beatitudes are everything I want to be as a parent. Gentle. Peaceful. Merciful. Pure in heart. In my study Bible, MacArthur also writes that “gentleness is supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”

I’ve seen a graphic around Facebook lately, with a toddler laying on top of his mama on the beach and the words, “You’re never going to be loved like this again.”

Until we see Christ, no one on earth is going to love us with the uninhibited crazy love of a toddler or preschooler. So let’s pour back that love, praying for the Spirit to fill us with mercy, purity of heart, gentleness, and peace, not giving up when we are mournful or feel persecuted or want to hide in our rooms and throw stuff at the wall.

In The Message paraphrase, Matthew 5:3 is, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Praise God and Amen!

Originally published on JessieWeaver.net. 

Book Review: P. Bear’s New Year’s Party

P. Bear's New Year's Party

P. Bear’s New Year’s Party by Paul Owen Lewis is lauded by elementary school teachers as one of the best educational resources for teaching kids how to count and tell time. Available as a hardcover, a board book, and in paperback, this 32-page book can grow with your child. It’s perfect for a large age range, but tailored to 3-7 year olds. The elegant illustrations rely solely on black, white, and red for a vivid, timeless visual portrayal of the fictional tale that finds a dashing polar bear hosting a black-tie affair for New Year’s Eve. With every strike of the clock leading up to midnight, a large number of animals corresponding to the clock face shown on each page arrive at Mr. P. Bear’s door.

pbear2

The author does several things exceptionally well with this book. First, he spells out the numbers, so kids learn to recognize them outside of numerals. Next, he introduces young readers to exotic animals. (Orcas, pandas, and penguins are among the unusual animals invited to this polar bear’s party!) Third, every group of animals corresponds to the number on the clock face, helping kids make a connection between counting and time. Last, the strategic use of only three colors throughout the book brilliantly brings the pages acutely to life, with the color red highlighting the most important nuances. In addition, P. Bear’s New Year’s Party also expands children’s vocabulary, introducing new collective nouns like flock, herd, bunch, and pack.

The book also provides an opportunity for parents to share New Year’s traditions and explain the significance of a year’s time. From newborn to first grade, this book is one that can be pulled out repeatedly. With every read, your child will discover something new.

Review by Lindsay Williams

Our Big List of Snow Day Activities

Snow Day Activities

This week we had two “snow” days here in Chattanooga. We didn’t see any snowflakes, but it did get cold enough to ice over the roads and thus it’s probably best everyone was able to stay home.

The first day, my husband was home, and we just dawdled around. We played games, let the kids play with toys, watched TV. But by the end of the day my 7-year-old daughter was going crazy. She is not a very good homebody. I decided if we were going to survive day 2, we had to have a plan – especially since Daddy had to work (he teaches private school).

The kids and I came up with this big list of activities for us to do. No saying, “I’m bored!” They could just go to the list and pick a new activity! They loved this idea, and I think it’s something we’ll pull out for many at-home days. My kids are 7, 5, and 2, so these are more suited for younger kids, but you can brainstorm with your own children and see what you can come up with.

(No) Snow Day Fun

  • Have a pretend snowball fight (with socks or wadded-up paper)
  • Wear pajamas all day
  • Watch TV
  • Turn heat up, wear bathing suits, lay on towels, watch a beach movie, and drink smoothies
  • Play with play-dough
  • Draw and decorate a giant picture of a snowman (we used a piece of a cardboard box)
  • Tickle each other
  • Paint
  • Play with dry-erase books and crayons
  • Make believe
  • Dress up
  • Make cookies
  • Sleep in! (Every parent’s dream)
  • Build a “bouncy house” (put blankets and pillows all over the floor of a room and jump around on it)
  • Play with magnet people
  • Play with marble racer
  • Build train tracks
  • Take naps
  • Read
  • Be lazy on the couch
  • Play games – Spot It, Trouble, Uno Moo
  • Make something with cardboard boxes
  • Jump on the trampoline
  • Play with chalk blocks
  • Put on a show
  • Have a parade

Obviously, you won’t have all the same toys we have. I chose toys and games for our list that had been put away for awhile, so they were more exciting for the kids. But I hope this will give you some ideas for your next at-home snow (or no snow) day.

 

Three New Releases in Children’s Christian Books

Looking for a new book to engage your young readers and help them grow in faith? Check out one of these three brand-new releases!

Voyage to the Star Kingdom by Anne Riley and Amy Grimes – A parable of sorts, introducing children to Heaven and the fact that life doesn’t end after death. The “Star King” does thing His own way, and the people in this story must learn to trust Him. This self-published book was released January 8 and appeals to children of all ages, as well as their parents!

Blotch by Andy Addis – Another parable, this time about sin and how Jesus takes it away. Blotch lives in a kingdom where everyone has spots on their skin from times they have done wrong. Blotch decides to find someone who can get rid of the spots, and sets out on a journey. For ages 8-12.

One-Sentence Storybooks: Bible Animals by Nancy I. Sanders – Help your 3- to 5-year old learn how to read with these one-sentence storybooks. This 10-minibook set focuses on Bible animals. Using repetition and illustrations, children will learn new vocabulary and sight words. Each story has a devotion, prayer, and reading activity as well. Released December 24, 2015, from Tyndale House.

 

Activities for Little Hands: Thanksgiving Crafts

thanksgiving 9
source: Harris County Public Library via Flickr Creative Commons

Having a hard time keeping your little one out of the kitchen while you prepare for Thanksgiving’s festivities? My daughter thinks the oven is her personal playplace, much to my chagrin. Thankfully, we will be spending the holidays with extended family and letting others cook for us (and the baby in my 36-week-pregnant belly rejoices).

Here are some activities for distraction … I mean, education …

Thanksgiving door hangers would be a fun addition to the front door even a toddler can help decorate.

Older kids can do a Thanksgiving Day word search. You could have your kids cut out the word search and glue it to sheets of construction or scrapbook paper for any children coming to your Thanksgiving feast. It will give the kids something to do while they wait on the food! Fall or Thanksgiving-themed scrapbook paper would give the word search a festive feel.

Oreo Thanksgiving turkeys are adorable to see, easy to make, and yummy to “gobble” down!

Napkin rings made of paper-towel tubes and scrapbook paper add a festive touch and keep little hands busy gluing while you’re basting the bird.

Even toddlers can rub a leaf on newspaper. You can cut them out and then together string them on some twine to hang. Adorable!

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving craft?

Happy Thanksgiving from the ParentLife staff and Jessie, Resident ParentLife Blogger!

 

Originally published November 24, 2010

A Simple Gift Kids Can Make

Made by kids coffee mugs

Last Christmas, the kids and I discovered this fun craft that is so simple! They made coffee mugs for all their grandparents and aunt and uncle, and a platter for the other aunt and uncle who are newlyweds. Their sweet drawings were a big hit. This gift is sentimental, adorable, and inexpensive – you can’t beat that!

Here’s what you need:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Have kids draw on clean mugs/dinnerware however they want. You will want to prep the paint pens since they take a minute to get going, but then the kids can do the drawing themselves.

Bake your mugs/dinnerware in the oven for 30 minutes. Let cool.

THAT’S IT! Seriously!

These should be dishwasher-safe, too, although I haven’t tested that hypothesis.

Do you have a favorite easy gift for kids to give?

[Craft inspiration from Glued to My Crafts.]

Gentleness by Jessie Weaver

Around this time seven years ago, I had my first-ever contraction. It was the night before my due date, and my mom, husband, and I were hanging in our condo’s living room, watching an Indiana Jones movie. I don’t remember one scene of the film, but I remember the sudden knowing, the realization that ah, this was what a real contraction felt like. I had worried I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real one and a Braxton-Hicks, but I knew instantly.

(Note to my pregnant friends: if you start having contractions, guzzle a whole lot of water and see if they keep up. I had aggravated labor due to dehydration and thus it was a mere 36 hours later that I finally gave birth to my beautiful daughter.)

baby Libbie

On Tuesday, it will have been seven years since this girl came into our lives. She’s a first-grade fireball, a rule-follower for others and a rule-stretcher at home. And oh, I wish my 26-year-old self knew what I know now about parenting.

Not that I know a lot. But I do have seven years and three children worth of experience. Not to mention in those seven years we moved to a new city, my husband went from being a student to a teacher, we’ve lived in four different homes, and we’ve gone through a foreclosure that broke and put back together our hearts.

What I wish I could tell that younger Jessie laying on the microfiber couch and thinking finally! is this: they say love covers a multitude of sins. And it does. But love takes many forms. And let yours be a gentle love.

I think of a few ways I disciplined my tiny girl that now seem simply ridiculous. Because she could talk very well, I think I treated her as older than she was at times. I look now at my 2-and-half-year-old “Toddlerzilla” and think, I never would have disciplined him in _______ way. What was I THINKING with Libbie?

In the book Love and Respect in the Family, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs proposes that parents long for respect while kids just want love. And also we often misinterpret their simply childish behavior for disrespect and discipline it as such. When really … sometimes kids are just kids. And we are there to teach them how to be more mature, in time and in a godly manner.

My biggest parenting regret is the many, many times I have parents from my first response instead of stepping back, saying a prayer, and “trying a little tenderness.” Living in guilt does no good, though; all I can do is move forward, ask for forgiveness, and keep praying and practicing gentleness every day.

Libbie Easter

Jessie is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, editor, and social media-y person. She writes at JessieWeaver.net, is the manager of ParentLife Online, and curates for ForEveryMom.com.

Three Not-So-Spooky Books for Kids

We all may have varying ideas on Halloween, but we can probably all agree that celebrating evil is not fun or something we want to do with our kids. My young children like the general idea of ghosts, monsters, etc. – but mostly as the silly versions we find on cartoons. And that’s OK. I’m not ready to go deep into these topics with them yet.

But for some lightly spooky fun, we head to picture books.

Here are a few that are a wee bit spooky and very funny.

goldilocks

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems – Willems, author of such favorites like Elephant & Piggie and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, hits it out of the park with this silly Goldilocks remake. The very intrusive narrator tells us of three dinosaurs (Mama, Papa, and one visiting from Norway) who obviously did NOT leave their house set as a trap for capturing a little girl. Nope. No way. He pokes fun at Goldilocks’s naivete, but it all turns out OK in the end. And both the girl and the dinos learn valuable lessons.

mostlymonsterlycover1

Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer – Bernadette is mostly monsterly. But she also likes to pick flowers, bake, and sing. When she goes to school, she doesn’t quite fit in with the other monsters. The way she does is slightly gross for grown-ups … but kids will love it. And little Monster Bernadette is just so cute you can’t help but love her.

afunnything

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali – A student gives a long list of excuses as to why he is late for school – including being mistaken for a banana by a giant ape, being attacked by ninjas, and encountering giants ants and a time machine. These normally scary apparitions are instead hilarious when stacked one on top of another.

And because I can’t help myself, here are some more general fall picture books that I love:

Do you have any favorite children’s books for fall?

Is My Child Ready for Swim Lessons?

Boris op de rand
source: Ianus via Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve heard stories of babies thrown in the water who come up swimming at six months. You’ve seen kids in the pool who look way too old to be wearing floaties. So when should a child learn how to swim?

Here are some tips, although of course you know your child best and should take that into mind.

  • Children younger than 3 are probably not able to do a swim lesson with an instructor. (Really, how often does your 2-year-old listen to YOU, nevertheless someone else when he is distracted by splashing?) Hold off on parent-free lessons until age 3. But if you can take a parent-child class, go for it if you toddler is comfortable with it.
  • Find a class that splits by age range so your child will not be mixed in with kids much younger or older.
  • Most experts will say that the motor skills for actual swimming are not developed until age 5 and beyond. Preschoolers will do great in simple getting-used-to-the-water type lessons, but don’t expect your son or daughter to learn how to really swim in a proper fashion before 5. The more comfortable he or she already is with the water, though, the easier lessons will be in the future.
  • Lessons will be progressive, so continue them each summer.
  • Studies show that whether you start swim lessons at 2, 3, or 4, most kids won’t start swimming independently until about 5 1/2.

I would conclude that you can start swim lessons when you’re comfortable with your child being in the water with an instructor – beginning with a parent-child class and moving onto group or individual instruction without parents in the pool. But don’t be discouraged if your preschooler doesn’t learn to swim independently.

(Puddle Jumpers are so wonderful for that age when they WANT to try to swim but can’t, too!)

Do you have any tips or stories about swim lessons?

 

God-Focused Summer Reading

While you’re trying to get your child to read this summer, why not slip in some books that will increase their faith as well as their reading level? Here are some ideas for books on every level.

God-Focused Summer Reading from Toddlers to Preteens

Babies and Toddlers

Preschoolers

Early Elementary

Preteens

Maybe that will help you jump-start some summer reading? I love that we have so much Christian media – books, TV shows, movies, music – that helps us reinforce biblical truth.

What’s one of your favorite Christian kids books?