When Your Kids Are Like Night and Day by Jessie Weaver

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I’ve always been sort of baffled at how very unalike my two older children are.

Exhibit A: This was one of the first times David played on ABCMouse, a learning Web site. When his sister (older by two years) does these coloring pages on the site, she generally does everything one color, wanting to get it done as soon as possible. These days, she enjoys spending all her earned “tickets” to buy clothes for her avatar and decorate her virtual room. She is jealous of her brother’s thousands of tickets, earned because he will do puzzles on the highest level and spends his time detailing the coloring pages.

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Exhibit B: This boy loves to dress up. He never changes after church on Sunday, no matter how dressed up he is. The first Monday after he wore his fancy suit to church on Sunday, he was home alone with my husband. Adam asked him to go get dressed. Adam says he came out dressed in the suit, again, having dug it out of the dirty clothes. Poor David had to learn that we do not wear dirty clothes. Usually.

My daughter, on the other hand, no matter how much she loves to dress up, changes the second she gets home from church into “comfy clothes.” I am never sure whether she is uncomfortable or she just wants the chance to wear another outfit. But she has to get into a new get-up whether Mommy thinks it’s necessary or not.

These two, they are remarkably different, showing that nature can have a funny sense of humor. I’ve never know whether it’s boy/girl, older/younger, or just their personalities. One is an extroverted, wild, active child with gangly limbs and big curls. One is introverted, generally quiet and focused, teensy-tiny and with none of his brother and sister’s curly locks. They are night and day.

I’ve found, though, that my job as a parent is not to identify more with one of them. I see myself and my husband in both of their personalities. I love those little reflections. But I can love every piece of them, as different as those pieces may be. And, most importantly, I learn differently from my children. From Libbie, I learn to live a little more exuberantly, embracing life in its fullest, loving people loudly. From David, I learn patience (did I mention he is SLOWWWWW?) and to take time to stop and smell the roses. I try to delight a little bit more at dandelions and puffy clouds.

God’s given me three very different children. (I’m not even getting into my baby, here!) And they are all blessings. I just have to learn how to delight in their differences!

Jessie Weaver writes regularly about family, faith, and food at jessieweaver.net. 

 

Create a Hall of Family Faith

One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids as people of faith is a long line of believing people. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (NIV). It is a blessing to our great-great-grandchildren, whom we may never meet, to be a person of faith!

Custom "Frames" Family Portraits up on Etsy!
source: Grace Uhm via Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re searching for a meaningful way to decorate your home, how about making a Hall of Faith for your family lines? This will involve some research, but will be well worth it.

Think of some moments of faith in your life and your spouse’s. Brainstorm together. Maybe you have pictures from:

  • baptisms, dedications, or confirmations
  • mission trips
  • special church events
  • your wedding

If your children have accepted Christ, make sure to include pictures of them or of their baptisms.

Then think back to your parents, grandparents, and beyond. Are there any great stories of faith in your family histories? Perhaps you have a missionary aunt, a pastor grandfather, or a relative who worked in disaster relief through a state board. Personally, I know my mom was an awesome VBS director and when my ancestors came over from Germany, I believe one or two were ministers.

Frame photos of as many people and events as you can, and hang them in a “Hall of Faith” gallery wall. Tell the stories to your children. They will pass these pictures frequently, and you may have to tell the tales over and over again. But that will help ingrain these events in their young minds. They can be excited about the family history of faith, just as we are excited about the heroes of the Bible when we read Hebrews 11.

And if you don’t have a history of believers? Focus on you, your spouse, and your children. Add some photos of biblical or historical figures, people your children admire. Share stories of their faith. And anticipate the wonder of a thousand generations starting with you!

 

 

What a Teacher Wants to Tell You, the Parent by Ashley Terpstra

What a Teacher Wants to Tell You as a Parent
source: Duke University Archives via Flickr Creative Commons

  1. The reason we give homework is not to make your life harder as a parent. In order to transfer their knowledge, it is important that they practice independently what we are learning that week. We have a limited amount of time to practice during a given lesson. Ideally, homework is something we, the teachers, think that they can do on their own without help.
  2. School isn’t like it was when we were young anymore. Current educational research trends support children taking more charge in their learning. We don’t do math by teaching them algorithms (one certain method) anymore either. We KNOW that it is difficult to watch your children struggle with their learning, but it is helping them learn how to think rather than just digest and spit out information without really learning anything.
  3. The teacher is on your side! And your child’s side! You are your child’s first and most important teacher. You are the expert on your child, and we are the experts on teaching. It is so important to be on the same team. Adversarial parent-teacher relationships are only detrimental to your child, and no one wants that. Keep your child’s teacher informed. If your child had a bad morning, communicate that with the teacher! If we know what’s coming, we will be more ready to help your child jump that hurdle and move on with the day.
  4. When your child is in our class for the year, they become “our kids.” Being a teacher is like having 20 children that are the same age. It can be difficult sometimes to be a teacher. My whole life is encompassed by these children. If they have a bad day, I have a bad day. I may have high expectations of their behavior and their effort, but if someone messes with MY kids, I will take up for them every time. Here is my pinky swear–I honestly want your child to reach his highest potential, to grow to be a whole person, to learn empathy and compassion, and do her best.
  5. Teachers are real people. They are dealing with person struggles, heartaches, illnesses, and the plethora of everyday life events. They put this aside to teach and empower your children. Give them the benefit of a doubt. They are doing their absolute best for your child.

 

Ashley Terpstra is a first-grade teacher in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

 

How Surviving a Snow Day Is Like Getting through a Spiritual Drought by Jessie Weaver

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First of all, you have to know that I am not talking one snow day. I’m talking two weeks where my elementary-school-aged child has gone to school a grand total of 8.5 hours. She is distraught. I am stir-crazy. My preschooler went once for 2.5 hours. In two weeks! I pay for him to go to school!

I’m reminding myself that this is the consequence of living in a very large county with mountains. And in the midst of my stir-craziness and feeling like I cannot possibly find one more thing in our apartment for my three children to do, I find myself thinking how getting through a fortnight of snow days is an awful lot like finding your way through a spiritual drought.

At first, it’s not so bad. Maybe fun, maybe you do things you don’t normally do. Eat ice cream for breakfast and hot chocolate with lunch; loll in bed for a few extra hours. Forget that these things bring repercussions. After a little while, though, you start to feel desperate. Where can I hide? Why can’t I seem to buckle down and read the Word without distractions? Why does every hour seem so long? Why why WHY is my head swimming with questions God won’t answer?

And then, you approach the end. I am sincerely hoping and praying for a normal, 5-day school week this coming week. (It is March, after all. And the South. Thus it should be SPRING.) And with the knowledge that my kids will be going back to their normal school routines, I want to hold them a little tighter. I enjoy their presence a little more. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I see things through that glowing pinprick instead of under a magnifying glass.

When a spiritual drought is ending – when we start to feel God’s presence again, get comfortable in the Word and in prayer – there is a sense of sincere relief. There is growth. There is knowing you learned something during the snowstorm of your soul. You dig out the driveways of your heart and get ready to emerge, better for the journey.

I hope if you’re going through a spiritual drought right now, you’ll remember that there is light and hope. It is coming.

And if you’re going through a season of snow days … my prayers and thoughts are with you.

“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

 

photo source: Shawn Carpenter. Used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. 

Teaching Children about Diversity

With today being Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I wanted to highlight some activities for children that teach about diversity. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight”! Teach your children the blind love of Christ before someone else shows them otherwise.

 

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1. Fingerprint Dove / Busy Happy Mom

2. Talking about Diversity with Children Using Playdough / Bonbon Break

3. 10 Children’s Books That Teach Diversity / She Knows

4. Where in the World Is Your Food From? / Kid World Citizen

5. How to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Children / Imagination Soup

6. It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts / School Counselor Blog

Equip Yourself for the High Calling of Raising Kingdom Kids by Dr. Tony Evans {GIVEAWAY}

Raising Kingdom Kids

In the Evans’ home, we took the idea of raising kingdom kids seriously. But sometimes, we got distracted.

I remember when our kids were small. We took them to Disneyland and experienced the sights, sounds, and excitement of all that makes it wonderful.

We were looking around and enjoying ourselves. But somewhere between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, we lost track of our youngest child, Jonathan. I looked up, and I couldn’t find my son.

Panic set in, because there were thousands of people all over the property. And so we began a search for our son. We looked and looked. We fanned out, and we couldn’t find him.

Minutes went by; it seemed like hours. Our child was lost, and we didn’t know where he was. We called security to help us find Jonathan. I don’t really remember how long it was before we located him. He was looking in one of those windows, at all of the fancy stuff–the prizes and glitz and glitter. It’s surprising how some of that plastic, under just the right lighting, can become so alluring.

We all too easily become distracted.

We had lost track of him because we were looking at the things around us, too. He had become distracted. I had become distracted. We had become distracted. In the midst of enjoying a blessing for our family, we lost each other.

We did everything we could to locate him. When I found him, I hugged him (even though a part of me wanted to spank him). But I hugged him because of the joy of finding a child that was lost.

Our world today distracts children from parents and parents from children.

We are in a kingdom today that has plenty of distractions. These distractions have caused us to lose our children.

This earthly kingdom is set up to distract parents from children and children from parents. Parents are distracted by work, career, entertainment—even church can sometimes shift our focus from what we as parents ought to be doing. Our kids are distracted too. Online media, peer groups, social pressure, and entertainment vie for the attention of our kids.

Distracted parents produce children with a weak faith.

The result is a distracted family, acting separately, living anything but in unity, and treating this dysfunction as the norm. And then we wonder why our kids grow up with a weak faith.

Kingdom Parents have the high calling of raising kingdom kids.

Parents, you have been called to raise kingdom kids–in God’s kingdom. Kingdom parenting isn’t perfect parenting, it’s purposeful parenting, helping children learn to live under God’s divine authority, both today and in the future. I am here to assure you that you are equipped with everything needed to accomplish this high calling. I know this because God chose you to be parents.

Sure, you will get distracted once in a while. But kingdom parents will regain their focus on what really matters–advancing God’s kingdom in your immediate realm of authority, which begins with your family. Wherever you’re starting, it’s just the right point to say, “Okay God. Starting today, I’m about your business of raising kingdom kids.”

Raising Kingdom Kids

Raising Kingdom Kids Group Video Experience: Giving Your Child a Living Faith is a powerful tool created by Dr. Tony Evans. Based on the top-selling book, Raising Kingdom Kids, this multimedia package is designed to equip parents to advance God’s kingdom in their own family. It is great for individual, small groups, Sunday school classes, retreats, and church outreach events.

WIN a copy of this video experience from Tyndale House and ParentLife Online! Just use the Rafflecopter widget to enter. We have FIVE copies to give away!

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Dr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 US radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org.

In Defense of Fun Food

Every time my kids go to their Grandma’s, they want to make “spiders.”

These spiders are made by spreading peanut butter between two Ritz crackers, sticking straight pretzels in for legs, and adding a few raisin eyes. They take about 45 seconds to put together. And my little ones think they are the best thing ever.

Is it because they truly adore crackers, peanut butter, pretzels, and raisins? Not really. Those are all foods they like. But the excitement comes from the whimsy. From the silly act of eating an arachnid.

Surprise – there is a lot of criticism on the Internet. And whenever someone shares a picture of a silly or creative food made for kids, there are haters. “Who has time for that?” “It’s tricking your kids!” “You obviously have too much time on your hands.” “Kids don’t care anyway.”

And if it’s not your thing, I get that.

But I love the light in my kids’ eyes when they have a “spider,” a pumpkin sandwich with candy eyes, a sandwich cut into a butterfly shape. It’s such a simple act that truly brings them enjoyment.

It makes me think of how Jesus said we should come to Him like a child. My little ones grow wide-eyed and giggly every time they hear a jingle bell, open a Christmas book during December, or see a wreath on a door. They just take joy in the little things. They are in awe of Jesus and the world around them.

I’m taking advantage of their childish joy while I can … and trying to grasp a little of my own through them.

Tomorrow we’re all having snowman pancakes for breakfast.

photo via Kraft Foods

Tips to Help Your Children with the Daylight Savings Transition by Danielle Rowe

Do you remember the days when the “fall back” Daylight Saving Time meant you got an extra hour of sleep? Pure bliss, right?? Well, the time change in the fall is no picnic when you are a parent. Unfortunately our little ones do not understand the joys of another hour snuggled up in bed. So according to the new time, they will be up an hour EARLY throwing the whole day off kilter. You are not alone in this early rising tango as millions of parents will be going through the same thing. Good news for you is there are a few things that you can do to ease the transition. Founder of Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting, Danielle Rowe, shares her five sleep tips for the daylight saving time transition.

5 Sleep Tips for the Daylight Saving Time Transition

1. Start the transition early. About 4-5 days before the time change you can slowly start shifting bedtime and meal times 15 minutes later every 2 days. (This is harder to do with children who attend school.) So if dinner is typically at 5:30pm and bedtime is at 7:00pm you would move them to 5:45pm and 7:15pm on day 1. Eventually it will end up with dinner at 6:30pm and bedtime at 8:00pm (which will be the new time of 5:30pm and 7:00pm) … and VOILA!! the transition is made.

2. Delay getting your baby out of their crib.
Some babies are early risers which means they will be getting up even earlier. When you start the 15min. bedtime shift you can start delaying when you get your baby out of their crib by 15min. For toddlers and older children you can use an “Ok to wake” clock to help push back the time that they get out of bed to wake you up.

3. Use Blackout shades. So once you have established the bedtime routine you may need to work on the early morning wakings. Waking up is greatly affected by sunlight entering our room. You can use a bit of trickery for all age children (and yourself) by putting up blackout shades (or taping up black garbage bags) to block out the early morning sun.

4. Make use of sunlight. When it is an acceptable time to get up you should open all shades and let in as much sunlight at you can. Sunlight exposure throughout the day helps to set the body’s sleep rhythms. This plus social cues (such as meal time and bedtime routines) sets your child up for sleep success. Use sunlight to your advantage.

5. Be Patient! When the transition is made slowly you can gently ease your child (or children) into the time change. If the transition needs to be more abrupt you run the risk of creating an overtired child, which can be very unpleasant. Regardless of how you make the change you need to remain patient. As with any schedule change it can take a week or 2 for everything to “fall” into place.

Danielle Rowe is a certified child sleep consultant with The Family Sleep Institute and the founder of Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting. Danielle works with families to develop a customized sleep plan that best fits your child’s sleep challenge as well as your parenting style. There a variety of consultation packages to choose from to best fit your budget. She began her journey as a sleep consultant when she ran into some sleep issues with 2 out of her 3 children. It was an amazing feeling for her when they began sleeping through the night with the help of a sleep consultant. And now Danielle wants nothing more than to help exhausted moms and dads out there to get that same relief. She has a passion for teaching parents about sleep and would love to help families get the sleep they need. Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting is your key to a better night’s sleep.

Operation Christmas Child: Packing Shoeboxes for Children, with Children

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It’s something my husband and I have done for years and years: packed a shoebox or two full of toys and hygiene items and candy and trinkets for a child overseas. It’s not hard. It’s not very costly. And yet, it can change another child’s life.

I learned this firsthand when I got to hear Alex, a recipient from Rwanda, speak at the Allume Conference last year. (I would urge you to watch this video about Alex’s testimony, although please screen it before you show it to your kids. There is a lot about the genocide and war in Rwanda.) Alex’s life and heart were truly changed, all because someone cared enough to pack a little shoebox – and then Samaritan’s Purse was able to minister to him, following up with him, continuing to share the gospel story with him.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, and literally millions of boxes have been delivered worldwide since the ministry’s inception in 1993. Personally I think OCC is an amazing way to introduce your children to the ideas of poverty, giving, and having a multicultural worldview.

Here are some tips for packing shoeboxes with your own children.

  • Let them choose which gender and age group to pack for. Often kids will want to pick out things that they like themselves – so maybe choose to pack for a child the same age and gender as your own.
  • Add homemade elements: ask your child to make a Christmas card, write a letter, or draw a picture to go in the box. If he or she is older, maybe he can crochet a small scarf or sew a fleece lovey or even make a rubber band ball.
  • Explain gently that these will probably be the only gifts this child will receive this Christmas. Answer questions in a straightforward and truthful manner, but don’t over-explain.
  • Pray over the boxes and ask God for guidance on what items this child will need.
  • Make sure to include hygiene items, even though they aren’t as much fun. What toothbrush and toothpaste do you kids like? What soap? What about a comb or brush? A trip to the Dollar Store can go a long way to completing your shoebox with toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, bar soap, and a few fun hair bows.
  • Remember the rules! Here are the items you should not include: used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Will you pack a shoebox this year? Even if you don’t have time to shop, you can still put one together online on the Samaritan’s Purse site for $25. Smart!

Box drop-off is November 17-24. If your local church is not collecting boxes, you can find a collection site here.

Making Toys Count by Christine Satterfield

Before I had my son, I knew nothing about children. I never had siblings or cousins to “practice” on and babysitting wasn’t my thing. So the first time I walked into the big baby warehouse with my husband I was floored! Who knew babies needed so much stuff?

Well, I’ve since found out that children don’t need much. Diapers, clothes, a lot of love, and — if you don’t have empty boxes and plastic containers around — a few toys will keep them occupied for hours.

Picking out toys for our children, though, can be quite cumbersome. If you frequent one of the big toy warehouses you may know all too well the temptation to buy every single toy in the store. Even trips to the consignment sale and discount store can tempt you into buying more than needed, because the toys are such a good deal! Toys are tricky. As parents, we want to provide our children with every opportunity to learn, but we don’t want to overwhelm them with so many choices that they don’t even know where to begin.

I’ve decided to be quite choosy with the toys my son has at home. The toybox isn’t overflowing, so we try to be very purposeful with the toys he has to play with. The goal is for each toy to help instill the Word of God in his heart and reinforce the principles and stories of the Bible.

Instead of choosing a cartoon coloring book, I’ll choose one with a Bible story theme. Instead of letting him watch cartoons on TV, I’d rather he watch something like VeggieTales. When he’s learning shapes, we’ll choose the toy pictured here most often so he can hear the story of Noah’s ark.

Being choosy with toys won’t necessarily ensure that our children will grow up to love God with all their heart, soul and strength. But I want to utilize every opportunity to teach my son (and future children) about God and His Word. I want to live out Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and literally repeat His Word to my children, talk about it when we sit in our house, walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we get up.

Christine Satterfield loves Jesus, her family, and the church. She spends as much time as possible playing with her son, and she’s constantly cleaning his toys. You can find out how she cleans them on her blog iDreamofClean as well as learn other household cleaning tips and tricks for the busy mom.

Originally published October 10, 2010.