kids

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Dream

Do you know where kids live in time? They live in the here and now. They want to have fun. They want to do what they want to do and they want to do it now. Not tomorrow. Not in 5 minutes. Now. (Unless of course we are asking them to do something they don’t want to do, then they will do it “later,” but that is another post.)

Our kids aren’t thinking about how persevering through a tough time in life now will benefit them when they hit a rough spot later.

They aren’t thinking about how developing responsibility now will be helpful to them in the home and workplace as adults.

And they aren’t thinking about how doing well in school now will affect what they choose to do with their life.

That means that as parents, one of our jobs has to be helping them see that now affects the future.

It also means that we have to start now to help them dream about what they want their future to look like.

Some kids may be born with a natural drive, but it still needs to be focused.

Some kids may be born with a natural talent, but it still needs to be nurtured.

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you have parents that helped you think about the future and what you would like to become?

Did you have parents who helped you focus your dreams and talents so you knew the direction you were headed?

Or not?

How did that affect you?

My parents consistently talked about going to college and talked with us about what we wanted to do.

I wanted to be a wife, mother, Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, singer, and lawyer.

They encouraged my musical talent. They encouraged me in school. I may not have ended up in law, but that was because God pointed me in a different direction (and who knows, law school may come at some point yet).

Kids don’t magically know what they want to be when they grow up. They have to be directed. They have to be focused. And as parents, we have to be the ones to dream with them and help them find that direction and focus.

Now, we have to be careful with this. We need to dream our children’s dreams with them, not our own dreams for what we want them┬áto become. Too often, parents impose their own desires on their children. We see this in sports, and eventually in career choices. Children forced into their parents’ ideals are not happy children and they are not fulfilled adults.

So, before you start dreaming with your children, talk to them, watch them, let them show you what their strengths and dreams are. Then give your support, encouragement, and start showing them what it means to dream, plan, set goals, and look at how the present affects the future.

Let’s give our kids the gift of dreams.

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OPEN

In 2003, a few weeks before Ty was born, I was suffering from that all-too-familiar thing called “mommy guilt.” Here I had spent the previous two, almost three, years focusing all of my attention on sweet little Anne. She could climb up on my lap at any time. She got all of our snuggles and focus. And now, that was all going to change because of this new baby that was coming in to our home.

Did Anne have any concept of this? Absolutely not! But I did. I was afraid that she would feel neglected. After all, I knew what kind of attention a new baby took. I knew what it was like to nurse a new baby. I knew that my lap would be occupied much of the time with this new life coming into our home.

I remember sitting on the couch one evening, my pregnant belly taking away much of the room on my lap that Anne had enjoyed for the first part of her life, but she was doing her best to sit on that ever-dwindling lap. While she sat there, I remember telling her that there would always be room for her on my lap. Even if I was nursing the baby. Even if he got bigger and seemed to take up too much space. She could always climb up.

My kids are 11 and almost 14 now. It isn’t very often that they climb up on my lap anymore. But as they have grown, they have learned something even more important – mom’s lap isn’t the only thing that is always open. Have a bad dream or are feeling sick? Climb on in to mom’s bed. Have a bad day? Curl up in mom’s arms. Need to talk about something that is bothering you? Mom’s ears are ready to listen. And all of this is true, because mom’s heart is always open. It doesn’t matter if it is 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., mom is there, ready and available.

And here’s the thing, because they know that my heart is always open to them, they are learning to keep their heart open to me. When there are things we need to talk about – whether it be what is happening in the world, correction that I need to give them, or something else, they are ready and willing to hear from me. When there is something going on in my life that is making it hard for me to get through, guess who is there and ready to love on me? Yep, those same kids!

A huge part of parenting is being available to our children. When we get too busy, we are in essence, closing ourselves off from these children that need us more than anything. I heard one time that once children reach the age of 10, their parents are no longer the primary influence in their lives. Instead, the primary influence becomes their peers. This is a scary statistic to me, knowing what I know about our society. I do my best to fight this. This is why I make myself readily available to my children. This is why I spend time with them. This is why I make sure that they know I am always open to whatever they need from me.

Be sure you are hanging out the “OPEN” sign to your children. Be available to them. Be ready to listen. Be there for them. They need you.

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THINGS I LOVE

One thing I have learned about life is when things aren’t going my way or I am feeling down, I have to change my focus and start choosing joy and thankfulness.

The weather the last few days has been dark, rainy, and dreary and I don’t do well in those conditions.

I would rather stay in bed, not exercise, not cook, eat junk, and sink deeper and deeper into my couch and the depression that pulls on me.

So, today, I am choosing to change my focus to things I love about being a mom!

Why don’t you join me and add things you love about being a parent in the comments below!

  • I love snuggling up with my kids on the couch to watch a movie or one of the television shows we watch.
  • I love when Ty gets to giggling at himself.
  • I love when Anne tries to be annoyed with Ty and I as we sing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, but she can’t help but smile as she rolls her eyes.
  • I love tucking my children in to bed.
  • I love watching my children “get it” when it comes to the things of God, the things of life, and more.
  • I love taking them to school every day, dropping them off and telling them that I love them.
  • I love picking them up from school and hearing about their day.
  • I love seeing Ty’s mind at work.
  • I love watching Anne cheer.
  • I love playing games with my children.
  • I love sitting on the deck watching them play outside.
  • I love sitting on the trampoline and having fun with them.
  • I love doing new things with my kids.
  • I love doing the same old, same old with them.
  • I love just being with my kids.
  • I love the people who my children are growing up to be.
  • I love teaching my children.
  • I love the ways that my children teach me.
  • I love Anne’s creativity – drawing, rainbow loom bracelets, crocheting, and so much more.
  • I love Ty’s spontaneity.
  • I love that our family has its own language (lots of sarcasm), inside jokes (crapplesauce in the hillbilly briefcase, anyone?), and so much more!
  • I love that my children love their family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – and want to spend time with them.
  • I love how my children love their friends.
  • I love that my kids can have conversations with adults.
  • I love that my kids love Jesus and His church.

I could go on and on. The point isn’t to number the list, but rather to make the list so that I can see all the good things I have in my life. And this is just about my children! When you make a list like this, you can’t help but smile and be joyful. In fact, now all I want to do is go hang out with my kids and have some fun!

On those days when the kids are acting up, I can come back to this list.

On those days when I am questioning my ability as a parent, I can come back to this list.

On those days that just downright are terrible, I can come back to this list.

Thank you, Lord, for my children, and for the joy that the bring into my life.

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Serving with Kids

 

This week, our family got the opportunity to serve together in a community ministry. It was the first time we have volunteered at the local food pantry. We have served together in our church many times, but this was a different kind of service than we have done before.

And the kids did GREAT!

  • They helped unload the seven pallets of food and supplies like a boss.
  • They walked people through the pantry and helped them choose items.
  • They went out in the rain to help people load the food into their vehicles.
  • They helped stock shelves, bag items, and anything else that was needed.

Living in a small community, there are not a ton of opportunities to serve the poor the way there would be in a big city, and I think about that a lot. Jesus has called us to care for the poor, orphan and widow and while we donate things to various groups to help as much as we can, I am always on the lookout for ways for us to serve as a family so my children are learning to live out the mandate to love our neighbor and be a servant in a physical way.

At the end of the day, I talked with the kids. Here is what they had to say:

  • Anne said she liked seeing people who were unhappy when they came in leaving happy.
  • Ty said he liked helping to stock the shelves, and get the carts ready with boxes and bags for the people.
  • Anne said she enjoyed helping fill one lady’s vehicle with food.
  • Ty said it felt nice to help people who were in need.
  • Anne liked that we were serving as a family.

They both said that if our church always has October as the month to volunteer, we should do this every Columbus Day. I love that. I want them to have the heart of servants. I want them to recognize that helping people is the way that we are called to live as followers of Christ.

We are all busy. But that can’t be an excuse for not teaching our children how to care for and serve one another. Even if it isn’t as often as we would like, or it takes work to make it happen, it is worth it.

What are some ways that you have been able to serve others with your family?

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Faith Priorities

Faith. From the time I was two, faith was a priority in the life of my family.

We went to church every time it was open – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night.

My sisters and I have been examples in Dad’s sermons more times than we can count.

It didn’t matter what we did on Saturday night or how late we stayed out, we were at church on Sunday morning.

When I went off to college, needless to say, I wasn’t as faithful in my church attendance. I didn’t quite understand the necessity.

But it wasn’t long before I changed my tune and began attending regularly again.

And then I became a parent and I realized exactly what my parents realized all those years ago.

As parents, we set the priorities for the home. Strong faith and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has to be at the top of our priority list. One of the ways we do this is by making it a priority to be in church regularly for worship.

In this day and age, there are so many things that are vying to be at the top of our list of priorities, and what I have seen happen in the church is sad. Ball games, tumbling or other sports meets/competitions, camping trips, and even late Saturday nights are taking priority over worship attendance. Somehow a shift has occurred and instead of making worship a priority, we have started making our children’s “success” in other areas a priority.

The problem with that is simply this: if they don’t learn early how to make the Lord a priority in their lives, then He may never be a priority in their lives.

And for a parent who loves the Lord and loves her children, that would be a devastating tragedy for my children.

So in addition to other things we do at home, we will be in worship each Sunday morning on a regular basis. This is a priority in our lives. And as parents, we will show our children that it needs to be a priority in their lives as well.

 

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Time

Time.

We never seem to have enough and we all want more of it.

But you know who needs our time the most? Our kids.

Not just sitting in the same room with them while we all do our own thing.

Not sitting in front of the television together.

Quality time. Time where we are interacting, talking, listening, having fun, being serious, sharing joys, hurts, accomplishments, and fears.

This is hard. We have jobs. We have appointments. We have houses to clean. We have friendships to maintain. We have books we want to read. We have Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds. The kids have a plethora of activities in which they are involved. There are a myriad things that vie for our attention.

Including our kids.

When Ty starts being super grumpy or super silly, that is an indicator that he needs our attention. Anne is a little easier to read, she comes and sits down next to one of us when she wants our attention.

Just this week, with Mike on 3-11 shift, he came home to eat with Ty and I at lunch break. After he left, Ty said to me, “That was nice. To have dinner with Dad.” It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but three out of the four of us were sitting together at the table eating and talking. And Ty not only ate up his dinner, but also the time he got to spend with us.

I try hard to spend time with my kids. Quality time. Not just running around town dropping them here, there, and yonder time. When I do, I usually get such an earful! I can learn more in 10 minutes of quality time with one of my kids than I heard the entire last month of simply being in the same space. The older our kids get, the more they need to know that they are our priority and that we make time to spend with them. The older our kids get, the more we need to be hearing what is going on in their lives. The older our kids get, we need to make sure that we are still a primary influence on their lives, and that only happens when we spend quality time with them.

This is a choice we make; it doesn’t happen magically. We choose to make it happen.

And when we do choose to spend quality time with our children, it truly is the best gift we could possibly give them.

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