5 Things I learned as a parent

parent_5I’ve learned a few things over the years. Most of all, I’ve learned how to be a good parent.  Note: I did not say I’ve learned to be a perfect parent. I, personally, don’t know many of them and would never claim to be one. I’ve heard that they are on the endangered species list, but don’t quote me on that.  I can never site my sources on that kinda material.

What I’m offering my readers today are my top 5 tips for successful parenting. If these can help even one parent do a better job of raising happy kids, my work in writing this will have been well spent. Thanks for stopping by today, and if you think my advice is solid, please share it with your friends.  We parents have to stick together!

5 Tried and True tips for surviving parenthood

1  Say yes as often as you can, and let your no, be “No!”  Never go back on a NO, and never say NO for convenience sake alone.  Too many parents are wound up in their own lives and ignoring their kids when they need them most. Don’t be one of those guys/gals.

2  Understand that respect is earned, not magically awarded.  Act respectfully toward others and with your kids, and they will do the same.

3  Consistency is Job 1 (because without it, everything else falls apart).  Love consistently.  Encourage consistently.  Stand by your kids consistently.  Provide for their safety every day.  Never forget what treasures they are in your life.  Consistently point them to Jesus.  Never stop praying for them. Be their hero.  Be the same mom and dad for your kids every day and battles over petty stuff won’t be so big of an issue for you.  Kids love boundaries, they just don’t know it yet. 😉

4 Never threaten what you can’t deliver.  Our job as parents isn’t to frustrate our kids or to drive ourselves insane making and breaking rules we, ourselves, put in place.  I’ve found that it’s far better to enforce small, incremental rules and punishments, than to threaten what one cannot deliver.

5 Trust, but verify!  Always get off the couch and check on Jr’s progress. If he says he has cleaned his room, you say, “Show me.”  If she says she did her homework, you reply, “Let’s go over it together.”  Don’t do this to catch your child unaware and bring the hammer of parental accuracy down on their heads. Do it to show them that integrity is important and hard work is noticed and praised in your home.  Always be checking back on what your child is doing.  Always praise faithful service and personally consistent habits of truth-telling.  And remember, you aren’t perfect, so some days you’ll do this better than others.

There you have my top 5 bits of parenting advice.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What is your best advice for someone parenting wee ones these days?  What have you done at your house that made parenting a whole lot easier?

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost.  Proverbs 22:6 MSG

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BE THAT One

the-palsied-man-let-down-through-the-roof-1886-1896-by-james-tissot

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  Mark 2:3-5

Philip ran up and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said,“ unless someone guides me?”  Acts 8:30-31

Have you ever heard of the unsinkable Molly Brown?  Margaret Tobin was the real life “Molly” and a survivor of the great Titanic tragedy. After the Titanic sunk, Molly’s name became synonymous with folks who refuse to go down with the ship.  She reminds me of the friends who brought a paralytic to Jesus.  Crowds all around, bodies pressing in, how could they ever hope to get their friend through that throng of people and close enough to the Savior?

When God closes a door, He opens a window!

In the case of the paralytic shared in Mark’s gospel, the alternative route for healing was a hole some friends cut in the roof of someone else’s house.  Think about that. How gutsy!  How urgently must they have felt their friend’s need?  How daunting a task, but they did it.  They got their friend where he needed to go regardless of the circumstances, and the rest is history.  That, my friends, is love!

Today, are you working to get your friend where he or she needs to go?  I bet the church you attend is a great place to start them on their trek to Jesus. There is one hitch to getting them there, though:  “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14).

Be that one who tells your friend how to find Jesus.

Be that one who takes them to church.

Be that one who cuts a whole in the roof if you have to, but don’t let opportunity pass your good friend by.

Be that one who gets them to Jesus!

 

Self-Care and Compliments

I’ve been searching the stores over the last few weeks for boxed Christmas cards that I could have on hand for next year.  I have found nothing that I thought I wanted to buy, and less that I wanted to own, even if they were given to me.

I’m a bit of a Christmas card snob, I’ll admit.  I want them to be just-so, so that so-so isn’t good enough.

Anyway, while I’ve been searching for the “right” Christmas card design, God has been speaking the name DaySpring in my ear.  I finally remembered his prompting today and visited the Dayspring site, where I found just what I needed.  If you’re searching for some boxed cards with a Christian message, I’d recommend you stop by DaySpring today.  They still have a pretty good selection on hand, and although the shipping fee is a little steep, I think you’ll be happy with what you find there.

What does buying Christmas cards have to do with Self-care, you wonder?  Nothing, really, but I found a good article about self-care over at the DaySpring site today, and thought I’d give their boxed cards a pitch while I was sharing that article.

self care

If you have a minute, zip on over to DaySpring and give the article a read. You can find it here.

In my opinion, we ladies don’t do enough to take care of ourselves, especially considering all the output that is involved in being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, and confidant.  Today, let’s take a few minutes for us, ladies, and indulge ourselves with some self-care.  Once you’ve snatch those few minutes and done something for your beautiful, talented, poised, and amazing self, leave me a comment in the section provided on this page and tell me what you did.

One last thing!  Find a beautiful, talented, poised and amazing woman walking through your life today and tell her what she means to you.

YOU, mean everything to me!  Yay, YOU!!!!!

 

3 things to watch out for on a free work retreat

bucket list 1I was recently lucky enough to take a FREE work vacation to Cozumel, MX.  This trip was the result of the business I work for being bought out in 2015 by another business in Minneapolis, MN USA.  Because there is so much geography between our satellite office and the corporate office, our bosses thought it would be a good idea to get us all together in one location, and hey, why not make it exotic.  We were invited to do what we wished while on the island, but we were also encouraged to get to know each other better while there.

Know each other better, we did!

There was a joke that went around the office before we went on our weekend excursion to Cozumel. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, albeit in your own version:  What happens in Cozumel, stays in Cozumel.  You know that’s never the case when people with tongues in their heads are part and parcel of any large gathering.

If you know me, you know I’m the kind a gal that is always looking to help her buddies venture through life.   If you are reading this blog, you’re my buddy, so I want to impart to you some of my travel experience connected to this vacation.  I do so in the hope that you, too, will one day be the recipient of a FREE Cozumel vacation.  When that happens, watch out for these three things.

3 THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR ON A FREE WORK RETREAT

1. The number one thing to watch out for on a FREE work retreat is your luggage.  If you have a brightly colored ribbon or rope tied onto the handle of your bag, that’s a good thing.  Also, if you can, use a bag that is flexible.  If you do these things, you will be able to fit your luggage into almost any overhead compartment and find it quickly when deplaning.  This is good advice, because people who carry luggage that looks like everyone else’s and is not conducive to changing shape in an overhead compartment almost always either have to stand around and wait for it after the flight, or hunt for it for long periods of time.  They often have to check their bags too, especially when the plane is full.  We took only carry-on bags with us, and we made out fine.

2.  The second thing to watch out for on a FREE work retreat is an abundance of liquor.  It is tempting for some to imbibe on all the liquor they can hold when drinks are free and flowing like a river. Taking advantage of this temptation can lead to some bad consequences, though.  Like being hungover at breakfast.  Like sleeping too late and missing your excursion.  Like saying things that you would never say at work.  Like losing your phone in the Caribbean (yes, it happens).  My advice would be not to drink at all on your FREE vacation with co-workers. Another option might be to have something in your room at the end of the day, alone with your sweetie, but hey, that’s just me.

3.  The last thing that I would say you need to watch out for on a FREE work retreat is a bad attitude.  While we were in Cozumel, at an adults-only resort which had a family resort next door, one of the women on the beach was overheard griping about some children that had drifted to “our side” of the beach. My husband and I were enjoying watching the kids snorkel and asked them to bring up from the water a snail they caught, so we could take a picture.  They were not being rowdy, and they were not being rude.  They were two well behaved boys, trying to have fun on vacation, who just happened to land at the far end of the adults-only beach with their parents.  They were not in any way causing a stir or acting out of line, which I cannot say for their adult critics.

There you have it, 3 things I think you should watch out for when you’re on a FREE Cozumel vacation:  your luggage, your liquor, and your attitude.  You might also remember that this vacation was FREE and all-inclusive, and that other than trinkets you brought back from your trip, it didn’t cost you a dime.  Be gracious.  Always, be gracious!!

When have you gone on a FREE work vacation/retreat? Where did you go, and what did you see?

 

 

Love, Love, Love, Love!

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2

Excellence does not require perfection.  Henry James 

LOVE

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.  1 Corinthians 13 MSG 

What does it mean to never give up in our love for others?  What shape has that kind of persistent love taken in your life?  Are you still at it…still loving, regardless of the circumstances, and despite the fact that love is not returned to you in kind?  If you are, you are following in your Father’s footsteps.

You are doing what God has called all Christians to do, and here’s the best news about that:

You don’t have to love perfectly to love well!

In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth he said that love never gives up.

It never quits.

It never retreats.

It never grows fatigued.

It never slumbers.

It never stops wanting the best for that one God pointed to and commanded:  Love Him! Love Her! Love them!

Paul did not say our love would be perfectly given or perfectly received.  He simply said that when we’re in relationship with God and Jesus is powering our love, it will not fizzle out or fade away.  It might be tough to get love right sometimes, and God knows that, which is why He’s given us loads of opportunities to practice, practice, practice this valuable skill.

Today, if you feel a little deficient in your love ability, why not lean in to God and ask Him for another fill-up of His love? He never turns us away when love is on our minds, so go ahead, ask, receive, and then give.  It’s His way…it’s our privilege.

When have you been challenged to love the unlovable?  How did that turn out?

5 ways to quiet the christian mind

How-To-Relax-A-Busy-Mind-Mediation-Part-2-Unlocking-Your-Truth-Episode-UYT085

If you’re like me, your mind never shuts off!  Seriously, I think the only time my mind goes into sleep mode is when I’m attending a boring seminar or listening to some braggart go on and on about his or her life, including people I don’t know, experiences I’ve not had, and the relaying of information I shouldn’t be privy to or care to consider.  I am a thinking machine, and in years past a lot of that pondering power was fueled by fear.

Fear of the future.

Fear of failure.

Fear of trying.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of financial insecurity.

Fear of others  (that they wouldn’t like or agree with me).

Fear of myself (not so confident in my ability to make good decisions).

Fear, Fear, Fear.

I had to find a way to shut ‘er down and get some peace and quiet.

Today, I’d like to share some of the methods I’ve used over the years for quieting my mind.  It probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me well that the first and foremost thing I have done to win the battle with fearful thinking is write.  It is my go-to method for coping with life no matter what I face, but especially when I’m tending to stroll down avenues built on the dark side of town.  My writing in fearful times can take many forms: journaling, list making, writing devotionals, composing marketing pieces for my fellows, and building bible studies.  Occasionally I drive back the fear with fiction.  It can get pretty dark when I’m in that head space, but I’ve found fiction writing a great way to ease up the load that my brain is carrying, and to create a world in my head that is kinder, gentler, and more safe than what I’ve put on the paper.

Writing—it is my sanity, but I want to also share with you other ways I have settled my restless mind, and made that neighborhood quieter by my efforts.  Below, is a list of the top five things I’ve done to quiet my mind.

TOP 5 METHODS OF QUIETING THE CHRISTIAN MIND

  1. WRITING.  I spoke about this one above, but here I will add that the most common way I use this gift from God to quiet my mind is by keeping a journal or tablet by my bedside. At night, when I’m restless, I write down those things I’m thinking about so that I won’t forget them when I wake in the morning. This practice seems to give my mind enough assurance that I will remember important things to lull me to sleep.  Writing is loud mind arrested!
  1. PRAISE MUSIC.  When the writing of a list of urgent thoughts doesn’t quiet my mind at night, I turn to the radio.  I have it tuned to a Christian station, and listen to soothing nighttime music to help settle my mind. I do NOT listen to talk radio at this time, though I confess to loving talk radio. The problem with talk radio when I’ve already got a frantic mind is that it gives me more to think about.  I do not need more to think about when my mind is running a gazillion miles an hour already.  No way!  This is also why I don’t read my Bible when my mind is racing, and why Bible reading is not on this list of quieting influences.
  1. PRAYER.  If writing hasn’t helped, and listening to praise music has failed me too, I turn to prayer.  “Dear God, please,” I say, “take my anxious thoughts and throw them in the farthest sea.”  Not really, although that is a good prayer to pray. Usually mine goes like this, “God, you know I have to get up and go to work in the morning.  Please; sleep!”  When that doesn’t work, I assume God wants me awake because someone else needs praying for, and I turn my attention to them.  That usually does the trick.  I’m not sure if sleep is my reward for doing right during these times, or if the devil just wants me comatose so that I don’t do him anymore harm.  Either way, I’m thankful to turn the volume down in my noggin in those moments. Very glad, indeed.
  1. PRAISE. When my mind is extremely restless, one of the best things I’ve found to help is praising God.  I praise him for limbs that work, for a roof over my head, for food that helps me sleep, and for a family that is a source of joy to me.  Once I begin to praise God for all the big and little things in my life, my fear begins to dissipate. Funny how that works, and so well. It’s hard, really hard to be a captive to fear when all I can think about is the bevy of blessings I have at my fingertips.  Remembering that once in a while is a good, good thing.
  1. ACCEPTANCE.  This is the final and strangest way of all that I use for fighting back fear. It’s totally counter-intuitive and I don’t know why it works so well, but it does.  Once I have accepted that I am completely and wholly exactly where God wants me to be at any given time of day or night (scared or not), I begin to immediately feel less fearful.  I think the trick is to get to the place where I am willing to surrender my control and acknowledge once more God’s sovereignty in all areas of my life.  He’s not just my Daddy, He’s also the one that engineered the universe and keeps it rolling every day.  He knows what I’m facing and He’s already got a protection in place for me. Even when I am unconscious, my angels continue to guard me.  Papa never sleeps, nor does he forget my needs.  Once I realize that, all fear leaves me. Try it. I bet it works for you, too. It’s a hard discipline, and usually the last thing I try, but acceptance that God is in control is powerful medicine for a sick and racing mind.  Better than aspirin, better than liquor, better than almost anything.  Surrender, praise, and acceptance work to quiet a frantic mind.

Well, there you have them, my top five ways for quieting the Christian mind.  There might be other methods for quieting minds that are not in relationships with God, but I don’t practice many of those.  For me, it’s God and me all the way, all the time, and in every circumstance of life.  I am His, and knowing that soothes me in the times when I’m able to remember it.

Do you possess a Christian mind?  Do you have trouble shutting down your over-productive mind?

Tuesday Meditation Time

Do you have a problem meditating? Many Christians do.  I use writing as a meditation tool, and it works great for me. I never seem to run out of questions, so I ask them on paper, or I write one-liners that seem significant to me after I’ve read the Scriptures.

Maybe you’d like to incorporate mediation into your spiritual repertoire during 2018. Maybe you’ve never tried it before. Maybe finding a few minutes to be quiet before God and consider the love-trail He’s left behind for us to follow seems impossible.  It’s not. Everyone can eek out five minutes in their day for meditation. FIVE MINUTES, that’s all it takes. FIVE MINUTES alone with God–worth 5 million dollars in gold–seriously.

If meditation is something you’d like to do, maybe begin with the following. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I’m always looking for new ways to make the old good news new in my life.

Take a minute (or FIVE), to read this passage and and think on these things, then leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.  The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad.  When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.  Acts 15:2b-4 

Today’s minute with God offers some valuable insight into the workings of the early church. What caught your attention when you read the passage above? This is what I noticed and how I felt God was challenging me to greater trust in Him:

When there was a job to do, the church appointed leaders to “get ‘er done.” Service.

Along with the two main leaders, God called helpers to come alongside.  Brotherhood

The smaller group came out from the larger group to accept their commission. Sanctification.

Travel was involved, so they willingly hit the road with resources provided by the church.  Giving.

They needed clarification, that when obtained, would strengthen the whole group.  Unity.

The church rallied together, and showing their support, sent them on their way.  Obedience.

As they went, they dropped little nuggets of excitement along the way.  Encouragement.

Those nuggets were used like bread crumbs to lead the way to salvation for others. Discipleship.

They freely shared news of new faith partners and their experiences.  Testimonies.

When they arrived at their destination, the church in Jerusalem was happy to see them. Welcome.

Fulfilling their commission meant having a meeting.  Congregating

They reported all that God had done through them. Faithfulness.

The church was strengthened, both in Gentile regions and in faith-central, Jerusalem. Victory!

Moving Meditation Into Action

Here is where we move out of meditation and into action.  Answer these questions honestly to yourself and ask God what He would have you DO this year to make what you read a reality in your life.

What are we doing  in 2018 to share the gospel and how church “works” with others around us? 

What are we doing in 2018 to share the good news that a powerful God can be found at our church?

What are we doing in 2018  to make sure our church obeys God’s calling?

What are we willing to do to make sure our church is a place of welcome to others?

Meditation is a tool for reaching out to God and hearing back from him. It’s also a great way to balance out an otherwise slanted worldview.  I find it helps me feel calmer, more encouraged, and absolutely more connected to God.  Try it for just FIVE minutes today, won’t you? It will make a difference in your day. I promise.

Are you someone who has a planned mediation time every day, week, or month?  How do you “do” meditation at your house?