Archive | September, 2011

the need to practice kindness and patience

30 Sep

Agreeing to watch a friend’s young children for the day, I inquired about sleeping arrangements for nap time. I would need a playpen and their favorite blankets.  In response, the father told me to simply lay the two girls next to each other on a bed, and put a pillow on each side.  Considering their young ages, 15 months and 3 years, I was a little skeptical butI decided to trust him.

After lunch, it was time to find out if the dad knew what he was talking about.

 The 3 year old’s matter of fact view of nap time was impressive.  She was obviously quite used to this routine and eagerly picked her spot on the bed.  Her younger sister was a bit more hesitant and cried for a minute or less, being comforted by the kind touch and gentle words of the elder sibling.

Soon, they were both sound asleep.

How did the parents teach this? I know many parents that would love to experience this nap time routine!

I remembered my last post…

 It is love…  that causes us, as parents, not only be patient and kind with our children,

but to teach them to be patient and speak kindly to each other.

Yesterday, I saw this love in action.

We have this type of love in our home.

I see examples of it every day, but in addition, I also see our lack.

Do we always speak with kindness, in a way that puts the other at ease… ?

Are we patient with each other?

As I was helping my six year old with math, I felt my patience wearing thin.  How many times and different ways does it take to explain the same thing before it actually sinks in?  I felt like saying to him, “Where is your brain?  Think!”

Fortunately, as I looked at my sweet little boy, I remembered what it feels like to not understand.  How often have I had things explained and still felt in the dark.  Patiently, we worked together as he gained understanding.

Hopefully, he felt my patience.

But what if I had blown it?  The situation could have been different.

What happens if I loose my temper?

All is not lost!

The lessons learned from our failures are invaluable.  They provide a unique platform from which to teach.  Obviously we as parents should acknowledge our errors and seek forgiveness, but this is only part of the lesson.  In addition, our goal is to teach the children to be kind even when we are not.

Anyone can be kind when someone is being kind to them.

Only a person of strong character is able to patiently return volatile remarks with kindness.

1. Be an example to your children. Practice speaking with patience and kindness.

2. Praise your children when you see them being patient and kind.

3. Do not allow impatience and harsh words to go unattended.  This means consistent and firm oversight!

4. Failures, whether it be the children’s or our own, should be used as a platform for instruction.

When the parents returned to pick up their little girls, I asked them how they taught their children to be such good little  nappers.  As I suspected, it was out of necessity and practice.

Out of necessity and desire, we will continue in our home to practice…

love and patience.

It is love…

23 Sep

 It is love…  that causes us, as parents, not only be patient and kind with our children,

but to teach them to be patient and speak kindly to each other.

It is love… that does not give way for prideful boasting,

rather looks to build each other up.

It is love…   that motivates  us to instruct the siblings to consider others first,

not demanding their own way.

It is love… that reminds us to humbly recognize our own personal failures

and helps our children see theirs,  seeking forgiveness from each other.

It is love…  that  not only bears,

but learns to appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies.

It is love… that helps us to believe in and encourage each other

and endures through the difficult times.

True love never fails.

laughing at myself…

22 Sep

I had the pleasure of taking my daughter-in-law out for lunch today.

As I’m still fully employed at home with children, school, and all of the typical things… it’s rare that I take anyone out.

We had good food and good conversation.

We chuckled as we reflected on the unique experience of the first days of college. Everything is so new – classes, schedules, people, surroundings, expectations…  learning to adapt. Both of us glad not to be there anymore.

We enjoyed our time.

I enjoyed our time.

until…

the bill came

I felt like a deer in the road, staring at the head lights!

It wasn’t the amount that bothered me, it was the process!

the tip, the addition, the signature

Funny, I help the children with math every day without struggle.  I have no problem balancing the check book.  I am very familiar with signing my name.

I wondered, why in the world did I fall apart when the bill came?

(I confess, this isn’t the first time.)

Then it hit me, I am just like that new college student,

a bit out of my element.

Babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers have pleasantly filled my all of my adult life.

Mark and I enjoyed dates through the years, but he always paid!

If we stopped as a family for fast food, I gathered the children and sat down while he ordered.

My job has never been to pay the bill.

Hmm… not wanting to simply  remain in my comfort zone, maybe I need to start taking more people out for lunch,

just for practice, of course! ;)

journals…

20 Sep

One of the expectations for our 4-6 grade English class includes writing in a journal.  This assignment is not graded or evaluated for penmanship and spelling, I just check to make sure they are making regular entry’s.

Over the years, I guess off and on since high school, I have kept a journal.  Sometimes months go by, and I write nothing. In other seasons, I write daily.  It’s not on the “must get done” list,  it’s just something I enjoy when the time is right.

This year,  my journal has taken the form of  Not Without Aim  using a computer rather than a neat looking book and fancy pen.  The writing takes me much longer. I edit, and edit, and edit again and still find mistakes. The penmanship has improved dramatically though!  ;)

A few of my journals are timeless.

One in particular is a record of significant events that have happened in our lives.  At times I’ve done a good job keeping it up, but it has tons of gaps. Never-the-less, I enjoy looking back through it, and maybe someday the children will too.

The little pocket journal , very little, fits in a side pocket in my purse.  This one is specifically for names. When I meet someone new,  I often will write down their name and a little something about them.

Then there is the journal that I like to bring when I go to my sisters’ homes.  They have so many good ideas – books, movies, places to go, recipes, fun things to do… so I  jot them down.

One of my favorites though, is my journal for quotes. I’m not sure if it is because I like the feel of this particular book, or the fact that my sister gave it to me. Likely, it has to do with what all is written within it’s pages!  As I read a book, I take note of key points or sayings. Upon finishing the book, I try to narrow them down to just a few key passages that I especially appreciate, and record them.  It is becoming a wealth of wisdom from various authors all wrapped into one little volume!

I don’t know if my children will ever take to journal writing, but no doubt, one day they will enjoy looking back to what they wrote for this year of English class.

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 11)

16 Sep

Five Areas to Better Serve

Caring for others, whether it be small children, the sick, elderly… whoever is in need, is challenging and often all consuming.

It was our desire and choice to care for Great Aunt. It was a natural fit,  in that I was already home everyday caring for our own children, we both had some experience in the area, and had purchased a house that suited the situation.  Never-the-less, sometimes the task was overwhelming.  At times I found it affecting every other area of my life.

It was during a low ebb,  drained both physically and emotionally, that I pinpointed 5 areas to redirect my focus to better serve both Great Aunt and my family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Remember who I am serving

I was serving Great Aunt, but ultimately, I was serving God.  I could never do things well enough for Great Aunt and as a result, felt I was always striving, but never pleasing.  I learned to change my focus, no longer on her but beyond her.

2. Be a duck and let it roll

When accusations came, like in the stolen lipstick and undergarments experience, my first response was to defend myself.  Sometimes defense isn’t necessary, better to let the comments roll – like water droplets rolling off the back of a duck.

3. Speak with grace

Whether responding to Great Aunt or speaking about her to someone else, I determined to speak with grace. Not wanting my own words to resonate in my mind like sharp thistles , I considered how I would feel in her place.

4. Serve secretly

In the midst of Great Aunts complaints, I found myself attempting to “win points” by informing her of things I had done for her. As foolish as that sounds – even as I write now – it is pattern that I still can find myself in if not careful.  My goal was (and still needs to be) to serve quietly, humbly.

5. Serve joyfully

Attitudes from within my heart had a way of creeping out.  If I was discontented,  it was difficult to serve with joy. This point circles back to the first.  When I placed the focus on whom I was ultimately serving (taking it off of myself), the joy would return.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reading through my journals and finding these principles, again,

I was struck at how applicable they are to me today.

This is how I want to live.

This is how I want to serve.

speaking the unexpected

14 Sep

 All the recent rain has made everything green again. It almost looks like spring in September!

I was at the kitchen sink listening to the talk among the children…

Why is it they feel the need to correct each other?

and point out obvious errors?

I considered my own habits of late,  I haven’t done much better.

Our words can be like the sharp thistles hidden within the lush green grass.  As my little daughter steps gingerly through the yard, avoiding the thorns, so others learn to tiptoe around us – avoiding harsh comments.

Sometimes it feels as though there are just too many to step around,

then, unexpectedly…

a kind word is spoken

healing begins.

~~~~~

In the middle of our yard is a patch where all the grass is dead. It looks bleak,

yet in the midst of  this brown patch, flowers unexpectedly appeared!

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,

But the tongue of the wise brings healing”

Proverbs 12:18

it’s time to meet the family…

13 Sep

In celebration of our 100th post we are officially introducing the family.

This might be a bit tricky as a nameless and faceless blog-site … so bear with me.
This is us –  we are used to being called Dad and Mom.

Starting out as high school sweethearts, we have now been married over 30 years and going strong!  We dreamed of having a few kids, a dog and a cat.  We never would have guessed that one day we would have 14 children, 2 daughters in law (so far), and a grand puppy.

We are humbled by what God has done in our lives and continue to rely on His grace for each step in our future.

Our firstborn endured our beginning as parents.  He did well and set the stage for the rest of the crew.  He is newly married to the woman he patiently waited for, they are well suited!  Together they have made their home overseas while he finishes his service in the US Air-force.

So many thoughts come to mind to share a glimpse of our next son.

full of passions,

visionary, communicative, introspective

deliberate

so many more fun things I could say… but won’t :)

These two have been married for a few years now. Together they make a great team!

 incredibly creative, energetic, hardworking

industrious,  hospitable…

(and the puppy – his adorable looks win every heart!)

Beginning to think we would only have boys, we were thrilled when our first daughter came along.

feminine, spunky, responsible, spontanious

ambitious, talkative

self-disciplined and  determined

 And then, yettanother girl came along. How could two girls be so similar, yet so different?

 artistic,  creative, and focused

a bit less talkative but sincere, warm, and engaging

always learning something new

Incredibly thoughtful with a contagious smile

Another son away serving in the US Air-force. We are counting the days until he returns home.

He is a balance of strength  and gentlness

firm but quiet, a respected leader

 serious minded, yet playful

Notice the bright yellow umbrella? His nickname was sunshine when he was little.  His smile lit up a room and still does.

a doer, fixer, and get the job done!

a gentleman and peacemaker

If you have read any of “Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt” –

this boy was her favorite! A much taller version now – works and studies hard!

reads, reads, and reads some more

keeps up on current events

single minded, yet teachable

The fourth son in a row.

energetic, enthusiastic, thoughtful

disciplined and determined

can encourage and put a smile on any face!

The word that best describes this daughter is “sweet” – she is thoughtful and considerate

always ready to give a helping hand, capable

loves to make things

and growing much, much too fast!

This boy is just plain fun!  He knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to speak up.

acorns, insects, stamps, rocks… he loves to collect

a great “big brother” to the younger siblings

This dear girl has changed much in the last year.  Playing just isn’t as important as it once was.

 becoming my right hand in the kitchen

loves to cuddle and be close

a soft, quiet voice

surprises us with good natured mischief

  His name means “happy” and happy he is.

I think he likes the fact that, although he is the youngest son, he is still older than his little sis.

learned to ride a bike this summer

swims like a fish

has been known to wear his swim goggles continuously!

And last but certainly not least, the baby of the family,  our budding little princess.

lovable, thoughtful, delighted to serve and be served!

like a sponge – eager to embrace and learn everything she can

incredibly precocious- even her sparkly eyes,

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…and this is who we are.  A family.  A growing, changing family determined to be deliberate in the world in which we live.