Monday, January 26, 2015

3 Steps to Empower Our Children against Bullying

3 Steps to Empower Our Children against Bullying

We were at a playground packed with children.  The kids were engaged in a variety of activities, often congregating in pockets together.  My younger son, who is three, stayed close to his older brother, who is five.  He knew the majority of the children were his older brother's age.

I watched my boys race down the slide, then chase each other back up the stairs and along the platform to do it all over again.  They were happily making loop after loop as I watched close by, chatting with a collection of moms who were looking on as well.

At one point, I realized that it had been a couple of minutes since I had seen my littler one. His brother was going down the slide, but where was he?  I walked around a corner of the playground and saw him backed up against a landing.  An older boy was pretending to throw punches at his stomach.  Although his punches were soft and I suspect in play, my younger son was afraid.

"Is he bothering you?" I asked.

My younger son stuck out his bottom lip and nodded.  He was not in pain, but he was intimidated.

Although bullying peaks in middle school, children are never too young to learn how to handle its early signs.  If they are old enough to play with others and communicate appropriately, there are lessons we can teach them...

Continue reading this article on iBelieve.com by clicking here.  You'll discover an award-winning children's book, selected scripture, and three expert tips on empowering children against bullying.  We can help them accomplish victories that only they can do!

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I hope you enjoyed these tips on keeping our children safe and empowering them to make a difference.  You might also enjoy other safety articles that have appeared on this blog on child abuse prevention and healthy stranger danger.  Make sure you won't miss future posts by subscribing by email to my blog right on the homepage.  You'll get a professionally designed printable for doing so!

Monday, January 19, 2015

How God Speaks through a Sniffle


Has sickness swept through your house recently?  Read on and find out:

* What hope-filled lesson can you learn about God when your children are sick?
* As you wipe runny noses and tend to others, who is caring for you?

Recently both kids were sick.  The doctor said that it was viral, so all I could do was address the symptoms and wait for them to get better.  Inevitably, they would both be crying for something at the same time.  Both looked so helpless with fevers and runny noses.  I wanted to scoop them into my arms all of the time.  But the reality is that I was constantly prioritizing.  I had to rate who had the most pressing need, help that child first, and then go to the other.  I found myself explaining to each what I had to do for the other while they were waiting.  I am not sure how much my littler one understood my explanations, but I noticed that he did calm to the sound of my voice.

I couldn't help but wonder about the resonances of this experience in our own faith lives.  How often do we come to God with pressing needs, waiting for God to answer them.  Sometimes we do not get what we want right away; sometimes we have to wait.  We can listen to God's words in scripture to know his promises, and the sound of God's voice through the Spirit may calm us a while.  But we really have no idea what God is juggling.  I had my hands full with two children.  God holds all of creation in his hands as he seeks to tend and nurture it.  And you can bet that God desires to wipe every tear from our eyes too.

I have a new appreciation for God's love.  And an awe, really, for we know that all things work for good for those who love God.  The fact that every single believer can rest upon that promise, that God can juggle all of our lives for our good, is incredible.  I know how much I wanted to comfort my children and bring them back to health; we are children of a Heavenly Father who wants to bring us wholeness and blessing too.  I know how much I wanted my children to trust in my good care; we are children of a Heavenly Father who invites us to trust too.  My understanding of God's providence has grown, which allows me to rest more fully in the loving arms of God myself.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for your providential care.  Please deepen my trust in you.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, NRSV).

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I hope you enjoyed this encouragement from the archives.  Be sure to check back soon for a new and important article on bullying prevention.  I team up with a local guidance counselor to bring you valuable advice for empowering young children!  You can make sure you won't miss it by subscribing by email to my blog right on the homepage.  You'll get a professionally designed printable for doing so too!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

When the Clearest Way Forward Is Foggy


"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."  
- 1 Corinthians 13:12, New Living Translation

Blind trust in God is powerful.  Jesus applauded it.  When Thomas needed to see the crucified marks on his hands to know that he was the risen Lord, Jesus showed him.  But he added, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me"(John 20:29).

I've increasingly noticed the Christian life is fraught with paradoxes.  This is another one. How can we gain more power in life by recognizing our own limitations?  But that is precisely the case with faith.  When we recognize our own limitations, when we turn to God in trust and rely on his strength, we become far more than we could ever be otherwise.

Trust means that we may not be able to explain things in the moment.  Maybe your mirror is a puzzling reflection right now.  Paul knew that's often the case in life as he recorded the scripture above.  But scripture also holds promises for you.  Not only does Paul acknowledge that confusion is temporary, but Jesus himself uttered blessing for those who will trust with blind faith.

I love how Max Lucado attempts to explain this principle to children - I think there's a lesson in there for us too.  In his book Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids, he explains:

"Look out a window.  You can see clearly, right?  Now breathe on it so that the glass fogs up.  It's hard to see through the fog, but you know everything is still there.  When the fog melts away, you'll see clearly again.  It's the same with God.  Sometimes we must wait for the fog (our troubles) to melt away.  Then we can clearly see how God has been there the whole time."

As we go into the New Year, my prayer is that this message finds a home in your heart.  For those who are sitting in confusion and darkness, know that God is present with you through the fog.  Believe.  Trust.  One day you will look back and see how his light was a guiding force for you when you remain faithful.

For those who are called to make a step beyond their own understanding, recognize the incredible gift of our faith:  It is only through God that we can become all whom he has called us to be.  True strength lies in the chasm between our best effort and the further, glorious place where he wants us to be.  {Click to Tweet.}  It's not about your own strength or understanding.  Just take his hand and show up!

The quote above is from Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids (Nashville: Tommy Nelson, 2012), 309.

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Happy New Year, friends!  I am delighted to begin this new year in ministry with you.  As moms, we can be a conduit of blessings from God to our families!  If you are new to this blog, don't miss your chance to sign up to receive my posts via email.  You will receive a free printable and will not have to worry about lots of emails.  My plan is to blog every other week this year, so that I can be working on some *exciting* plans for you!

And did this post resonate with you?  Share your comments below.  In addition, you might also appreciate the posts Warning: Peaks AheadRisky BusinessWhat to Do in a Storm4 Life-Saving Lessons When Adversity Strikes and What I Learned from a Staircase.

Friday, December 19, 2014

WINNERS CHOSEN!!

The giveaway for Every Bitter Thing is Sweet is over!  It ended yesterday, and the computer chose two winners at random today.  Fabiola McDonald and Janet Young are the lucky winners!  Janet, I still need to hear back from you!  Thank you to all who registered - there were over fifty unique entries for Sara Hagerty's special book!

Have a lovely Christmas, everyone!  I am taking next week off from posting.  I pray we are all able to relish the unique joy this special season brings in the coming days...Sending love and warm wishes for Christ's light...


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet the Author of Your Next Free Book: Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty and her family

I am delighted to share my exclusive interview of Sara Hagerty, the author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.  She is a fellow mom and Christ seeker who has discovered the true meaning of these words:  "The satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet" (Proverbs 27:7).  If you missed my review of her book on Monday, click here to learn more about it.  Reading her book will reignite your faith; reading this interview will give you insight her life as a Christian mom.

Sara, you have four adopted children and one son by birth.  How do you stay connected with God while raising five children?  I'd love to hear how you protect and adapt your times for prayer, scripture, and adoration in daily living.  What does that look like for you - and do you have any tips that you can pass on?

I’m slowly learning that communing with God really can happen over dishes and laundry and in between reading books on the couch and refereeing children’s squabbles. As a recovering cynic – worst-case scenario thinker – I’ve found that I desperately need His Word to inform my thoughts and my conversation with Him. I have a lot of lies about who He is and “what I’m not” bouncing around in my head on any given day. Adoration – speaking God’s Word back to God, in my own language – up the stairs, and down, and out to the mailbox, and over laundry, has been a great entry point for talking over my heart with God. These tiny prayers (as I’ve heard them called before) have been a lifeline for me during my day.

Bedtime seems sacred in your book.  It's a time for snuggles and teaching your children about faith.  I like how you describe going through the alphabet and using each letter as a way to adore God.  Can you give us an example of a poignant time that you have seen this particular practice resonating with one or all of your children?

Just the other night as we were adoring “The One Who Directs My Heart” from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, my son prayed: “Jesus, thank you that you take us where we don’t want to go. Thank you that you have us do things other people don’t want to do.” I think it spoke more to me than maybe even to him at the moment – it felt like words too big for him – but I love how God is informing His understanding already, at seven.

That being said, we have nights like this maybe one out of four. We continue to show up – with our children – regardless of the words they say or the impact it seems to be making on their hearts. Yup, even on the nights they’re elbowing each other or falling into a giggle fit. I think God enjoys it all.

Your conviction that faith is the salve - and hope - for wounds is uplifting.  What has been the most effective way that you have presented that "salve" to your adopted children?  I am curious what avenue you've opened that you've witnessed God utilizing the most (journaling, family prayer, Sunday school, etc.) in light of their painful past.

At this stage, so much of their healing is seemingly passive. Most of my children don’t yet have the bandwidth for processing the history that brought them to us. In the meantime, we pray over them and for them. And we hug and hold and try and build a bridge of trust with the way we enjoy them -- that one day it will allow us to have the deeper conversations that introduce His fuller healing to their hearts.

You can discover more about Sara's compelling story by visiting her website or joining her in adoration on Instagram.  Don't forget to register for your chance to win a free copy of her book!  The contest ENDS tomorrow at 7 pm EST.  Either scroll to the bottom of this blog page or click here to register.

Can you name five scriptural promises to live by?  You can receive a *free printable* of those promises by subscribing by email to this blog!  You can do so on the top right hand corner of this blog page.