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Entries in Parenting (32)

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Tuesday
Feb072017

Love Notes

In this Valentine's Day and Parenting UPGRADE, Morgan Farr—a mom with young children who transitioned from feminism to biblical womanhood—encourages parents to share the true Source of love with their children through "love notes."

"Each day I strive to instill a good work ethic, teach self discipline, and most importantly, demonstrate godly character to my sons," Morgan says, "but it isn't always easy."

Like Morgan, I (Dawn) have two sons. I remember those challenging days when I wondered whether anything I taught and modeled was "getting through" to them. But I'm sure of one thing: they knew they were loved.

Morgan continues . . .

This Valentine's Day, I want my sons to learn more than just paper hearts and candy.

This year, I will write three love notes for my sons to read when they are older. These notes will help them to see what real love truly is as they deepen their understand the perfect love of God.

Today I want to share these notes with you.

First and most importantly, I want my boys to know that the Creator of the universe made them by hand.

"For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Long before I knew my boys where there, God knew. He formed each and every part of them, to His exact specifications.

Second, I want my boys to know that it is alright for them to stand strong.

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Many things in this world will try to pull them away from the work of God. Many things from this world will try to undercut and downplay their role as men of God.

I want them to know that they can stand firm in His unwavering love.

Third, I want my boys to know that once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are reborn with a commission—a great one, in fact.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fatger, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Christ has a calling for each of my son's lives. They may not have a garage gym ministry like my husband and I do. They may be mechanics, professors, senators or translators.

Whatever it is that they do on this earth, I want them to remember the real work to be done for the kingdom of God.

Charles Swindoll wrote:

"Each day of our lives, we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

These love notes are the deposits I am focusing on this month.

What love notes will you focus on with your family?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.

Tuesday
Oct182016

Equipping Our Next Generation's Women of Influence

Doreen Hanna loves little girls—and it shows. One of her passions is developing Christ-like character in their hearts. In this Parenting/Legacy UPGRADE, she describes some everyday ways to create a woman of influence.

Doreen says, "Moms, dads & some grandparents today are seeking to discover resources that will develop and strengthen Christ-like character qualities within the heart of their little girls—knowing they will be our next generation’s mothers, professional women in leadership, and women in ministry leaders!"

I (Dawn) wonder how often parents and grandparents think about the impact they are making on the next generation as they train and encourage little girls. I know I thought about "leadership" and "character" with my sons, and that's every bit as important with girls.

Doreen continues . . .

Developing Christ-like character in the heart of our little girls sometimes seems like an unending parenting project. I found that to be true when I was raising my two girls.

Just about the time I thought that we had achieved success in the development of telling the truth, I quickly found we then needed to work on tattling. Why?

Focusing on one character quality often exposes the lack of another. 

I believe that is God’s grace, because He does promise He would never give us more than we (parents) can bear. I read a great quote recently that has Biblical truth:

“Change in behavior begins with a change in heart.” 

“Above all else," Proverbs 4:23 says, "guard your heart, for everything you do (your behavior) flows from it.”

Here are a few suggestions to help encourage Christ-likeness in your little princess. She will one day grace society as a lovely Daughter of the King—a woman of influence, both in word and deed.

1. Model what you are seeking to develop in your daughter’s heart.

If you plan to focus on growing gentleness, look for opportunities where you can demonstrate it. 

Perhaps you are walking by neighbors' yard and their flowers are in full bloom. Take a moment to stop and admire them, gently touching one of them. Then encourage your daughter to do the same, affirming that flowers need to be touched gently. 

Or, maybe you have the opportunity visit a friend and see her new puppies. As you hold one of the pups stroking it gently, allow her to feel its soft fur and hear its precious little whimper. Then allow her to hold it gently. Affirm her sweet act of gentleness.

2. Talk about ways you could show kindness to others, together. 

With the Thanksgiving season approaching, how about taking a walk around the neighborhood and choosing homes where you would like to place a handwritten note at their door along with homemade cookies or a gift card.

The card might say, “During this Thanksgiving season, we’d like to say how grateful we are that you are our neighbors. Love from..." (add your daughter’s name and your family name).

And speaking of love...

3. Think of ways you can teach your daughter to demonstrate love to others.

A warm hug certainly affirms our love for others. It is good for our children to see their mom and dad expressing their love to each other by way of a wink of the eye, an extra squeeze, or a great kiss. 

That was a delight for me as a little girl. My dad never left our home without kissing my mom good-bye, or returning home and immediately giving her an “I’m home” kiss. I felt so secure, I didn’t even need a kiss from him. His kiss for her was enough, most often!  

Serving is another simple yet profound way to show love. Instead or you doing one of your routine acts of love for your husband, encourage your daughter to bring dad his favorite drink, as he sits down in his favorite chair after a long day at work.

Or if grandparents are living at home with you, help your daughter look for an opportunity to serve the elderly with sincerity. She might observe them quietly, and if they have forgotten something, your daughter  could quickly meet their need. Perhaps she could get their glasses left in another room, or a pair of slippers that would require several steps to the closet for them, while she could run and get them in an instant! 

Acts of love fill both the giver and the receiving with a moment of joy!

These are only three character qualities you could teach and model for your daughter to equip her to be a woman of influence.

Are you praying for ways to guide your little girl’s behavior? Are you trusting God to change her heart, to ultimately grow her into a lovely woman of influencea Daughter of the King?

Doreen Hanna is the Founder and President of Modern Day Princess Headquarters. Speaking and writing, she has empowered women and equipped their daughters for more than 35 years. Doreen enjoys her two daughters, four grandchildren and 88-year-old mother, presently living with her.  Traveling and visiting with friends over a cup of coffee are Doreen's favorite past-times. For more information about Modern Day Princess, visit here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Giuliamar for Pixabay.

Tuesday
Aug162016

Peggy Leslie's Legacy

My friend Peggy Leslie went home to heaven a few days ago. Since then, I've thought a lot about her legacy.

Yes, there were all the women who sat under her solid Bible teaching, and those who read her co-authored* mystery novels, and those who were blessed by her ministry in the church library. Her ministry in these and other places of service was sincere and deep, practical and always honoring Christ.

But Peggy's greatest legacy is in her children and grandchildren - those she and her beloved husband Gene (married 52 years) loved and taught so well. Most of all, I remember how Peggy loved to pray for every member in her family: her five grown children, the married children's spouses, and all her precious grandchildren. 

She told me once how she prayed for each child on a separate day. I remember being so convicted that I did not pray nearly enough for those I loved ... and that all changed for me because of Peggy's influence.

I am sharing this adapted version of a post she wrote for UPGRADE in April of 2015. (It's short and simple - but don't mistake how wise her words were!) I chose to run her words again to remind her family and friends what an extraordinary woman of God she was (and is).

As if they'll ever need reminding.

I love you, Peggy. I'm thankful for eternity.

I wonder if there will be "sweet tea" in heaven?

Dawn

“'Opposites' are supposed to be two different things. Right? So, how did I get five opposites in my five children?”

Our first three children were born in less than three years. Even before the first reached kindergarten, I observed that from the beginning each one, though in many ways like the others, was different from his or her siblings.

Karen, our firstborn, had a beautiful Sunshine Girl smile and could be very entertaining. Yet overall she was somewhat reserved, definitely not a chatterer.

Chuck, on the other hand, was one of those outgoing children who never met a stranger. We said he was “born talking.”

Scott was the observant one and the one most likely to share deep feelings. One day little Scottie came to me and said, “Mommy, I feel sad.” None of the others ever did that voluntarily.  

The differences continued as Kate (the sweet little “ham” and born teacher) and April (the sensitive musician) came along.

In the beginning I knew nothing about studies on temperaments, A-B-C-D “types,” or birth-order. But as I observed—and dealt with—each child’s idiosyncrasies, I concluded that to a point, each of my children was “born that way.” 

God had designed each one with a unique, inborn make-up that Gene and I needed to recognize.  

Here are a few things I learned along the way—some of which I wish I’d figured out sooner!

1. Pray, pray, PRAY to know how to “Train up your child in the way he should go . . . " (Proverbs 22:6)—which will usually be quite different from his siblings!

Gene and I have always prayed for our children, but for a long time in a kind of haphazard way, and usually individually. Many years ago, we came up with a plan.

We call it SPD—Special Prayer Day.

With seven in the family, each gets his or her own SPD. On that day, I usually contact that one by phone call, text or email and ask:

“Do you have any SPRs [Special Prayer Requests] today?”

I cannot count the number of blessings and answers and special moments that has brought to our family.  

Come up with you own plan. Just be sure to pray!

2. Observe each child so you’ll recognize differences and know the way that one should go.

3. Celebrate each one’s uniqueness.

Don’t try to force one into an area he’s not good at (sports, music, drama, etc.).

Don't expect, or try to make, one child like another one.

4. Encourage talents or skills God put there by providing ways to enhance them (sports sign-ups, music lessons, etc.).

5. Discipline when a child uses those talents and skills in inappropriate ways.

To me, those last two hints envelope the meaning of Ephesians 6:4b: ...bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

6. Pray. It bears repeating!

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her" (Provrbs 31:28).

* NOTE: Peggy Leslie and Donna Jeremiah co-authored and published two Christian mystery novels: Storm over Coronado and Intrigue in Coronado.

Thursday
Jul282016

Invest in Your Prime Relationships - Part 2

What are your "Prime Relationships"? In the last UPGRADE post, Dawn asked this question and said we can all invest more in our prime relationships. First we invest in our relationship with the Lord, and then we invest in ourselves (so we will be strong and ready to serve God).

There are three other priority relationships, and investments in each of them can make a huge difference in OUR lives - and in THEIRS!

[Note: for a more detailed version of this post with scriptures, see my other blog: Heart Choices Today.]

          Investment #3: INVEST in YOUR SPOUSE

If you are married, this is your prime relationship after your relationship with God. 

There are so many ways to invest in a spouse. Here are only a few:

1. Communicate Love and Appreciation.

2. Develop a Partnership.

  • Don't try to go it alone. You are "heirs of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7). 
  • Become friendly warriors together in the battle against temptation.
  • Seek the Lord together for His purposes in your home.
  • Ask, "How can I help?"

3. Value Gifts and Skills.

  • Discover your Partner's spiritual gifts
  • Notice your partner's skills. 
  • Help cultivate these gifts.
  • Appreciate and value your partner in public.

4. Fulfill Your Role.

  • Husbands can protect, provide for, lead with love and wisdom; respond in gentle, loving, kind and respectful ways to honor their wives; express appropriate public praise; and study their wives and help them become the women God purposed them to be.
  • Wives can support and encourage his leadership in the home; appreciate their work; manage their home well; show respect; trust God with her highest hopes for her man; and understand and appreciate her husband's God-given sexual needs.

          Investment #4: INVEST in YOUR CHILDREN

After your spouse, your children are the next priority investment—not the other way around.

1. Love Them Unconditionally.

  • Don't expect perfection. Your kids are going to mess up. They're kids!
  • Express your love privately and publicly.
  • Help them see the value of "family." 

2. Teach Them to Seek the Lord.

  • Help them see their need for the Lord.
  • Don't give answers too quickly. Challenge them to search the scripture.
  • Teach them how to pray.
  • Promote a godly legacy.

3. Discipline Wisely.

  • Distinguish between immaturity and defiance. 
  • Discipline quickly and wisely. 
  • Encourage proper respect.
  • Encourage growth and change.

4. Model Good Character.

  • Model behavior you want repeated. .
  • Reward good behavior.
  • Train them to be responsible.
  • Help them cultivate godly friendships.

5. Encourage Creative Growth.

  • Don't overschedule their lives.
  • Encourage their creativity.
  • Help them stretch.
  • Give them space to pursue their dreams.

          Investment #5: INVEST in YOUR FRIENDSHIPS

Good friends don't just happen. Friendship requires intentional investment.

1. Practice Committed Encouragement.

  • Be intentional.
  • Practice loyalty.
  • Be generous.
  • Build into their lives. .

2. Listen More and Better.

  • Listen to their heart.
  • Listen with compassion.
  • Ask questions. Seek to understand so you can encourage.

3. Challenge Greater Growth.

  • Go deeper, with purpose. If youi've developed the kind of friendship that can bear the weight of accountability, ask deeper questions that challenge your friend to greater growth.
  • Come alongside.
  • Pray for your friend regularly.

Can you apply any of these strategies to your own prime relationships? Which one would make the biggest difference today?

Note: There was a lot of territory covered in these two posts, and by all means, it does not cover everything that will encourage wise investments in your relationships. I encourage you to discover more as you "read the manual" for all relationships: the Word of God.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is contracted researcher for Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.