Wednesday, January 28, 2009
An atlas of the world...
Or simply a family photo album...
Reading is such great fun!
We've got some avid readers at our house, so we have to spread the books around a bit.
This bookshelf holds some of our favorite hardcover books.
This basket holds our weekly library books.
David made this little box to hold our weekly school library books.
And this one holds some of Yana's current reads.
These George MacDonald books are some of my favorites. David gave me one for every holiday the first few years that we were married.
These are probably David's favorite books. He got this set at Acres of Books, as well.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
1) The primary thing that I have found to be helpful is to always and only discipline in love. Our four older children know that the goal of life is to love God and to love others. If I discipline them out of anger or frustration, then I know (and they know) that this is not love. My motive is for them to grow in love. This can not be accomplished if I am irritated.
2) I know that sometimes I will fail in this goal (to discipline in love). Like my children, I also make mistakes. I am not a yeller (this is not really a virtue in me, just a personality trait), but I have spoken out of irritation towards my children. The solution?...Ask for their forgiveness. I let them know that no matter what they have done, it is not appropriate for me to discipline them out of anger.3) I believe that children thrive in an environment where they know what is expected of them. I expect first-time obedience from all of my children. I figure if they can obey on the count of three, they can obey on the count of one (or zero!). Children generally know what they can get away with, and will always go as far as they are allowed to go. That is why David and I train our children to obey the first time they are asked to do something.
By the way, this helps tremendously with the irritation factor. It's generally when a parent has to ask a child to do something multiple times that the parent gets frustrated. If there is a consequence for the child the first time he/she disobeys, it doesn't give the parent time to get frustrated.
4) With a young child, I try to remember to only tell them to do things that I know that they can understand (obviously this is particularly important with a child who does not know english). I also only tell them to do things that I can follow through with. For example, Grace understands "Please come to Mama." But, I only say this to her if I know that I have the time to follow through with a consequence if she does not come to me. If I don't follow through, she will simply learn that I don't really expect her to come when I say, "Come."
5) I also try to give lots of exuberant praise when a young child is first learning to obey (or even for an older child if I know that the particular issue of obedience is difficult for them). Children love to be swept up in your arms with lots of encouragement when they successfully come when you call. With simple issues of obedience, I always try to smile as I am correcting the child. That way they know that it is not a big deal or an issue of anger, but simply something that they must do.
Of course, occasionally it is appropriate to speak sternly. There have been times, however, that I have used this strategy too much. If used too frequently, children learn to only listen when they hear that stern voice, or they become anxious because the correction seems like such a big deal. I try to keep things light, unless the occasion calls for something a bit more serious.
6) Attitude, attitude, attitude. It's no good to have sulky obedience. This seems to be more of an issue for girls, but boys can certainly have bad attitudes at times, as well. Of course, we don't want our children to pretend to be happy, but at the same time, it is just as easy to learn to be happy about obedience as it is to be sulky about it. This is an area that we are still working on, but we have seen a lot of progress simply by not leaving an issue until everyone's attitude has genuinely changed.
7) We try to address only a couple of issues at one time, with any particular child. For example, we might be working on obedience issues with one child who needs help in that area, and issues of self-control and patience with another child. In other words, we do not try to address every area at once. We all have areas of immaturity (adults included), and none of us can work on every area at once. Therefore, David and I try to determine which areas are of primary importance for each of our children at that particular time.
Again, I'd love to hear what some of you do in the area of discipline. I know that I can always grow in my ability to love my children (and others) and I also know that many of you have a lot of wisdom to share. What has worked for you? What hasn't worked as well? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Jadon has his Cootie skills mastered.
What a couple of cutie-pies!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
1) Besides having daily time with the Lord, it is absolutely essential for me to have more extended times of prayer/study. As I've mentioned before, David and I trade off Fridays as prayer days. I love to walk and pray, and then make my way over to Panera to read/study and pray. What a gift this time is to me. I can pray over things that God has been revealing to me over the past couple of weeks, and really take the time to study and think about what He wants me to do in response to His voice. God, of course, is my true refreshment in all areas.
2) Similarly, I also need extended times with my sweet and wonderful husband. We have in depth conversations almost every day after the kids go to bed, but there is something special about having uninterupted time away from the house (and before I get too sleepy!). Since we have been home from China, we have only gone out on 2 dates and Grace has joined us for both of them. This is good and necessary for now, but it is only for a season. I know that the best thing for David's and my relationship is to have regular (at least twice a month) date nights.
This is something that I struggled with in the past. We have always tried to live simply so that we could give to others. I wasn't sure how paying a babysitter and going out to eat fit into simple living. Now, I realize that I was motivated out of guilt and not love. I understand now that it is necessary and good for David's and my relationship to have this time together. God is not short on resources. We have found that the more that we spend for love's sake (to be together or to give to others), the more that He gives to us to give in love again.
3) The third group of people that I must spend time with are sisters in the Lord. It is so good to have the encouragement, exhortation and love of godly sisters. At the moment, unfortunately, this is not occuring regularly. I am confident, however, that God will bring more godly women into my life who will be able to share their hearts and lives. I am asking Him for this, and I believe that He will answer my prayer.
What sorts of things do you do that refresh you for the task of parenting your children? I'd love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"The thoughtfulness of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was so great that they made Nazareth a privileged abode of the Most High." Mother Teresa
I love Mother Teresa. The thing that I probably appreciate about her the most is her willingness to love each person. It has been said by people who were with her, that she focused all of her attention on the person whom she was with at the time. She, herself, said "Every person is for me the only person in the world at that moment."
Then, there's her smile. From what I have heard, joy was always apparent in both she and the sisters who served along with her. That is the thing that drew people to them--the joy of the Lord.
This kind of love keeps us sane. Smiling at our children, enjoying our children, laughing at their silliness and applauding their growth in maturity keep us sane. The number one thing that can ruin a day for me is my own attitude. If I can't smile and truly enjoy my children, the day may as well be over before it starts.
Sometimes this is a discipline for me. I smile at my children, but do not feel cheerful. Sometimes, I have to make a special point to smile at one of them, because I am irritated by something childish that they have done. This, for me, is absolutely crucial in order for our relationships to stay strong. Smiling at them keeps things sane. It helps them to see and experience my love for them. And, it helps me to have a change of attitude.
One blog that I enjoy reading and that encourages me in this area is Tonya's blog over at www.thekissackfamily.blogspot.com Even though I have never met Tonya, it is always apparent to me that she truly enjoys her children. I am absolutely sure that she smiles at them A LOT. Go check it out and be encouraged. Then, smile at your own children (and your spouse!!). What a great way to keep things sane and show the joy and love of the Lord each day.