Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Holds Your Hands Up?

Last Sunday Rebekah and my niece, Ashley, ran a marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rebekah has run several halves but this was her first attempt to complete the 26.2 mile run. It was also the first time to actually put her body through that much distance. The training schedule builds up to 20 miles, but not the full amount until race day. I guess the thought process is either that if you run 26.2 miles in training you wouldn't actually show up on race day or if you are crazy enough to complete 20 miles in training you are sold out enough to see it through! There are several unknown factors in a run of this magnitude. Weather, course particulars, body reactions to the distance, and mental stamina, to name a few. My money was on Rebekah's mental stamina to conquer any problem she might encounter. She and Ashley both succeeded in crossing the finish line. Hooray, awesome job, I knew you could do it!!! But as in all challenges they both experienced tough moments. Rebekah began feeling some knee pain about the 19 mile marker and at the same time rounded a corner in the course where wind coming off the Arkansas river at 30 mph just added to her frustration. Juston had positioned himself to cheer her on and noticed she was struggling. To help her through this tough spot, he ran the next four miles in front of her to block the wind! Unlike Rebekah's rookie position, Ashley has run three previous marathons so experience was in her favor, right? Wrong! She fought feeling nauseated the whole run so no amount of history with marathons could benefit her. A bystander detected the signs of misery and started running with Ashley! She herself had someone rescue her in a race where it was obvious she was in trouble and pledged to pay it forward. She accompanied Ashley the remaining distance. After learning all the race details, I couldn't help but associate their situations with some events of my own. As time passes I become less independent and more dependent on others to help me with even the most simple tasks like cutting my food, spraying my cologne, opening my lipgloss, spraying my hair, or signing my name when I use my debit card. I have always invited help from family/friends when I could benefit from their experience or expertise. I am smart enough to position myself with the best to produce the best! But ALS places me in a category I never expected, not for many more years if ever. I remembered a situation with Moses after he had led the children of Israel out of Egypt away from the slavery Pharoah placed on them. But although they had experienced deliverance it didn't mean they had easy street ahead. In Exodus 17, they were in a situation of battle where Moses sent Joshua to lead the way while he positioned himself to support their efforts with the staff of God lifted high. As long as Moses maintained that posture, Joshuah and his men prevailed in battle. But as time passed and Moses became tired he lowered his staff/hands, and the enemy prevailed. Aaron and Hur had accompanied Moses to the top of the hill. Now here comes the the main point so don't miss it! Aaron and Hur saw that Moses had grown weary and placed him on a stone so he could rest while they held up his hands! They steadied Moses' hands upward until sundown and Joshua overwhelmed Amalek with the sword in battle. There are some great life lessons here. First, Moses didn't attempt to enter battle out of his own strength, but knew he needed to move with God's help. Secondly, he implored the right men to assist him. Third, he gave honor to God at the end of a successful battle. Obviosly we all will need help sometimes. Some more than others but still the reality exists. Who will you have holding up your hands when that time arises in your life? When your marriage is shaky, your child is struggling in school or with friends, your company downsized and you didn't make the cut, your parents' health requires more time than you want to give, you are disappointed with your own health or lack of what you consider success, or life in general isn't falling in place like you imagined. I cant buthink where I would be without constant willingness from family/friends to help in any way during this crisis in my life! Daily someone is holding up my hands as well as Jeff and our children. On this Thanksgiving Day I can't help but recognize and be thankful for the blessings relationship provides! It is a scary future with this disease, but praise God I trust we will not face it alone. Moses built an alter to signify the victory and named it, " the Lord is my banner. " May we all move forward in our life challenges with the support of others while honoring God through the process! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Puzzle Pieces of Parenting... Part Three

If you are checking out this post it means one of two things, either you read ideas tihat will contribute to your family so you are hoping to learn more or nothing applied to your family in the first post so your are looking for possible tips from this list! Either way, the investment you make in your family is the most imortant transaction you will ever make, second only to your salvation and choice of your lifetime partner. With our present economic status we are daily being fed information to grow our savings account and retirement fund, but do not be misled, feeding your family properly with love, attention, discipline, boundaries, fun, and vision for their future will reap greater rewards than any financial investment. You may need to devise a plan to live on less than you thought in the retirement phase of life but you only have one chance in your child's life to build the relationship you will treasure much much much more than money! Do you get my point that relationship is more valuable than money, property, travel, jewelry, art, persoal appearance/fitness or any other worldly possessions we aspire to have? Somehow it feels alright to deal with the reality of not accomplishing everything I thought I would have in life but only because I quickly learned nothing was more important than the well being of my children once I held each one in my arms and breathed the precious fragrance of a newborn! I was hooked for life! Please trust me, the relationship Jeff and I experience with our children means more than I can express. I guess that means it is time to complete this list!
26. One free day to miss school. To spend one on one time with each child I would surprise them by allowing them to stay home with me.
I would suggest that we clean out our drawers while we watched a movie for part of the day. Not only do you win brownie points but
you accomplish something that always needs doing! This is the kind of day that reminds you what you love about your child!
27. Spend the night company. Two things with this issue. Make it a standing rule that if your child asks in the presence of their friend it is
an automatic no! Secondly, remember how much fun it was to spend the night with a friend when you were a kid and say yes
sometimes! I would allow everyone to ask a friend on the same night sometimes and then it is easy to say "no" the next couple
of weeks. Amazingly, if everyone is content playing you and your spouse might sneak in a movie!
28. First birthday sleepover. Get ready because they are going ask for his way too early. The last thing you want is a group of tearful kids
that want to go home at midnight. Take a stand that everyone can have their first sleepover when they are 10. Yes they will complain
but stand firm. Anticipation is a good thing! Refer back to the suggestion not to be effected by eye rolling and sighing!
29. The dreaded, " why can't I, everybody else is!" Some things are timeless and this is one of them! Countless times we said, " we don't
make decisions for you or our family based on what everyone else is doing.". ( or wearing, watching, listening to, etc...)
30. Extra activities. So fun to watch your child participate, respond to other adults, and develop natural abilities. Just don't overload
your child or yourself. You can only drive so many carpools or incorporate so many events and stay sane!
31. Snow days! For those of us in the south this is a big event! To help get the most fun out of this rare occasion collect snow boots and
gloves at the end of the season sale or at garage sales. Keep a bin full of all sizes to pass around. ( i remember one time Joseph
wore pink boots but who cares when there is snow! ). Allow your kids to play as long as they want and don't worry about the snow
getting tracked in. It wipes up just fine. Keep hot chocolate ready to drink while their clothes are drying for round two outside.
Purchase a Coleman gas stove for the times your electricity goes out so you can take advantage of the fun day.
32. If you have room put two swingsets or other play equipment in the back yard to keep kids/friends occupied outside. Keep cheap
Popsicles in the freezer at all times!
33. Tape bubble bottles to a slat on the deck or some convenient place outside to prevent spilling the whole bottle in the first five
minutes after you get home from the store!
34. Cutout cookies to decorate with icing and sprinkles is so fun! To make it more fun for everyone use a cheap plastic tablecloth so all
the spills won't freak you out! They won't look like the ones on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens but they will taste good.
35 Help makes forts, they are fun and free!
36. Allow your kids to be loud inside if they are having fun together.
37. Take an active role in your child's PTA. Volunteer to chair or cochair an event to maintain a strong presence. Make it easy on yourself,
choose something early in the school year or something that is naturally easy for you.
38. Be room mom while your child is in elementary school. They will progress to middle school so you wont have to do it for ever!
39. Chaperone as many field trips as possible. It's a great ego booster for you and your child. Every child will want to be near you and
hold your hand. It guarantees you that the next trip to the school you will receive multiple hand waves and your name
name whispered out loud!
40. Eat lunch with your child at school and hit the playground while you are there!
41. Get to know some of the parents in your child's class. It helps you enjoy school functions more.
42. Say " yes " sometimes when you want to say " no," and they know it.
43. Develop certain rituals around bath or bed time that make it fun and helps get the job done quicker. Jeff started the 7 minute rule which
made everyone squeal and run to the bathroom to brush their teeth then jump in bed for story time.
44. Set up a system for the car so that everyone gets to ride in the front on a weekly basis. This provides less arguing and dashing to
the car.
45. Never say shut up. Choose a phrase like, be quiet please or use your inside voice. You need to model good manners if you
expect them to have good manners.
46. Everyone should take their dishes to the sink and assign each child a night for KP, setting the table or filling the glasses. This is
obviously an age appropriate chore.
47. Allow your child to be involved with you on some level of helping others. If they grow up with this type of activity being a normal
thing they will likely carry that practice into their adult life.
48. Invite your child to help you cook sometimes even if you don't want to. Any mess they make can be cleaned up and the one on
one time is valuable. Look for ways to teach life skills in everyday activities.
49. Take a stand about what age is appropriate for things like piercing ears, shaving legs, calling or texting the
opposite sex, having a cell phone. ( Cmon, get ready and stand firm! Kids not driving don't need a cell phone! ) movies, music,
talking back, degrees of messiness that is acceptable, Facebook, car dating, ..etc. ( who decided 16 was the appropriate age
to date and drive anyway! )
50. Two things that should NEVER be allowed in a child's bedroom are...the opposite sex and a computer. Some things should always
be in plain view. If you tend to disagree with this one, just think back on your behavior as a kid!
51. Say yes as often as you can without compromising things you determined you wouldn't allow. As an adult I like to go places and have
fun and our kids feel the same way.
52. Fathers, take your daughters on dates. Take your wife on dates so your kids will learn that you value your relationship with their
mom. We tend to spend time, money, and energy on the things we value the most.
53. Celebrate life landmarks with some type of ceremony. If you aren't good at this kind of thing get someone to help you that is. It is
a reference point for you and your child that both of you will always remember.
54. Commit to spending money on food with your teenagers. If you provide food they will come! You can learn a lot of good things
about your child and their friends around the table.
55. Allow some Christmas ornaments to stay on the tree where your children place them. This is a big challenge for some of us!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Puzzle Pieces of Parenting...Part Two

We just ended a wonderful family weekend together. As Jeff and I are relaxing in the quiet it seems like the perfect time for me to begin sharing ideas I think helped to shape our family. Understand, we by no means believe we handled every situation correctly. In fact part of our discussion/laughter throughout the weekend was reflective of certain instances with each child when arguing/disobedience/reaction to discipline occurred. But I must say I truly like my kids! I really liked each stage of their growing up. Each stage poses specific levels of challenge but specific levels of joy as well. To help through the journey it seems that one child may be on auto pilot while another is causing you to regroup on a daily basis! ( that is a nice way of expressing the need to scream, pull your hair out, or hope they get on the wrong bus and end up in someone else's house for the afternoon! ) Think of it like a scale. The goal is a balance and arranging your efforts will create what you and your child needs. One of my favorite life words is "normal." How do I get to that normal place? I can do normal! Everything doesn't have to be perfect, " normal " will do just fine! The list of ideas will not be in any specific order, they just popped into my head in my brainstorming session with myself. You can shuffle them around or recreate them in a way that will better fit your child/family. I hope to challenge you in a way that revs your parenting engine! This can be a fun ride with some bumps or chug holes along the way but staying the course and keeping your engine finely tuned will provide a more successful outcome for you and your children!

1. Allow and promote open communication. If you are going to be at fault let it be on the over communication side. Create an environment
where your children are not afraid to tell you what is going on with them. This also means you must stop and listen or you will give the
appearance that what you are doing is more important than what they want to tell you.
2. Answer each question as honestly as is age appropriate to establish your interest and availability and to reinforce that the lines of
communication are always open.
3. Practice keeping your eyebrows down for the times your child tells you what they heard on the playground or asks you questions you
prayed they never would! Eyebrows up are a guarantee they have set off your alarm and they will be less prone to come to you in
the future.
4. As parents, do not argue with your spouse in front of the child about decisions concerning that child. If you are unsure how you should
handle the situation, just say you need time to think about it. Don't let your child create a wedge between you as parents.
Work together to keep a firm and united appearance on the home front! If you are a single parent you need time to know how
making a certain decision will effect you and your child. Ask a close friend or family member you respect to talk through the
situation with you so you feel more confident about your decision when you approach your child.
5. Commit when your child is a toddler that it is a priority to teach them to respond and obey. This is no easy task but the sooner this is in
place the smoother every day will be for you and your child. Children will respond to boundaries but you must commit to enforcing the
boundaries so you aren't sending mixed messages. Don't tell them to do or not to do something if you don't plan to follow up. This is a
sure fire way to let them know you don't really mean what you say. If you are not in the mood to follow through, let it pass. Try to be in
the mood to enforce the desired behavior more often than not!
6. It is a good thing for your child to have a healthy fear of you. This will help confirm the boundaries you have set. You can't and shouldn't
try to reason with a toddler, preteen, or even a teen for that matter about everything. Your words should initiate a response toward
obedience. Of course there will be times when discussion takes place regarding certain situations but you can't reason with a toddler and
and shouldn't set the precedent that everything is up for discussion. Make your expectations clear and enforce them. It is not your goal to
be your child's friend. There will come a time when your relationship will reflect certain images of friendship and it is a great thing but it
occurs way down the road!
7. Truly live/model God first, spouse second, children third, family/friends fourth. Verbally teach the order of relationship and make it part of
your prayers for them that they will apply this order in their adult lives.
8. Hug and kiss your spouse appropriately in the presence of your children. This will give them a sense of security even though they
will exclaim, " ooh dad, get a room!" It also teaches them how to interact with their spouse should they choose to marry in the future
9. Say I love you everyday.
10. Hug and kiss your child even when act like they don't you to. Not in a public way that would embarrass them, of course. You never
want that type of interaction to feel awkward so if you never stop it never will.
11. Avoid being effected by eye rolling and sighing from your child when they disagree with you. They will use this tactic
so be prepared!
12. Enforce the practice of making your children call their siblings by name, not by how they feel in the heat of battle!
13. Ask questions you really want to know the answers to and avoid asking too many that are unnecessary. This involves thinking
and discipline on your part.
14. Laugh as much as you can together!
15. Surprise your child occasionally with a treat. This means you cannot buy them something every trip to the store.
16. Let your child feel the pleasure of giving to others by asking them to choose a good toy to give away.
17. Live by the philosophy of saving some things for when your child is older, pace yourself. If you do everything too early you may get
yourself in an expensive situation. It shouldn't be your goal to keep up with everyone else.
18. Have home birthday parties as long and as much as you can. Celebrations don't have to cost a fortune and especially younger children
are thrilled with cake, ice-cream, and friends.
19. Invite families/friends for meals at home. The dynamic is different than at a restaurant.
20. Allow your house to be a gathering place for adults and children. This is a lost art so help bring it back!
21. Pray daily as a family before meals you eat together. Yes this means in a restaurant! This doesn't have to be limited to mom and dad.
Allowing your children to pray not only provides you the blessing of hearing their sweet voices and thoughts but will assist their
comfort zone to pray out loud in front of others. Just choose one family member per meal. It's a good idea to hold hands as well
to provide your children the opportunity to touch their sibling in a peaceful way. They won't like it at first but so what!
22. Clutter Cleanup. Set the timer on the oven for 10 minutes and have everyone pick up their things and put them away. It's amazing
how much neater your house can become in a short time!
23. Sunday Lunch Choice. Initiate a system where each family member gets to choose which restaurant. This will drastically improve
the time it takes to come to an agreement, plus everyone complains less since they will have a turn at some point.
24. When planning a big grocery shopping run, ask family members what they would like to eat at the evening meal. This will cut down
on time deciding what to have and ensures everyone gets their favorite dish. You can also have each person help in the meal
prep. By doing this you get some one on one time with your child plus you will be teaching a lifeskill as well. ( Taken from
Multitasking for Moms, 101! )
25. Indoor Picnics. For fun spread a quilt on the den floor and eat together like you would do at the park. This is especially fun for
younger children.