Monthly Archives: October 2015

Fear of Dogs


I am a lover of dogs.  We have been dog owners for most of our lives.  At this moment in our lives we are not.  We are the proud grandparents of  3 granddogs!   I adore them.  One of the dogs is a puppy that I want to bring home and call my own.  My entire family knows that I long to have a golden retriever. I have been begging for one for months.   You might wonder why I have a hankering for such a big dog.  Well…here’s the story.

Twenty-some years ago my family lived in Louisville, Kentucky.   My husband was pastoring 2 churches in rural Indiana.  One afternoon we were having a leisurely lunch at a parishoner’s home.  The boys were in the yard playing with the family’s children.  Suddenly our older son came dashing into the house in great distress to inform us that our younger son had been attacked by the family’s dog.  It was a severe dog bite.  We had to be transported to the Louisville Children’s Hospital which was an hour away, where an extraordinary plastic surgeon did a miraculous job on our son.

The event was horrific!.  Our son had been reaching down to pet the dog and the animal attacked him.   We were a family with 2 dogs and a cat and our kids knew to stay away from strange dogs, but this was a family dog in the back yard.  It was confusing and hard to fathom.  For a while I hated dogs.  I was angry, and hurt.  Our son was traumatized by the entire incident.    Not only was the bite difficult, but going to school and having to explain about being bit on the face and about all of his stitches was tough.  We had only lived in Louisville for a less than a year, and so he hadn’t had time to make a lot of friends.  Some of the kids in his class were not very encouraging and would embarrass him by making unkind comments.  It was rough going for a while.

One overcast day our son came home from school with a companion.  I was quite taken aback by this huge, hairy creature, who looked as big as a lion, yet his big brown eyes and wagging tail showed me he was as gentle as a teddy bear.   Our son began retelling the scenario of what had happened.  He had gotten off of the school bus. There was a huge golden retriever waiting at the bus stop.   As be began to walk home, the dog followed him home.  Our son immediately fell in love with the dog.  The golden retriever was the epitome of love and kindness, as docile as could be.  But, we knew that he had to belong to someone, even though he had no tags.  We searched and searched for his owner, but could not find him, so we decided to keep the dog.  Our son named him, Ralph.  Ralph was our healing angel from the Lord.  The Lord sent Ralph to bring healing to our son and to me from the shadows of fear and pain to the light of God’s amazing grace.

Sometimes we go through a painful situation and because it is so difficult we feel as if God has forgotten us.  Remember that He never promised us that living in this world would be easy.  In fact, He said the opposite.  He said that in this world we would have tribulations, but to take courage, for He has overcome the world.  He would be with us through every storm.  He would be there to encourage us, to strengthen us, to guide us, to counsel us, to help us in every way, to even carry us when we can’t take another step.  For our son, He sent an angel dog when the going got rough.

“I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  states Isaiah 49:16

Now it is important to have boundaries with strange dogs.  Here are some resources that you may have interest in:

How to Conquer Your Fear of Dogs

Seven Ways to Encourage a Child Not to Fear Dogs

Canine Concerns – How to Help Children Who Fear Dogs

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

 

Halloween- Is it a Trick or a Treat for you?


HALLOWEEN!  A holiday filled with controversy for many.  People’s attitudes towards Halloween are diverse. Many different religions have varying beliefs about how to celebrate the holiday.  Some groups participate by following the traditional Halloween customs.  Others don’t participate at all.  Some people are concerned about the holiday because they believe that it celebrates the occult and other practices that are incompatible with their beliefs.  Some churches have “Fall Festivals” as a way of having their celebration.

Nevertheless, Halloween is a big day for children.  As a teacher for the past 25 years, I was surprised to find that the holiday ranked as the number one spot in a lot of children’s hearts.  Wonder why that is?  Do you have any guesses?  I do!  Let me list a few reasons why I think that Halloween is so important to our kids.

  • Kids love to dress up in costumes
  • Kids love to play pretend
  • Kids love to receive attention, love
  • Kids love to receive a gift-candy
  • Kids love to go out with their family and friends
  • Kids love to have a present that seemingly lasts forever- candy

At my house we have a costume area where I have a plethora of outfits and hats that my grandkids can get all dressed-up in when they are visiting.  It is one of their favorite places to go and get all dolled up as a lovely princess or fit as a fiddle as a Super Hero.  They enjoy pretending that they are princesses in distress, who are in dire need of a Super Hero to free them from their plight.  Girls love to dress up and be beautiful and charming and boys long to be strong and courageous as a Super Hero.

All kids benefit from this kind of play.  When a child is in a costume the child can often act out brave patterns that the child may not be able to exude in his normal life.  For instance, if your child has on a dragon costume and he is being brave and saving others from an evil force, he is acting strong and courageous with his costume on.  His costume makes him feel heroic and strong as he saves the others.  You can applaud him for being so powerful and gallant, pointing out those behaviors that he exuded in his play.

The point I am trying to make is that when your children are playing dress-up and pretend play, then you, as the mom can go and observe their play.  When you perceive that one of your children is displaying a character trait of behavior that you are proud of, or that you want to encourage, then give that child verbal praise.

Another one of the bullets about Halloween was that kids love to receive love and attention.  Being a classroom teacher, as I have said, I have gone through 25 years of Halloween parties.  The kids have brought their costumes to school and when it was party time they would go and get dressed up, a few at a time, as the rest of the class was working  on an activity.  As each child would scramble back to the room with his or her costume on, the child’s face was radiant, just waiting for the rest of the class to see this precious costume, and anticipating their reaction.  I can still hear the “OOh’s” and “Ah’s”. Then we would go on our Halloween parade around the school playground and all the parents would be there.  We would literally walk past every grade so that everyone in the entire school could view everyone’s costumes.  It was a “Movie Moment”.  There would be cameras snapping continuously.  The kids felt like they were in Hollywood!  Talk about feeling special!!!

The next bullet was that kids love to receive gifts.  This one is a no-brainer, isn’t it?  What child doesn’t like a gift?  Giving a child a Trick or Treat bag is like giving him a bucket of gold, when he figures out he can go up to a door and say “Trick or Treat” and get candy!!!  Gift, after gift, after gift, all night long, until the child’s bag is filled to the brim or he is plain tuckered out.

At this point I want to step back into the past for a moment.  Years ago, it was 1978 when my first son was 7 months old and he was getting ready to celebrate his first Halloween.  He was standing in front of the storm door of our house looking outside at some of the trick-or treaters who had already begun trick- or- treating.  Suddenly a car drove by and I heard the glass shatter on our door and my son cry out and slump down to the floor.  I rushed over to him and saw that there had been a bee-bee gun that had been shot at our son standing in the doorway.  Praise God, it had missed him!  I immediately called the police, but they were unable to apprehend the shooter.  I was mortified!  Who would do such a thing?  We lived in a nice, safe neighborhood.  How could this happen?  This was also during the time period when the news was informing us that all candy and fruit needed to be checked because razor blades had been found in some items previously.  At that point in my life, I decided that I hated Halloween.  It definitely seemed to bring out the evil in some people.

What got me from the point where I was in 1978 to where I am now?  It was the fact that God was with us then in 1978.  God literally prevented the pellet from hitting my baby.  He protected my child.  He was with us, in spite of the evil intent.  He has been with me and my son everyday since that time, and that has made all of the difference in my life.

GOD WITH US- “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, GOD WITH US ” . Matt. 1:23  

Kids love to be with their family and friends at Halloween.  They love to go “Trick-or-treating” with those who are special to them.  So, take time to be with your kids and loved ones on Halloween.  No matter how you feel about the holiday- be with those you love and give love to them.  Isn’t that the most important quality that we want to display in our lives anyway?  Love.

Now- the gift that seemingly goes on forever- the CANDY!

Here are several ideas I’ve heard:

  • First of all check all of your candy.
  • If anyone is allergic to any items throw those away.
  • Collect everyone’s candy and put it in a huge jar and then kids can choose candy out of the jar as a snack or dessert, with monitoring from parents.
  • Each child puts candy in a jar with their name on it. Jars stay in kitchen and kids choose candy out of jar as a snack or dessert -with monitoring from parents.
  • Let kids eat from their bags Halloween night and next day and then do the jars.
  • Eat from Halloween bags over the weekend and then give rest of candy to parents to give to children in need for Christmas.  The kids were given to and now they would have a chance to give to someone in return.

Actually, we, as adults, know that candy doesn’t go on forever, and the kids know it, too.  But, you can express to your kids that there is the most wonderful gift of all that will last forever and ever.  That is the gift of JESUS. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  You can convey to your kids that when they believe in Jesus and accept Him as their savior for the sins that they have committed, that He will forgive them of their sins and come and live in their hearts and they will be promised that they will live eternally with Him in heaven forever.

As a closing point, save your Halloween costumes and construct a dress-up and pretend center in your home for play, if you don’t have one already.  You can read stories with your kids and then your kids can play act the stories you have read.  You can do this with stories in the Bible, as well.  You can fashion your own costumes with cardboard and foil.  Be creative!

Here are some resources that may be helpful to you.

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

Dress Up Clothes

Scriptures for Halloween

Help for Kids Who Are Afraid of Halloween

Fearlessness


If you have been reading my posts, last week’s topic focused on the perception of fear, a subject that I could readily relate to.  How many of you have had a child who was the opposite- fearless?  That is another “fish to fry”!!  My goodness,  as a parent, you don’t want your children to be afraid, but at the same time you don’t want your child so unaware of any danger that the child plunges in head-first and is injured.

Here am I, the Queen of Fears, giving birth to my first child, who was the King of Fearlessness!  Go figure!  How in the world does that work out? Do the math, it just doesn’t compute!  Yet, in God’s plan it does!

My first child was a child born from prayer.  I had been trying to conceive for years.  The doctor had stoically told me that I would not be able to have children.  His words caused me great pain and agony.  My greatest desire in life had been to be a mother.  I had prayed, prayed, and prayed some more.  I was a member of a prayer group that had prayed with me about this situation.  I constantly read a plethora of books about prayer.  My favorite author at that time was Catherine Marshall. She had written about the Prayer of Relinquishment.  She had been bed-ridden for a year with tuberculosis.  After praying for healing for a year, she finally threw up her hands to the Lord and prayed “Lord if it is your will for me to be sick on this bed for the rest of my life, I will agree to it.  I give my will to yours.  You make the decision for me.  I leave it in your hands.”  She called this prayer “The Prayer of Relinquishment”, where she gave her will, her desires, up to God and let Him make the final decision.

So, in following Catherine’s model, I finally gave my hopes, and dreams of being a mother up to God and told Him that I was leaving it all in His hands.   If He didn’t want me to be a mother I wouldn’t be, but I asked Him to take the desire away from me, if that was to be the case.   It was the most difficult prayer that I have ever prayed.

A few weeks later was Mother’s Day.  One of my prayer group buddies sidled up to me at church with a bunch of pink roses clutched in her hands.  She handed me the lovely bouquet of delicate rose buds.  There were 3 light pink rose buds surrounding a 4th bud in the middle.  She leaned over to me with tears in her eyes.   She whispered that God had revealed to her that morning in her quiet time to go out to her garden.  She was to pick the  specific roses and give them to me as His promise that I would be a mother on the next Mother’s Day.  How ecstatic I was!

God was true to His promise; I was a mother that next Mother’s Day!  When my son was born I gave him to God, as Hannah did in the Bible.  I knew that he was not my own, but that He was Gods.  He was truly a gift from God.  Therefore, when he was born as a fearless child, I knew that fearlessness was a special quality that the Lord had given him for His purposes. Hence, I had to learn how to deal with it, no matter if I was the Queen of Fearfulness or not.  Funny thing, dealing with fearlessness helped me deal with my fearfulness.  Interesting how that worked!

As my son would want to run into the water at the beach or jump in the pool, I had to teach boundaries and limits.   He was always ready to go to the farthest extent of the boundaries and limits.  I had no idea what that was like, growing up as a compliant little girl, who was afraid to put her toe in the water.  But, I found out quick enough.  I was off into a new life of adventure, one that I had never even contemplated.  You see I had this nice little picturesque image of what motherhood was going to be like.  Yet, God changed my vision and gave me an exciting new vision.  A fearless older son, who taught his younger brother how to be fearless, as well.  I think that my boys probably participated in every sport available to them, except wrestling.  (They had enough experience with that at home!) They did all the others.  We were at the pool, the gym, the baseball field, football field, lacrosse field, and track, and then at Young Life and church.  Life was packed to the brim with constant activity.  So, I had to have a new way of looking at life and risk.  My boys certainly didn’t sit quietly at home.  We had many visits to the ER with injuries.  This seemed par for the course for a mom of two active boys.  I learned about a whole new side of life that I had never experienced- athletics, taking risks, working on teams, and the logistics of being on a team. I saw how being on a team helped my sons learn how to work with other people and how to get along with others.  They learned sportsmanship, how to be a good winner, and a good loser, how to be a good leader, and a good follower, how to follow the rules of the game, how to listen and follow directions, how to have good physical fitness, and how working hard and putting in practice hours paid back a good benefit.  They also learned that often the game and the other team and the umps were not fair.  Life is not fair. That is a hard lesson to learn, but it is true.  The apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 12-13 states, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

When my older son was the quarterback of the football team in high school I used to go and walk around the track of the field before the game and pray for him and for the guys on the team, that none of them would be seriously hurt.  I would pray  Joshua 1:9  “Be strong and take courage.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go before you and He will be with you wherever you go.”  I’ll never forget going to one field to pray when it was the school’s Homecoming game.  The school had crafted papier-mache tombstones and placed them around the field with all of our high school player’s names on them.  When I saw my son’s name I almost choked and began sobbing. I have never been so struck by the ruthlessness of competition.  I was crushed, demoralized.  Part of me yearned to prevent him from playing the next day, yet in my spirit I knew that I dare not say a word.   I was convinced that my job was to pray as fervently as possible for his well-being and for the team’s safety.  It was also obvious that prayer was necessary for the team’s mentality when they saw the tombstones as they marched into the stadium.  I prayed that it would affect them differently than it affected me. My prayer was that when the tombstones were revealed that they would become fearless warriors.

My older son has continued a life of fearlessness.  He has persevered through many trials, and he has not given up.  He has been called by the Lord to be a pastor and an evangelist.   He has made following Jesus his number one priority, even when it hasn’t been easy.  I am so proud of him and his commitment to sharing his faith with the lost;  being a trailblazer who is making a difference in this world.

Below is the name of a book that was recommended to me as a good one to read, citing the importance of having the emotion of fear in our lives.  Fear does have a purpose.  It does protect us from stepping out of the boundaries that we should not cross.  It is a healthy kind of fear to keep us safe.  God has placed within us a discernment of knowing what is right and what is wrong.  He desires to grow that discernment as to aid us in making wise decisions throughout our lives.  In Psalm 34:4 David states;  “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”  I know that the Lord has rescued me from my fears.

The Gift of Fear

Helping Your Child Take Risks

Fearless Child

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

How Do You Handle This Emotion Called FEAR ?


Yikes! This is not an emotion that we like to talk about, yet it is one that we all experience.  In this month of October, as we near the end of the month and the holiday of Halloween, the topic of “fear” tends to come up.  So, I thought I’d jump right on in and address the topic.

In July, while I was babysitting  five of my grandchildren, one of the girls started crying and was afraid.  This all occurred at bedtime, as I was tucking two of my little darlings in.  I lingered by their bed-side and listened as the one darling explained to me the things that she was afraid of:  being away from Mommy and Daddy, being in the dark, and not sleeping in her own bedroom. Then I chatted with the girls about fear.  The most important thing that I wanted to impart  was that God was with them wherever they were; even at Nana and Poppy’s house, even in a different bedroom, and even in the dark.  I wanted them to know that God was with their Mom and Dad, as well, because I knew they were missing their parents. Then we prayed that God would be with them as they were sleeping, and that He would help them not be afraid.  As we prayed, I could sense God’s presence overcoming the fear and the tension in their bodies, so that after our prayer time they felt much better and went right to sleep.

Well, the very next day I had all of my wonderful grandchildren to myself.  We had a bright and cheery morning; playing games, drawing pictures, and playing with play doh.  We had a tea party for our snack.  Poppy came home for lunch to check on me.  He wanted to make sure that I was doing o.k. since I had recently had my 3rd hip surgery, and 2nd hip replacement.  I continued to have hip restrictions due to having my hip coming out of its socket in April.  The grandkids knew that Nana couldn’t bend very well or get on the floor.  They were so fantastic in helping me, yet I still had five children under the age of 7.

In the afternoon around 4:00 I decided to lie down on the couch for 10 minutes to rest while my two youngest were still napping.  When I tried to get up my hip came out of its socket. Excruciating pain!!  What was I to do? I rolled off of the couch onto the floor, hoping that I was mistaken and hoping that when I hit the floor that I would be able to move my leg into place.  No such luck!!  I couldn’t move my body at all. “What time I am afraid I will trust in you.” God’s own words were coming back to me at my time of need.  Just what I had been telling the girls last night when they were afraid- trust in God 

My greatest fear at the time was that my grandkids would be afraid when they saw me in this condition; when they saw Nana in distress and pain. My dilemma right now was that my husband was not at home and I didn’t have my cell phone with me.  It was charging on the kitchen counter.  Thankfully, when I called out to my two oldest grandkids, and they retrieved the phone for me to call my husband, they were not rattled at all.   My husband and friends sped over to care for me.  They scooted the kids down to the basement, as 911 was called and the paramedics rushed to the scene.  A fire truck arrived in the next few moments.  With both paramedics and firefighters involved, the men lifted up my twisted body upon the rolling stretcher and hauled me aboard the ambulance.  The grandkids came upstairs just in time to see the firetruck which thrilled them, but not to witness any of Nana’s pain as I was lifted and moved.  My paramedics were so gracious, traveling as slowly as they could, because every bump in the road jarred my body and brought on another spasm of pain.  I finally arrived at the hospital, and after a grueling 11 hours I finally had my hip set back in place.

Interestingly enough, the next day when I gathered the children together, they were fine.  They didn’t seem to have been frightened by the experience at all!  I had the opportunity of telling them that God had taken care of them in a scary situation by sending friends who took care of them in the basement while Nana was being taken care of by the paramedics. I pointed out that God was also taking care of me by the paramedics, and by the kids getting me the phone.  We talked about how good God was in helping us when we were afraid.

Fear plagued me as a child.  I was a shy, introverted little girl, who was afraid of her own shadow.  I would just bottle up those feelings and keep them stuffed down inside.  I used to have nightmares, and as a result of that I began having insomnia.  Not a good thing to have to be dealing with.   A friend helped me use my favorite scripture that I had memorized to help me overcome my fears at night.  Praise God it worked!  Praying the 23rd Psalm over and over again when I was afraid would cause my fears to subside.

 Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God was so good to me.  Later I found that there were times that the dark shadows made me fearful.  The wonderful thing that happened was that as I had been praying and giving my fears to the Lord, He showed me the windows in my room and the places where the wood crosses in the window pane looked  like a cross.  When I saw the shadows, God would remind me of the window panes and the cross.  The cross and Jesus.  Jesus was there with me.  God was giving me something visual to see when I was afraid.  I have to say that He took away my fears.  Praise the Lord!  He will help you and your child with fear issues, as well.

When I had my own family and my sons had issues with fears, we always talked about how God was with us and prayed for His presence to be with them in the room.  I bought cross night-lights to remind them that Jesus was there with them.  That gave them great comfort.  I would also read to them Bible stories where they learned about God and His love and power.  The boys loved the stories and often read and reread the books until they fell asleep. We also memorized simple Bible verses about fear, such as:

Genesis 26:24  “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

These were simple verses for little ones to memorize and recall at times of fearfulness.

Items that are now available that can be useful for children with fears at night are sound machines.  These machines will keep out other noises that can be scary and give a constant sound that helps kids sleep more soundly.  They come in various models, from just the machine, to now coming in stuffed animals that the children can hold in their beds.  My grandchildren have loved these.  There are also machines that are toys that shine a pattern of lights on the ceiling.  It is a form of a nightlight.  I bought one for my grandson and he loved it!

Here are several links about fear that you may find beneficial.

http://get-your-baby-to-sleep.com/soothers-and-sound-machines/

https://chrysalishouseinc.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/doodle-therapy-a-worry-box/

http://www.p31bookstore.com/products/it-will-be-okay-trusting-god-through-fear-and-change

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

Taking the Challenge


Hello, dear friends.  All week-long I have wondered how many of my readers have taken the challenge to “choose love”.   I know that some of you might have thought that I was nuts when you first began reading the words on my post, but as the words really sunk in, I hope that the lightbulb of truth turned on.  That is what happened to me as I read Rachel Macy Stafford’s words.

As a mother and an educator I became an excellent multi-tasker.  In the classroom I would be teaching a lesson, while at the same time I’d be noticing that Johnny’s fingers were stealthily creeping towards the curly tendrils of Sally’s springy hair and Susie was rummaging in her messy desk when she was supposed to be listening.  I would know that in 5 minutes I had to have my lesson finished because I had to begin my social studies lesson and have 5 kids ready for the ESOL teacher to pick up. My kids even thought that I had eyes in the back of my head because I knew when Timmy wasn’t working and called him out on it.  This was not just multi-tasking, but multi-thinking.  It’s the same for a mom at home with her kids as she is helping each of them with their homework as she is putting in a load of laundry, fixing dinner, and changing baby’s diaper, and talking to a repair man on the phone.  Women have been created to have minds that multi-think and multi-task to help them keep up with their different tasks and their children.

I am a person who likes to have things planned and organized.  I work better that way.  So, my mind never stops, literally… even when I go to bed. It keeps clicking on.. and on.. and on…  If I don’t have a written list, I have lists in my mind of what I am going to do tomorrow and the next day and the rest of the week.  Just sitting….. not for me.  I always have had something in my lap to do, whether that is reading, grading papers, working on lesson plans.  I don’t just sit, period.  So, this retired life where I have had to live a sedentary life due to a plethora of hip restrictions from my hip surgery has truly humbled me before God, and forced me to begin living a different kind of life.

I am unable to multi-task as I once was.  I am unable to plan and organize, because I don’t know what the next day will bring.  I am having  to wait on the doctor to convey the next level of freedom that I can have.  I am having to wait on my husband who has to help me get dressed and put on an atrocious brace that I wear 24/7.  I haven’t been able to drive for 6 +weeks.   I am  in a process of waiting…..  Waiting is something that none of us enjoy, but waiting it is.   Interestingly enough I am not sharing  all of this information as a form of complaint.  I am giving you a glimpse into what my life once was and what it presently is, so that you can see the difference.  Even though it is very different from my planned and organized life, I am enjoying the freedom that I am experiencing.  My brain is absolutely getting a rest.  I am able to focus on one thing at a time and I have been blessed by it.  Why, you may ask?  It is all because of a loving God. I was unable to trust in my own capabilities presently,  because to the best of my ability,  my weakened body couldn’t do much of anything nowadays. But, God could.  Isaiah 26:3 states “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  God has given me peace as I have rested in His care, not my own abilities.

God has given me His things to do while I am in the position that I am.   I have been able to meet with my niece and teach her how to study the Bible.  What a blessing that has been to me.  I have been able to write Sunday School curriculum for my church, making it more “user-friendly” for the teachers.  I have loved every minute of that task.

The Bible says so much about love.

  • Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • John 13:35  “By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”
  • John 15:12 “My command is this, Love each other as I have loved you.”

Choosing love means choosing to spend time with those you care about; quality time, even if that time is for a few moments.   These moments are to be moments where we clear our heads of the multi-tasking mode and focus on the person who we are with.  We truly focus on the present moment and that person.  It really makes a difference when we do.

I tried it out this week with my husband. I tried to focus just on him and clear my brain of any distractions.   It really seemed to make a difference to him.  He had come home very tired from a busy day.  He wanted to eat dinner and not have much conversation because he was exhausted.  So, I didn’t ply him with questions about his day.  We just ate and allowed there to be a time of silence.  That time was comforting to him.  He told me later how appreciative he was of the time and space that I gave him.  I was choosing love.  We didn’t need to have words, we just needed a time of silence for him to rest and relax.

Often our children need times of silence.  They certainly don’t get it in the hubbub busyness of our world.  They need times to sit quietly in their rooms and daydream and plan and use their own creativity.  I have a son who wanted to be an inventor.  He would plan things out in his room; dreaming things up and drawing sketches of what he wanted to invent.  He got some fishing line and rigged up a way to turn the light switch on and off while he was lying in his bed.  One of his inventions that he wanted to create was a phone on a watch, this was back in the 1990’s.  Looks like Apple beat him to it!  Yet, today he puts those skills to work in his own construction company.

Kids don’t always need to be entertained, but they always benefit from time with their parents and long to know that they are valued and loved by them.  They desire for their parents to realize what they like and don’t like.  My grandchildren love it when I play with them.  They love when I color with them and admire their drawings.  They love to help me in the kitchen, by washing dishes, helping with the cooking, setting the table.  It is important to them that I know their favorite colors, favorite teams, and favorite super heroes or princesses.  They are so excited when Nana makes her famous mac and cheese.  They gobble it up!  There is nothing like playing football with Poppy or riding the lawn mower with him.   This makes them feel that they are important to us.

Love knows no limits.  Hugs and kisses.  Smiles and laughs.  Quiet talks and silent times.  Boisterous play and funny games. Helping each other and doing chores. Setting limits and having boundaries. Hopes and dreams. Likes and dislikes. Mistakes and tears. Forgiveness and reconciliation.  Starting over and a fresh new day. Joy and sorrow.  Memories that will last forever.

Have you taken the “Choose love” Challenge?  If you have will you let me know.  I have had 2 people who have told me that they have taken the plunge.  They were excited, yet filled with some anxiety about jumping right in.  Me too, but I am retired, and not in the same life circumstances as those of you who have young families.  I am an exuberant cheerleader for “Choosing Love”.  It is a life changing challenge.  Take the plunge!

By the way, when I finished writing this post, my doctor gave me permission to take off my brace and to drive!  When I was given this glorious news, I wanted to dance a jig, but I couldn’t because I still had my other hip restrictions in place. I had a wonderful sense of freedom and was so thankful to God for this next step of healing in my recovery.

Here are some great resources to help you love more.

Fun Ways to Show Love to a Child

5 Love Languages of Children

Joyful Ways to Connect

May He keep you in the palm of His hand,

Blessings,

Debra Smith

 

Choose Love


I have been on quite a journey as of late.  Having my 4th hip surgery in 3 years has  been depleting.  Yet God has given me eyes to see things from a fresh perspective as He has “made me lie down in green pastures and has led me beside the still waters.  He has restored my soul.” (Psalm 23)  God was the one who encouraged me to begin this blog, which I initiated right before my 4th surgery.  Writing has given me great joy as my purpose has been to encourage other parents on their journey in parenthood, and not only encourage, but give tangible “helps” that could be beneficial to them in their own walk.

Yet, what I have found is that in all of my preparation for my posts, in my own studying and searching, that I have been blessed to the overflowing.  I have come across other parent’s writings, books, and blogs that have literally touched my heart.   I will have to say that Rachel Macy Stafford’s writings have blown me away.  Her words have literally grabbed my heart and warmed my soul.  I have mentioned her works before on one of my posts.  Today I am inviting all of you to visit her blog- handsfree mama.com.  She has written 2 books- Hands Free Mama and  Hands Free Life .  On her blog, September 25, she posted a 21 Day Challenge. It is to “Choose Love first in your day and last in your day”.  I intend to take it.  I wanted to offer you the challenge as well.  This is what she is challenging us to do.

We choose loving(taking time to be with) our children or our spouse over:

  • talking or texting or reading messages on our cell phones
  • working on our computers
  • doing housework
  • doing our business work
  • meetings
  • watching t.v
  • being with friends
  • sports events

It is not that the above items are not important or that we are being asked to give them up, but when we have a choice between spending moments during our day with our loved ones or focusing on the items above we make the conscious choice to “choose love”– choose our loved ones.  We choose to take time to show up, put our phones down, when our child asks to be with us.  We let the dishes wait when our husband wants to talk.   We choose taking time to read the kids a story at bedtime because they love to have mommy read with them.  We choose to stop talking with a friend when we see that one of our kids is struggling with her homework.

Rachel states that” sometimes she showed up to love without a smile.  Sometimes she showed up to love and didn’t know what she was doing.  Sometimes she showed up to love and it was the last thing she wanted to do.  Sometimes she showed up to love and she had no love to give.”

Yet- she continued showing up because- “SHE NEVER LEFT THE SAME WAY SHE ARRIVED”.

Rachel states that she “always left feeling a little lighter, a little more at peace, a little more hopeful, and a little more joyful.”  All because of her choice of choosing LOVE.

Now Rachel admits to being a type A personality who used to let her work and life consume her.  Yet, one day she realized in all of her frantic rushing and planning that she was not happy.  God enabled her to see her family and her life with a new vision.  It is not that she let completely go of the things that a mother and a writer had to do. But, she began seeing time in a different way, as to how to use that time when she had available moments with the ones she cared for the most.

In her September 25th challenge she ends with:

Today I will choose love.

Tomorrow I will choose love.

And the day after that,

I will choose love.

If I mistakenly choose

distraction,

perfection,

or negativity

over love,

I will not wallow in regret.

I will choose LOVE

until it becomes who I am.

Rachel Macy Stafford

You know in this world today we are consumed with all of our electronic devices.  Kids as well as adults.  As a teacher, I would see parents come and pick up their children at the end of a school day and hardly say a word to their child as they were talking on their cell phones.  At restaurants you will see people sitting at a table and not conversing at all because they are each busy looking or texting on their cell phones.  In the doctor’s offices everyone is busy looking at their phones.  Some are even rude enough to use them so that you hear their entire conversation.  We know of the deaths on the highway because of people texting.  Technology is eating up our lives.  We are becoming consumed with it;  parents and children alike.  You can hardly pull kids off of their electronic devices.  They are glued to the screens.  They want to play video games so much that they are foregoing going outside and playing with friends and playing outdoors, getting exercise, enjoying nature.  As kids mature they want their own cell phones and before you know it everyone is at the dinner table with their own cellular device.  No one is speaking to anyone because they are all reading or texting other people.  This is no way to have a family dinner!

Families need to be connected.  Families need to know how to communicate with each other.  Families need to know how to show love to one another.  Rachel is trying to make the point that one of the best ways that we can show love is through our “time”.  The time that I take to be with my children speaks volumes to them.  I have told you in past posts that my sons were not big talkers about their days at school.  When they got home they wanted a quick snack and then they wanted to rush into the back yard to play.  Bedtime was different.  It was the most special time of the day for me with my boys.  They took their showers and put on their pajamas and we read stories together.  It was almost a sacred time that had been carved out of the day just for me by the Lord.  For, this was the time when we had our closeness and intimacy as mother and sons.  As I would tuck each son in and we would say our prayers, this was the time for sharing.  My boys would share about their days, their hopes and fears, their questions all came flooding out at bedtime.  Many nights I was bone-tired. Yet, it didn’t matter, I felt like a queen, my boys were sharing with me!  I felt so honored, so blessed, so loved.  I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything!  Nevertheless, as they grew this tradition came to an end, but I learned to treasure other moments with them- driving my boys to all of their sports practices and games.   Oh, my there were so many of them.  We had so many wonderful opportunities for conversations during those drives.   I treasure those times that we had together.

Well, you see I have been reminiscing about the opportunities that I had to “choose love” with my sons.  As a grandmother I am looking back on life at the times when I chose love.  Yet, there were so many other times when I could have chosen love that I didn’t, and I have regrets.  Therefore I am making a conscious choice today to “choose love” with my children and grandchildren.  I want to start anew, with no regrets.   Choose Love.  Will you join me?

I am sharing a lot of resources today.  Hope that you enjoy them.

Be More Present With Your Kids

http://www.icanteachmychild.com/the-ipad-is-stealing-my-sons-childhood/

Special Time

You Need to Win Your Child’s Heart

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith