- From Jesus with Love
All parents feel inadequate in some way or another, at some time or another. It is part of parental love to want the best for your children even if it means giving of yourself beyond your natural limits.
But don’t make the mistake many parents do in thinking they have to carry the whole load themselves. If you do that, you’ll soon wear out. You need to learn to share the load with Me. If you can’t give your children everything you would like to every day, give them what you can and then trust Me for the rest.
The most important thing you can give your children is love—your love and My love. Do that, and you will have happy, well-adjusted children; you will have succeeded as a parent. But to have that love, you must take time with Me and My Word, in prayer and reflection. I have all the strength and peace and faith and love and answers you need. I love your children and know exactly what they need day by day. I want to fill your every need so together we can fill theirs, but to get those things you must spend time with Me.
When it seems impossible to make time for Me, that’s when you need it most. Come into My arms and find rest. Cast your burdens upon Me. My shoulders are broad enough and My arms strong enough to carry any load. Make time to be with Me each day and I will answer your prayers for your children. I will make you the parent you want to be. I will do what you can’t. And last but not least, your children will see a new light upon your face, for they will see Me there.
Article courtesy of Activated magazine.
Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.
Richard loved to tinker with mechanical devices. As a six-year-old, he took apart an alarm clock. At nine, he helped his dad fix the lawnmower. In high school, he spent hours tearing apart and rebuilding stereo equipment. Now, as a young adult, he’s a sound technician for a professional theater company. Richard’s parents encouraged his interests at an early age, which helped him become a successful adult. However, Richard was never labeled as “gifted.” In fact, he had trouble with math in school.
The definition of “the gifted child” has traditionally been based on school-related skills and limited to the upper five to ten percent of children who achieve high test scores, write well, and excel academically. These are certainly important, but there may be hundreds of other ways for children to show their gifts. “Today’s intelligence researchers emphasize that nearly all children—not just the celebrated five percent—have special talents,” says David G. Myers, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Studies at Harvard University bear this out, suggesting that kids can display intelligence in many different ways—through words, numbers, music, pictures, athletic or “hands-on” abilities, and social or emotional development.
As an anonymous observer once said: “All children are gifted, some just open their packages later than others.” You can play a crucial role in awakening latent talents or developing current strengths through experiences you give your child at home. Here are 50 ways for you to bring out your child’s best, regardless of how his gifts are packaged:
1. Let your child discover her own interests. Pay attention to the activities she chooses. This free-time play can say a lot about where her gifts lie.
2. Expose your child to a broad spectrum of experiences. This may activate latent talents. Don’t assume that he isn’t gifted in an area just because he hasn’t shown an interest.
3. Give your child permission to make mistakes. If she has to do things perfectly, she’ll never take the risks necessary to discover and develop a gift.
4. Ask questions. Help your child open up to the wonders of the world by asking intriguing questions: Why is the sky blue? Find the answers together.
5. Plan special family projects. Shared creativity can awaken and develop new talents.
6. Don’t pressure your child to learn. If children are sent to special lessons every day in the hope of developing their gifts, they may become too stressed or exhausted to shine. Encourage, but don’t push.
7. Have high expectations. But make them realistic.
8. Share your work life. Expose your child to images of success by taking him to work. Let him see you engaged in meaningful activities and allow him to become involved.
9. Provide a sensory-rich environment. Have materials around the home that will stimulate the senses: finger paints, percussion instruments, puppets, etc.
10. Keep your own passion for learning alive. Your child will be influenced by your example.
11. Don’t limit your child with labels. They may saddle her with a reputation that doesn’t match her inner gifts.
12. Play games together as a family.
13. Have a regular family time for reading, listening to music, talking, etc.
14. Have reference materials available to give your child access to the world.
15. Allow your child to participate in community activities that interest her.
16. Use humor, jokes, and [funny] stories to encourage creativity.
17. Don’t criticize or judge the things your child does. He may give up on his talents if he feels evaluated.
18. Play with your child to show your own sense of playfulness.
19. Share your successes as a family. Talk about good things that happened during the day to enhance self-esteem.
20. Provide your child with access to a home, school, or public library computer. (It’s important to provide supervision for any children going online, so that they don’t end up browsing the wrong sites.)
21. Listen to your child. The things he cares about most may provide clues to his special talents.
22. Give your child a special space at home to be creative.
23. Praise your child’s sense of responsibility at home when she completes assigned chores.
24. Visit new places as a family.
25. Give your child open-ended playthings. Toys like blocks and puppets encourage imaginative play.
26. Give your child unstructured time to [think] and wonder about things.
27. Share inspirational stories of people who succeeded in life.
28. Don’t bribe your child with rewards. To constantly use incentives to get children to perform sends a message that learning is not rewarding in its own right.
29. Suggest that your child join peer groups that focus on her gifts.
30. Discuss the news to spark interests.
31. Discourage gender bias. Expose your child to both feminine and masculine toys and activities.
32. Avoid comparing your child to others. Help your child compare himself to his own past performance.
33. Be an authoritative parent.
34. Use community events and institutions to activate interests. Take trips to the library, museums, concerts, plays.
35. Give presents that nourish your child’s strengths.
36. Encourage your child to think about her future. Support her visions without directing her into any specific field.
37. Introduce your child to interesting and capable people.
38. Think of your home as a learning place. The kitchen is great for teaching math and science through cooking.
39. Share feelings. A child’s gifts can be stifled by repressed emotions.
40. Encourage your child to read.
41. Honor your child’s creations.
42. Do things with your child in his areas of interest.
43. Teach your child to trust her intuition and believe in her capabilities.
44. Give your child choices. It builds willpower and fuels initiative.
45. Show your child how to use books to further an interest. For example, how-to books for the hands-on learner.
46. Set aside an area of the house for displaying creations and awards.
47. Encourage your child to tackle areas that are difficult for him. Help him learn to confront any limitations.
48. Be a liaison between your child’s special talents and the real world. Help her find outlets for her talents.
49. Introduce children’s literature that honors and develops gifts. Books like The Little Engine That Could encourage a “can do” attitude.
50. Accept your child as he or she is.
By Misty Kay
I pulled into the driveway about eight o’clock that summer evening. Instead of my husband Daniel, a neighbor met me as I got out of the car.
“Did you meet Daniel at the hospital?” she asked.
“No, was I supposed to?”
“Haven’t you heard?”
Those are the words every mother dreads hearing. I immediately thought of Chalsey, my eight-year-old. She’s the accident-prone one in our family.
“Chalsey was bitten by a copperhead snake! Daniel rushed her to the hospital an hour ago.”
My heart froze. We had killed copperheads on our property before and knew how dangerous they were. A bite from a copperhead can kill a child.
I later learned that Chalsey had been collecting bugs to feed the pet iguana and had lifted a small wooden walkway on the side of the house to look for bugs there. When she screamed out in pain, Daniel rushed over, found out what had happened, killed the snake, and took it with them to the hospital so the doctors would know how to treat the bite.
I jumped back in the car and headed for the hospital, 15 minutes away.
That was probably the longest 15 minutes of my life. A million questions raced through my mind. Is Chalsey in a lot of pain? Is she still conscious—or even alive? How could this have happened?
I prayed from the depths of a mother’s heart. It was just between me and God now. My hands trembled on the wheel as I cried out to Him to have mercy and heal my little girl. Flying down the freeway, my heart made a definite connection with His.
I was reminded of the story in the Bible about the Shunammite woman whose young son, her only child, had died suddenly (2 Kings 4:8-37). She put him on the prophet Elijah’s bed and went to get Elijah. When she found him, he asked, “Is it well with you? Is it well with the child?” and she replied, “It is well.”
How could she say, “It is well”? Obviously it was not well with the child. But her faith was strong. God had given her that child in answer to the prophet’s prayers, although she had been barren. She believed that God was able to restore life to her son, and because of her faith, the boy was raised from the dead, fully healed.
The message was clear. God wanted me to trust Him, to believe that He had already heard my prayers and to start thanking Him.
It was very emotional for me. I went from desperate tears of pleading, to soul-cleansing tears of surrender, to passionate tears of praise and thankfulness to my loving God. He would do as He knew best. “It is well with the child,” I said aloud in an affirmation of faith.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was greatly relieved to find Chalsey awake and talking. Her hand was swollen, her fingers were purple and green, and she was in a lot of pain, but so far the swelling had not gone past her hand.
The snake that had bitten her had been young, and the doctor explained that these can be the most dangerous because they don’t yet know how to control their venom. They can give an even higher dose than an adult snake, or they can give a small dose. How much did Chalsey get? Only time would tell. The doctor explained that if the swelling went past the wrist, more drastic measures would be needed.
For hours, we watched as her hand got bigger and her fingers changed colors. She was sick and cried in pain. We called friends and family to join us in prayer for her. We claimed in prayer that the venom would spread no farther. I sang songs with Chalsey and quoted Bible verses to her.
To our joyful relief, the swelling stopped at her wrist. It was a wonderful answer to prayer!
By the next morning she was smiling again, and in time the swelling and discoloration went away. Chalsey is such a resilient child. No matter what happens, she bounces back. (She also loves to show off her scars.)
Ever since my trip home from the hospital on the night of the snakebite, I have felt an inner peace. I had faced down my fears. My faith had been tested, stretched, strengthened.
Copyright © TFI. Used with permission.
By Jessica Roberts
In the middle of math class, one of my second graders made this startling declaration: “There is no God!”
Considering that this was a Christian school and Martin was the son of a pastor, I had to wonder how he had suddenly come to this conclusion in my classroom. When asked, he proclaimed, “My dad says that there’s God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but also that there’s only one God. It makes no sense.”
What to do? I was sure that greater minds than Martin’s had contemplated the Holy Trinity and run into the same problem, but at the moment I really preferred to stick to multiplication.
“Martin, we’re in math class. We can talk about that later.”
“It is a math problem,” Martin replied. “Three is not the same as one!”
What parent or teacher hasn’t been similarly ambushed? From the lips of children come a lot of tough questions. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do in such cases is ask God for wisdom, because what I may interpret as cockiness or contrariness on the part of the child may in fact be divinely instilled inquisitiveness and a great teaching opportunity. I didn’t feel sufficiently brushed up on my theology to explain the concept of the Trinity to Martin and his classmates. …
Recess. Saved by the bell!
For the next ten minutes, while the children played, I prayed. And an answer came to me. It was a bit simplistic and probably not how St. Augustine or other Christian thinkers would have explained it, but it worked for Martin and the others when math class resumed.
“The Bible calls Jesus the Rose of Sharon,” I told them. “God is like the root of the rose bush. He’s hidden, but that’s where the rose had its beginning and grew from. Jesus is like the rose blossom. He is the showy part of God’s love that we can ‘see’ and sense. The Holy Spirit is like the sap that flows through the bush, keeping it alive. Three aspects, but the same rose bush. See?”
I imagine Martin will have even tougher questions in the future, and of course I have plenty of questions myself. Thankfully, God always answers when we ask sincerely. He may give a simple, straightforward explanation like the one He gave for Martin, or one that’s more involved, or He may simply give us peace to accept what we cannot yet understand.
Courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission.
I’ve worked with young children for years, and I never cease to be amazed at their hunger for life, joy of discovery, and perseverance. Yes, perseverance. That may come as a new thought, considering small children’s notoriously short attention spans. (Any mother who has tried to get her toddler to sit still long enough to finish a meal can tell you about that.) There are moments in every young child’s life, though, when the inborn urge for development drives the child to learn a new skill, such as picking up a small object with chubby little fingers, or crawling, or walking. These new skills require a huge amount of concentration and effort on the part of the child and a great deal of time compared to his or her short life up to that point. They also put physical demands on muscles that are just beginning to learn coordination and are barely strong enough to sustain the child’s weight.
When I recently moved to a new country, I went through a difficult time of adjustment. My friends and co-workers in my former situation had become like family. It hurt to leave them, and I especially missed teaching and helping to care for their kids. I tried my hand at new aspects of our volunteer work, but felt I wasn’t good at any of them. At one point, for example, I channeled my energy into a toy-and-book drive for needy children, but when it was slow taking off, I grew discouraged and felt like giving up.
One day I was caring for a co-worker’s baby, Rafael. For as long as I had known him, Rafael had been trying to crawl. He would start by pushing himself up on shaky arms and eventually get up on all fours, but then he would get stuck. This went on for weeks. He would push himself up and rock back and forth on his pudgy hands and knees, but not make any forward progress. If a toy was just out of his reach, no matter how much he rocked on all fours or wiggled on his belly, he wouldn’t get any closer. He sometimes managed to scoot himself backwards, but that only moved him further from his goal. This day, after trying his hardest, he looked at me with “Pick me up!” written in frustration on his little features.
I could sympathize, as I felt just as frustrated in my new situation. I knew, though, that all that struggling was strengthening his muscles and teaching him about his body. So I picked him up and cuddled and encouraged him a bit, but then put him back on the floor to try again. He would have to learn to crawl on his own; I couldn’t do it for him. Eventually he would grow stronger and get the hang of it.
Suddenly I realized how much like Rafael I was. I’d been struggling, trying to learn new jobs, a new language, and about a new culture, and my natural reaction had been to look up to Jesus and say “Pick me up! Save me from this!” But He knows that this time of learning, difficult as it may be, will make me stronger. So even though His love is always there to cheer me on, I have to do the work. I have to persevere.
That gave me a new outlook on my situation. If Rafael can keep it up, then I will too! And when I grow weary of trying or get frustrated from seemingly futile effort, I’ll go to Jesus for love, encouragement, and the strength to keep learning the lessons life brings my way.
Rafael is now happily crawling and starting to pull himself up to stand. I’m also taking baby steps in learning new skills and broadening my horizons. I know we’ll both be up and running before long, if we just keep trying.
Excerpted from Activated magazine. Used with permission.
By Joyce Suttin
I was eight years old and learning diligence through the few chores I had been given. Growing up on a sheep farm near Pleasant Hill, in upstate New York, there were always lots of responsibilities to be divided between us four children. Being the youngest, I had been used to getting what I wanted—the easiest jobs—but my oldest brother and sister were busier off the farm these days, so more responsibility fell on me. I felt very grown up whenever Dad asked me to do something new. I wanted to show how responsible I was.
It had been an especially cold spring, and lambing began in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. Dad gathered the newborns and brought the frailest ones into the kitchen, where they slept in cardboard boxes around the coal stove. Huddled in the hay, they survived their first nights. Dad would awaken early to feed them their mother’s milk from baby bottles. I eagerly helped during the first days. I loved the feel of the lambs’ first charcoal gray wool, soft and warm. I loved their little bleats and the way they eagerly sucked on the bottle in my hand. I loved feeling grown up and helpful.
Dad was pleased. He was learning to trust me to help, to feed the lambs without being reminded. He saw my willingness to learn and took it as a sign that I was growing out of early childhood. I was becoming a big kid instead of the baby of the family.
As the lambs got stronger and the weather became a bit milder, Dad returned them one by one to the barn to stay with their mothers. They were all doing well—all except one. This lamb’s mother had died in the storm, and Dad needed to find a foster mother for her. But first, the lamb needed to be strengthened. Her weak and wobbly legs barely supported her. When he would lift her to a standing position, she would flop back down on the hay. She needed more time in the house and more bottle-feeding before she would be ready to handle the colder temperatures in the barn or be accepted by another mother.
Dad left for work at 6 am, having left instructions for me to feed the lamb before I left for school, but I had stayed up reading the night before and barely had time to pull on my clothes and run out to catch the school bus. It was around ten o’clock math class when I remembered the lamb.
After school I ran home from the bus stop to find Dad sweeping around the coal stove. He looked up and asked, “Joyce, did you remember to feed the lamb this morning?”
I hesitated before answering, hung my head, and answered, “No, Daddy. I’m sorry. I forgot.”
“Well, honey,” he said softly, “I am sorry too, but the lamb died.”
Tears welled up as I said again, “Daddy, I am so sorry!”
He gently took my shoulders in his hands. “This lamb is gone, and sorry won’t bring it back. There will be other lambs, other chances to get it right, but you know, sorry doesn’t always fix it. When we neglect a responsibility, when we forget to do something important, sometimes we only have one chance. We can be sorry, but sorry won’t bring the lamb back.”
It was a hard lesson for an eight-year-old, and I’ve never forgotten the feeling. It taught me to watch out for things in life that sorry can’t fix, especially things that will have an impact on others’ happiness and well-being. A harsh, unloving word can never be pushed back into my mouth. A selfish, thoughtless moment can never be lived differently. A kind word that should have been said can be said later, but not in that perfect moment when it would have done the most good.
We can only live today once, and we only have one chance to get it right. We’ll never be perfect, but if we continually remind ourselves of our responsibility to others and try to do the loving thing at every opportunity, we’ll have fewer times when “sorry doesn’t fix it.”
© The Family International. Used with permission.
William J. Bennett, book excerpt
Here are some critical points about how little children learn, as well as some reminders about what they need—and don’t need—to be ready for school.
You are always teaching by example—not simply with your words, but also by your most ordinary actions. Imitation is perhaps the most important way a young child learns. Teaching by example is probably the most important kind of teaching you do.
Sometimes you will fall short, of course. When you do, acknowledge it to your child. Explain that “Daddy said something he shouldn’t,” or “I lost my temper, and that is bad.” Help your child learn from your mistakes by being honest about them.
Establish good habits and firm rules now, in the pre-kindergarten years. Above all, set limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all under the age of two. So do we. An hour a day is more than enough for older preschoolers. Television should not become a constant baby-sitter. Remember, these early years are critical. Do not let the TV set gobble them up.
Routine is important for little children in part because it provides the repetition necessary for learning. It is crucial in developing good habits. A familiar rhythm in daily life gives children a sense of security in a world they see as strange and unpredictable. Without that sense of security, a child may have a hard time learning. ‘When your child wants to play Hide and Seek one more time, or begs to go down to the pond to see the minnows for the third day in a row, remember that small children need to do things over and over again to learn and to feel confident in their learning.
Children’s first “how” and “why” questions generally appear around age three. They indicate that he has an emerging interest in reasoning. He wants to understand the way things work. If you take the time to answer his questions, his sense of curiosity and desire to explore will be heightened. If you ignore them, or act bothered by all those inquiries, you may make him feel guilty about asking and thereby squelch his urge to learn. (Naturally, parents cannot answer every question kids ask. Boundaries must be set. Sometimes kids need to be told, “Mommy is busy right now—let’s save that question until later.”)
Teaching very young children therefore calls for a great deal of patience and understanding. Sometimes it requires firmly telling a child “No” and realizing that there is no point in trying to reason with him about it, because he cannot understand your logical explanations!
Preschoolers rely much more heavily on direct experience to gather knowledge. They learn through their bodies—by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling things that are physically present.
One of your jobs is to show your child the right way to do things. It is also important, however, to give him chances to try on his own, even when you know he’s not going about something the correct way (unless, of course, what he’s doing is unsafe or harmful). As he grows older, urge him to keep trying when things don’t go right the first or second or even third time—because perseverance is the key to a great deal of living and learning.
Play encourages exploration. It exercises growing bodies and imaginations. It offers chances to interact with parents and other children, and gives practice using words. Play makes learning fun, and that’s important. When a child gets to school, studying should become a more formal and serious endeavor. In the preschool years, a great deal of learning comes through just having a good time.
Don’t be too pushy. Some moms and dads become obsessed with the idea of making sure their preschool kids “get ahead.” They buy picture book after picture book. They pull their hair when they hear that little Jane down the street is already reading Green Eggs and Ham by herself, and sit down to the next story time with drill sergeant determination. They purchase lots of expensive “educational” toys, shuffle their kids from activity to activity to make sure they’re always “learning” something, and pay big bucks to enroll their three-year-olds in “schools” where they can hone that academic edge.
If you recognize these signs in yourself, lighten up. You could be on the verge of doing more harm than good. Very young children generally do not thrive under that kind of pressure. We do not say it is wrong to set high expectations for your child. Little children should be engaged, stimulated, and encouraged—but not rushed. Don’t try to hurry your preschooler to become a scholar before he’s had a chance to be a little kid. After all, innocence and youthfulness are treasures that last only so long, and then they’re gone.
Reference - The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool through Eighth Grade. Free Press (1999)
By Peter Story
I listened to a song demo today. I’d heard plenty of them before, but this one sounded unusually rough. I tried not to let on that it grated on my nerves. My friend had warned me that it was a demo before he pressed the play button, but I still wasn’t quite prepared. I hoped he hadn’t noticed me cringe or squirm in my chair.
After about a minute of private anguish, Jesus managed to get through to me.
It’s just a demo, He spoke to my mind.
I know, I replied, but it’s still difficult to listen to.
You have to hear it as the musician hears it—as it will be, not as it is now.
That’s an interesting way to look at it.
Yes, and also the best way. It’s how I look at you, actually.
Ouch! All right, I’ll give it a try.
To my astonishment, it worked instantly. When I listened beyond the rough background noises, the missed beats, and the off-key notes, the song was actually quite good. The melody, it turned out, was beautiful and relaxing, and it fit the lyrics perfectly. I looked forward to the finished product, and I told my friend so.
Throughout life, people make mistakes; they say or do some things wrong, and sometimes repeatedly or with disastrous results. That’s because we are all rough demos in God’s hands right now. There’s a lot about each of us that He still needs to fix, and it’s going to take time.
When we can look at our children that way, when we try to see them not as they are, but as they will be, everyone wins. They have leeway to be less than perfect, learn by trial and error, and thus keep growing.
The Love Catalyst
Love is not blind; it has an extra spiritual eye that sees the good and possibilities that others cannot see.—David Brandt Berg
Treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Everyone has good qualities. Find specific things about others that you can sincerely compliment them on, and be generous with your praise. If you can’t find anything right off, look deeper. Ask God to show you the positive qualities that must be there, because He sees things worth loving and praising in everyone. The harder it is to find that special something, the greater the reward is likely to be for both of you when you do. If you can find even a threadlike vein and shine a little love on it in the form of praise, it will lead you straight to the mother lode. Your children will open up to you, and you’ll discover lots of wonderful things about them.—Shannon Shayler