Monday, November 20, 2017

'Tis the Season for Giving Forgiveness

In the month of November many people take the time to be thankful. If you are on Facebook, some of your friends may come up with something to be thankful for each day of the month. It might be said that this is the “Season of Giving Thanks.”

A year ago, some company started running an advertisement that stated "Happy Thanks for Giving." I wasn’t quite paying attention, so I thought they said, "Happy Thanks for Forgiving.” I realized my mistake quickly, because who would spend money to promote forgiveness? (In fact, it appears being offended is the promotion of the day.)

The whole misunderstanding has got me thinking, even a year later. To be truly thankful and to truly give from your heart, you need to forgive. Maybe this season should also be the season for forgiving.

Mother Teresa said this, “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the world your best and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." Jesus says in Matthew 6: 14, For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

It can be hard to forgive. I have awoken from sleep so disturbed by what someone did that my heart would be racing and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Through time, I found praying it through and forgiving in my heart would seem to help until a few weeks or months down the line I would wake up disturbed about the same incident all over again. I thought when Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 70 times 7, it was about different offenses. In my case, I had to forgive 70 times 7 for the same offense. Forgiveness might take time, but it is important. It is better than packing it up just to find it again later, and that can mean for a lot of baggage. For you see, it isn’t really about the people you need to forgive, but it is always about the relationship between you and God anyway.

Happy Forgiving and Thanksgiving.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work, Week 8

The title for week 8 is "How to Start Connecting with the Heart."

We have been learning a lot about the hows and whys of instructing and correcting our children. I hope through it all you have seen the importance of relationship when working with your child's heart. I wrote "child's" because even though you might have multiple children, it is important to parent each child separately. Each child needs special thought and consideration. This is work, but it is good fact it is the best work.

Chapter 6, "Turn on Their Heart Lights" and Chapter 8, "Making the Connection" are the two chapters we were to have read out of the book.

The take away that I would like  you to get out of Chapter 6 is this:
Emotionally connecting with your children isn't done just so you can all feel good. Connecting with your son or daughter emotionally softens hearts and prepares the way for much of the hard work of parenting, making it more tolerable and perhaps enjoyable. You must be proactive to maintain closeness with your children. Start by asking yourself the important question, "How does my child like to be loved?........Each child is different. If you have trouble knowing what helps your children feel loved, ask them. They often have insights that get you thinking in the right direction.

What I what you to take away from Chapter 8 is this:
The Gratefulness Principle
Every person's heart contains a "gratefulness button." Seven year old Joshua beams when Mom holds out a plate of cookies and says, "I made your favorites." Mom found the button. Seventeen-year-old Sandra is pleasantly surprised that Mom washed the black pants she wants to wear to the party. Her eyes get big with delight, and Mom knows she's touched her daughter's heart. You feel grateful when your son surprises you by cleaning up the kitchen without being asked, and you give him a big thank-you hug. Gratitude increases closeness. It is useful in parent-child relationships but it also important in marriages, the workplace, and with friends. 

The above passage isn't a fairy tale. Family members can be grateful for small things like making favorite cookies or washing an item of clothing. It sounds small, but it can be powerful in family life. Sometimes parents over indulge their children and it results in children who are not grateful. It is very important that children can learn this principle because it will help them in life outside of the family.

I am grateful that I was able to do this work in Parenting is Heart Work. I have been able to refine some techniques and I continue to see progress with my kids. I can stop here and be fine....but I am not and I want to encourage you to not stop either. Continue to grow and learn as a parent. New challenges will pop up and we will all need reminders and encouragement to be better parents. God bless you as you parent your children's heart!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work, Week 7

Summer is half over! I had a fabulous time at a family reunion this weekend. My eyes are a bit sleepy, but I am determined to finish this Parenting is Heart Work! I can't say over and over again how much I like this curriculum. It takes time, work, effort....but I think it will be well worth it. As I reflect at the past weekend and look at my family reunion I see attitudes and actions of people I have known my whole life, whom I love very much. I pause, however,  and I think of why they did something, or why they said something. Those things can give you a window into their heart. The weekend went well, but it could have been disastrous if people's hearts would have held bad attitudes. In the end we celebrated my sweet Grandma. Reflecting on that, my hope is to raise a generation - my own children- who can be respectful and thoughtful and remember that where their treasure is, their heart will be also.....That being said, the title of week 7 is "Attitude: A Window into a Child's Heart"

The reading in the book that coincides with this lesson are Chapter 5 and Chapter 12.

Chapter 5 is entitled, "Emotions Have Feelings Too." Here is the nugget I would like you to get from this chapter.
...the heart is where emotions are felt. Deep seated needs are often experienced on an emotional level. Ultimately, God is the one who fulfills all of our needs, and he uses a number of tools to do so. God created the family to be a place where emotional needs are met. In fact, parents are a primary source for a child's emotional health, and how Dad and Mom relate to their children sets an important foundation.

Chapter 12 is entitled, "A Light on the Path to Heart Change." This is a great chapter about using Scripture - why you should use Scripture and how to use it.
While helping children think rightly in their hearts, don't fall into the trap of a simple "positive-thinking" mentality. We aren't just trying to get our kids to "think happy thoughts" so they can fly. That may happen to Peter Pan, but it doesn't happen in real life. Just thinking about your favorite things may get you through a stormy night, as in the movie "The Sound of Music," but it's not enough to help children through the deep struggles they face. 

Although the Bible's message is positive, it's balanced with a realistic understanding of who we are and what we need. Children need to see the courage of Daniel, who stood for convictions as he faced the lions' den, and hear about Gideon, who was able to fight a huge army with only a few men. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho by trusting God, and David killed a giant with just a few small stones.

Sometimes as a parent, we have our own giants to face....our own emotions. When we are frustrated or angry....why are we? (There is the immediate thing that made you frustrated/angry..but why is it such a big deal?) Sometimes answering those questions help us become better people and better parents. If those answers are hard to come by, know this....God knows you and understands you. He wants to help you conquer your emotional giants. Just ask Him. If you need help, I would be happy to pray for you.

God bless you though your parenting!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work, Week 6

With the end of school, starting a summer job and working on Vacation Bible got busy. In the meantime, our parenting class finished up. I would like to finish out the 8 weeks on my blog, so here is week 6, "Teaching Children to Accept No as an Answer."

The curriculum suggests to read chapter 3,'Will I or Won't I" and Chapter 7, "Avoiding Congestive Heart Failure" in the Parenting is Heart Work book.

What I want you to get out of Chapter 3 is this:
The will is that place of determination. The level of one's determination is affected by such things as personality, character, values, and one's sense of morality. Parents and children often experience conflict when their wills determine to go in opposite directions. A wise parent helps turn potential fights around, look for ways to redirect a child's intensity, and knows when taking a stand against a child's will is the most loving thing to do."

The take away that I want you to get out of Chapter 7 is this:
One sign of an emotionally healthy person is the ability to recover more quickly from upsetting experiences. I'm sure you know people who can stew for days when they are angry. God designed the heart as a place where emotions are experienced and released. When people harbor negative feelings, the heart gets congested, leaving emotional residue. Healthy people experience emotions, benefit from them, release them, and move on. Emotionally unhealthy people overreact, mull over their feelings for long periods, and take longer to bounce back. Congestive heart failure is not just a physical problem in our society, it is also a spiritual problem in many relationships.

Our job as parents is to raise our children to be adults. It is a hindrance to everyone if adults haven't learned healthy ways to deal with upsetting experiences. It is better for us all to take the time to work with our children now. Some children learn this quickly, some take years. I have seen how my youngest son has been getting better at overreacting when things don't go his way (he has been overreacting for years - he is the youngest after all). Someone just noticed it and mentioned it to me the other day and my reply was, "He is growing up." In fact, I have noticed several behavior changes in the last couple days and I mentioned them to him. We might just have to have a celebration!

I hope that you have been taking time to lean into your children, summertime is the best time to do that. God bless!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work , Week 5

No surprise here....I am a few weeks behind! I don't want to drop the ball now, so I have some catching up to do!

Session 5 of the video series speaks on "Ending Discipline Times with Impact"

This is one of my favorite parts of Parenting is Heart Work because it helps me see into my child's heart, it allows me to speak truth into their life, and it gives them another chance to do it better.

The chapters to read along with the session are Chapter 1(What is the Heart, Part 1) and Chapter 2 (What is the Heart, Part 2).

What I want to focus on in chapter 1 is this:
Instead of working on the heart, many parents settle for simply changing their child's behavior. After all, you can see the behavior, and most of the time, you can control it. The heart is a mysterious place over which you have little control. The work of understanding it, though, pays off well as you help your children make lasting changes. You experience greater closeness, and children develop maturity."

What I want to focus on in chapter 2 is this:
Extra time and energy are required to make heart connections with our kids. Some parents find this approach daunting. 'What do I do about my day-to-day problems? How do I handle the misbehavior I see now? Changing the heart sounds great, but I have to make sure he gets his homework done tonight.' It's true that sometimes we just have to get through the day. But once you have a heart-based approach, your problem strategies change. With your new outlook, even day-to-day discipline has a long range view. Sure, it takes time, but the alternative is scary. Focusing only on behavior often allows children to develop deep heart problems that eventually manifest themselves in tragic ways.

After watching these videos, or attending the seminar, or reading the books, I feel/felt (and you may too) a bit overwhelmed. There is a lot to take in and a lot of  parent homework, My husband and I have been working on these techniques for over a year and even though we are not perfect at it, we have seen results. I just want to encourage you to continue in parenting the heart of your child.

God bless you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work, Week 4

In the curriculum, Parenting is Heart Work, the video series, week 4 talks about A Toolbox of Consequences. This session gives 7 categories of tools, or consequences, for your toolbox. This is important because not every child needs the same consequence for each discipline time.

The corresponding chapters suggested to read along during the week are Chapter 10 and 13.

Chapter 10 is titled, Teaching Your Child's Heart.
The part I want to focus on is this:
     Children develop thinking patterns, paradigms, that determine what they believe, how they relate to others, what they expect from life, and how they feel in a given situation. These paradigms give children a grid for evaluating life and for making decisions, and they change as a child grows. Unfortunately, sometimes the conclusions kids come to are naive or inadequate, creating problems both for the child and often for the parents and others. When their grid is faulty, children make poor judgments and react unwisely. As children grow and develop, new information is assimilated into the paradigms, and conclusions are adjusted, sometimes radically.

Your job as a parent is to look at yourself as a teacher and a coach. You understand life better than your child, even though they want to tell you differently, and you need to be able to guide them away from faulty conclusions. This is why having many tools for consequences is important as you guide your child and not just correct them.

Chapter 13 is titled, Constructive Correction.
     Children develop the opinion that correction is an attack and they must defend themselves at all costs. They believe correction means weakness, and weakness must be hidden. Angry reactions are perceived as strong. Blaming someone else is considered insightful. Pointing to other factors that caused the problem somehow seems mature. Justifying, rationalizing, and blaming are ways children skirt the issue and miss correction's benefits.

Frustrated parents sometimes contribute to the problem by correcting in counterproductive ways. They may be embarrassed and angry when their children need correction. They seem surprised and caught off guard and end up responding in unhealthy ways.

You may have children who are like that. You may be tired of always arguing with them. If that is the case, you may want to finish reading chapter 13. You can come to our parenting class to learn more, or you can purchase your own book through the National Center for Biblical Parenting

God bless you as you parent the heart.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work, Week 3

Go and do better next time.

This week we were asked to implement a Break. A Break is like a time-out, but there are some differences. To learn more about a Break, you can read the book The Christian Parenting Handbook, chapter 42. The break is important because that is where your child can have the time to change their heart. They might not, but it gives them a chance to turn things around.

"Turn around for a Change" is the title of Chapter 14 in the Parenting is Heart Work book. There are 6 parts that can happen during a break. I want to focus on the first one: "Settle Down and Stop Fighting". This one is important especially for those children who start to throw a fit when they are corrected. Instead of being drawn into the drama or an argument/fight, have them take a break to settle down. The book says, "Jeremiah 8:6 describes an unrepentant person as 'a horse charging into battle.' You can imagine the nostrils flaring and the eyes widened as the horse rushes ahead. That's an apt description of many unrepentant children bent on doing the wrong thing. The first step in the process is to settle down and be willing to work on the problem."

Chapter 15 talks more about breaks and it gives many great tips for using it successfully. Don't give up if there is resistance. Keep trying! The part in the chapter that I want to focus on is: "A Break is an adult skill. We all benefit from taking time to sit and think and let God work in our hearts. As we teach our children how to take a Break, we're developing a response pattern for them that they'll use as they get older. Yes, God uses other means to get our attention and change our hearts, but a Break is an excellent way to begin the repentance process."

Today I used a Break with one of my children. We have been working on Breaks for the past year. When my child came to me because he was ready to get out of his Break, he told me what he had done wrong, we discussed why it was wrong and I ended it with a hug and the phrase, "Go and do better next time." There was no shouting, no anger...just disappointment, and as far as I can tell...repentance. It might take many breaks for true repentance, but it is a start.

My encouragement to you....It is hard to be a parent. Life gets busy, complicated, and messy....just go and do better next time!

God bless you as you discover that parenting is heart work!