Appreciating the Now

appreciate

My older daughter is wearing a walking cast on her left foot. She’s had it for two weeks, and she’s ready for it to come off. Unfortunately for her, her foot isn’t quite ready to bear her weight all day.

If you follow my blog at all, you know that both of my girls are very active. My older daughter plays soccer competitively, and this spring she was going to run track. She’s not taking this forced inactivity well. It seems it takes a long time for a small fracture to heal. She’s ready to get moving, play soccer, run track and just generally be active. But her foot is not.

As I’ve watched her chafe at her forced period of rest, I have been struck by just how much waiting for her foot to heal resembles childhood. Our kids are always so ready to move onto the next stage of life, so ready to grow up, that they don’t want to wait for the right time. They want to be able to do all the things the older kids and the adults get to do — even though they aren’t ready for those things yet.

My daughter’s foot isn’t ready for the pummeling it will take on the soccer field, yet my daughter wants to get right back out there. Having the walking boot on her foot is forcing her to rest, to stay in the moment instead of charging ahead.

In the same way, we have to help our kids appreciate the moment they are in. We need to help them appreciate all the joys of being 3 or 10 or 15. We need to help them know that the time for more grown-up things is coming, but there are joys to be found in the stage they are currently in. They don’t have to be in such a hurry to grow up.

God said in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” God has set aside time for everything — time to be 3, time to be 10, time to be 15, time to be 85. When we spend all our time looking forward to what’s next, we miss what’s right now. We miss what God has for us in the present when we spend all our time focused on the future.

So, the next time your kids yearn to be older, sit them down, hand them a piece of paper and help them list out all the great things about being right where they are. Help them to see the plans God has for them and how He can use them right there in the midst of today.

Because tomorrow will be here soon enough.

The Gift of Time

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I’m taking a blogging day off today. Enjoy this post from the archives.

As you’re reading this, I’m probably shopping. Yep, I’m one of those crazy people who gets up at the crack of dawn and goes shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I love getting a good bargain, but I mostly love spending the day hanging out with my mom and watching all the other crazy people.

I’m hoping to put a dent in the girls’ Christmas lists this morning, and probably get a couple things for myself, too. As I pondered my girls’ lists this week — one short and one long — I wondered what on their lists to get. We have a few surprises in store, so the actually list shopping is going to be limited. Yet, we always try to get that one thing they absolutely think they must have.

But you know what I’ve discovered over the past 10 years? The one thing my kids truly want more than anything else is me. They want to know they have my undivided attention. They want to spend time with me.

As a parent, don’t buy into the myth that you can give your kid “quality” time rather than “quantity” time. Our kids needs us to spend time with them — lots of it. They need us to put away our phones, our computers and our TVs and focus on them and what they have to say. They need us to listen to them, laugh with them and dry their tears. But we can’t do that if we don’t make the time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” If you have kids, the time for spending time with them is now. Our kids will only grow up once. If we don’t capture this time now, we won’t get it back.

This Christmas, I encourage you to give your kids the gift of time. Make each of your children a coupon book offering them your time. You can set up a regular date with each of your kids, or you can offer them the opportunity to choose the time. Coupon ideas include playing a game of their choice with you, making dinner with you or staying up a half hour later to spend time alone with you. Make coupons that fit your child and your family. You can find some coupon templates and more ideas here.

Give your kids the gift of time this Christmas. You don’t have to brave the mall for it, and it’s what they really want.

Getting Ready for Summer (May Dinner Discussions)

May Dinner Discussions

My girls are counting down the days until school gets out. We have 17 days left.

My girls dream of days of sleeping in, hanging out with friends and spending time at the pool.

Summer is a precious gift. It’s time to relax without the constant schedules of hockey and soccer pulling at our time. It’s time that I get to be the main influence on my kids’ lives. I’m not shipping them out the door every morning and letting someone else teach them for eight hours of the day. All of that time is mine to pour into them. I have more opportunity to really live out the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-9, simply because we are together so much more often.

Every summer, I try to make the most of the time we’re given. We spend time learning and exploring and trying new things. My kids are always wondering what new thing I’m going to think of next. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Summer is our time to learn together, laugh together and grow together.

Summer is a great time to work with your kids on character qualities you want them to have. It’s a great time to introduce them to new foods, new experiences and new ideas. But it won’t happen unless you plan for it. Many of the blog posts this month are going to focus on getting ready for summer. They’re going to help you plan to be intentional with your summer, and May’s Dinner Discussion questions are the starting point.

Use these questions to get your kids talking about what they love about summer. Get them to tell you the things that they want their summer to include. Then, when you get down to the planning stage, you’ll already have a list of ideas. You might want to jot down your kids’ answers to some of these questions to give you a starting point.

Starting on Monday, I’ll be doing a series on the blog about how to plan for your summer. We’ll have lots of freebies along the way, we’ll make a summer planning binder, and by the end of the month you’ll have everything you need to make this the best summer ever. Be sure to get started with May’s Dinner Discussion questions and start thinking about the things you want your summer to include.

With a little planning, this will be the best summer ever for you and your kids.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, and A Pause on the Path.

The Gift of Time

As you’re reading this, I’m probably shopping. Yep, I’m one of those crazy people who gets up at the crack of dawn and goes shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I love getting a good bargain, but I mostly love spending the day hanging out with my mom and watching all the other crazy people.

I’m hoping to put a dent in the girls’ Christmas lists this morning, and probably get a couple things for myself, too. As I pondered my girls’ lists this week — one short and one long — I wondered what on their lists to get. We have a few surprises in store, so the actually list shopping is going to be limited. Yet, we always try to get that one thing they absolutely think they must have. (Although, this year, my 10-year-old thinks she must have a cell phone. She’ll be disappointed on that one.)

But you know what I’ve discovered over the past 10 years? The one thing my kids truly want more than anything else is me. They want to know they have my undivided attention. They want to spend time with me.

As a parent, don’t buy into the myth that you can give your kid “quality” time rather than “quantity” time. Our kids needs us to spend time with them — lots of it. They need us to put away our phones, our computers and our TVs and focus on them and what they have to say. They need us to listen to them, laugh with them and dry their tears. But we can’t do that if we don’t make the time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” If you have kids, the time for spending time with them is now. Our kids will only grow up once. If we don’t capture this time now, we won’t get it back.

This Christmas, I encourage you to give your kids the gift of time. Make each of your children a coupon book offering them your time. You can set up a regular date with each of your kids, or you can offer them the opportunity to choose the time. Coupon ideas include playing a game of their choice with you, making dinner with you or staying up a half hour later to spend time alone with you. Make coupons that fit your child and your family. You can find some coupon templates and more ideas here.

Give your kids the gift of time this Christmas. You don’t have to brave the mall for it, and it’s what they really want.

The Value of No

My fingernails are a jagged, broken mess, and my toenails haven’t been painted in more than a month. I tell you this because it’s a sign of a mom living a life without margin. It takes less than five minutes to do either one of those things. Yet, I haven’t managed to scrape together 10 minutes to get them done. So, if you see me today, ignore my fingers and toes.

My kitchen floor is icky, too. I’m not sure when the last time was that it got mopped. It’s on the list. It just hasn’t made it to the top. I’ve got several things that have been on the list for a while. Some days I wonder if they’ll ever make it to the top of the list.

Some of you came to this blog this morning looking for another post on our 39 Clues summer adventure. It is Wednesday, after all. Up until about five o’clock yesterday evening, I was planning for my day to go something like this: get up and write blog, get two kids and myself ready for Vacation Bible School, spend all morning teaching VBS, grab lunch, have 39 Clues, babysit my neighbors’ kids, run my youngest to the doctor to get her latest ear infection taken care of, work for four hours while watching the Stanley Cup game — all while doing laundry to get ready to go on vacation.

When I write it all down, it looks even crazier than it sounded last night. Yesterday afternoon, I was quickly turning into a puddle of stress as I looked at my very dirty house and thought about everything that I had to get done to pull off VBS, 39 Clues and finishing my freelance project.

Despite the fact that it’s summer and schedules are supposed to slow down, June has been our crazy month. We had two car trips planned, VBS and my girls are headed to camps when we get back. And, my parents, whom I can always count on for providing me with some child-free hours, are gone most of the month on vacation. Throw in an unscheduled freelance project, a birthday party and just the general summer activity and June 14 found this household with one stressed-out mama.

My kids and husband will tell you that I wasn’t very nice to be around last night. So much so that my husband took my girls and went to the pool. While I enjoyed the blessed peace and quiet, I couldn’t relax. There was just too much to do. At one point, I was trying to figure out how many hours of sleep I could do without so I could get everything done. When I found myself trying to figure out how to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment for my daughter (which should have been at the top of my list), I realized I was in trouble.

So, I did something that my husband will tell you I don’t do often enough. I said “no.” I called up the moms of my daughters’ friends and told them we weren’t going to have 39 Clues today. We’ll push it off to next week. I said “no” not because I don’t want to do it and not because it’s not a worthwhile thing to do. I said “no” because it was something I shouldn’t have scheduled on a week where we had VBS and were planning to leave on a trip in the first place.

Why is it so hard for so many of us to say “no”? We take on more than we can handle and then make everyone around us miserable trying to get it all done. Many of us live our lives pressed to the edge all the time. We give up sleep, meals and time with our families trying to be Super Mom. And where does it get us? Does it make us happier? More fulfilled? More Godly?

No. It makes us grumpy, tired and stressed. Wow. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” But you know what? Sometimes that time is not now.

We can’t do everything and be everywhere, no matter how hard we try. The myth that to be a great mom, you have to be perfect in everything is just that — a myth.

Saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way not only stresses us out, it sets a bad example for our kids. We try to teach our children to make wise choices — to consider the impact of the decisions they make on themselves and those around them. Yet, we contradict that by saying “yes” to every request that comes our way. What we’re actually teaching our kids is that it’s never OK to say “no” and pleasing others is the most important thing — more important than family, health or sanity.

If you’re overloaded and stressed out, it’s time to say “no” to some of the things on your plate. Create some margin in your life so you can go back to being someone your family enjoys hanging out with.

Today, I’m going to make sure my daughter gets seen by a doctor, VBS gets taught and my freelance work gets done. But, I’m also going to make some time to file my fingernails and paint my toenails. My kitchen floor might actually see the bottom side of the mop.

And tonight, because I said “no” to something last night, I’m going to have the chance to sit down — without a computer in my lap — and share watching the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals with my girls. No distractions of work or chores. Just time spent with my hockey-mad daughter and her tolerant sister and dad. Because saying “no” lets me focus on the people who are important in my life. Try it today.

Summer: Creating Opportunities to Teach

A couple of summers ago, my kids had a case of what the Berenstein Bears call the “gimmes.” You’ve all run into the “gimmes.” You walk into a store, and immediately your kids start saying “gimme this” or “gimme that.” It seemed as if my kids had turned into greedy children almost overnight.

So, I decided we were going to spend the summer focusing on those less fortunate than we are. I created a summer “camp” around an Amazing Race theme. We called it “Passport to the World.” Every week we “traveled” to a different country where we learned about the customs in that country and compared them to the way we live in the U.S. We also learned about a missionary in that country and the work they did.

By the time our summer was over, my girls and four of their friends had a good grasp on how people in the rest of the world live and how fortunate they were to be able to go to school, have enough to eat and not be limited in their options for life simply because of who their family is. They learned six Bible verses and ate some different foods.

Their attitudes had undergone a radical change as well. While we still get the occasional attack of the “gimmes” in our house, more often we find our girls looking for people in need and trying to meet those needs. We’ve continued to work with the girls and teach them about unselfishness, but the roots of what they learned came from that summer spent “traveling” around the world.

While most of the time, this blog is about finding moments to teach in your kids simply as you go about your life, summer is the perfect time to set aside some time to create an opportunity to teach your children. Great teaching takes place in the spur of the moment — and we’ll talk about that tomorrow — but if you create an opportunity to put the spotlight on a character quality or other subject for the entire summer, you can take advantage of the time to really reinforce the concept.

Yesterday, I asked you to create a focus statement for your summer. Today, I’m going to walk you through the steps to create your own opportunity to teach your kids this summer. Your opportunity doesn’t have to be as big as our “trip” around the world. You can take a half hour a week to get your point across, or you can do something every day. The amount of time you invest is up to you. The important thing is that you make the effort to provide your kids with a concentrated focus for the summer.

Begin by making a few decisions:

  • How much time do you have?
  • Do you want to work with just your kids or do you want to invite some of their friends?
  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • Do you want to do it all at your home or do you want to go elsewhere?
  • What resources do you need?
  • When will you meet?

After you’ve answered these questions, sit down and make a plan. Now, I’m not much of a planner. My plans for each week usually are just a simple outline, but you may be one of those people who need a detailed plan. Whatever works for you is what you should do. Your plan needs to include the Biblical basis for what you’re teaching, any verses you want to share with your kids, whatever activities you’re going to do and any resources you’ll need.

You can create an entire summer of activity focused on your theme or you can plan to spend a few minutes each day simply talking with your kids about a topic. Whatever you do, make it fun and make it memorable. Let your knowledge of your kids be your guide in creating activities. If your kids love crafts, plan some craft activities around your theme. If they love sports, figure out a way to get some physical activity in your time together.

Make the most of your time together this summer by creating opportunities to teach your kids because the days will slip by quickly. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” In our house, we’ve found summer to be the season for creating opportunities to teach our kids, mold their character and have fun together. I hope this summer, you’ll find that to be true, too.

Next week, the blog is going to focus on ways to teach particular topics during the summer. I’d love to know what some of you are planning to focus on with your kids this summer, so I can get you started. Leave me a comment here on the blog or on the Facebook page letting me know what topic you’ll be creating opportunities to teach your kids this summer.