Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday: Big Red Barn

While Goodnight Moon is supposed to be the "classic" children's bedtime book, I wasn't very fond of it the first time I read it. Or the second. Or the third. I will admit it's growing on me a little. But not much. Maybe once Abby is older and can identify the things in the book.

My favorite bedtime book has actually been one called Big Red Barn. (wow I JUST realized it's by the same author as Good Night Moon. Hmm...) I think I was initially drawn to it because of the subject. Many of you know I grew up being really involved in 4H and FFA, and had what I like to call a "mini-farm." We had chickens and rabbits and goats and a few 4H sheep and cattle here and there. Not to mention my college degree is in Agriscience with the Animal Science specialization. So yes, I love animals. Especially farm animals.

The book is about the animals who live in the big red barn and what they do all day, told in simple rhymes. The pictures are very colorful and simple as well, and the last few pages get darker and darker as the sun goes down. We have this one in the board book format, and Abby loves to turn the pages herself.

All in all, it's a great kid's book that I highly recommend, especially if you've read Good Night Moon a few too many times! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Musical Mondays: Glorious Day

I think this is my current favorite song. I love how it tells the whole story of Jesus -- his birth, life, death, resurrection, and how he's coming again. The verses are actually taken from an old hymn called "One Day." Casting Crowns did a great job of making it fresh and new and adding a chorus to summarize the whole story.

I'm in our praise band at church (I sing & drum), and we introduced this song to the congregation during Lent. We've sang it 3-4 times in the last seven weeks, and at yesterday's Easter service we used it as our closing song. It was amazing to get to the acapella part of the chorus after the bridge and hear everyone singing... "living he loved me, dieing he saved me, buried he carried my sins far away..." And the final "O glorious day" gave me shivers...

I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

For anyone who loves this song as much as I do, here's the official (live) video from the Casting Crowns YouTube page:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Do vs. Done

In last night's Maundy Thursday service, Pastor Ron quoted Bill Hybels saying "The difference between 'religion' and 'Christianity' is the difference between 'do' and 'done'."

Think about that for a minute. Chew on what that means.

Francis Chan says it this way in his book Crazy Love (p.60):

Many people look at their lives and weigh their sins against their good deeds. But Isaiah 64:6 says, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." Our good deeds can never outweigh our sins.

The literal interpretation of "filthy rags" in this verse is "menstrual garments" (think used tampons... and if you're disgusted by that idea, you get Isaiah's point). It's hard to imagine something more disgusting that we could brag about or put on display. But compared to God's perfect holiness, that's how our good deeds appear.

God's mercy is a
free, yet costly, gift. It cannot be earned. Our righteous acts, just like menstrual garments, certainly don't help us deserve it. The wages of sin will always be death. But because of God's mercy, sin is paid for through the death of Jesus Christ, instead of the death of you and me.

It's not something we do. It's something that's already been done.

I'd like you to take a few more minutes of your day to please watch this video. When I was in middle and high school, my youth group would act out a dramatization of this song for our church's Good Friday service. I've been thinking about it a lot this past week, remembering the people who played the different roles.

I pray you will no longer feel the need to "do" something and bring your "lamb" to the sacrifice, but realize that because of this day, it has been "done" for you. Jesus said, "It is finished."

(note the video begins with about 10 seconds of black screen)

Now -- Jesus didn't just die on Good Friday. He conquered death. And that is something to celebrate -- it's Friday, but Sunday is comin'...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Feel Good About Your House 101

At the end of the day, do you feel good about how your house looks? I'm a mostly-stay-at-home-work-two-days-a-week mom. I have time for housework. I've even worked out a system this new year for what chores to do on what days. Monday is laundry, bathroom, sweep. Tuesday is mop. Thursday is vacuum and sweep. Etc. But there are certain things that really do need to be done EVERY day. And I've been a slacker.

When you walk into my house, it's a split-level, so you take the stairs down to the basement (please don't! still a work in progress!) or take the stairs up to the kitchen-dining room-living room. So the first thing you see is the island and the kitchen counters. Since the island is the first surface you come to, it becomes a dumping ground for mail, random things from coat pockets, and items we want out of Abby's reach... There are also a few candles and a potted plant for when I try to make it look nice...

Then you look past that to the kitchen sink and surrounding counters. For some reason, dishes is one chore I really don't like to do. I've never figured out why. Yes we have a dishwasher, but often that will even get run and then just sit there until we need a dish or run out of spoons in the drawer.

When Rocky comes home after a long day at school, these are the first things he sees. And if nothing has changed since he left in the morning, he wonders what I've done all day... Now I've probably done a lot of other stuff around the house and spent time with Abby, but doesn't what you see when you first go somewhere set the tone for the rest of your time there? Whether it's a home, a store, a restaurant, etc.?

So my new goal is going to be to clear the island every day before Rocky gets home, and do the dishes AT LEAST every other day, if not every day... Or at least unload-reload the dishwasher and put other dirties in the sink so they're not cluttering up the counter.

I think that will set the tone for anyone coming in to my home.

One other quick thing. I read/heard somewhere that a bed will often take up 80% of your bedroom space. So when your bed is left unmade... you get the picture. It only takes 2 minutes in the morning. Just do it.

Do you have any little tips for feeling good about your house?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Musical Mondays: I Surrender All

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend 3 days and 3 nights with some amazing women from all over the US & Canada as part of a GEMS training workshop for area coordinators and leadership trainers. On Saturday night, our last night of the retreat, we took part in a "commissioning service" and ended by singing the old hymn "I Surrender All":

All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessing fall on me.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

The weekend was filled with emotional ups and downs, as the role of leadership trainer for our area is brand new for me. I would go from being super excited about this opportunity to being filled with fear. I still am not 100% sure how I will balance everything in my life, but I know I have an amazing support group behind me in these ladies I met this weekend, as well as my own family and friends.

I know I can't do it alone -- "Fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessing fall on me." Please pray for me in this new adventure, that I'd have the wisdom I need to do this job well, and that I can make my God and my family priorities in my life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Love and Logic: Part 1

This is the first post in a series about the book Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years For other posts in this series, click here.

I really hadn't given much thought to what my parenting style would be like, especially discipline, until very recently. I'd kind of figured I would just go with the flow of whatever happened, and hope Abby turned out to be a good kid...

I first heard about the concept of Love and Logic when Rocky was reading the book Teaching with Love and Logic a few years ago. I glanced through it and thought it was a neat idea for the classroom. Then I noticed a copy of Parenting with Love and Logic for sale when I worked at Family Christian Stores, which I bought just before Abby was born. I read through the first couple of chapters last summer, but got discouraged because I didn't think it applied to us yet. The stories presented were about older, school-age kids.

So I visited the Love and Logic website, did a little browsing around, and, lo and behold, Jim & Charles Fay had indeed written a book about younger kids -- Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years. I checked it out at the library, then eventually bought it for myself (I guess you can only renew a library book twice before returning it...).

"Your children will learn how to live with the consequences of their actions, avoid blaming others for their problems, and make wise decisions." 

There are four basic principles of Love & Logic:

1. Build the self-concept.
Instead of 1) finding faults and criticizing, 2) insisting on doing everything for their children, and 3) not allowing them to experience the joy of independent success, parents 1) offer empathy, understanding, and unconditional love, 2) allow their kids to struggle and solve their own problems, and 3) encourage them to learn to succeed through personal thinking and learning.

Children need to know how to handle situations that appear without warning, situations that require them to think for themselves. Then they'll begin to believe "Hey, I've got what it takes!" Every time we rescue our children and solve their problems for them, we erode their self-concept.

2. Share the control
Give control away when you don't need it, so you can get some back when you do! Share control by giving the types of choices that do not cause a problem for you. Make sure your choices are framed by firm limits. And make sure in each choice you give, you are ok with either choice!

For example: Do you want milk or juice with breakfast? Are you going to wear your coat to school or carry it? Are you going to brush your teeth now or in five minutes? Would you rather have peas or carrots with dinner?

3. Provide a strong dose of empathy before delivering consequences
Consequences are a big part of life. The pain of poor choices helps kids learn to avoid mistakes. Children need to make and learn from their mistakes while the consequences are still small and affordable. Consider the difference of wasting one's allowance at age five versus wasting one's paycheck at age 21...

If a kid makes a mistake and parents respond with sternness or anger, the child's brain goes into a "survival" mode instead of a "learning" mode. They think more about escaping your anger, or possibly getting revenge, instead of how to make smarter choices in the future. Rather than set ourselves up as the enemy, wise parents use empathy in a way that makes the child's mistake the "bad guy," while keeping the parents the "good guys."

4. Share the thinking
The more anger and frustration we show, the less our kids think -- and the less they learn about solving their problems. Shared thinking involves lots of love and empathy, and guides a kid toward solutions rather than doing it for them or automatically giving out punishment.

The key to getting your kids to think is to ask questions. Allow them to think more about a solution to a problem or a mistake than you do. "What are you going to do about ____? How are you going to pay for that? Would you like to hear some ideas? How would that idea work for you?"


While a lot of these concepts still sounded like too much for my then-6-month-old to handle, chapter 2 is called "It's never to early to start!" Though there were so many great concepts and ideas in this chapter -- and I could easily share them all! -- I'll just quote one paragraph:

Some people believe that children cannot learn or benefit from discipline until they can converse. Nothing is further from the truth! Can the family dog learn how to sit, stay, come, fetch, and lie down? I've never met a pooch who talked, but I have met some parents who seem to believe and act like the family dog is smarter than their kids. How sad! By the age of nine months, human babies are more intelligent than any other creature on the planet... Replace lectures, warnings, and lots of words with actions." 

I think that's enough of a summary for now... I'm re-reading the book and underlining and keeping these concepts fresh in my head, so I'll hopefully take the time over the next few weeks to expound more on each of the four principles of Love & Logic!

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you have a parenting style? Does this one sound worthy of pursuit to you? (please note, I won't look down on anyone who disagrees, and I'm still learning too :-)
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