Protect the Ears

“You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked.”

Psalm 12:7 NIV


Kids take some pretty hard hits growing up – other children can be cruel and hurtful with their words, leaving emotional scars that take a long time to heal.

In the early 90’s when we still lived in Abilene, woven poncho jackets were the “in” thing for boys to wear. We gave our 9-year-old son, Drew a red-and-tan striped poncho for Christmas, and he bought a blue-and-green one for himself with Christmas money. He proudly wore one or the other of the ponchos almost all the time. Right after Christmas, we moved to Plano. When classes resumed in January, Drew was faced with starting all over in a new place. On the first day of school, he wore his favorite poncho, put on a brave face and walked through the glass doors of the unknown.

Drew was cute and instantly popular with the fourth grade girls which didn’t set well with the fourth grade boys. Over the next couple of weeks, the boys jealously picked on him, ridiculing everything about him – especially his poncho jackets. He came home in tears one afternoon and threw his ponchos in the trash. In retrospect, I should have talked to the teacher but Drew was embarrassed and begged me not to.

On the outside, kids can appear resilient when they are emotionally beaten up. But many times they build defense mechanisms on the inside, compartmentalizing hurt feelings so they can cope. In some cases, they stash feelings away so deeply it becomes difficult to have a healthy relationship…even with someone who isn’t hurting them.

How nice it would be to place protective gear over our kids’ ears so hurtful words would slide off of them like water off a duck’s back! Without that option, we must make ourselves available – just like Jesus is always available when we need Him – to comfort, offer perspective and provide encouragement. What may seem small and insignificant to us can translate into devastation for our child’s self-esteem. Watch, listen and be ready with open arms to embrace your child when he needs you. A parent’s love, prayers and support are the salve that soothes the pain and prevents a forever broken spirit.


PRAYER: God, may my eyes and ears be keen to observe when my children hurt on the inside. Grant me sensitivity and wisdom to help them emerge from each circumstance without permanent emotional scars. Draw them unto You and allow them to sense protection in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Words Mean So Much!

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 NAS


My fifth grade teacher didn’t like me, and at the ripe old age of 10, even I knew it. To this day, I remember Mrs. Chadwick talking about me and ridiculing me in front of all the other students. I would either pretend not to hear or act like it didn’t bother me. But on the inside, not only did her words hurt, they began to rip apart my self-esteem. It didn’t occur to me I should tell my parents. After all, she was an adult authority figure in my life. Who was I to question her?

Modern society has legitimized sarcasm and labeled it comedy. Many people think its okay to put someone down, call them names, or make fun of them, especially if it’s followed up with the disclaimer, “just kidding”. But it’s not okay.

The Bible teaches us words can be a blessing or a curse. Whether spoken in sarcasm or in an uncontrolled moment of anger, words like “stupid” and “clumsy” or “what’s WRONG with you?” definitely fall into the latter category. We have the responsibility as parents to protect our children. Yet without realizing it, sometimes our words are what bring our children the greatest harm.

Think about the words you use when you speak to and about your children. Do they lift, encourage and affirm them? If not, it’s time for a vocabulary change. Sit down as a family and discuss ways to de-word and re-word your home. It’s a lesson none of us are too young (or old) to learn.


PRAYER: God, forgive me for saying things to my children I didn’t mean. Please heal their wounds and help me have the self-control and wisdom I need to guard my tongue every time I speak to them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Heroes In Disguise

Superman“Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” James 1:19 NIV


My Mac laptop had to go to the Apple doctor awhile back for some warranty service. I loved the statement on the shirts of the IT experts working at the Genius Bar (that’s the fixit counter at the Apple store). It read, “not all heroes wear capes”. How true. Those technicians were saving the day for me and countless others, by getting our sick and broken electronic tools back into service. They were our heroes.

Flip through the television channels on Saturday morning and you’ll discover a plethora of animated superheroes, equipped with special powers they use to help mankind. My kids grew up watching and reenacting these kinds of shows. Drew used to pin a blanket on his shoulders and fly through the house, jumping from bed to bed or chair to chair. One day I found him literally swinging from the chandelier above our dining room table. How grateful I was that the builders had solidly anchored the light fixture to the ceiling!

Kids love pretend heroes, but they need real heroes in their life…not the ones who wear leotards and capes, but the ones who they look up to for the things they do. In all my years of parenting and ministering to children, I’ve come to believe heroes in disguise are the people who make time to listen when children talk. Shame on the author of that 15th century proverb, “children should be seen and not heard”!

Kids want to talk. Some of them talk quite a bit. (I think I wash one of those kids). It’s not that what they’re saying is earth shattering, but when someone takes the time to listen to them, they are made to feel valued as a person. In fact, their need is so great to be listened to, if we as parents don’t give them our ear, they will find someone who will. And that can be dangerous.

A great time to listen to your kids is at the dinner table. The key word is “listen”. Bite your tongue if you must. Don’t offer advice. Don’t lecture. Don’t preach. Let this be the safe time where they can share their hearts without fear of being put down or criticized. You’ll be amazed how sitting still and opening your ears can turn you into their hero in disguise!


Prayer: God, many times I’ve been so overloaded with my own thoughts and distracted but he phone or the TV that I’ve failed to listen when my children needed me to hear them. Help me to realign my focus and give them the attention they need and deserve. Thank You for always being there to listen to me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Dads Are Important

IMG_0001“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.” John 15:9


Many Christmases ago, mom and dad ordered a log cabin playhouse from Sears and had it delivered to Abilene for our little girls. The children spent countless hours in the back yard imagining themselves to be everything from pioneers to cowboys…it was the gift that kept on giving!

One cold morning, I looked out our glass sliding door into the backyard and caught several tiny mice scampering back and forth on our patio…from the cabin to Muffy’s dogfood bowl. When I say “caught”, that doesn’t mean literally…I actually just saw them. For the record, I DON’T DO MICE!

Eew! I made another grim discovery. Mice don’t swim. One of the little gray critters had crawled up the side of Muffy’s water bucket and sadly (?) fell in. Disgusting.

So what’s a mom to do? The girls want to go outside and play. The dog needs to eat. There is a dead mouse floating in the water bucket. Hmm. It’s time for an emergency call to dad! Then…until Grant could come home and rescue us, NOBODY was allowed to open the back door…not even for the dog!

Dads are important for lots more than killing rodents. Dads help shape the feeling of self-worth in their daughters like nobody else can. The relationship between daddy and daughter sets the foundation of her future relationships with men. Be the giver of hugs, encouragement, compliments and regular “dates” with your daughter. Your love will cause her to set high standards…and look for a man to treat her right…just like you do!


Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a wonderful dad who loved me and always made me feel special! Help me live a life that would make him proud. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Love That Refrigerator Artwork!

Maddy K“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV


We all like to have someone admire what we’ve made…and children are no exception. When they cut, paste, draw, paint, color or write, it is an expression of who they are. When we stop to read, comment and look for genuine reasons to compliment their work, it is a huge esteem-builder for them. When we post their artwork on our refrigerator, put it in a special album or frame it for the wall, we go the extra mile by encouraging the creative talents God has placed inside them.

One Sunday after church, I watched a little boy waving the craft he’d made in Sunday School in front of his mother. His eyes were bright with excitement and pride as he eagerly awaited her praise. You can imagine my shock when I saw her grab it from his hands and without as much as a glance to see what it was, toss it in a trash can and keep walking. This mother of four never noticed the disheartened look on her child’s face as he followed her out the door. A teacher overheard her comment, “I’m not going to trash the house up with more junk.” It broke my heart.

The best teachers my children ever had were ones who didn’t put big red circles around their misspelled words…they wrote “nice job” at the top and worked on the spelling another day. Red marks and criticism can stifle a child’s imagination…because of a fear they might make a mistake.

Artwork, school papers and little hand-written notes may not be perfect, but they are special to your child. Take a real interest in what they make. Let them see you value their creations — even if it’s nothing more than putting their papers in your “special box” in the closet. Your approval will generate a desire in them to do more, to try harder, to grow better…you hold the keys to their confidence in your hands. Don’t lock the door!


Prayer: God, give me a sense of wonder and amazement when my children bring me their artwork and creations. Help me to be an encourager so the creative gifts You’ve placed in them will continue to develop. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.