Capture Those Kodak Moments

Muddy drew 2“Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21 NIV

Tree-climbing was one of my kids’ favorite pastimes in the summer. The children spent hours outside playing chase, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians…all sorts of imaginative games kids play. Towering twenty-year-old trees afforded them a bird’s eye of the neighborhood which added to their enjoyment.

The family dog, Muffy, our long-haired English Cocker followed the children everywhere. She spent so much time outdoors that Grant put two buckets in the back yard so she wouldn’t run out of water and overheat. There was a water spigot by the back fence which made it easy to keep them filled.

One afternoon 3-year-old Drew decided to go for a swim…in one of Muffy’s water buckets. I might never have known, except that the buckets were at the base of our biggest tree where no grass would grow, so there was only dirt on the ground. And dirt plus water equals mud. At least Drew was considerate enough to take his clothes off first…

It must have been quite a show (and lots of fun), because when big sister Becky came banging on the back door to tattle, Drew’s little naked body was covered from head to toe in mud! Becky was expecting me to be angry with Drew for the mess he’d made, but all I could do was laugh. I told him not to move until I could go get a camera. I suppose Becky thought, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, because by the time I returned with a camera, SHE was naked and painting herself with mud too. It was one of those “Kodak moments” you never want to forget, and to their chagrin, I DO have pictures.

Later, a thorough hosing off was (mostly) all that was needed to clean up the mess…no harm done. Thankfully, I was in the right frame of mind to enjoy my kids instead of blowing up at them.

A child’s curiosity often causes them to try things WE know will make messes. It’s a part of their learning and exploring. When nurtured, curiosity develops creativity. When stifled, it makes children afraid to try new things…ever. Of course monitoring their curiosity can help prevent huge messes, but when the inevitable happens, remember to laugh AND take pictures! Cleaning up a little mud is far easier than mending a broken spirit.

Prayer: God, You have placed tremendous potential for creativity in my children. Guard my words and actions so I don’t inhibit their growth. Give me the patience and self-control I need to guide but never quench their tender spirits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Eat Your Cake“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NIV

Child development specialists say children start out selfish and must be taught to share with others. Stand in a room with a group of playing toddlers and you will almost always hear the word “mine” emphasized with a push or a shove. Each child wants what the other one has, not necessarily to play with it, but just to have it. Too often, parents fall into the trap of buying duplicate “stuff” for their kids so nobody has to share…it’s just easier and more peaceful that way. Unfortunately, those children grow up thinking, “it’s all about ME”. They want their cake and eat it too. Somehow, the world doesn’t always work that way and sooner or later, that attitude leads to disappointments and failures.

It’s easy for me to say my kids learned to share. The truth of the matter is they had to because there were four of them and we didn’t have a lot of money. At some point in their lives, they all shared a bedroom with one or more siblings before getting rooms of their own. I was grateful for the invention of bunk beds and trundles! One day Drew asked me if he’d have to sleep on a bunk bed in heaven!

Despite forced sharing, we definitely had moments when selfishness precipitated knock-down-drag-out fights. The most memorable one was when Gwen and Shannon got into it during their adolescent years and Gwen had to go to junior high with a split lip after her younger sister Shannon punched her.

Beyond their tiffs and complaints, I’m convinced being in close proximity all those years, sharing spaces, toys and clothes, taught each of our children the values of compromise and selflessness.

God’s Word teaches us to put others first. For the selfish, that seems like naive folly. But in the eyes of our heavenly Father, He isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done first. He put us first when He allowed His Son to suffer and die on a cross, all for the forgiveness of our sins.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remove from me any selfishness that might keep me from seeing and doing Your will. May You be glorified as I serve You by serving others. 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.

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