Who Do You Love?

Uncle Dale

Families are are God’s gift to His people.Through ups and downs, twists and turns and inevitable bumps in the road, family members encourage and guide along the way. And they pick you up when you fall flat! Family members also lay the framework for how we see the world. I’m so thankful for my family, my immediate and extended family members.

Last week, I attended my Uncle Dale’s funeral. He was a high school physics teacher. Goose hunting was his passion. Ever since his funeral, I’ve been reflecting on the words spoken at the service. The pastor compared Uncle Dale to Sir Isaac Newton, a man of God and a man of science. Uncle Dale was also a man of science but more importantly a man of God who loved his family deeply. Life is all about God and the people you love. For Uncle Dale it was the love of crisp autumn days, flocks of geese overhead and time spent doing what he enjoyed with the people he loved.

Who do you deeply love? Have you thanked him or her for being your beloved? I thanked my husband, Scott, for being my best friend and an all around great guy I can count on everyday. I was met with a cute smile, a laugh and “You’re welcome.” I think he might have been wondering what I was up to at first. When I didn’t follow up with a request for a house project to be completed or an admission to a dented car, he knew I was serious. It’s good to tell the ones you love you’re grateful for all they do to make life sweeter.

Who do you need to thank for being there for you, helping you out of a jam, or just plain loving you when you’re not too lovable?

The Thank You Project

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is a time to stop and reflect on exactly what one is thankful for in life. It’s easy to thank God for the big things; a healthy report after the biopsy, safe travels through a thunderstorm, reconciliation with a friend. When I slow down enough to really thank God, I’m humbled by His provision in the little things. You know, like clean socks piled on top of the dryer, all the ingredients for that new recipe on hand, safety on the school bus everyday. The little things are often taken for granted. So frequently I desperately ask the Lord to help me and when He does, I go on my merry way and forget to even say thanks. Yet I’m emphatic about my kids saying thank you. Go figure!

This season, my focus is on the “Thanks”; to God and all the people in my life that love me, help me grow, and even challenge me. Thirty days are needed to change a habit. Thanksgiving a little more than a month away. Join me in “The Thank You Project.” Make thanks-giving a part of each day in word and deed. “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2

In future posts, I’ll provide ideas to nurture a thankful heart in children, foster a spirit of giving and provide ideas for service as a family. Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate you!

Leaf Piles and Apple Crisp

Fall Fun for the Family

Recently I spent the morning with a group of three-year-olds. We had a fun discussion about the changing seasons. When asked about their favorite things to do this time of year the most popular answers were, “Jumping in piles of leaves! Going to the pumpkin patch! Picking apples!” I had to smile. These were favorites of my boys as well when they were little. Its funny how some things never change.

Each fall, we take a “leaf tour” as a family. We head out after church on a Sunday afternoon following the Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities. Every turn in the road reveals a new and more breath-taking vista of color. Roadside stands brim with produce, just harvested. Small town diners and restaurants along the river bustle. Shops and antique stores are filled with treasure seekers. It makes for a wonderful day to immerse oneself in the gift of creation and the glory of the Creator. How grateful I am that the Lord didn’t make all leaves turn brown!

How are you enjoying autumn with your family? Now that school is in full swing and the routine is established, step back and enjoy the most colorful time of the year. Autumn is fabulous with crisp evenings mingling with warm days, the setting sun illuminating colorful leaves, and the harvest moon resembling a giant pumpkin peeking over the horizon. Luke writes in Acts 14:17b, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

Take time to see the beauty of creation this fall. Fill your heart with joy. The landscape is painted just for you! Spend time outdoors, basking in the warmth of autumn. Bake an apple crisp and then join your kids, jumping in piles of leaves.

Apple Crisp

8 large apples (Use a combination of tart and sweet varieties.)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter

Peel, core and slice apples. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix lemon juice and water. Pour over apples. Gently mix. Pour apple mixture into a buttered 9 X 9 inch baking dish.

In a small bowl or food processor, cut flour, brown sugar and butter together. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Allow to crisp to cool. Serve with cinnamon ice cream.

The Dance

Separation Anxiety in Parents?

While providing tips and strategies for parents in how to help children cope with separation anxiety, I was struck with many parents’ reactions to the subject. Children are not the only ones who suffer angst when being separated from loved ones. Just when a parent gets comfortable with the changes in the child’s life, another transition descends. Take for example kindergarten, as parents we do all that we can to ensure a smooth entry into the big world of elementary school. Then we repeat the process with middle school and again high school. (The college transition is another whole topic of conversation!) I think it may sometimes be just as difficult for the parent as the child. The mind says, “Yes, soar with the eagles, do your best, find your God-given talents and make the most of your gifts.” While the heart may be lamenting, “How did you get so big so fast? Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday you were learning to walk, now you’re driving!” My youngest son commented recently, “Mom, it seems like time is going faster now that I’m older.” I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh, you have no idea!”

Learning to let go is a gradual process. Our children learn to be independent, responsible young adults as we learn to slowly release the reigns, providing freedom and choice as they mature. Think of it as a dance, sometimes the rhythm allows for fluid movement, other times we are stepping on each other’s toes. Preparing for the next life change is like anticipating the next tune. We continue as long as they are in our arms, lovingly and patiently dancing.

Easing the transition for Mom and Dad!

• Focus on the child, be it the first day of first grade or the teen’s senior year.

• Make it as seamless as you can by providing unconditional love and support.

• Acknowledge your own feelings but don’t pull your child in. Be calm.

• Exercise, eat well and get enough rest.

• Get involved in other activities outside the realm of your child.

• Get excited about the opportunities just around the next bend in the road for your child and for yourself.

• Thank God for the gift of children.

• Rejoice in the growth, both the easy and the tough love lessons.

• Pray everyday for your kids to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a).

I’m a Capable Tween, Right?

Middle School Angst

Middle school tweens, they are not youngsters anymore but not yet teenagers. Behaviors often vacillate between the two! Moving to middle school from the security of elementary school can be exciting or daunting. The resulting anxiety can be minimal or overwhelming. Although separation anxiety usually occurs in younger children, the angst associated with being apart from what is routine and comfortable occurs in older children as well. When the familiar is left behind, anxiety can increase.

Everything seems to be constantly changing for tweens: schools, friends, and bodies. Here are a few to consider for middle school children.

Schools- The physical environment of middle school is generally very different from elementary school. Navigating crowded hallways with older, bigger kids can be intimidating. Moving to multiple classes with a variety of teachers can also be challenging.

Peers- Often a tween’s peer group begins to change. Differing interests, classes, and more kids to become friends with are a few of the reasons.

Bodies- Many physical changes occur. Body image can become an issue; too tall, too short, and so on. Clothing choices can become problematic, what is in and what is not, comfort over style. The tween brain is developing. Rational thought and impulse control areas of the brain are not yet fully developed.

Parents- Kids are under more pressure to meet the higher expectations of parents and teachers.

Homework- The increased amount and difficulty of homework is a challenge for many tweens.

Taking into account all the changes, our children have a lot going on in their lives. Try these tips to make the transition easier for your tween.

• Make your home a safe zone characterized by unconditional love.

• Have reasonable expectations for your child. Help him set attainable goals.

• Share you own stories of school. Stick to the happy memories!

• Attend information meetings (Open House) to meet the teachers and administrators.

• Keep up with newsletters and other school communication to be in the know.

• Create a homework routine and space to do homework. Keep necessary items in close proximity.

• Get to know your child’s friends. Be the house the kids choose to hang out at most often. Always have food and beverages on hand to feed hungry tweens.

• Make sure your child is getting enough rest. Tweens need ten hours per night on average.

• A healthy diet will benefit your child.

• Have dinner as a family as often as possible. Encourage your child to talk about his day. Share your day with your child.

• Build time into the day to laugh, be silly or just have fun together.

• Pray with and for your child to be confident in the transition. Thank God for your child’s abilities. Ask Him to bless your child with tenacity.

Be encouraged!