Talking about Death with Children
It’s not something you typically think about until it happens. Your elderly aunt or parent passes away, or a friend or relative dies in an accident. All too often lately, someone is diagnosed with cancer which adds an element of talking about death, but it usually just becomes “the elephant in the room.” Children should be prepared in a comforting way for death, yours especially.
Years ago, my daughter Sarah, a particularly tender-hearted child, was troubled. I knew it. She was only about six years old and she came to me and said, “Mommy, I’m not ever getting married, I’m going to take care of you when I grow up.” In my motherly wisdom, I said, “Oh, my sweet heart, God has a wonderful plan for your life and one day you will meet a young man, fall in love, and have a family of your own, Mommy will be ok.” She’s in her forties now and has a beautiful family, and, well, she could still take care of me in my old age as life has it. God’s plans are better than our plans for sure.Continue reading
It was the 4th of January and I felt compelled to undecorate. My decorating has dwindled over the last few years as I became weary with putting lights all over the outside of the house and trees in every room. It seemed right to put little sparkles of twinkly lights on several tables and my big credenza in the den, along with my outside, less sparkly, adornment of wreaths and bows that I have had for many years. My husband pared down his extensive yard art to a tasteful white Nativity scene which I have been loving for the last two years. But now it was time to take the sparkles and put them away for another year.Continue reading
It’s the holidays, most of you will either participate in a family celebration, host or attend a party. Since Christmas is only a week away, most of my plans are in full swing, however, this list is not just for Christmas! I use this format for any party, wedding, reunion or just a dinner party. Keep in mind, there are variables for every occasion, but let’s find out or be reminded of the most important steps to any great party or celebration!
- One of the first things you must do when planning any gathering is to determine how much you want to spend. A budget is key; however, you always go over so be generous, with some wiggle room. A party of 20 could cost more than a party of 50 if you get really careless with your spending. But again, you, well, I’ll say, usually, this time, go over. Added to this step is budgeting your time, how much time you have to plan, keeping things prioritized, etc. For example, get invites out as early as you can, weddings require 4 weeks and I recommend at least 2 for other occasions if possible. Some things like reunions (family, school, etc.) need to be planned six months to a year in advance to make sure people can put the party on their schedule.
Somewhere in Arizona
It had been a most rewarding trip. Joe and I flew to Cali to welcome our newest grandbaby, Naomi. Along the way, we helped with meals and school duties for the new family of five. After a few bumps in the road, emergency room trips for the new mom and our son’s virus-turned strep, it seemed they had settled in and we took off as scheduled in our Uber to pick up a rental car to drive to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona to visit our children there.
It’s not hard for folks with grown children to understand the dynamic of staying in their home for an extended period. Now, as we are used to our quiet lifestyle, we decided that a night in a hotel would be called for between visits. It was about a five-hour drive through the mountains to our half-way point, both comfortable and uneventful, but as we pulled up to the hotel entrance, I noticed that one of my earrings was missing.
Mom & Me
Everyone, almost without exception, loves their mom. Moms are our role-models, our confidants, our heroes. They give us our life, food and hugs. Moms are great. My mom, Norma Nodar, is the greatest.
If you know her, or have ever been remotely in contact with her, by that I mean, sell insurance to her, paint her house or help her at the store, you have probably gotten a card from her. This in and of itself is a blessing to multitudes. My siblings and I have 15 children between us, plus now, their spouses. Every one of us receive not only birthday cards but Thanksgiving, Easter and other various holidays. Our plethora of grandchildren, at least 40 (which includes the great-grands and steps,) have received their birthday cards with a crisp five-dollar bill until their 10th birthday! After that, they continue to get a card (usually with a decorated envelope) until, well, I guess forever.
But wait, I mentioned if you were remote contact, which means not only venders and businesses, but friend’s birthdays, illnesses, congratulations, shut-in encouragement and sympathy cards, sent, by the way, every single day.
All you want as a mom (or dad) is for your children to be happy and safe. And for me, for them to love Jesus. Is your heart broken, is your child away from you in spirit? Are they sick or just down on their luck? What can we do, how can we help? Come on now, why is this happening?
Well, first, let me say, we are in a crazy, difficult world with many dangers and snares. So, this is not your fault. That said, could we have done things differently, sure, but ultimately, our child’s life decisions are surely just theirs when they reach a certain age. It is our job as parents to mold, train and discipline them as they grow, but an adult child is totally responsible for their decisions from about 18 on, with a few exceptions, which I will elaborate on later.
Momma, are you struggling to get your child’s cooperation? Struggling to get things done in a timely manner? What about just having a difficult time teaching rules and responsibility to your child? I was there, in your shoes just a few short months ago. Luckily, I discovered an awesome system to teach my LO all of the above struggles.
I have used this system since January, and it has help tremendously. It’s the infamous sticker chart for your child (of any age). I have two charts (morning and evening) filled with a few chores, i.e. making the bed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, picking up toys, putting dishes in the sink, helping with dinner, taking a bath, free time, and most importantly, having a Bible verse of the day.
If character training is a primary goal of parenting, and I believe it is, then the best way to instill it is through the demeanor and behavior of a father. Identification with him is a far more efficient teacher than lecturing, scolding, punishing, bribing, and cajoling. Boys watch their dads intently, noting every minor detail of behavior and values. Your sons will imitate much of what you do. If you blow up regularly and insult your wife, your boys will treat their mother and other females disrespectfully. If you drink to excess, your kids will be at risk for chemical substance abuse. If you curse or smoke or fight with your coworkers, your boys will probably follow suit. If you are selfish or mean or angry, you’ll see those characteristics displayed in the next generation.
Fortunately, the converse is also true. If you are honest, trustworthy, caring, loving, self-disciplined, and God-fearing, your boys will be influenced by those traits as they age. If you are deeply committed to Jesus Christ and live by biblical principles, your children will probably follow in your footsteps. So much depends on what they observe in you, for better or worse.
Someone said, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.” There is truth to this statement. Children may not remember what you say, but they are usually impacted for life by what you do. Consider the task of teaching your boys to be honest, for example. Yes, you should teach what the Scripture says about truthfulness, but you should also look for opportunities to live according to that standard of righteousness. I’m reminded of something that happened several years ago in the state of Georgia, when the Bulldogs of Rockdale County High School overcame a big deficit to win the state basketball championship. Coach Cleveland Stroud couldn’t have been more proud of his team. But then a few days later, while watching the game films of the playoffs, he noticed that there was an ineligible player on the court for forty-five seconds during one of the games. He called the Georgia High School Association and reported the violation, costing the school the title and the trophy. When asked about it at a press conference, Coach Stroud said, “Some people have said that we should have kept quiet about it. That it was just forty-five seconds, and that the player wasn’t really an impact player. But you gotta do what’s honest and right. I told my team that people forget the scores of basketball games. They don’t ever forget what you’re made out of.”
What is encouragement and why is it so essential for maintaining healthy marriages and families. Encouragement represents positive influence, to literally give courage to someone—not waiting until it’s deserved or asked for, but taking initiative when things are difficult and uncertain. There are many synonyms one could use: to give support, confidence or hope to another; to hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate, vitalize, embolden, or rally. The impact can be far reaching and often makes a difference when relationships begin to falter. Even the neuroscience gives credence to this dynamic. Criticism and negativity release harmful stress hormones, inhibit concentration, diminish the brain’s executive functioning, and tend to create knee-jerk reactions vs. calm and rational thinking.
The Bible provides a wonderful example of a life fully lived under this principle. His name was Barnabas and there are several lessons we can draw from his story. Here are six worth considering:
1. The first thing about an encourager is that he or she is practical.
Barnabas arrives on the scene in Acts 4:36-37. He was just a regular “Joe” (Joseph, a Levite), but his nature was so uplifting and encouraging, that the Apostles changed his name to fit his character—Bar (the Son of) Encouragement. He sold some land and laid the money at the Apostle’s feet. Here were the leaders of the first century church who were trying to take care of widows and orphans, and what they needed at the time were financial resources—so practical in the moment.Continue reading
Many women feel that the job of “mom” is boring and monotonous–and they are right! But so is practically every other occupation.
I once stayed in a hotel next to the room of a famous cellist. I could hear him through the walls (believe me!) as he practiced hour after hour. He did not play beautiful symphonic renditions; he repeated scales over and over. As the cellist strolled onstage that evening, I’m sure many in the audience thought, “What a glamorous life!” Some glamour. He spent the entire day alone in his hotel room.
Few of us enjoy heart-thumping excitement each moment of our professional lives. How thrilling is the work of a medical pathologist who examines bacterial cultures from morning until night or a dentist who spends his days drilling and filling? The job of a homemaker can be about as boring as most others. Yet in terms of significance, no job can compete with a mother’s task of shaping and molding a human being in the morning of life.
Not every woman chooses to be a mother, of course, but those who do are worthy of our admiration and respect. “Children,” we are told in Scripture, “are a blessing” (Psalm 37:26, TLB). If so, then mothers are His loving gift to them.