Listeners

I hear birds’ singing. I hear them often. I hear a tweet, a trill, a caw, or a twitter. I hear each bird’s voice, the noise or the music of it all, but when do I listen to know its heart? When do I stop what I’m doing, pay attention, or listen to the song’s clarity, sweetness, tempo, or dynamics? How do I know what the bird is really saying? Is the bird rejoicing? Calling a mate? In panic? Under stress? In pain? Do I even care?

I hear my neighbor’s words. I hear them often. I hear a question, a worrying, a statement, a wondering. I hear the noise or the music of it all, but when do I listen to know her heart? When do I stop what I’m doing, pay attention, or listen to her words’ clarity, sweetness, tempo, or dynamics? How do I know what my neighbor is really saying? Is my neighbor rejoicing? Calling me? In panic? Under stress? In pain? Do I even care?

I hear my child’s words. I hear them often. I hear a shout, a scream, a cry of delight, a statement, or the unending questions of “Why?” I hear the noise or the music of it all, but when do I actually listen to know my child’s heart? How often do I stop what I’m doing to pay attention, or listen to the clarity, sweetness, tempo, dynamics, or meaning of his or her words? How do I know what my child is really saying? Is my child rejoicing? Calling me? In panic? Under stress? In pain? Do I even care?

God hears each one of my words. He hears them often. He hears questions, grumbles, statements, wonderings, celebrations. He hears the noise and the music of it all. He pays attention to my words and their clarity, dimness, sweetness, tempo, dynamics, and meaning. I am His child. He hears my voice, understands my words and perceives my heart. How does He know what I am really saying? That I am rejoicing? That I know His calling for me? That I’m in a panic? Under stress? In pain? God knows, because His heart listens to my heart.

Here’s what God’s words show and tell about listening:

1. Listen without being judgmental.  (James 1:5, 6; II Corinthians 5:7; Job 11:6)

2. Listen with your heart’s ears.  (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 3:17-19)

3. Listen with prayerful intentions. (Matthew 21:22; I John 5:14,15)

4. Hear your child out—without interruption. (Hebrews 10:36; James 1:2-4)

5. Say, “I love you. It sounds like you feel (like this) or mean (that).”  (I John 4:7, 8,11;3:18; Colossians 3:12,13)

 

Changes

We are creatures of habit. We get into our comfortable groove and fight–consciously or unconsciously–against anything that interferes with that groove.

Take a day in the office. You have your plan all set for what you need to work on. Then something unexpected happens: you get into a fender bender on the way to work; a co-worker calls in sick; your boss hands you a huge project on top of all the other projects on your to-do list, etc. Suddenly your plan is thrown right out the window and you become a grumpy bunny. You didn’t want this change.

We bring some changes upon ourselves. Those aren’t always easy to accept either. I’m leaving my current job at the end of the month. I’ve worked with the same group of people for five years. It’s tough letting go. While part of me is excited about what God has planned for my future, I want to hold on tight to what is comfortable; to what I know I can do with one hand tied behind my back.

Perhaps part of me fears I’ll lose my relationship with the publishing world and all the terrific people I’ve met if the next job I find is in a different field. Yes, I have a book coming out in the fall and just submitted a new manuscript to my publisher for consideration, but not working in book promotion anymore? Who will I be? Why do I feel like I’m letting go of my identity?

The song “All is Well” is a reminder that all our changes–unexpected or planned–come from Him.

All my changes come from Him, He who never changes.
I’m held firm in the grasp, of the Rock of all the Ages.

All is well with my soul.
He is God, in control.
I know not, all his plans.
But I know, I’m in his hands.

In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, we learn change is inevitable–that there is a season to everything. Let us remain secure in the knowledge that God never changes. He always was, always is, and always will be. Praying for direction during our changing seasons will bring about a sense of peace in a sea of uncertainty, especially when we can focus on our never changing, almighty God.

 

Is fruit juice healthy for kids?

That depends. Your best bet for juice is 100% fruit juice. Fruit “drinks” often contain only 10% fruit juice and do not count as real fruit juice. They’re essentially colored water and sugar.

Even 100% fruit juice is full of natural sugars. So when kids are allowed to sip it over time from a bottle or sippy cup, it bathes their teeth in sugar, which can lead to cavities. Too much juice can also cause tummy aches and diarrhea. Plus, when children get in the habit of drinking sweet beverages early in life, it may discourage them from drinking water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy statement about fruit juice. Here are some of their recommendations:

  • Do not give fruit juice to infants younger than six months of age.
  • Don’t allow kids to sip juice through the day.
  • Limit fruit juice to:
    ~ 4-6 ounces per day for children 1-6 years old
    ~ 8-12 ounces per day for children 7-18 years old
  • Encourage kids to consume whole fruits instead of fruit juice.

Read the whole policy statement here:  http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;107/5/1210

As a pediatric dietitian, I suggest using 4-ounce juice boxes as a special treat, maybe when you’re on-the-go or at the park for a play date. And if your children drink juice at home, mix it half and half with water and serve with a straw, which helps the sugary liquid bypass the teeth.

And remember, to fill your kids up and give them fiber and natural antioxidants, whole fruit is always a better choice than juice.

Blessings to you,

Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD

 

 

5 Tips on Praying With Children

We’d just finished our prayer circle in the large group portion of Sunday school when a six-year-old came in late. Her red hair in braids, she was dressed like a little cowgirl, from her pink cowboy hat to her pointy boots. Planting herself in the doorway, her fisted hands on her hips, she looked me right in the eye and announced, “I have something we need to pray about.”

I dismissed the other children to their small group classes and invited the latecomer to stay behind so we could pray together. Her prayer request? Her cats weren’t getting along and one cat had claws and the other didn’t. It wasn’t fair. “We need to pray they’ll get along so the one with claws doesn’t hurt the other one.”

One of the great privileges of ministering to children is praying with them. Though their requests may sometimes seem unimportant, or even amusing to us, to a child they’re every bit as serious as an adult looking for work. Here are five things I’ve learned about praying with children.

1. Respect their prayer requests. Never laugh or even smile at a prayer request unless the child does first. If it’s important to a child, it’s important to God.

2. Get eye to eye with the child as you listen to his prayer concerns. That Sunday, I sat on a chair as the child stood before me so we’d be the same height. This shows you’re really listening to what they have to say. Remember, you’re a reflection of God to them. The way you listen reflects how God listens.

3. Draw them close when you pray. Hold their hands, or snuggle them in your lap. (If you’re in children’s ministry, check with your organization regarding what is acceptable physical touch.) This wraps them in God’s love as well as your own.

4. Let them pray out loud if they’re comfortable doing so, or if not, pray for them. Never force a child to pray aloud if they don’t want to.

5. Follow up with them later to see how God is working in the situation. Maybe He’s answered the prayer the way they’d hoped. Maybe things have worsened. Or they may still be waiting for an answer. Regardless, remind them God always works things out for their best, even if it’s not what we’d hoped for (Romans 8:28).

Praying with children is a remarkable honor and one that I never take lightly. Do it with reverence and great joy!

What have been your experiences in praying with children? Any other suggestions you can give? 

Snuggles’ Japanese Alps Adventures by Tim Ostermeyer

TitleSnuggle’s Japanese Alps Adventures

Author: Tim Ostermeyer

ISBN: 978-0-9794228-7-4

Age: 4-12  /  SRP:  $18.95

:) :) :) :) :)

The photography in Snuggles’ Japanese Alps Adventures is awesome. You feel like you know these Japanese snow monkeys personally by the time you have finished reading the book. The story is about the challenge of traveling from the cooler summer habitat through the Japanese Alps to the hot springs where they can stay warm through the bitter cold winter months. Throughout the book Tim Ostermeyer offers Bible scriptures and appropriate life lessons for children. He also shares a lot of information about these snow monkeys as well as the Japanese Alps.

What I like about the book: The pictures will draw young and old into the book. They are awesome. The life lessons are real for children and even older readers will gain from them as well as the inspirational scriptures.

What I dislike about the book: Nothing. On the first read I worried that children may not follow the theme of the story very well, but on the second read through I didn’t get that feeling. The children will love the pictures and will want to hear the story again and again. They will pick up on different parts of the story each time through. This is genius storytelling.

You can order Snuggles’ Japanese Alps Adventures and other books by Tim Ostermeyer on the Barnes & Nobles website or on his author website.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”