Journaling Milestones

How much do children know about the day their grandparents, parents or they themselves were born? I sometimes wonder about mine, but our four grown children have less to wonder about their first days. When each was born, I wrote their name on a spiral notebook and recorded dates, times, situations, feelings, visitors’ names, schedules –you name it.

For years, the stack of notebooks sat on our portable dishwasher in the kitchen. Each day with my children was a joy recorded. Some days there was a lot to write, other days not so much, or nothing. Sometimes it was easy, other times difficult.

Like many mothers, I recorded the first times they rolled over, sat up, walked, talked, ate solid food, smiled for a photo, said “Mama” or “Daddy”, “ephe-funt” for elephant, ‘read’ a book, or ‘wrote’ words phonetically. I wanted to remember how they played with other children, their first innocent prayers, thoughts, ideas, discoveries, evidence of compassion or their simple expressions of faith.

The binders slowly filled with jottings, stories, lists, graphs, notations, sketches, anecdotes, methods of parenting. When I realized that my parenting methods were slipping into the picture, I began to look farther into the future. Could these journals become a tangible parenting tool for my children if and when they became parents?

The kids went off to college, found spouses and married. At this point, they began to ask for their journals. “They’re yours as soon as they’re digitized,” I said. Quietly, I typed, planned and collected. Piles of digitized pages, triple-punched, chronologically arranged, soon covered the dining room table.

For Christmas that year, each of our four children received a five-inch indexed binder packed with a personal cover letter, copies of all four journals, historical family medical information, photos and stories about their spouses, photos of parents, grandparents, and photographs of themselves—school head shots, class photos, and snap shots of highlight events in their lives.

In the coming years, they gave us eleven grandchildren. One day, my son commented on his son’s silly behavior. “Like father, like son,” his wife responded. “What do you mean?” he asked. She smiled. “You did exactly the same thing at this age.” He grinned. “How do you know?” She pointed to the binder. “It’s in THE BOOK!”

One person had read the book from cover to cover. Had others done the same? I prayed they were all being blessed, gleaning happy memories and godly wisdom from it.

That’s my prayer for you and your children too. If you aren’t already jotting or journaling your child’s momentous moments, I’d like to encourage you to begin today.

If your infant has already grown, don’t worry about having lost time. Just get started. Record today’s events and rely on memories (yours and others’) to fill in the early spaces. Record your child’s good, bad, funny, silly, beautiful milestones today. Your jottings might one day bless your family’s next generation.

Be Blessed by Your Strong-Willed Child

Being the parent of a strong-willed child isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s frustrating. It’s stressful. There are days you wonder what you did to deserve a child who fights you at every turn.

Why can’t Sally be more like her sister, Rebecca, who does everything she’s told without a fuss?

It says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb   I knew  you, before you were born I set you apart…” (NIV) So, as Christians, we know God had a purpose for giving Sally a spirited nature. That’s all well and good to say, but it’s not very comforting when she has pulled another of her stunts and you’re considering tying her to the ceiling by her toenails.

One thing I’ve found very helpful in dealing with my strong-willed child is to see her strong will as a blessing. I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me for a minute.

My daughter is never wrong. Just ask her. I’m wrong. Her father’s wrong. Her sister is really wrong. Annoying? Yes. But that child has some of the best self-esteem on the face of the planet. She writes notes on the refrigerator, “I am awesome!” She posts little sticky notes in my office, “I am cool.” Because in her mind, her opinion is always correct, she thinks she’s great. Honestly, not a bad place to be.

Speaking of opinions: Don’t try to battle with her on the existence of God. One classmate made the mistake of telling her God was dead and she was sure to set him straight. They were five at the time.

That leads me to another blessing created by her strong will–she has no fear of what others think of her. Her self-worth isn’t tied into how others view her. Peer-pressure? Most likely won’t be much of an issue. She has her own mind about things and that’s what she follows.

As a strong-willed child, my daughter is curious. She isn’t willing to accept something just because it has always been done that way, because she’s told to do it, or because that’s what is acceptable to everyone else. Now, this can be very dangerous if not shaped correctly, but think of some of the great people who were curious and determined enough not to accept things the way they were: Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Martin Luther King Jr. Developed with God’s guidance, strong-willed children can achieve amazing things.

In those darkest moments, when I am frustrated beyond all belief with my strong-willed child, I turn my eyes to God, and thank him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me. I’m still praying to figure out what God’s plan is for my daughter, but I know she is one of my many blessings–strong will and all.

 

Celebrating Mom

Project Overview:  This project is best for children who are able to write and requires paper and decorating materials.

The coupon book – an oldie but a goody when it comes to gift ideas that children can make themselves.  With Mother’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time for you to sit down with your little ones and encourage them to think about ways that they can help the special women in their lives!

 I am the proud leader of my daughter’s Daisy girl scout troop, and at this weeks meeting we had the girls brainstorm different ideas on how they could help their moms out.  It was interesting how it took a moment for them to get going, pondering on just what it is their moms do that they could help with.  Once the ice was broken however, the ideas kept coming.  Help with dishes, set the table, brush the cat, pick up my toys – I couldn’t help thinking how thrilled their moms would be if they actually get to redeem all these coupons!

After compiling all the ideas the girls filled out pre-printed cards that said “I will help you ________”.  This made it easy for our kindergarteners to hand-write the coupons themselves before decorating and stapling together.  While a familiar idea, it is one that has great value to both the recipient and the person giving it.  People love receiving thoughtful gifts and it is touching to know that your child thought specifically about how they could help you in your daily life.

To all you Mother’s out there – wishing you a wonderful day (and hopefully a carefully crafted coupon book from your little! :)

House Full of Prayers
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Alongside the adventures of Dick and Jane and a dog named Spot, I grew up reading the Christian version, with renamed characters, Tommy and Sally. The publisher added Mommy, Daddy, and Baby but decidedly kept the dog named Spot. 

I barely salvaged one book, House Full of Prayers, from my collection and today it sits, guarded in my office. As a child, I cared more about revealing the hidden pictures beneath the paper folds than reading the rhyming prayers.

When I taught my own children (and grandchildren) to pray, I pulled out this old tattered book. With the same enthusiasm, my children loved the peek-a-boo folds, but the prayers were too full of “thees” and “thys” so, I simplified them and came up with these:

Grace at meals:

Thank-you Jesus for this food,
our family and friends.
Amen
 

Bedtime:

Thank-you, Jesus for this day.
Thanks for all the games I played.
God bless Mommy and Daddy, Sister and Me.
God bless all those I love.
Amen.
Of course, as we mature, so do our prayers, but the point is, children learn by example. If we read to our children, surround them with books, they grow up reading and enjoying literature. If we pray with our children, fill our house with prayer (more than dinner and bedtime), they not only learn how to pray, but we cultivate a foundation and hunger for God.
 
Is your house a house full of prayer? How do you teach your children/grandchildren how to pray?

God’s Big Ideas for Kids

Yesterday I told you about my recent boardbook release God’s Big Promises for Kids (Standard Publishing). Well there’s more to the story. When I submitted my manuscript for this book, the editor responded that she loved the idea as well as the manuscript, but for marketing purposes the publishing team thought it would be best to release a pair of books rather than just one.  So they would offer me a contract for two boardbooks if I could come up with another idea and manuscript that would be a companion book to God’s Big Promises for Kids. An offer for two books instead of one is usually music to my ears. However, I needed to get back to them a.s.a.p. in order for the deal to go though.

So I thought about my relationship with God and how much He loves me no matter what, and how He wants the best for me. But in order for me to experience God’s best, I need to obey His commands. Then it occurred to me that many of God’s promises are conditional—meaning that in order to receive His promises, it takes action on our part. God will answer us when we call on His name. God will forgive our sins when we confess them. God will draw near to us when we draw near to Him. So I decided the perfect companion book would be something about obeying God’s commands in order to receive His promises. The word “commands” is not a kid-friendly word (or an adult- friendly word for that matter), so I thought of the title God’s Big Ideas for Kids.

I followed the same format that I used in God’s Big Promises. Each two-page spread includes: God’s Idea (rather than a promise), followed by a rhyming verse and two Scripture verses. Some of “God’s Ideas” in the book are:  Trust Me, Obey Your Parents, Come Near to Me, Tell the Truth, Be Thankful, Share with Others, Worship Me, and Love God and Others.

The good people at Standard were pleased with the second idea and manuscript, so the contracted was signed and the books have been published.

I hope you have enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes sneak peek regarding these two new boardbooks. But more importantly, I hope you enjoy sharing God’s Big Promises for Kids and God’s Big Ideas for Kids with the little ones God has entrusted to your care.

Crystal

available at standardpub.com and christianbooks.com