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The Greatest Teachers

Jessica, Allen, and AidenAllen, when he was three years old, told me one morning, “I love you.” Then he went on to say, “And I love Daddy and I love Aiden and I love Jessica…” He continued until he had named pretty much every person he knew or could remember at the time.

Children have so much love to share and give. It is contagious.

A few days later, he was giving a multitude of kisses and cuddles to my husband. Aiden, who was turning one that day, and was fully focused on his birthday gift, placed it down and crawled up to daddy and likewise started giving him “kisses.”

As adults, we tend to withhold love, forgiveness, and time, giving it to those who we feel deserve it. Or those who are in our “good books” at the time. Amazing how three-year-old’s (and one-year-old’s) naturally recognize the contagious and beautiful power of love. Perhaps that is one reason Jesus said we would do well to become like children—not only to enter the Kingdom one day, but to also enter a place of joy, peace, spontaneity and love in our everyday lives. Sometimes I feel my children are teaching me every bit as much as I am teaching them – probably a lot more.

Pooh Bear’s Gift

My son likes Winnie the Pooh. Actually, it’s a bit beyond like. If a day goes by without him watching a Winnie the Pooh episode or reading a Pooh story, he’s more cranky than I am on the days I skip my chai.Allen with Pooh and Tigger

But who doesn’t love Pooh? Who couldn’t love pretty much all the characters, in their own way?

The other day, Allen was watching the original Pooh movie… you know, the one we all probably watched when we were kids.

It came to the part about Eeyore’s birthday, where he is not surprised that no one knew it was his birthday. He’s just sitting there, gloomy as ever. Pooh and Piglet decide they should get a gift for him and rush off to their respective houses to find something.

Pooh finds a pot of honey (what else?) and begins the walk to Eeyore’s houseless hill. On the way, he gets a rumbly in his tumbly and decides he better sample the honey, “to make sure it’s okay”. Before he knows it, the honey is gone and he’s left with an empty—and rather sticky—pot. He heads to Owl’s tree house and Owl scribbles a birthday message on the pot, so that Pooh can present Eeyore with “a useful pot” for his birthday.

Meanwhile, Piglet finds the perfect gift, a red balloon that was three times his size. As he heads off to find Eeyore, the inevitable happens: the balloon pops.

Piglet arrives first with his “gift”, stammering his way through the story of what happened as he presents the broken and deflated red balloon. Just then, Pooh shows up with his gift.

“It’s a useful pot, and it’s for keeping things in,” he cheerily states to Eeyore.

“Like a balloon?” Eeyore asks.

“Oh, no. A balloon is too big to…” Pooh stops short when he sees Eeyore put the little red object into the pot and then pull it back out.

“Red, my favorite color…” Eeyore says…happily?

Parenting is like that sometimes. We have great ideas and concepts, hopes and the way we expect things to turn out. They never do turn out that way, though, do they? Sometimes we have to improvise, or come up with a whole new plan.

Then we have our kids, who don’t seem to mind; or if they do, they roll with the punches pretty well. Like Eeyore—well, at least in that scene—our kids are happy with what we have to offer. They are forgiving of the mistakes we make. Actually, they don’t even seem to notice.

Okay, I realize parenting is not quite as uncomplicated as an episode of Winnie the Pooh. Situations are not always resolved within 10-20 minutes. But at times like that, I can always put on Winnie the Pooh for my son, and make myself that cup of chai.

 

[Reposted from May, 2011]

Fill-in-the-Blank Love

Mother HeartFather’s Day was coming, so I had printed out some Father’s Day activity sheets for my kids. One of the sheets was a set of “coupon cards” that gave promises like, “Good for One Hug,” “Good for helping around the yard with dad,” and “Good for helping dad take the trash out.” One coupon, however, consisted of blank lines. Choose your own gift.

One of my kids wrote, “Take out the laundry.”

One filled in, “Cook dinner when you are feeling tired or not.”

But one of my kids asked, “Mommy, is it okay if I leave the lines blank, without filling anything in?” I didn’t understand what he meant and asked him to say it again. “I mean, Daddy can put what he wants in the blanks.”

“Yes, that’s a great idea,” I told him. So that’s what he did.

And I wondered, Is that ever what my love looks like? For my children? For my husband? For my friends? For God?

Fill-in-the-blank love. Not, “On my terms, when I have time … and it’s got to be my idea.” But love that allows the other to fill in the blanks. Reading a story to my son when I’d rather read something I’m more interested in (not involving vehicles). Biking with my daughter when it’s a little too hot outside for my comfort. Visiting a friend when I feel like a hermit and would prefer to stay home. Watching a Saturday-night movie with my husband when I’ve reached the second-to-the-last chapter of a thrilling page-turner.

Fill-in-the-blank love. That trusts the unspoken power of giving and loving to create and build and maintain a relationship. Any relationship. I read somewhere recently that love is an outcropping or fruit borne of faith. Trust. It takes trust that allows a loved one to have fill-in-the-blank power over you.

But maybe that’s what love really is. Hazarding the unknown, plodding through the mundane, serving, sacrifice … Love.

A Child’s Love at Christmas

Christmas DollBy John London

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last-minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys and wondered if the grandkids would even play with them.

I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about five holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman he called his aunt and say, “Are you sure I don’t have enough money?” She replied a bit impatiently, “You know that you don’t have enough money for it.” The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere; that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll.

After a bit I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, “It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it.” I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said “No, Santa can’t go where my sister is … I have to give the doll to my momma to take to her.” I asked him where his sister was.

He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “She has gone to be with Jesus. My daddy says that Momma is going to have to go be with her.” My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, “I told Daddy to tell Momma not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store.” Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he’d had taken at the front of the store. He said, “I want my momma to take this with her so she won’t ever forget me. I love my momma so very much and I wish she didn’t have to leave me, but Daddy says she will need to be with my sister.”

I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, “Shall we count that money one more time?” He grew excited and said, “Yes, I just know it has to be enough.” So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it.

Of course, it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, “Thank You Jesus for giving me enough money.” Then the boy said, “I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Momma can take it with her to give to my sister, and He heard my prayer. I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my momma a white rose, but I didn’t ask Him; but He’s given me enough to buy the doll and a rose for Momma! She loves white roses so very, very much.”

In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on whether to remove the life support. Surely this little boy did not belong with that story.

Two days later I read in the paper that the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I couldn’t forget the little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected. Later that day, I couldn’t help myself, I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. There she was, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store.

I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

via How We Make a Life.

A Parent’s Prayer for Rest

a parent's prayer

You who said, “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest,” I come to you now.

For I am weary indeed. Mentally and physically I am bone-tired. I am all wound up, locked up tight with tension. I am too tired to eat. Too tired to think. Too tired even to sleep. I feel close to the point of exhaustion.

Lord, let your healing love flow through me.

I can feel it easing my tensions. Thank you. I can feel my body relaxing. Thank You. I can feel my mind begin to get calm and quiet and composed. 

Thank you for unwinding me, Lord, for unlocking me. I am no longer tight and frozen with tiredness, but flowing freely, softly, gently into your healing rest.

Marjorie Holmes

I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God

2014 in Review – Positive Parenting

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fireflies by Owl City

My kids enjoyed this video. The singer created the video in his parents’ basement. Looks like a great place for creativity and fun.

Christian Music and Inspirational Quotes

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
‘Cause they’d fill the open air
And leave tear drops everywhere
You’d think me rude
But I would just stand and stare

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems

‘Cause I’d get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance
A foxtrot above my head
A sock hop beneath my bed
The disco ball is just hanging by a thread
(Thread, thread…)

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems
(When I fall asleep)

Leave my door open…

View original post 128 more words

A Gift of the Present

The gift of childrenThe difficulty in writing about parenting while my children are still young (as in, while still in the midst of parenting) is, well, the difficulty. It’s not for lack of material that I so often fail to write. To the contrary, so much comes up on a daily basis that I find myself wishing I could somehow remember it all or write it all down (and hoping that somewhere, somehow, all this is being recorded by Someone who is better at it than me). In short, I miss ever so much. The days pass so quickly. We’re already weeks into summer vacation, a summer in which I had been hoping to do some extra writing. Not only blogging about parenting, but making progress in some of my long-term writing projects (a.k.a. books). But as I messaged to a friend on Facebook the other day, my kids are only young once and I know if I don’t make them my priority this summer, the months will pass by all too quickly and I’ll regret not having made the most of the time I had. Come September, my youngest will be starting school. For the first time since my husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world, nearly ten years ago, I won’t have one or the other of my kids with me for a majority of the day. I can’t exactly wrap my brain around it. Of course, when the time comes, I’ll be too busy to spend much thought on it. Between my continuing education and two separate teaching opportunities, once the school year begins, I’ll be spending almost more time in the classroom than my own children. In short, life is not going to get any less busy and I can’t count on sometime next month or next year to make the most of life. But I have now. Today. Not even tomorrow is a guarantee, but today is a gift waiting to be unwrapped. That’s why they call it the “present.” In my case, it really is a gift. God help me understand that. I know there are many mothers and fathers who don’t get the luxury of spending the summer with their children. Even if I do have work-from-home duties on the side (and sometimes deadlines bring them closer to center stage) I still have the majority of every day this summer to tune into my kids. And it’s making a difference. After only a couple of weeks consciously making “motherhood” my main focus, I can see a change in each one of the children. I find myself understanding them better — their feelings or fears or where they’re coming from even when they’re complaining why they “can’t” do something or another. This change (in myself? my kids?) simultaneously encourages me and frightens me. I’ve read that love, to a child, is spelled “t-i-m-e”. And every child will take all the love and time that he or she can get. I don’t have an endless supply of either. I wish I did. Pretty much every day, numerous times in the day, I wish I had more of one or the other. But at the same time, I don’t make the most of the time that I do have. I so easily let the moments pass by. Moments that transform into minutes, then hours … and pretty soon another day has passed. Another week. What’s the solution? Perhaps it’s one of perspective. Seeing each moment as one that will never return again. Each stage of a child’s life. Each moment of brilliant insight that they share with us. Even each argument with a sibling or testy response when asked to do a chore. It’s an opportunity to understand more about them, and help them understand more about life — the good and the bad, the crazy and ugly and beautiful all wrapped up together in a messy package. The package that dawns bright and colorful, that sets with the beauty of every memory captured and held inside the heart of parent and child. The package called today.

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His First Banker Experience

A Story Told to The Annual Pennsylvania Community Bankers Association

By Charlie “T” Jones

I’ve never written and only rarely tell of my first banker experience.

It happened in 1936. I was nine years old and the Depression was still in full force. We came from Alabama and settled in Lancaster County in a little row home, which my father managed to rent. It was getting near Christmas and my dear dad had nothing to spend for Christmas for his five children ages 1 to 9. In desperation, he went to the bank to try to persuade them that he was a safe risk for a small loan. He explained his predicament: no job, no collateral, and 5 small children with Christmas approaching.

As he should have known, the banker would have to decline his request, but he had an alternative offer for my dad to consider. He explained that if my dad could postpone celebrating Christmas a day or two, the children wouldn’t know it and everything would be reduced in the stores, and he would only need half the amount he was requesting. He said if this was agreeable, he would approve the loan for a smaller amount. Of course my dad gratefully accepted his offer.

I have experienced many Christmases, but this was the one I remember the best. Christmas Eve after we were all tucked in bed, the downstairs front door slammed open. There was a lot of noise and footsteps, and my father rushed down the stairs to see what was happening.

I followed a few minutes later, and saw him sitting on the bottom step with his head in his hands. I couldn’t understand why he was weeping. When I reached the bottom step, I could see no one in the hallway, but the hall was lined with boxes. There were boxes of food, clothing and candy. There was a riding fire engine and a four-foot folding white paneled dollhouse. We never had a Christmas like that and we never knew who or why they did it. We didn’t belong to a church, and the friends we had were as poor as we were. My dad returned to the bank to repay the loan. The banker surprised my dad by telling him that there was no record of his loan.

I only understood that Christmas experience years later when Jesus became my Lord and Savior. How blessed some of us are to see God’s love working in and through His children. John 3:16 is where it begins, but those unknown servants were practicing 1st John 3:16. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, how He laid down his life for us: so we ought to lay down our lives for others.”