7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

 

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

 

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

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*Quote taken from gotquestions.org

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motherly morsels of wisdom

motherly morsels of wisdom

Moms. A rich source of wisdom passed on for generations.

In celebration of Mother’s Day and as a tribute to moms everywhere, I asked friends across the nation and beyond what was the most important thing they learned from their mom. Here’s what they had to say:

Perseverance, faith, and compassion. ~ Madi A.

My mom taught me that happiness is not how much you have but how much you enjoy what you have. She always says that. ~ Marianne F.

To be kind. ~ Maria F.

Respect, compassion, dedication. ~ Ross W.

To keep Jesus first, cherish family, serve others and never give up hope when things get tough. ~ Margaret S.

The Salvation Message/ to love the Lord. ~ Holly C.

To love like Jesus. To speak kind words. To live by faith. ~ Tammy S.

My mom left me with my grandparents when I was 6 months old & my grandma and aunt wouldn’t let her take me back. Everything I have learned about unconditional love and faith, from a maternal source, I learned from my spiritual mom. She’s been there for me since i was 13, praying for me, taking me to church, reminding me to keep my focus on God, and proving that some people can be trusted not to abandon you. I wouldn’t be who I am without her. ~ Jodi H.

To look to God in hardships… ~ Holly Anne H.

We do not hate, hate is a very strong word. We may not like how someone is or what they did, but we do not hate…….my momma was an amazing woman…..we didn’t have much growing up but we had lots of love and laughter. ~Julie B.

To cherish your family…Just lost my mom 3 weeks ago and she always cherished Family! She was a gracious lady. ~ Tammy J.

My mom told me, “Ninety percent of your unhappiness in life will come from comparing yourself to other people. Just don’t do it.” So far she’s been right. ~ Sam H.

Unconditional love and charity. She would give you the shirt off her back if you truly needed it. ~ Natalie J.

To always remain positive no matter what. ~ John C.

Courage and humor in the face of loss of loved ones, her own severe arthritis, three kinds of cancer, heart problems, dementia. ~ Kathy B.

Kindness, diligence, work ethic, love for my kiddos—because of her love for me and my bro’s, my mom is AMAZING!!! ~ Heather K.

Rudyard Kipling

I’m thankful for my own mom, who taught me the value of hard work. She worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known in difficult labor-type jobs: cleaning businesses and wallpapering homes, so she could stay home with us and help provide income at the same time.

But my mom taught me so much more than work ethic. She taught me to serve others from the time my siblings and I were little, we “adopted” grandparents and visited them, provided for their needs, and learned to treasure them.

But my mom taught me even more than serving others. She taught me compassion and to put others above myself. She taught me how to nurture and care for those who are ailing. She also taught me to be creative and follow my dreams.

But my mom taught me more than that. Now confined to a wheelchair with serious chronic illnesses, my mom has taught me the value of faith and how to rely on God in all circumstances. To keep my eyes on Jesus, even when it’s the hardest (and last) thing you feel you can do. To still serve others in the midst of struggling with her own hardships. To persevere and to never give up. To love others even if that love is never returned.

Moms – you do make an impact on, not just your child(ren), but also future generations. You do this by the way you live, the words you say, and the actions you show day after day.

To all you moms, Happy Mother’s Day. May the Lord bless you for being shining examples.

Mom's motherly morsels

 

 

 

Check out these other posts about and/or for moms:

 

 

 

tasty gluten free coconut muffins

GF Coconut

Looking for a delicious treat? These tasty gluten free coconut muffins are sure to fit the bill!

Preheat oven to 345 degrees

In a bowl, mix together the following:

2 c. flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs (or equivalent with Ener-G Egg Replacer)

1 1/4 c. milk (dairy-free milk, such as Rice Dream can be used)

1/2 c. butter

1/3 bag of Baker’s angel flake sweetened coconut shreds (14 oz. bag)

Optional: 1 cup of gluten free chocolate chips (we like Enjoy Life mini morsels) or 1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa. **Note, if adding Hershey’s cocoa, add 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. additional milk.**

Pour batter into muffin tins. Baking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24

GF Coconut Muffins 4GF Coconut Muffins 1GF Coconut Muffins 3GF Coconut Muffins 2

 

what is love?

what is love

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day when love is celebrated. But what is love?

The world’s definition of love:

Love is a loosely-used term in today’s culture. It is fleeting, and based on feelings and emotions. It is conditional, must always be romantic, is often selfish in nature, and self-centered. It can come and go at any time, and does not think in terms of longevity, but lives for the moment.

So what is love really?

Love is…

Loving someone even though they are flawed. I hear of single people stating they are waiting for the “perfect person” to come along. There are no perfect people. We are all flawed, all human, all broken. Someone will always have little idiosyncrasies that drive us crazy. Habits that are irritating, and mannerisms that are more than an annoyance. But love sees through that. It sees the heart of the person, flaws and all.

Loving someone through the hard times. If you ask people who have been married for a long time, they will tell you that marriage is not all roses and fun times. Illnesses, injuries, job loss, loss of loved ones, money problems – these can crop up at any time. Love stands beside someone through the surgeries, through the job losses, through the grief of loss. It doesn’t give up on someone, but remains steadfast.

committment

Making sacrifices. If you truly love someone, you will make sacrifices that are in your spouse’s best interests – even if it’s difficult.

Not dependent on feelings. Feelings are fickle at best. They come and go, are ever-changing, and can’t be trusted. Deep, abiding love realizes that feelings are undependable, and instead looks to commitment.

Not dependent on what you can get out of it. The Bible tells us to put the needs of others first and to put them above ourselves in Philippians 2:3. Love puts “self” aside and looks to what benefits the other person.

Forgiving. We all make mistakes. We are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven, even when it’s difficult. Love does not hold onto grudges.

1 Peter 4 8

Primarily evident in actions rather than words. Examples include supporting someone in their hobby or a dream, listening without interruption when they are telling you something that’s weighing on their heart, etc.

Loving as the Bible commands. Many verses in the Bible teach us how to love others. First John 4:19 says that we are able to love because God first loved us. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” First Corinthians 13:4-5 says Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

1 Corinthians 13 4a.png

Sure, these are all nice verses, but how can we love like we are commanded? Only with the Lord’s help. People (including ourselves!) are not always easy to love. Only through dedicated and regular prayer can we love those whom we are called to love. Only as He grows us in grace and tenderness can we love like He does.

Thankfully, He does love us. More than we can fathom. More than we ever know this side of Heaven. And thankfully, God’s love for us isn’t based on feelings. His love is evident through His Son Jesus, today and everyday.

 

 

the best Christmas gift ever received

Best gift recieved

What’s the best Christmas gift you have ever received (besides Jesus)?

I asked several wonderful friends on Facebook this very question. I loved their responses! They varied from recent gifts to treasured gifts of years ago, to gifts that no monetary value could be placed upon.

liittle girl at Christmas

My Brother sewing machine as I use it several times throughout the week. ~ Judith S.

A flat top guitar! I was 9 years old! ~ Dolores G.

Our first Christmas, my husband bought me a beautiful oak fiddleback rocking chair. It’s precious to me. ~ Melana C.

A unicycle from my brother and sisters when I was 8. They all went in on it without my parents help.~ Mariann F.

Loving parents who didn’t yell at me when in my child-like exuberance I cut a hole in my Daddy’s new pants while wrapping presents.~ Natalie T.

A wooden cow on a string, when pulled made a “moo” sound. I was 3. ~ Scotty B.

The gift that comes to mind is of wonderful Christmas memories, trying to think of some ‘things’ all I could remember were the feelings of Christmas, family together, Christmas Eve service, lights twinkling at night at my grandmas house with family on Christmas Eve. ~ Cheryl C.

Christmas house.jpg

My mom has said her best Christmas present was Christmas of 1987… when I was born shortly before and came home on Christmas Eve. ~ Holly Anne F.

My Grandma Burton and Grandpa traveled globally when he was in the Navy. One place they went was Italy. In Italy they purchased a gorgeous Nativity set. Each year the 3 grandkids took turns setting it up. As we got older it became my thing to do with Grandma and we spent the day setting it up, decorating and hanging out. One of my favorite days each year. For my 25th Christmas Grandma gave me the Nativity. It remains my favorite gift of all time. ~ Jessica P.

nativity scene 2

As a child the most memorable gift was an interchangeable, blue band, hard plastic bracelet/watch from my dad. Presents were all done , my brothers were digging around in their stalkings and my dad faked surprise and dug around IN the tree and brought out a small box for me and something similar for my mom. She didn’t know anything about it. It spoke volumes to me! I always doubted my worth, especially concerning them/him. It was a moment I relived in my head for years. As an adult from my husband, of course the wheel around dishwasher on our first Christmas together was awesome but I would have to say my replacement wedding ring he wrapped in a box and left on my car seat on Christmas morning. It wasn’t an expensive ring by any means and was meant to be an interim ring … I can’t seem to give it up though. ~ Holly C.

I consider my youngest daughter Allison to be a wonderful Christmas present even though her Birthday is on December 4 and she was brought home two days later in a Christmas stocking I still consider her to be the best Christmas gift ever! My older daughter Heather’s Birthday is on December 24 and (the ex and I) brought her home on the 25 of December in a Christmas stocking also. I definitely do consider them both the best Christmas gifts ever and you cannot beat those two gifts ever.~ Emma W.

The presents fade in memory—the laughter and love remain as the only gifts worth keeping.~ Kathy B.

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While these presents are meaningful and hold a special place in my friends’ hearts, there is a gift even more important, even more wonderful, than any of the aforementioned gifts. That gift is Jesus.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and may we never forget Who is the greatest gift of all!

8 great Christmas gift ideas for wives

8 Christmas gifts for wives

In my last post, I discussed 5 things a man should never buy his wife for Christmas. (If you haven’t yet read that post, make sure you do, because it’s absolutely hilarious and can be found here.

Ok, so, husbands, what do you get for your wife for Christmas? Here are eight excellent (more serious) ideas of things for all budgets that she’ll love:

1. A massage. The benefits of massage are numerous. It relaxes sore muscles, assists in stress relief, rounds out a fitness program, and improves the quality of life for those with diseases. Nearly every person can benefit from a massage. Ask around and find a reputable massage therapist in your town, or log on to http://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/locator.aspx for some suggestions in your area.

2.  A book. Does your wife have a favorite author? Has she been eyeballing a book at the bookstore? I couldn’t not suggest a book since I’m an author myself! If your wife loves to read, but you’re not sure what book she’d like, a gift certificate from a local or online bookstore would be a great gift.

woman reading book.jpg

3. A month’s worth of housecleaning. What woman wouldn’t love a break from housecleaning if only for a month? Why not hire a cleaning service to come in for a month and lighten your wife’s load? Trust me, she’ll appreciate this, and it will for sure earn you  “husband points!”

4. A vacation…just the two of you. No, it doesn’t have to be a 7-day cruise, although that would be nice (Lon, if you’re reading this, hint hint!) A weekend getaway at a bed and breakfast works too. Ask a family member or friend to take care of the kids, before sweeping your wife off  her feet by planning a getaway for just the two of you. Be sure to plan this  ahead of time and have the date set in stone, as life gets busy. You don’t want her Christmas gift to get forgotten.

5. Purchase a pamper kit. Choose a day and declare it your wife’s pamper day. She will be ushered first to the salon for a manicure or to have her hair done. Second, she will be treated to a no-interruptions bubble bath. That means that if you have small children, take them out for a Daddy Day while your wife relaxes. Third, she heads to the massage therapist for a much-needed massage (see #1). Fourth, take her out to a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant. Pull this off and I guarantee your Christmas will be very merry!

manicure

So, what if you’re short on cash during these strained economic times? Check out these economical suggestions that can mean so much:

6. A coupon book. You may have heard of this before…it’s a homemade coupon book full of kind things to do for your wife.  Cleaning her car inside and out would be a kind gesture, especially if the constant hauling around of children and pets has left the floor in your minivan stained and dirty. Offer to check her oil, check the tires, fill it full of gas, and wash the outside as well. Other suggestions can range from lovey-dovey romance coupons to thoughtful items (use your imagination here, guys!) There is no expiration date, and perhaps some coupons can be used more than once!

7. A promise to grow in your walk with the Lord together. Offer to pray with her and study the Word together. Plan, on a weekly basis, to put the Lord as the top priority in your marriage and watch how He changes you both for the better!

8. Renew your wedding vows. Have you been married any length of time? How about a renewing of your wedding vows? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Enlist your pastor’s help and have a small wedding where you rededicate your lives to each other.

renew wedding vows.jpg

There you have it! Now hurry…you only have a few more shopping days left! Oh, and Merry Christmas!

 

 

 


Looking for some other Christmas posts? Check these out!

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

21 fun Christmas stocking stuffer ideas

Movie Monday: A Bramble House Christmas

5 things a man should never buy his wife for Christmas

 
5 things a man should never

All right, all you sweet and thoughtful husbands…have you decided what to buy your wife for Christmas yet?

Start making those lists!

And wives, if you’re reading this, kindly suggest to your husband to read this post – it could make your Christmas much merrier. 🙂

 
Ok, here is some helpful and humorous advice from a veteran wife of 26 years…

Disclaimer: these are just generalities and some wives may like the items on the “do not buy” list. Plan accordingly, and good luck!

Do not buy your wife:

1. Something she doesn’t want, but that you would like. For instance, don’t buy your wife a new (or gently used from the wrecking yard) car muffler for Christmas, unless she’s a mechanic or big into NASCAR. Lon bought a loud muffler thingy for our Jeep Cherokee years ago that sounded like what would belong on the vehicle of a high schooler. Guess who drove the Jeep 99.9% of the time? Yep, me. (And no, I wasn’t in high school) Guess what happened when we went to trade the Jeep in for a bigger vehicle once we started our family?

The thing was so loud that the car salesman told us we needed to “fix” the loud muffler before trading it in. Lon finally did convince the car salesman that the muffler wasn’t broken, but that it was a “high performance bought- and -installed- on- purpose- muffler.” Now some other poor wife is driving a Jeep that you can hear from a mile away!

Nix the new car tires too. While that’s nice that you want your wife to be safe, save it as a “family purchase” rather than a “gift for the wife purchase.”

2. Clothing. Husbands, unless you know your wife’s correct size, stick to a gift card at her favorite department store instead. Here’s why: If you buy her a size that’s four times her actual size, she’ll think you think she’s fat. Alternatively, if you buy her a size four times smaller than her actual size, she’ll think you think she needs to lose weight. See how this is a lose-lose situation?  So, unless you know for sure that she always wears a size medium in sweaters, please pass on the clothes. Otherwise, you may find yourself in deep trouble with your sweetie poo.

women's sweaters.jpg

3. A toolbox. When Lon and I were first married, he wrapped a large present and hid it under the tree. I was so excited and couldn’t wait until Christmas. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and it was a toolbox complete with my own set of tools! I thanked my sweet husband for his nice gesture, but I was puzzled. I’ve never been very handy with tools and the farthest thing from a “fix-it girl” there ever was. Our story landed us on the pages of Woman’s World and the toolbox remains in the garage where Lon uses it on a regular basis. Disclaimer: this is a perfect gift only if your wife is the “fix-it type.” Otherwise, please pass on this gift idea!

toolbox.jpg

4. Exercise equipment. Does this one really need any explanation? Unless she asks for that new treadmill, pass on the expensive (or not-so-expensive) exercise equipment. You and your marriage will be glad you did.

5. A kitchen appliance. Unless she specifically asks for it or you can tell from her look of anguish at the toaster you received for your wedding gift 45 years ago, keep away from kitchen appliances. Ditto for mops, a year’s worth of cleaning supplies,  a garden tiller, a chainsaw, or a lawnmower. Just trust me on this. Really.

toasteer

 

Join me next time for some wife-approved Christmas gift ideas!


 

Check out these other posts pertaining to Christmas!

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

21 fun Christmas stocking stuffer ideas

Movie Monday: A Bramble House Christmas

Movie Monday: Switched for Christmas

9 recently-released Movies for your next family night

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

Movie Monday: Finding Father ChristmasMovie Monday: Finding Father Christmas