Rain Rescue – The Power of a Loving Thing

Today we bring you a story that warmed our heart, we hope that it warms yours too

Rain Rescue   The Power of a Loving Thing

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny raise their brood of five boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. She home teaches her youngest three sons. Shawnelle contributes regularly to Guideposts Magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her stories and articles have also been published by Marriage Partnership, MomSense Magazine,  Thriving Family Magazine, Woman’s World, Angels on Earth, PLUS Magazine, Cup of Comfort books and other anthologies.

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Rain Rescue – The Power of a Loving Thing

The boys and I are driving home after an afternoon of errands. As we cross the bridge that spans the Mississippi, I notice the clouds. They’re broody and dark and the sky that’s visible in between is a deep blue gash.

By the time we’re home, they’ve knit together to a ominous mass and then there is a wild torrent of rain.

We pull in the drive and sit. The back door is down the steps and across the patio.

“I’m going to run in,” Gabe says. I turn around and see he’s watching the digital clock. It’s three. Time for the boys’ half-hour of coveted PBS. It’s a powerful thing.

“Just wait,” I say. “It will slow. If you make a run for it, you’ll still be soaked.”

Rain Rescue   The Power of a Loving Thing

“Please,” he asks.

I pop the locks and he’s out the door. Down the steps. Then he’s fumbling at the door to find the right key.

And he’s in.

And the rain hits the windshield in hard, angry pelts.

A bit like my mood these days, I recognize. Things with our struggling son have left me a little stripped. The raw, inside me can be as dark as the day.

I sit for a moment and listen to the chatter from the back seat. I watch the rain flow like a river down the side of the drive.

And then I see the umbrella.

It’s a Fighting Illini umbrella. And it’s huge. Wide slices of blue and orange are moving across the patio. I see small legs and feet underneath.

Gabe.

The umbrella bobs up the stairs, it stops for a moment as the gate, and then it pauses outside my van door.

It tips and there is Gabe’s smile.

Rain Rescue   The Power of a Loving Thing

I throw the door open.

“I came to rescue you, Mom,” he says.

There he is, this small sprig of a boy, holding this canopy of nylon. He’s holding it out to me, wanting to walk me in.

I’ve been rescued from the rain.

I hold the umbrella and it covers us both. We move fast and Gabe delivers me to the porch. I step inside and I watch him run back to the van for his brothers.

The struggle, the sadness, hasn’t gone away. But the edges have been soothed with a sweet salve. The sweet salve of a loving thing.

Before long the boys are all in and the house is full. There’s a thunder of boyness moving toward the family room upstairs. But as Gabe rushes past I reach out and snag him. I pull him close. I whisper in his small, warm ear.

“Thanks,” I say. “For rescuing me.”

“You’re welcome,” he says. And he smiles.

But he really has no idea at all.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…  Hebrews 10:23-24

More articles by Shawnelle can be found on her blog at: http://shawnellewrites.blogspot.com

How To Make Parenting Eas(ier)

Parenting is a tough but high calling.  We know that parenting is never easy, but Judy shares some tips on how to make it a bit easier.

Judy BarrettHow To Make Parenting Eas(ier) is a former physical therapist, now author, who began home schooling shortly after adopting a family group of three bringing the total to seven children under the age of ten. With only three children still at home Judy now writes Christian commentaries and home school materials. She also blogs at www.judybarrettblog.com.

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How To Make Parenting Easy

1. Take care of problems early.
Do not just “hope” things go away. And, sitting around complaining never solved anything. When you see a problem, work to fix it. And keep working. Inconsistent parenting is just as bad as negligent parenting. This does not mean the solution is always punishment and more punishment. Get to the root of the problem. Poor grades may require tutoring, or finding a way to engage the child so they learn. Sudden disrespect can mean, ‘I’m growing and need so much more sleep I cannot currently function.’ Pay attention and help your child appropriately and early.

2. Don’t make stupid rules.
Children become frustrated and rebel when life seems unfair. One of the things I have never understood is limits on TV and video games. Why? Because free time is free time. It is time to do what you want. Arbitrary limits on things they enjoy just confuse them. (They should confuse you too. Do you place the same limits on yourself?) If the chores are done well, their homework is complete and they have nothing else to do why are you micromanaging them? If you want them to go play outside, say, “Go play outside.” If you want them to exercise more, set aside a time for it, or enroll them in a sport. If you want them to read, reward it. But to subtly tell them they can do whatever they want, and then limit what they can want seems foolish. It also teaches them to place arbitrary limits on their own lives, which is a hindrance to success. (Go through your own inner monologue and see how many ‘rules’ you have for yourself that make no sense. Get rid of them and see if your life improves!)

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Keep life in perspective. If your child is getting straight A’s, is kind to others, and generally does what is expected of them, then an unmade bed is not the end of the world. (Unless he is planning on enlisting in the military.) Do not continually harp on some little aspect and let that be all he hears when overall he is a good kid. This is not to say that you never address it, it is just not the most important thing in life. Talk to him about it and try a new approach. When I talk to my boys about their messes, now that they are older, I typically focus on how their future wife will view things. It works for them. Find what works for you. (Hint: Nagging, repeating the same thing over, and over and over, never works.)

4. Make time to talk.
You cannot build a relationship with your children without mutual respect. True they may obey out of fear of punishment, but fear only lasts so long. Children who respect their parents behave better than those who don’t, and the key to earning respect is time. (It is also by behaving yourself, but I am assuming that, if you are reading an article on how to be a better parent, you already understand that.) You need to spend time with your child, and watching him play sports is not it. This is time where you can talk. You talk about what’s important to you, and he talks about what is going on in his life. Don’t think you know it all. Chances are the things your children are focused on and worried about will surprise you. Prioritize. Missing one season of sports, or other activity will not affect their lives and relationships as much as never getting to know their parents. And make it fun. Sitting down with them in such a way that they feel like they’re being grilled will not garner the same results.

5. Take your kids places.
Too many parents leave the children home when they go grocery shopping, or out for coffee. Why? Because their children do not behave. Do you realize that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you do not take the children, and teach them to behave, they will never learn to behave, so you will never be able to take them. Instead teach them young, if possible. (I adopted a few of mine older, so we went on ‘practice’ shopping trips to catch up.) By the time they were older I could take seven kids anywhere. To the opera, museums, grocery stores- you name it- without trouble. It was hard work in the beginning, but it paid off in the end. So, when I needed a cup of coffee, and felt like sitting for a few minutes, that’s what we did. In the beginning, when my adopted children still did not know how to behave at this level, we took breaks and had a date-night, because it was needed. But the date-night did not make up for the tension in the house. We worked on the things that caused tension, and the date-night became something we do for fun, rather than a needed time to get away. You can see how life would be more enjoyable this way…

6. Do things that make sense.
Do not have rules, or ways of doing things that are based solely on what others do. Do things in a way that makes sense for your family. Let me give you an example. My daughter is home schooled, and has a youth group full of good kids that she loves attending. I do not work outside the home and my other children are old enough to stay home alone. When I show up in the parking lot I wait in the car, usually with a book, until she is done. Her friends have pointed out that it is rude of her to leave her mother waiting like that. (I told you they were good kids.) She talked to me about it (notice that we have established a pattern where she communicates, and does not just do what seems right). What I told her is that her friends would be rude if they left their mothers waiting. Some have small children who get cranky in the car, while others have to go to work in the morning. Our family is different, and my priority right now is to give her as much time as she would like with her friends, while not leaving her as the last one to be picked up, wondering when mom is going to get there. So I sit and read, and it is okay. If I go grocery shopping and there is ice cream in the car, I go in and tell her we have to go, and she goes. The situation changed, and she respects that. Rules should not be black and white. They should make sense. She also does not become upset because I decided to do something productive that would limit her enjoyment. Why? Because she knows I balance my priorities (because we talk, and I often explain why I do what I do), and she knows that most of the time this results in better things for her.

7. Teach purposefully.
The ancient rabbis had their students follow them around as they went about their daily lives. The rabbis would then explain why they did things the way they did. This is important. Your children should know why you make the choices you make, or they may misunderstand your motives. When your children begin to understand that you actually think about them when making decisions, they learn to accept that sometimes they cannot have what they want, but it is not because you did not think about their wishes as well. They also learn how to make proper decisions, using the values and principles you find important.

8. Grow up.
The saddest thing I see is when a child is more mature than their parents. Many times it is because the child has had to assume adult responsibilities, or has had to become an emotional support system for the parent because the parent does not behave. This should never happen, and, even though it seems like the child is doing well, the emotional baggage they carry into adulthood is just not worth it. Get your own life under control before trying to ‘fix’ your kids. (Some of their problems could be because they are copying, or reacting to, you!) Think about why you do what you do, get your emotions in check, start to avoid people who are not good to you and actually obey all of those rules you teach your kids. Immature parents cannot raise well-adjusted children. And they make it difficult for the child to have a relationship with them later in life.

Now these tips will make parenting easier in the long run, but if you have issues you need to address the hard work starts now. You must put in the time to reap the rewards. The irony is that if you avoid putting in the time, you will have less time since you will have more messes to clean up, and the stress and anxiety are just not worth it. Will your family be perfect? No, but children can be manageable and enjoyable most of the time. Think of it this way: There is a Chinese restaurant that called us ‘The Happy Family.’ Why? Because I did not have to yell at my children to sit down, stopping touching your brother, eat your food etc every five minutes. Wouldn’t you like this to be you?

More articles by Judy can be found on her blog at: http://judybarrettblog.com

Prayer – Power and Honor

How often do you pray for your child?  Hear from April and her husband on how important prayer has been to their parenting journey.

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Prayer   Power and HonorPraises of a Wife and Mommywas created in 2011 while April was pregnant with her second child.  She is a pastor’s wife and could not be more proud of her husband and excited to see God use him and this whole family.  She also has an amazing 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son.  The verse that started the blog is Proverbs 31:25-26: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

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Prayer   Power and HonorPrayer – Power and Honor

Prayer   Power and Honor

In prayer we honor God in relationship, and then in power we honor His revealed vision and shared dreams. Today we take a look at Hannah in 1 Samuel 1.

This message is from my husbands message on Mother’s Day at our new church in Iowa.
“I remember my mother’s prayers, they have always followed me. they have clung to me all my life.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Prayer is awesome and I am thankful for each prayer my other prayed when she was alive. I have been blessed to find some prayers for me that she wrote in her bible.  :)  I think she knew I would marry a preacher!!!  :)
AMEN- God wants to honor you!  :) In prayer we honor God in relationship, and then in power we Honor His revealed vision and shared dreams.
Three things happen when we approach God.
1. We are ruined. But you can’t stay there
2. We are cleansed and qualified. But you can’t be afraid to mess up
3. We hear and respond. But with all we are.
I hope you all take 30 minutes to listen to this message on prayer.  I pray that you will learn more about prayer but a new passion would come over you to pray to our daddy God.
What are you praying for? Who are you praying for?  Are you being bold in your prayers?  I encourage you if you are a mother to pray daily for your children and their future.
More articles by April can be found on her blog at: http://www.praisesofawifeandmommy.com

Spiritually Guarding Our Children

How much do you as a parent protect your children vs. expose them to the world?  Nicole shares her views in the post below.  On the iPad, do your children get to play all mindless games?  or are you cognizant of what they’re being exposed to on their mobile devices and use it as a way for them to interact with the word of God?

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Spiritually Guarding Our ChildrenNicole Crone is a homeschooling mom of six children ages 8 months to 13 years that resides in Rockmart, Georgia. Nicole’s greatest hope is that her children will continue to grow in the Lord and walk in His truth. She blogs at www.childrenareablessing.org about family life, homeschooling, and the high calling of being a wife and mother.

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Spiritually Guarding Our Children
As mothers, we are called to protect our children.  But what type of protection are we to offer?  Of course we should protect our children from physical harm, such as playing with matches, falling down stairs, and bullying on the playground.  Do we feel the same way concerning emotional and spiritual harm?

During the thirteen year time span that I have been a mother, I have been accused of many things.  Some phrases that come to mind…

You sure do overprotect your children.

Better watch out, one day that bubble you keep your children in is going to pop!

When your children are grown, they are going to rebel against everything you have taught them.

These accusations have been hurtful, especially when coming from family!  They have caused tears, and much second guessing of my mothering skills on my part.  The world (and many well meaning Christians) tell us that we must expose our children to evil in order for them to stand against it.  That to not allow our children to attend public school, to date at 14, and watch PG-13 rated movies is foolish.  But is this biblical?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

Through much Bible study, I have never seen any verses that go something like this, “Expose yourself to evil, in doing so you will be able to stand against it!” Actually, I have seen quite the contrary.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. ~Psalm 1:1-6

Everyone knows that we are to protect our children physically.  Even the world champions that.  As Christians, we are to take the next step by protecting our children emotionally and spiritually, and we should actually be more concerned about the spiritual than the physical sense!

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Through scripture we see that God is our protector.  He is our shelter and our shield.  When we protect our children from ungodly influences, we are exhibiting God-like character traits.  Godly mothers should resemble the nature of God, which is the definition of God-like.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~Psalm 46:1

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ~ Psalm 91:1

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. ~Psalm 121:7

Mothers, when we protect our children from physical, emotional and spiritual harm, we are showing our children the very nature of God.  May God use us mightily to lead our children to Him.  Our God can and will prepare our children’s hearts to serve Him while we shelter them from evil.

Be blessed!

More articles by Nicole can be found on her blog at: http://childrenareablessing.org

Pondering Leashes

Let’s get to some practical parenting tips, or rather, experience sharing.  Have you ever used a “leash” on your child?  What was your experience?  Stacy below shares hers.  We’d love to hear yours!

Pondering LeashesAfter hearing about this new thing called a blog from a friend back in 2001, Stacy, a life-long journal keeper, decided to give it a try. She was hooked and now likes to tell folks she has been blogging since back in the days when “we were writing on the cave walls with ashes from the fire.”  A mother of an elementary age daughter and teenage son at the time, Stacy was also a youth leader at her church.  Her first blogs were used as a way to keep the teens in the group informed and connected.  She’s also used blogs to connect with other youth workers and ministry friends, to share life lessons and humor, and during life’s rougher times to share and be blessed and counseled by some amazing Christian friends.  These days Stacy is staring middle-age and the empty nest in the eye.  Both of her children are adults and she is the grandmother of two.  She waivers between excitement about this next phase of her life and throwing pity parties about her youngest gearing up to leave the nest.  Stacy works as a school bus driver, has taken a couple of seminary courses and attends Logos Christian Fellowship where she is active in the women’s group and is hoping to be ready to share her first sermon later this year.  

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Pondering Leashes

How do I feel about leashes?

Better than I do about my “trainable” laptop right now.  I don’t know how to train it, yet it learns things.  Bad things.  Like wiping out the entire post I just finished typing.  I wish I had even an inkling of a clue what I do that makes it do that.  Grrrrr!

Anyway….

Leashes.  I do use them on my dogs when they leave the house.  I wish I didn’t have to, but much like my laptop, they are idiots.  All sense of hearing seems to flee the moment they step outside.  I base that on the fact that they never so much as look in my direction when I am yelling their names, whistling, clapping, or offering treats as bribes.  No leash outside = GONE.

How about leashes on kids?

Basically, my feelings on that are “don’t judge.”  I always hear people saying how horrible it is.  Maybe it looks bad, but it doesn’t harm the kid.  In fact, I’d say that a parent who uses some type of restraint on their child knows that child’s personality better than anyone else….and they know their own abilities better, too.  If a restraint of some sort is needed to keep a child from running off in certain situations, isn’t that better than a lost or missing child?  Or an absolutely obnoxious child running amok?

Someone gave me a “leash” of sorts when I had my first child.  It consisted of two velcro wristbands, one for me and one for him, and a stretchy cord, like old-time telephone cords between.  I only used it once.  Not because I cared what anyone thought or because it was traumatic for my son.  It was because it didn’t really work.  I put it on us in a store, set him down on the floor and he promptly took off running.  He ran down the aisle, around the end of the aisle, and down the next aisle.  I knew he was on the end of the cord, but the thing stretched out at least 30 feet!  I had no idea what he was doing over there in the next aisle.  I unhooked him and put him back in the shopping cart.

Well, as Forrest Gump would have said, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

*By the way, have you ever noticed that “leash” is one of those words that when said over and over starts to sound wrong and you start to question yourself on its spelling and use.  Don’t believe me?  Keep repeating it.  You’ll see.

More articles by Stacy can be found on her blog at: http://livedwell.blogspot.com

God’s Word is powerful

What prepares you for parenting challenges?

Our guest today, Ben Patterson, talks about the importance of being in God’s word.
Share in the comments section what you do to get God’s strength?

God’s Word is powerful

Ben Patterson is a speaker, writer, and Children’s Ministry Director in Cedar Falls, IA. He and his wife started their family by adopting four children. He blogs at WhatFamiliesDo.net and you can follow him on twitter.

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God’s Word is powerful

The knowledge of Scripture affects our attitude toward the present and the future. The more we know about what God has done in years past, the greater confidence we have about what He will do in the days ahead.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

We should read the Bible to increase our trust that God’s will is best!

Paul highlights one of the sources of the spiritual power we need — the Word of God. Tapping into this power enables us to be the kind of parents God designed us to be. We can try so hard to be empathetic or understanding and yet find ourselves frustrated and discouraged. That is when we need to spend some quiet time with God and His book, praying and looking for the direction only He can provide.

If I don’t get up in the morning and have some quiet time with God in prayer or reading the Bible then I feel off for the day. Disciplined time reading the Bible and spent in prayer prepares me for the parenting challenges ahead. It’s important to stay prepared!

Bible study has many values, but this verse promises that the Scriptures will encourage us. Haven’t you found that to be true in your life? Studying the Bible through the lens of parenting can sustain you through those trying parenting moments.

More articles by Ben can be found on his blog at: http://whatfamiliesdo.net