New Beginnings Each Year

I like January. As much as I enjoy the holiday season, I relish the chance to slow down, reflect on the year gone by and to ponder the up and coming New Year. I look through my previous year’s journals, and then record all the answered prayers. I marvel at God’s faithfulness. I take time to ponder unanswered prayers and unmet goals. Plus I acknowledge my personal failures and shortcomings in the past year. But then I let it all go. I thank God for His faithfulness and allow His grace and forgiveness to wash over me. That’s what January means to me – a new beginning. I think of what the LORD said to the Israelites in Isaiah 43, that they were not to consider the things of old because He was doing a new thing for them. So I put down the past year and anticipate with hope what the New Year may hold and how I can personally walk in newness. What growth will take place in my heart this year? How will I be different by year’s end? Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Actually each day offers us a chance to restart…. ….to put aside the previous day, will all its struggles and regrets,  and begin with renewed energy the next day. “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22-23) I can’t change the past or erase my mistakes. Nor can I take on tomorrow...

Raising Responsible Kids

(Continued from previous blog “Jesus Restores Me“) As parents, we deeply desire our kids to grow to be responsible. Yet, many young men and women remain irresponsible instead. What will best equip them for their adult lives? What should we teach our children to be responsible for?  It goes without saying that our kids should learn to be kind and respectful to others. They need to learn to wait their turn and not interrupt, to listen and to be mindful of the needs of others. In other words, they must learn to live by the golden rule! Plus, it goes without saying that, as parents, our greatest work is prayer.  Prayer must be our daily agenda, in order to keep our focus on what’s most important.  But what are those practical responsibilities that our kids need to grow in that will equip them for their lives as adults? What is it that our kids need to become most responsible for before they leave our homes?   As parents, we are responsible to equip our kids to walk responsibility into the adult world. Our kids are responsible for learning and maturing, which comes by way of what they can control:  their effort, their attitudes, and their choices.  The outcomes, however, are in God’s hands. It’s tempting to focus heavily on the outcomes we want to see happen – like grades, tests, career choices, and college admissions.  Doing so increases anxiety because the focus goes onto things our kids can’t wholly control.  Putting the focus on what can’t be controlled (like these outcomes, or even the behavior of others), is burdensome and...

Mini Blog #2: Begin the Day With a Higher Perspective

The perspective I start out with when I first climb out of bed in the morning usually determines the quality of my day. When I begin with prayer and a time of spiritual reflection, I am more apt to see the entire day through this lens. However, when I begin by diving right into my to-do list, my entire day tends to play out like a checklist as well. Then I wind up more focused on merely getting through the day rather than drinking fully from the experiences it actually holds. I notice a similar pattern in the school days at home with my grandchildren. Sitting down with them with a time of prayer and reflection, before we jump into school lessons, sets the day up to be more peaceful and productive. After prayer and discussion about a spiritual concept, each child agrees to a character focus for the day. For one it could be working on a teachable spirit. For another it may be attentiveness or patience. Persistence is always an aim for all. Discussing these qualities up front gives me permission to remind them during the day of their personal character aims. As a result, a deeper purpose rises out of the process rather than merely getting the task list completed. Plus we all enjoy the day much more. Perhaps you feel like you have absolutely NO margin in your jam-packed school day to add in such a meeting with your kids –  that your only option is to urge them to jump right into the day’s work as soon as possible. Although you value prayer and...

Mini Blog # 1: Growing Persistence

I offered my grand daughters, Haddie (6) and Kate (7), beginning piano lessons this summer. I didn’t start out with many expectations. Having never taught piano before, I figured we would all learn along the way. One day I announced to them that they would be giving their families a recital in two weeks. They were excited about the idea until they learned that not only would they play the one-hand-at-a-time pieces they had grown comfortable with, but they would also be playing a piece that required both hands at the same time – something they had not yet tried. “But Oma, I can’t do that,” each girl stated in her own way. “That is too hard for me.” Sitting beside them one at a time, I held firmly to the expectation and by the end of the session, both discovered that they actually were capable of learning the two-handed piece. Having grown a bit complacent towards the end of the summer, being stretched was just what they needed. Both the time and effort they put into practice multiplied from that day forward. On recital day, they joined me early to make an Amish cake roll to serve after the performance. The event was a huge success and both girls gained some persistence as well as confidence in their growing skills.  (Both in the kitchen and at the piano!) They are already planning a Christmas recital.  We all know what persistence is —–working through challenges and not giving up. And we know that persistence leads to success. But how do we help our kids grow in it? It’s actually...

Adjusting the Aim from Perfectionism to Excellence

When asked at a conference I recently attended what I see as the most common issues played out in parent/child relationships today, it takes me no time to identify perfectionism as one of the top three.  For that reason,  I decided to post notes below from a presentation I gave at our school’s conference for parents last summer. During the slower pace of the summer months, I encourage you to read through the information below to determine if any of it applies to you or your children.  Addressing this one somewhat complex issue will go a long way in establishing growth and helping your children realize their potential.  Plus it will go a long way in guiding your children to comprehend the unconditional love of Jesus, which is not rooted in our performance but in His perfection. What is perfectionism?             “‘Good enough’ may be good enough for other people, but it’s never good enough for me.”             “When I make a mistake, I feel like a failure.” Perfectionists either perfect themselves to death or they give up and barely try at all. Perfectionists respond to life’s challenges either by over performing or under performing. A perfectionist rarely tries to be perfect in all things. Instead they choose areas or an area to be perfect in. They can be a perfectionist with studies and a slob in their room or they can be a perfectionist in their sport and put little effort into studies. Some will only try at things they know they can be good at. Everything else is off limits. A perfectionist connects being perfect with their...