Learning to Be Still

Please check out “So Here’s the Thing” with Kathi Lipp, her podcast which offers parents hope, humor and how to’s.  I was thrilled to be a part of her podcast this week, which features Erin’s and my book Free to Parent.  You can hear the whole thing by clicking on “So Here’s the Thing.”   And here’s this week’s post on an important topic for all parents: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 I recently spoke to our young students at school about the verse “Be still and know that I am God” found in Psalms 46. As I looked out into the audience and considered the sweet faces gazing back at me, I realized that I was speaking to boys and girls who definitely knew what it meant to “hold still,” but I wondered whether they comprehended, or even knew how to experience, what it meant to “be still.”  Growing up in a media saturated world, what will they miss out on if they never learn to experience stillness within themselves? This inner state of being –  our minds at rest –  is something we need to practice to make it part of who we are. Earlier in Psalm 46,  it states “do not fear though the earth give away.”  To be still in the midst of such terror seems improbable, yet it’s exactly what we are told to do – to be still in the midst of our storms, and turn our hearts and minds to God, the source of our wisdom and strength. We need to be still at those times of...

Improving Memory

I recently wrote about a new cognitive condition being reported on called digital dementia that is affecting some even in their early teens and twenties.  This condition – a result of the overuse of digital technology –  leads to unbalanced brain development, impacting many functions including memory. The virtual world offers an easy alternative making it tempting to resist the work of memory. Perceiving little need, are we forgetting how to remember? But what happens when our memory processes weaken?  Memory fuels creativity and allows us to make learning connections. In addition long-term memory forms the foundation of our personal  identity as a key player in linking the past to the future; looking back, our lives become a sum total of what we remember. Memorizing is hard work but can become shockingly fun and worthwhile. Memory is not an innate gift but is learned. It requires a depth of processing; a full mindfulness whose enemy is distraction. Memorizing is essential for creativity to happen; it’s fertile soil for learning as well as for wise decision making. To hide God’s word in my heart requires the work of memory.  Psalm 119:11 states that a heart full of God’s word forms a hedge against wrong choices.  The choices we make in haste – in those unexpected moments when we face the challenges of life – are responses that rise up from what is stored within our hearts. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Next week I will provide memory improvement tips for students but for now I encourage you to read a...

Digital Dementia

  Our kids are surrounded by so much technology. Media. Each day I hear of some new social media form by which they connect to others.  It’s impossible to keep up.  How then can we guide our children to use digital technology beneficially but also avoid the inherent pitfalls? We are raising kids in a culture like none before; one in which they can carry with them information about any topic, both good and bad,  and the ability to connect to anyone, anywhere at any time.  No other generation has had at their fingertips the amazing opportunities that today’s digital world grants, nor the menacing snare it easily turns into. Adults, teens and even toddlers are mesmerized by these tools which are intended to improve our lives yet can easily become their downfall. You can find any number of articles about how technology can enhance a child’s development and an equal number of articles about how it harms the process. Same with social media. Everyday I come across new articles and recommended books discussing the impact of digital technology on our children. Parents must be wise. But how do we even begin? We need to begin by keeping the end in mind.  What is it that we want for our kids? To that end, I am beginning a series of posts on this topic.  Stay with me and chime in by sending me your comments, questions, and links to articles you find interesting on this topic.  I would love to hear form you and learn together. Today I want to bring up a new cognitive condition being reported on called...

Controlling our Minds

America’s colleges and universities may be the best in the world but our nation’s students are not faring so well in the process. Economist Mark Schneider recently referred to colleges with significant dropout rates as “failure factories” and he sadly considers them the norm.  America does a good job of enrolling students in four year colleges, but only half end up with bachelor’s degrees, the second worst rate in the world.  The dropout problem is even worse in our nation’s community colleges. Remember Carly?  (Read posts on January 15th and 17th) Her story is unfortunately very common and becoming more so.  I believe the problem has to do with vital habits of thought, left undeveloped during the formative years. My husband is a mathematics instructor in a public high school where texting and headphones are difficult to compete with for attention.   With many students, the devices have won. While he can insist that cell phones and headsets be put away during class, these students spend class time merely waiting for the bell to ring, when they can once again busy themselves with the activities their minds long for and are accustomed to. They have grown addicted to multitasking multiple sources of stimulation such as iPods, cell phones, MP3 players, TV or the internet.  They juggle their attention between these various forms of distraction, always looking for the latest text or email, while music flows directly into their ears or a TV invites them into the modern pop culture.  This jumping around in the brain not only disrupts attention and learning but also creates a temporary feeling of pleasure because...

The Lure of Distraction

I am in Clatskanie, Oregon, visiting my mom and autistic 45 year old brother. It is my dad however, who passed away shortly before we moved to Texas, that I am reminded of today. Dad led an active, fulfilling life in this small secluded town nestled in the Cascade Range. Born in 1919, he lived through the great depression and served as a medic in World War II. As the town’s only lawyer, he also served as the school district and county attorney. At the same time he raised cattle on 300 acres and kept himself physically active by managing the fences that he built around our entire acreage. As kids we helped maintain the property which included a large garden, a variety of fruit trees and all kinds of sweet Oregon berries. In our spare time, we entertained ourselves by climbing trees, hiking through the forest and building forts. We tied ropes to the barn rafters for swinging. We trapped crayfish in the creek beds. On rainy, cold days we played board games and read books. My dad was an avid reader and expected his kids to be as well. He was a quiet man who loved solitude and he prided himself in keeping his mind sharp. He practiced the skill of memorizing his entire life and even though he did not embrace the Christian faith until later in life, it was the Psalms he chose to memorize – in three different languages. With God’s word firmly planted within his mind, it eventually enthralled his heart as well. God drew my dad to Himself through the quiet recesses...