Little Will: A Brave Mindset

My grandson, Will, fell down and hurt his head again. He has a knot the size of a lemon on the back of his head.  A large lemon. I went over to Will’s home to see how he was doing.  Each time Will falls and hurts his head, I grow anxious. I know the concern about concussions and Will has had his share.  At age 5 this little guy’s head has endured more bumps and bruises than I dare count. This time, while playing basketball with his dad, his feet flew out from under him as he raced backwards to catch a ball and he whacked his head on the pavement. Hard. The decision was made to watch him and not panic.  His parents had been through this before. But around 11 PM, they were on their way to the ER.  Will was in serious pain.  Throwing up.  His eyes were not tracking. Will does nothing halfway.  He is one of those kids who has no fear. But I saw the fear in his dad’s eyes as he carried Will out to the car. I heard the fear in his mom’s voice as she called to say they were hurriedly doing a cat scan to rule out bleeding, a life-threatening emergency. I lay awake in bed fighting fear in my own heart. The updates were frightening.  They suspected bleeding or a fracture. It turned out to be swelling of the occipital lobe due to a concussion.  (A fracture has not entirely been ruled out yet however.  It’s too hard to tell with the swelling.) Will is not cautious. He...

Mini Blog #9: Thankful for Redemption

Practically speaking, there is much to fear in this uncertain world. I find it difficult to turn on the news around my young grandkids wondering if they are mature enough to handle the breaking news of each day. I wonder what the world will be like for them as adults. As I pondered last week’s blog, “Helping Kids Find Their Identity in Christ,” I felt grateful for who we can become in Christ and that God has sent redemption to HIs people and will command His covenant with us forever. (Psalm 111:9) We are redeemed. His love sets us free. The world may be broken and falling into despair, but we need not grow anxious because our hope is in Him. A recent study indicated that today’s adolescents consider their highest value to be that of fame. Yes, fame! They want to matter, to make a difference, to be noticed, to be known.  If their idea of fame is framed by the broken world they live in however, it will never satisfy the deepest longing in their souls. Only a secure identity in Christ will meet their deepest needs, as well as their desire to be known and to matter. Such an identity will not falter when facing evil, nor stumble when tempted,  nor fear in times of uncertainty, nor give up when things don’t go as planned. But this is a difficult concept to grasp…. ….to let go of trying to seek worldly satisfaction to instead find their purpose in Christ.  That’s deep stuff. When the world comes at them constantly, we must be ever more vigilant to teach...

How Do We Keep Our Children Growing and Learning?

First, we need to ensure that they keep growing.  Growth promotes growth.  When a child gains a new skill or discovers something new, they get excited,  grow in confidence, and continue growing. Some kids are naturally inclined with a nature that is willing to face challenges and grow.  In addition, some refuse age appropriate limits and create considerable angst for their parents as a result. Will, my two year old grandson is one of these kids who prefers to experience life head on – regardless of the risk involved.  He wants to “do it myself” like his older sister and brother. He has no fear of getting hurt or fear of failing.  He will jump right in and attempt things well beyond his years.  A few weeks ago, he quietly disappeared- never a good sign! He had located the keys to their Expedition, opened the heavy door, climbed up into the seat, put the key into the ignition and had the engine running. The garage door was open and the two year old was trying to put the car in gear when his parents found him!  Motivating him to try new things will likely not be an issue as he has a built in “nothing is impossible” mindset. Will however needs wise boundaries, faithfully set and enforced,  so that his unbound energy can be directed productively – and safely. What makes a child quit growing and become complacent instead? Mostly it has to do with their mindset – how the challenge of growth is viewed from within. Will’s six year old cousin Jude is more hesitant by nature.  Behind...

Risking Too Little May Handicap Kids

 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 If you are thirty plus, you may have walked to school and while there whirled around in a flying merry-go-around,  one of the playground apparatus banned for safety concerns.  You likely biked unsupervised around the neighborhood without a helmet, climbed trees, played in the dirt, and worked out your own conflicts in childhood games.  If you are younger, you probably did very few, if any, of these. Then if you’re my age, the differences are even greater.  I grew up in Oregon, ten miles from Clatskanie – population 1200.  My siblings and I loved to swim in the summer months for which we had two options.  We could walk two miles down the wooded road and swim unsupervised in the wide, swift Columbia River OR we could bike eight miles further on the same narrow, winding, hilly road to the community pool, which we would accomplish on well worn, ill-fitting bikes. No supervision. No floating devices. No helmets. No cell phones. TO BE CLEAR:  I do not consider this type of risk to be wise!  I just think kids need to risk more than they presently do. We knew the risk of getting injured was a possibility.  So did our parents.  But facing risk was considered a part of growing up. We were  expected to make wise decisions while we managed our own way through difficult situations. While I understand today’s sincere aim to protect kids, and appreciate many of the safety regulations in place, I am apprehensive that we are failing...

Let’s Challenge Our Kids to Grow

Too often we try to use God to change our circumstances, when God is trying to use our circumstances to change us.” Nicky Gumbel Born prematurely as the 20th of 22 children, Wilma Rudolph was paralyzed by polio and also came down with both scarlet fever and double pneumonia.  Her doctors felt she would never walk again but by the time she was 12, she had regained her ability to walk and took up running as a sport. Eight years later, through hard work and physical therapy, she overcame her disabilities and became an Olympic champion.  And she also set three world records! Would she have achieved as much without the difficult circumstances she had to overcome?  My guess is that likely the challenges she faced served to grow the grit and resilience she needed to accomplish her incredible feats.  Clearly her path to recovery and on to greatness was not an easy one. I wonder how many children in our nation today, with circumstances like hers, would actually even be encouraged to try to overcome such odds?  We tend to be more about coddling our kids.  To overcome major challenges somehow goes against our desire for comfort and ease.  Yet growth is often wrapped up in the struggles we dismiss, and so is resilience and the birthing of confidence. How often do we wind up removing the very challenges our kids need to learn and to grow? When they are afraid to try, we allow them to back down. When they are anxious about how they will perform, we remove the risk. Removing the challenge feels like the...