Face Time

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I’ve been listening this week to NPR’s report on digital media and children. The link to their report is below if you want to read the complete story…

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/10/29/228125739/what-to-know-about-babies-and-screen-time-kids-screens-electronics

… but I want to insert some of what was shared because I feel it is important for parents and grandparents to be informed.

First – pediatricians generally discourage passive screen time for children 2 and under.
“The concern for risk is that some kids who watch a lot of media actually have poor language skills, so there’s a deficit in their language development. We also have concerns about other developmental issues because they’re basically missing out on other developmentally appropriate activities,” says Dr. Ari Brown, the lead author on the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement discouraging screen time for babies under 2.”

This is not surprising information, yet it is important to recognize that there may be detrimental effects for children who are passive digital media consumers.

“Aim for a balanced approach — for you and your baby.” the report goes on to say.

“Since the research on touch-screens isn’t clear yet,” Brown offers some advice in the meantime.

“We still have questions. If you’re planning on using interactive media with your child, use it with your child, sit down with your child and engage with them because that’s going to be more valuable than anything,” Brown says.

It’s valuable time with her 14-month-old daughter that taught another mom — Jennifer Grover — about her own relationship with screens.

“It’s just amazing how good they are at mimicking what they see. So I’ve definitely had to learn to kind of rein in my attention to the laptop, or my attention to my phone in front of her, because whatever I’m doing that’s what she wants to be doing,” Grover says.

I want to highlight two points that I think are most significant.
1) – engage in media use WITH your child
2) – be a positive example in front of your child of your own media use

NOTHING can replace face to face interaction with our children. We have “skyped” with our grandchildren in Washington State. While I love to see their faces and hear them say – “I love you, Nana” I find it very dissatisfying. I want to HOLD them, and HUG them! I want to see them in person and read books together and laugh together, and yes, even clean up their messes (together!)

I want face time!

While thinking about this I felt the Lord impress on me – “I want that with you.”

Our heavenly Father doesn’t JUST want us to read about Him, sing about Him, watch movies about Him or talk to others about Him.

God wants face time with us.

He wants to hear what we say and He wants us to quietly listen to Him.

One on one.

David cries out to God in Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

11 You make known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

God will reward us abundantly with His joy when we spend “face time” in His presence.

Face time with our Heavenly Father.

Unspeakable joy.

Don’t Look Down!

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I am not afraid of snakes or spiders. I don’t mind small places or thunder and lightning. I enjoy roller coasters and flying in airplanes.

I DON’T like to see people I love on the edge of high places.

I can literally feel my heart pound and my blood pressure rise when Phil is on a high ladder which he tends to do more often than I like to think. He washes windows and has painted our house which has places three stories up. He has patched the roof on the barn suspended from two ladders roped together. He cleans out the gutters removing leaves in the fall and seeds in the spring. All of these activites require climbing ladders.

He has asked me to hold the ladder while he assends or decends and I can only close my eyes and pray.

Phil doesn’t have a problem with doing these tasks up in the air because his focus is on his job, not the height. I have trouble watching because I am focusing on the “what if……”.

Jesus faced this same issue with His disciples.

Matthew 14:25-33 (NLT)

25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was walking on the water. As soon as he looked down, he began to sink.

The same thing happens to me. As soon as I take my eyes off Jesus, I sink. I allow fear to control my thoughts. I worry about what others think, or what tragedy might occur.

I allow self pity or feelings of inadequacy to control me when I take my eyes off Jesus and look down at the circumstances around me.

As a mother it is so easy to allow worry and fear to creep in and control my thoughts and eventually my actions. I must learn to keep my eyes on Jesus – the author and finisher of my faith.

Hebrews 12:1-3(NLT)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

I just noticed that Phil has put the ladder up against the side of the house near the gutter down spout……I better re-read this……

Kid Friendly Homes

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“I want our house to be the house where our children’s friends want to hang out.”

I can remember saying that when our children were young. Yet to be that kind of house doesn’t just happen when our children become teenagers.

Oh, no. It starts way before that – when our children are around 5 or six years old. We set the tone early on and it lives on throughout our child’s teenage years, even into adulthood. Is our home a friendly, nurturing place? Do children feel welcome? Do we ask them about themselves and LISTEN when they answer?

Since we wanted a kid friendly home, it meant that I had to tolerate mess, noise, and consumption of large amounts of food. (of course that was normal life when just our four were home) Now looking back I can honestly say I really did enjoy having our children’s friends over. I got to know them as indiviudals and observed how our children acted around their friends.

I am NOT a perfectionist when it comes to house cleaning.

OK, I am not CLOSE to a perfectionist – I dust once a month whether it needs it or not! At one point in time when our children were young, the bathtub in our upstairs bathroom didn’t work. When I cleaned upstairs I would put all the random items in the bathtub and pull the shower curtain shut.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” (I know some of you are cringing right now!)

Yet I enjoy having people over and have always felt that people are more important than my house. I have great memories of our children’s friends playing with the Fisher-Price toys, or making baseball diamonds in the field behind our house. That was before they paved paradise and put in a parking lot.

To ensure that our homes are kid friendly means that we must plan ahead. A few helpful guidelines will make it a pleasant experience for all:
* Put the valuable breakables on high shelves or out of sight.
* It is ok to have places in our homes that are off limits like dad’s office, a sewing room, or
anywhere that children could hurt themselves or others.
* Clearly communicate “house rules” – such as – no hitting, no calling names, taking turns, etc.
* Supervise at all times – know where all children are and keep yourself engaged with them.
* If children are using media, know what it is – or turn it off!
* Play outside whenever possible – less mess to clean up!
* If conflicts break out (should I say when?) redirect. Read a story or play a group game.
* Smile and laugh with the children! Have fun. Your own children will be blessed.

Jesus went out of His way to welcome children.

Mark 9:36-38 (NLT)

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

When we welcome our children’s friends into our homes, we are welcoming Jesus!

That is the way God wants us to see it. Hopefully our children’s friends will see Jesus in us.

Seasons of Change

Adah and leaves

Fall is in the air!

There is excitement because of the changing weather, the changing leaves, a changing wardrobe, even changes in the food we eat. I don’t make chili in the summer, it just doesn’t seem appetitzing to me -but I love it on a cold day!

Those of you with young children face many changes as well such as:
* It gets dark earlier – bed times may change.
* You switch out the clothes, usually getting out bigger sizes of sweaters and sweatshirts.
* Wash loads are bigger – jeans and sweaters take up more space than shorts/t-shirts.
* Leaf piles to play in instead of slip and slides.
* Kites are fun to get out when it’s windy, put away the kiddy pool!
* Runny noses 😦
* Rosey cheeks 🙂

I like the seasonal changes. It is a blessing to see the world change around us, totally beyond our control. God demonstrates His order of things through seasons. Folks who live in tropical climates after living in the more temperate zones often miss the changing seasons. Our daughter who lived in Hawaii said that she really missed fall each year. (poor baby!!!!!)

The changing seasons are a reminder of God’s order that He established in creation.

Genesis 1:14-18 says –

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
The order God established during Creation reminds us of His faithfulness. We do not live in a random universe, but instead changes happen in sequence and patterns demonstrate God’s divine plan.

There are seasons in our lives as mothers.

Once a baby is born, we become a mother. We will always be mothers even when our children die before we do. Those precious lives may no longer be here with us on earth, but they live on in our hearts!

Our roles change as mothers – but the fact of being a mother does not. Some aspects of active mothering are easy to give up:
* changing diapers
* cleaning up throw up
* waking to crying in the middle of the night

Other roles we fill in active mothering are greatly missed:
* reading bedtime stories
* braiding a daughter’s hair
* saying nighttime prayers together
* cuddling together on a chilly evening

As grandparents our roles will change. Pop and Nana used to be the “big deal”. Now as we leave the homes of our grandchildren there is no crying, sometimes just a “see ya!” as they are busy playing.
That is just as it should be because as our grandchildren age, they realize we will return – our leaving is not forever.

There are seasons in our spiritual lives as well. There are seasons when God wants us to learn to trust as we go through difficult times. There are seasons we must trust because things are going well and we KNOW it is not because we deserve it.

There are seasons when our children are suffering and we wonder when a change will come.

No matter the season or the changes we face in life – God is faithful.

Paul wrote this to encourage the Christians in Phillipi.

Phillipians 4:10-15

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.Seasons will change – God is always faithful!