No Vacations for Brains

Reading the "Hobbit" at six months.

Reading the Hobbit at six months.

We have competitive children. I thought this “one-ups-man-ship” would end when they finished school and college sports, etc.

Oh, no. As soon as our first grandchild was born, our son started questioning what books her mother was reading to his niece and how often.

“I read War and Peace in kindergarten.” he said to his sister.

Soon after, this young mother e-mailed the above picture showing her six-month-old reading the Hobbit.

This has all been in fun, yet reading to our children and grandchildren is the single MOST important activity we can engage in to encourage healthy brain development. Recent research with brain imaging shows that brain activity of infants greatly increases when they hear live language spoken to them. This same brain activity does not appear when these same infants hear voices from electronic devices like televisions or computers, including recordings of the parents’ own voices.

What better way to share our live voices than to read to our little ones!

As our children grew older and started to read themselves, they still wanted us to read aloud. We went through The Little House sseries, The Tower of Gehbora trilogy, The Lord of the Rings after the Hobbit, and The Narnia Chronicles to name a few. Those times of family reading are special memories.

In Deuteronomy, God is giving the law to his people. He is encouraging them to share his words with their children.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7(NIV)

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Don’t let our children’s brains go on vacation this summer!

Plan to read to them each day if possible. There are many great series to choose from – and include Bible stories as well. Most public libraries have summer reading programs that encourage children to read and be read to.

After you read together – talk about what you read. Verse 7 gives some practical advice about when to do this:
* when you sit at home – meals
* when you walk along the road – or drive
* when you lie down – for nap or bedtime
* when you get up – morning devotions

So as summer is fast approaching – lets make sure that there are no vacations for brains!

The Media Specialist (Librarian) at my school recently shared this link to an article that shares some insightful information on the importance of reading. Please check this out – you will be inspired!http://nyti.ms/1gwXt6m

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All Alone

twins 1
A loud cry of distress came from the bedroom where our daughter had just put her twin sons, aged three, to bed. They were staying with us for the weekend and the boys were pretty worn out from playing outside.

She opened the door, quietly entered the bedroom and realized that, in spite of some significantly loud crying, one twin was already asleep.

“What is wrong?” she asked between his sobs.

“I’m all alone!” he wailed.

“No, you are not. Amos is right here in bed with you,” his mom replied.

“He’s all alone, too!” came the answer.

Needless to say, we laughed about this situation and the irony of the little guy feeling alone with his brother next to him in the same bed.

Yet aren’t we guilty of the same response at times? We may be facing a difficult time in our marriage, with our children, or in the congregation where we fellowship. People are all around us, even in the same room, yet we feel all alone.

Mothers of new babies often feel this sense of isolation. This can be especially true if the new mom is staying home with the baby after having a job where there was social interaction on a daily basis.

I remember moving to Kentucky so that Phil could start seminary when our first child was just 3 months old. I was alone in a new community where I didn’t know anyone – with a baby who didn’t communicate verbally. Three months earlier I had been teaching kindergarten with 23 students who loved me and often told me so.

Now I was all alone

…with a baby.

I remember thinking about the best time to go to the laundrymat. When would I have the greatest chance to meet other moms of young children?

I was so lonely.

I wasn’t alone, though. My Heavenly Father was with me. I was so focused on my feelings of isolation that I did not recognize His presence. Just as Tyler did not feel the comfort of his brother’s presence, I did not sense that God was right with me in that new location.

Psalm 16:10-11 (NIV)

10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
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’s promise to us in Psalm 16 is that God will not abandon us – leave us alone. Verse 11 assures us that in God’s presense is FULLNESS of JOY!

When I feel alone, isolated, or think that I am “the only one who….” I must recognize that God is with me – I am NOT alone.

Our challenge as daughters of our Heavenly Father is to recognize God’s presence even when we don’t feel it. When we open ourselves to sensing that God is with us every moment of every day – that will become our reality.

God has not moved.

He is still on the throne.

He will never leave us all alone.

Four Generations

4 genHappy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you mothers!

For some us of motherhood was a choice, for others an unexpected surprise, for others a long awaited event that we thought might never come.

Yet we all share much in common. The anticipation of birth, feeling anxious about taking care of a newborn, selcting a name, and watching in wonder as the little life before us begins to respond to us as “mother”.

God placed us in families for a reason. He wanted us to learn about His character through the lives of others.

We are, after all, created in God’s image.

The qualities that mirror God’s image are qualities for mothers to emulate – such as –

* unconditional love
* protective love
* undying love
* disciplinary love, and
* forgiving love

In II Timothy 1:2-5 Paul is writng to his spiritual son Timothy –

2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Paul acknowledges the important role that Timothy’s grandmother and mother played in his spiritual development. Paul does not mention a father or grandfather but specifically mentions Lois and Eunice by name.

What a legacy these women had in the formation of the early church as they demonstrated God’s character to Timothy – a minister of the gospel, leader in the early church, and assistant to Paul.

As mothers and grandmothers we have a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love with our children and grandchildren. We must demonstrate God’s love in such a way that they desire to follow God because they see His reflection in us.

I have been blessed to have had a mother and two grandmothers who did just that – they:
* loved me unconditionally
* protected me from negative influences
* loved me until they died
* disciplined me in love
* forgave me when I failed them

That is the legacy I want to leave with the next generation!

Our Inheritance

great-grandpa and caleb

“Look, a worm, Great Grandpa!”

My father turned 90 years old Saturday and our family gathered to celebrate. What a joyous time we spent recalling family stories and memories of times past! We sang around the camp fire and my brother and I played guitar together like we used to when we started playing around 1968. (my brother has since gone on to become quite an accomplished guitarist and studio musician as well as a singer songwriter. I, by contrast, still play just as I did in the 60’s and 70’s – I just know more songs)

We gathered from North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, including 3 children and 3 spouses, 7 grandchildren and 5 spouses, and 12 great grandchildren, some aunts and several cousins.

We laughed a lot and ate a lot and took lots of pictures. It will be fun to look back on these pictures and remember the details of what is now somewhat a blur of activity.

Yet the overwhelming sense I take from this past weekend is one of gratefulness for a father who exemplifies the faithful love of our Heavenly Father.

What an inheritance!

Proverbs 13:22a Amplified Bible says –

22 A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children,

Amen! Our families are certainly reaping the benefits of that blessing.

Happy Birthday, Dad – and may you be blessed just as you have blessed us.