Late Bloomers

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“Look at these blooms!”

I have just returned from a trip with my mother to see my brother and sister-in-law in Eugene, Oregon. I fully expected to see our flower beds in that dried out, dead leaf state that results from a freeze.

But it is October 31 and we have not had a freeze yet!

These late bloomers are especially beautiful to me because they are unexpected.

These flowers are showing off their beauty “out of season” and therefore are that much more enjoyable. This caused me to think about the seasons or phases in our lives and the fact that this delay can create a special appreciation….if we recognize it.

As parents and grandparents we are often looking for developmental milestones in our children. These can be as varied as –

  • talking
  • walking
  • hitting a baseball
  • riding a bike
  • reading
  • writing one’s name

When there is a delay in reaching one of these “milestones”, it can cause anxiety. Yet, often children develop at various rates because not everyone is on the same developmental time-table. Each human is an individual. There are so many variables in life that affect development.

Each stage of a child’s life becomes more precious if we enjoy it for what it is. a “season” or “stage” of life. Some mother’s lament the passing of the baby stage while others look forward to meaningful conversations with their teenagers.

Wait….are those meaningful conversations possible?

YES!

A well-known passage of scripture in Ecclesiastes  3 addresses the various seasons and times in life. We often read this in regard to major life events. I think several of these verses apply aptly to raising children.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

God has a season and a time for everything. It may not be according to our timing, in fact many things probably WON’T be according to our timing.

Yet God in His infinite love and wisdom will carry out His plan in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

If they are precocious and do things “early”, enjoy that season.

If they progress at a “normal” pace (whatever that is), enjoy that as well.

If they are “late bloomers”, enjoy the surprise and joy of accomplishment with them. The wait can make it all the more sweet.

Above all else, remember – God is faithful.

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I Don’t Know

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Have you ever been irritated by a person who “knows it all”? Or more precisely, someone who ACTS like they know it all?

(truth be told, NO ONE knows it all)

This is very common with parenting advice…

  • “Well, when I was potty training….”
  • “My child never…”
  • “My child always…”

BEWARE OF THOSE WHO USE “ALWAYS” and “NEVER”!

It is rare for life to be so absolute, isn’t it?

These statements sometimes come from a parent of an only child – a  compliant only child. Where is the control group? Where are the variables of gender and birth order?

The reality of parenting is that we don’t have all the answers.

I heard a preacher say recently “it isn’t about having all the answers… it is about knowing who to go to for the answers.”

I remember Elizabeth Elliot challenging young women at a conference in 1990 – “I don’t know what you are facing in your life today…but I know the One who does.”

Jesus

Prayer is an amazing practice that opens our hearts and minds to receive God’s wisdom. Does this mean that when I pray I will receive an audible response telling me what to do?

rarely….

Yet I do believe that God will respond to our requests for wisdom. I have experienced this myself many times. God promises to do so in His Word.

James 1:5 (ESV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

This promise applies to us as parents. James goes on to say in this same letter –

James 3:17 (ESV)

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

How encouraging!

This is not the kind of wisdom that makes one feel dumb, ignorant, or inexperienced. It is …

  • pure
  • gentle
  • open to reason
  • full of mercy
  • impartial
  • sincere

That list embodies JUST the kind of wisdom I need when I don’t know the answer.

This wisdom may come from a thought given by the Holy Spirit. It may come from a friend who is unaware you even have a concern. The wisdom may be from something you read or hear on the radio. It may be in a song. God will use various means to answer our prayers for wisdom. His wisdom.

It is the kind of wisdom young mothers should seek.

It is the kind of wisdom grandmothers should share.

Gentle, not judgemental.

Open to reason, not hard and fast.

Full of mercy…knowing that God has shown mercy to me more times than I can count.

May we seek Jesus so we can receive His wisdom.

I may not know – but I know the One who does.

 

 

I Don’t Know….

Caleb

I don’t know all the answers.

I know that doesn’t surprise those of you that know me. I am a life long learner and I love to ask questions.

(much to the annoyance of my husband, our son, and I am sure, my three sons-in-law)

They don’t like it when I ask questions during ball games. How else am I going to learn the intricacies of the game? I just want to know why the football coach threw down his clipboard or why the baseball umpire ejected the coach. Ok, so I am more interested in the personal interactions of the coaches, players, and officials than the game itself, but I am watching.

We all learn by asking questions. Children go though stages when they ask many more questions than at other times. We get weary of answering, but that is how we as humans learn.

We are much more likely to remember information that we inquired about than if we are just fed facts. Our brains are “wired” to process immense amounts of information, yet MEMORY is tied to connecting information according to usefulness. Our brains are amazing at sorting.

That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to answer our children’s questions. If they ask a question – they want an answer. If we don’t answer their questions, they will begin to find others who will. Those may not be the people who will give our children good or correct answers. Peers are a ready source of information – some positive, some questionable, and some down right negative.

Be the adult who answers questions.

But what about when we don’t know?

Some possible responses are:

  • Be honest. I am highly suspect of anyone who knows it all – even if they do listen to NPR.
  • “I don’t know, but I will help you find out.” This allows our children to see where we look for answers ourselves.
  • “Let’s call and ask…..” Let your child see that there are others you recognize as an expert in a certain area.
  • “I don’t know for sure, and people I respect think differently about this.” (questions about heaven, Jesus’ return, etc.)
  • Google it. (be careful – do this together with your child)

God knows that we don’t know it all. If fact, James gives us advice about what to do in James 1:5-6

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

We are encouraged to ask God, and ask with faith that He will answer. Yet, sometimes we know that God waits to respond or chooses to keep silent in certain areas for our good. We do this as parents or grandparents, don’t we. We don’t tell our small children that we are taking them to Tweetsie next week because they will find it difficult to wait, or to do what they need to do today.

God also tells us that we don’t know everything, nor will we until we meet God face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

What a wonderful promise!!! God is so awesome and His plans for us are beyond our human comprehension.

One day we will know it all – with perfect clarity. We can share that with our children and grandchildren.

I will never forget  – because it was one of those moments seared in my memory – Elizabeth Elliot speaking to 10,000 college students at Urbana in 1973 sharing the following –

I don’t know … but I know the One who does.”

 

Why? – again.

"Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?"

“Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?”

We had visitors this weekend – the Hardy boys. There was a recurring theme throughout the visit.

“Why?”

I looked back in the archives and found this post from April, 2012.

“Why?”

At that time, the oldest Hardy boy was 3 – now the youngest is almost 3, and the twins are 4. When they were questioning their mother about directions she had given them – like “it’s time to get ready for bed” or “eat the rest of your beans before you get more grapes” she kept reminding them that she was their mother – they needed to obey.

Even thought their mother is very attentive to their questions about why things work, or why animals do certain things, or why it is important to be careful around other people’s dogs, etc. – she wants the boys to obey her even when they don’t understand “why?”.

Their mother wants them to TRUST her because she loves them and has their best interest at heart. She is asking them to obey for their own good.

Isn’t that what God requires of us? We don’t always understand what God is allowing to happen in our lives. We want to ask “why?” and perhaps we do ask “why?” – but we may not get an answer.

Just like an earthly parent – God wants us to TRUST Him because He loves us and has our best interest at heart. God is asking us to obey for our own good.

The earlier post went on to say –

“The 3-year-old is in that stage of asking “Why?” in response to all requests, comments, and random statements. At first, it is engaging to answer the “whys” of life. “Why?” do we wear socks with shoes? To prevent blisters. “Why?” is it nap time? This question has various answers – it is time, you are tired, mom is tired, or any other response deemed appropriate at the time. “Why?” when told to stay in his bed, because there is not room in the crib with your twin brothers.

After answering hundreds of questions, Nana does get tired of thinking about the answers to the meaning of life and all it involves. Yet, as a teacher, I know that these questions and answers are important and will form the basis of our grandson’s world view. Recent research in brain development shows that at around three years old there is a great growth in synapses in the brain, and that if they are not used during this formative time, those synapses are pruned. Just as a gardener prunes off useless branches, God has fashioned our brain to do likewise.

God does not always answer us right away. God is not governed by our time-table or our sense of “needing to know”. In fact, He says in I Corinthians 13: 8-13

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

God lets us know that while we are part of this human experience, we will not understand everything. (see italicized above) We do have the hope of coming into full knowledge when we are face to face with God.

What an awesome expectation!

So, until then, I will continue answering some of my grandchildren’s questions. I will also endeavor to share with them that sometimes there is no answer for “why?”. We must learn to TRUST with patience and love…..for the greatest of these is love.

Building Foundations

Amos building

I have had the blessing of having our twin grandsons – aged 4  – the past few days at our house. I got some Lincoln Logs down from the attic yesterday and we have been building cabins for each of the boys and for various Little People.

I like to build. I like to have all the pieces fit and the roof stay on even when “people” are going in and out. I also like the various shades of these old Lincoln Logs to match.

I know, that is way over the top! The boys could care less about the log color – but I did find out they care about the roof color!

We used all the longer log sections and ended up with four buildings and a “stable” for the horses.  There were bunches of singlets left. You know – those log pieces with just one slot. These are important for building windows and doors, but our Lincoln Logs are parts of three yard sale sets and there are LOTS of singlets.

One of the boys tried to build these little logs into towers – but the most he could stack that would stay up independently were three. There was not enough of a foundation to hold any more logs.

Tyler building

Relationships are like building with Lincoln Logs. You need a good foundation to have a secure structure –  a structure that will withstand the pressure of use.

The time to start building the secure foundation in a relationship begins with the birth of a child.

Some parents and grandparents think that they will have plenty of time to build that relationship when the child is older and ready to;

  • really communicate
  • spend time doing the things the adult enjoys
  • is able to take care of their own physical needs

in other words – ceases being a child!

That will be TOO LATE.

Children will build the foundation of meaningful relationships with others if the parents don’t take the time to do so. I have heard many adults lament the fact that their children or grandchildren never want to spend time with them as teenagers or young adults.

Did those adults spend time building the foundation of a good relationship early on when the child was young?

Children will go through times of rebellion.

It is natural for children to pull away from the adults in their lives as they grow older. Yet if there is a strong foundation  – a bridge of respect will allow the child and the parent or grandparent to bear the weight of that challenge to the relationship.

I heard this Scripture shared yesterday as a key to building respectful relationships with our children.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NIV)

10 You are witnesses, and so is God,  of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Those three words from verse 12 hold a key to building a secure foundation in our relationships with our children and grandchildren.

  • encouraging
  • comforting
  • and urging them to live lives worthy of God

Notice it does not say –

  • nagging
  • criticizing
  • listing the child’s mistakes

May we all take the time and effort needed – with God’s grace – to build those strong foundations based on the LOVE and GRACE that our Heavenly Father has so lavishly shared with us!

 

 

Lost

“Adahlyn, pray that Nana will find our way home.”

“Are you lost, Nana?”

“Yes, will you pray with me?”

As I looked in the rear view mirror at the little toddler in her car seat, I realized how having my granddaughter in the car made being lost so much more serious than if it was just me.

I prayed out loud for God to give me direction. After praying I asked Adahlyn if she was afraid.

“No, Nana. You will find the way.”

Thinking about her faith makes me smile. Oh, the bliss of ignorance! If she only knew how terrible my sense of direction is. ( read “No Sense of Direction”) Yet I am thankful she didn’t. I had taken Adahlyn to the store because her parents were in the hospital for the birth of a new little sister. I thought I would pick up a few things at the store and I didn’t want to bother my daughter and son-in-law with asking directions –  they were VERY busy.

I drove a bit further and saw on the horizon the cross on the steeple of the church our younger daughter and her family attend. Adahlyn lives just four blocks away. I could see my way to her home!

“Adahlyn, I see the cross on the steeple – I know which way to go now. God answered our prayer.”

The cross was my marker of the right direction in which to go.

One of our coaches shared with the students at FCA Friday. He talked about what to do when we feel lost. He said we should look for a way to get back on the right path. We often think, ‘Well, I’ll just go a bit further and see where this leads….’

So dangerous!

As soon as we recognize we are lost in life we need to pray and ask for direction. Those feelings of being lost in our lives come from several causes including:

  • we don’t have our destination in sight, our ultimate goal
  • we have lost our direction – gotten confused about which way to go to get to our goal
  • we have gotten on the wrong path leading the wrong way
  • a “shortcut” looks like a good alternative
  • we are distracted by what we see along the way (very scary!)

When I was lost driving my granddaughter, I felt so responsible  – she was lost, too, all because of me!

As a parent and grandparent the path I choose will take others along with me. If I am lost – they will be lost as well.

Psalm 119 says much about staying on the right path. A few of these verses are;

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.

Lord, may we recognize when we are lost.

We certainly don’t want those little ones who are following us to be led down the wrong path.

Thank you, Lord, that your cross leads the way.

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