Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Five Things Kids Can Teach You About __________


[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]G[/dropcap]od’s love? Greatness? Living? I don’t know how to finish the title, so I thought I’d give YOU the chance to fill in the blank.

I had a rough upbringing… not bad, just bumpy. I always thought of God as He who sat on the throne pointing his long judgmental finger in my face about the one pan I left soaking in the kitchen sink. I thought that if I didn’t do things juuuuust right, I’d be doomed to live in misery until I died and barely made it to Heaven. But when I had children, I didn’t feel that way about their shortcomings, and so it didn’t make sense that God would feel that way about me. So as I’ve loved my children, I’ve learned some things about God’s love for me. And as I’ve watched them grow, I’ve learned about faith and humility and forgiveness and loving. What I did not learn as a child, I am re-learning and re-experiencing as a mother.

So here are the top 5 things I’ve learned from my children about how I should interact with my Heavenly Father on a daily basis. It may be something different for you.

 

Stay hungry knowing you’re going to be fed.

Every hour or so it feels like B&B are begging for a snack. They’re always digging in the fruit bowl or snack jar looking for something to fill their bellies until they are content. Last week when I sprained my thumb, they demanded to know who was going to cook for them if I couldn’t. How hungry are we for God’s presence? Do we inquire of Him daily? Do we spend time with Him knowing He will respond and waiting for it? The Word says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” God’s very words are sustenance for us. They are strength for our day. And like our children, we should want to feast at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoy snacks in between. Being spiritually hungry is a sign of spiritual health. Keep reading, keep praying, keep seeking until you are filled and able to pour out to others!

Rest when you need it.

Briana’s not much of a napper, but if Brandon’s tired, he’ll make himself a spot anywhere (usually my bed) and go right to sleep. As adults we run circles around ourselves thinking that if we don’t take care of every single item on the list, our entire world will crumble. My friends, if there is one thing I’ve learned about God in this year, it’s that He moves most when I’m at rest. I’m not saying kick your feet up every time you feel stressed. I’m saying we must work hard to find the place of rest in Him where we need not stress or feel condemned over things that won’t matter in the long run. Our God is not a hard taskmaster. Take a note from your children. Grab a pillow and blanket, and rest your head on the Father’s chest. Speak to Him about your cares, and watch things miraculously get checked off your list.

 

Ask for what you want expecting to receive.

Mommy, can I…? But mommy, it only costs… Mommy… Mommy… Mommy… pleeeeeaaaassseee!

They ask for any and everything that they want, and who am I to stop them from asking? Even if they can’t have it at the time, it is my desire as a mother to know what things interest them. I want to bless them when the time is right because I love them, and not because they necessarily deserve it. Why would God be any different? Old religious folk used to tell me not to bother God with small things, but how wrong were they!!! I believe that anything that matters to us, matters to God. I pray about my weight, my skin, my hair… things some would say are superficial. But if it matters to me, be it in my control or not, I talk to God about it. There’s nothing He desires more than our companionship. Our prayers do not make Him weary.

 

Remind God of what He promised you…. often.

When my kids ask to do something I’m uncertain about I say “We’ll see.” They cheer knowing there’s a chance of a positive outcome. If for some reason, we can’t bake cookies or go to Busch Gardens or wherever else they want, they say “But you promiiiiised…” Of course, I didn’t, but still there’s a lesson to be learned. God tells us to remind Him of His word. Children have no problem reminding of you what you said, did, thought, the face you made, et al. When you don’t see the outcome, remind God, in faith, of what He promised. The act of reminding Him shows that you believe His word is true and that He is able and willing to perform it. Leave the whiny bit off though… No one likes whining.

 

Make friends!

When Briana was a mere 19 months, she would squeak out simple phrases to let me know what she wanted. Well one day, I took the children to an indoor playground, and she walked her short diaper-laden self up to a toy car, climbed in next to another kid, and said “Do you watch Caillou?” I. Was. Floored. I had no idea my baby could speak in complete sentences, use vocal inflection, and communicate her personal interests. Even now, I watch B&B walk up to other kids in the grocery store and carry on complete conversations about where they attend school, etc. I’m 30. I can’t do that. But my children understand something that I’m still learning. We cannot complete this walk alone, and to make friends we must first be friendly. B&B force me to come out of my introverted self, smile, and show kindness to others. After all, God uses people to show His love for us.

 

[quote] At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is really the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven at all. (Matthew 18:1-3) [/quote]

 

What lessons have you learned from your children?
And how did you fill in the blank?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Family, Uncategorized

Tough Cookies: Kids Who Need Spankings

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I love scanning through my FB News Feed and seeing the pictures of my friends’ beautiful little ones. I have one particular friend from high school who has THE most gorgeous little girl. This kid has cheeks for days, bright gray eyes and a smile that will melt anyone down to the ground. She is a baby doll… so it would seem.

I had no idea this kid was a tough cookie, so it surprised me when her “mild-mannered, sweet as pudding” momma emailed me to say “What the heck am I supposed to do with this kid? She’s whiny, manipulative, and strong-willed. I don’t know if spanking is right or wrong, but this kid is running my home. How do your kids behave?”

Welp… I have a lot to say about this— so much so that I will have to break the content down into two to three entries, but I’ll do my best to get it all published within a week’s time. But let’s address the first few objectives… why spanking is good and how to determine if your child is the kind that will need them often.

Why Spanking is Good for Your Child

Children do not have the reasoning ability that adults have, so we must guide and direct them. Here’s an example. Little Tyrone is riding his big wheel in the driveway. He starts to feel a little confident and wants to head out to the main road. You tell him to stop and to turn around. Now, depending on whether you’ve instilled an attitude of obedience in him (or not), he will respond.

Let’s say Little Tyrone disobeys and rides his bike out in the street. The unthinkable happens. And who’s responsible? You are! We must teach our children that they must respect us (liking is optional), that we discipline them because we love them, and that obedience is better than taking a chance and getting hurt and/or in trouble.

As unthinkable as the scenario above may be, it’s very realistic. How often do I children step to the line of danger and attempt to cross it not realizing what may lie ahead? The minimal amount of pain you give them as a response to disobedience cannot be compared to the danger that faces them in that moment. When you spank your child within the right context, you literally save their soul from future troubles and possibly even an eternity apart from God.

Another good reason… you don’t want a child running your home. As temperamental and stubborn as Brandon was at two and three years of age, I refused to let him dictate what would happen in my house. We would go grocery shopping and he’d run away from me to another aisle. I’d have to leave Briana behind (in her carrier) to catch him. I would whine and cry about the situation, but eventually I realized I’m the adult and he’s the kid. I started to teach him that if he ran from me when I called him, he’d get spanked right away. And when we were at home, I delivered on that promise. Next few times we went out shopping, I’d call him and he’d start to run, then stop and look at me, then look to run again… He was contemplating what to do! Eventually he brought his short self over and held on to the cart like I asked. He learned the lesson and lined up with my expectations. (I’m laughing as I write this, but it was very challenging at the time.)

There are far too many stories about children abusing their parents, and I will not be one of those casualties. Neither will you! Don’t let your children go so far that you have to call SuperNanny in to rescue you. Get them in line NOW!

Some kids need spankings. Some don’t.

Some kids need spankings as their main form of discipline while others can be disciplined via time outs, taking things away, or a good scolding. But if your kid has the following qualities, he or she will more than likely need a good swat to the thigh or backside on a daily basis until they really learn to respect and obey you.

  • Strong-willed and stubborn
  • Fearless and adventurous
  • Mean-spirited or angry
  • Moody and temperamental
  • Disrespectful

Parents must understand that a child’s personality is formed by the time he or she reaches 5 years. So you have fewer than 5 years to create an attitude of obedience and respect for authority. If you’re past that time, you’ve got to reinforce what you’ve already instilled or do damage control. Hopefully the former…

Age really isn’t a factor either. Of course no one should spank a baby… Use common sense. But there are ways to let babies know that what they’re doing is not acceptable. I used to tap Briana’s little legs when she decided to run her baby teeth across my baby-feeders. The first few times, she didn’t understand that I wanted her to stop. But around tap number 4, her big ol’ eyes widened, she grinned, and stopped nibbling on me.

I remember another time… indulge me here… she wanted something from the cabinets but she wasn’t talking yet. I thought she was pointing to her cup. So I passed her the cup and she threw it on the floor in anger. I picked it up, and handed it to her again. Again, she threw it on the floor. So I tapped her hand (not hard at all) and said “No no.” Third time giving her the cup (and still not realizing what she wanted), she looked at me with her frustrated baby face then bent down and placed the cup on the floor. I never did find out what she wanted, but I both learned a lesson that day. Young children (under 18 months) do understand discipline.

One more tiny piece before I end… life brings about changes, and often our kids misbehave because they are sad or grieving over something. In those situations, I stop and ask the Lord if I should spank or not. Usually, I get a yes. We don’t want our children to think it’s acceptable to be disobedient just because they’re tired or sad.

Whew… that’s only a small piece of what’s in my heart about this matter. I hope this helps those mild-mannered moms and pushover-dads out there. Take back your homes one bottom-swat at a time…

 

Does your child need spankings? If so, how often do they come begging you for one? 🙂

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your (and your children’s) future,

 

Alana

Photo credit:  Some rights reserved by Geomangio

 

Family, Uncategorized

Parenting Blog #2: Raising David

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My son just turned 8 two weeks ago. Since then, he’s been a little more disobedient and disrespectful than usual. I’ve noticed that every year at his birthday, he asserts the heck out of himself. Lately, I’ve had to respond with a strong hand (i.e. corporal punishment) to discourage him from acting dangerously and from harboring bad feelings in his heart. It’s not easy. Nevertheless, I discipline him because I love him, and he certainly loves me for it. Within ten minutes I have my sweet, charming little boy back with a repentant heart.

This four-foot tall eight-year old reminds me of a ruddy, dirt-loving kid in the Bible who cared for sheep, wrestled bears and lions, and played tunes of worship to the Most High. Brandon is a protector (sometimes of those who don’t care to be protected), wrestles with dangers both spiritual and natural, and sneaks off with my laptop to play his favorite worship songs on YouTube. When his guitar strings were in tact he’d pluck the heck out of them and sing something loudly to the Lord. The sounds of music…ehh, but the heart of worship is truly beautiful.

Brandon is like David.

Undoubtedly each of us believes our offspring are destined for greatness, but it is our responsibility to mold and shape them in a way that maximizes their potential, even as children, and minimizes their weaknesses. The best of us can take their weaknesses and harness them to make our children stronger.

Listed below are some of the major personalities we find in the Bible.
Which of these personalities do you find your in child, or maybe even yourself?
This list is, by no means, comprehensive…

 

[tabs slidertype=”top tabs”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]JOSHUA[/tabtext] [tabtext]MOSES[/tabtext] [tabtext]JACOB[/tabtext] [tabtext]DEBORAH[/tabtext] [tabtext]MARY[/tabtext] [tabtext]ESTHER[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]Children like Joshua are strong leaders who may be stubborn and unyielding at times. They have incredible faith and humility (with maturity), and an uncanny willingness to serve and learn. Joshua’s are fighters which is NOT a bad thing if you can teach them how and when to fight. Our generation needs young ones who stand up for what’s right. Joshua dared to lead the children of Israel in a battle against Jericho tearing down impenetrable walls with only the shouts of the people! He dared to command the sun to remain fixed in the sky… and it did for three days. Could your little rambunctious, aggressive one be a Joshua? This kid is probably going to need a lot of spankings, but if you can teach them to channel their aggressiveness and fearlessness, just imagine what your child can do.[/tab] [tab]Moses was a meek and tender soul. I imagine he seldom spoke with his head upright until He encountered the Almighty in the mountain. We often view children like this as having low self-esteem, and they may have encounter rejection daily from their peers. This type of child will need strong reinforcement from their parents that they have significant value. Build them up daily and teach them how to encourage themselves. Lastly and most importantly, show them how to cultivate a relationship with the Lord. These type of children desire deep and intimate contact with someone, and only a true relationship with God will satisfy that need.[/tab] [tab]We all know that Jacob was a trickster. He was dishonest and a little weasel-y even in his conversation with the Lord. Yet, God thought him worthy to receive a mighty blessing. Despite the fact that he was a “plain and quiet man” God saw him as the one to birth out the 12 tribes of Israel through whom the entire world could be blessed. Could your sneaky, squirrel-y, prank-playing kid have generations of blessings in his or her loins? Develop this child by teaching him or her truth and honesty. Embrace the child’s preferences provided they are not sinful. Don’t reject your little Jacob because he or she doesn’t have same interests as you.[/tab] [tab]Deborah is the first woman we see in the Scripture with some real power. She was honored and respected by men and women in the community, and even a military general came to request her help. Some of our girls are FEARLESS! We want them to sit and be quiet, not speaking on what God has said, but the prophetess inside must mature and grow. Give these children a safe place to communicate. Teach them how to say things, and how to speak the truth in love. Fill their mouths with the word of the Lord, and watch them prophesy! Look at your child and ask “What’s God saying today?”[/tab] [tab]I was meditating on Mary this morning, and my pastor said the very thing that I had considered. Mary “kept all these things in her heart.” Children can have rich encounters with the Lord and not know how to handle them. We must teach these meek and quiet ones to commune with the Lord in their hearts and to hold on to the secrets He’s shared. As they grow, discuss those things but ensure that their encounters are not topics for open discussion amongst friends and family. I’ve had to nip this in the bud with my own children. Mary’s can hear from God very well and need little input from anyone else. We don’t want the purity of our children tainted by well-meaning but misguided individuals.[/tab] [tab]Esther was more than just a pretty face. She held the heart of the king in her hand and therefore changed the policies and politics of a nation that wasn’t even her own. Being pretty is not good enough. Succumbing to worldly influences won’t project our daughters forward. Purity, intelligence, wisdom, grace, and and strength will. Teach your daughter to wield her pretty face and ability to influence those around her for good. My daughter is an Esther. She doesn’t say a whole lot of spiritual things, but when she does… My Lord! Hearts get convicted. She knows how to be pretty, sweet, and kind, yet reminds us to do what’s right. [/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]

What are your child’s strongest qualities and gifts?
What does he or she seem to be lacking?
And how can you as a parent lead them to becoming what God intended?

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your–and your child’s– future,

 

Alana

 

Family, Uncategorized

I’ve wanted to tell it since it’s happened, but for fear of being too transparent to too many people, I haven’t.

Granted, I’ve already opened up quite a bit on this blog and tolerated your judgmental sneers and jabs so far– But what makes this post most different than any other is that it provides the explanation of why I went krazy in the first place.

So let’s go back to 2003. It was my senior year at William and Mary, and I planned to graduate in December, a semester early. I had been blessed with a great internship at Anheuser-Busch, and though it wasn’t the line of work for me, I didn’t mind the $14 per hour pay. So during summer 2003, I worked, took a few classes, and did a little partying… something I was neeeever good at.

Did I mention I’d also hit rock bottom? I had gone through a nasty break-up and my parents had finally parted ways. Emotionally I was a wreck and ripe for predatory picking. Classes started and within two weeks I discovered that I was *ahem* with child. I made two great choices at that time… to keep my baby and to leave that hot mess of a sperm donor alone.

(I’m leaving out some details here, so if you know the full story hush your mouth. It’s not time for all of it to come out yet. If you don’t know, then just grin, nod, and carry on.)

In an effort to keep the sharing of dirty laundry to a minimum, let’s just say I later found myself in another precarious position. I was in a court… between mom and dad… defending one… never intending to hurt the other… desiring only to tell the truth and watch them part amicably. It didn’t go so well.

And just like that the already shaky relationship I had with my father came to a screeching halt.

By October I had made peace with my pregnancy, and even though I spent most of my time bent over the toilet, I had new sense of purpose. I felt like I was working hard for a reason. A new relationship was growing despite the loss of another.

Don’t get me wrong… I was upset, but relieved at the same time. I know people think we’re supposed to feel a certain way about things, but you feel how you feel. And I felt relieved.

My father was a terrorist of sorts. You just never knew when he was genuinely agreeable or when he was about to take your head of with a fit of rage. I had suffered tremendous emotional trauma, neglect, rejection, and abandonment at his hands… so I gave myself closure and let him leave. He didn’t know I was pregnant. I didn’t dare tell him that because in that case, I would’ve been afraid for my life. Seriously. My daddy was crazy. The real crazy… not the kind I spell with a k.

Now imagine the scene in the movie with the violin serenade and changing scenes… Marrying. Teaching. Birthing of second child. Earning MBA. Divorcing. Moving into mom’s house. Suffering in mom’s house. Moving out of mom’s house. Moving into my own place. You get it… Life happened.

While life was happening I did my best to hold on to my faith, but truthfully, faith held on to me. And one night, three months ago, I felt strangely impressed to pray for my parents and my siblings, particularly my father. Let me tell you… I WENT INNN!!! (“Going in” is church vernacular for seeking God’s face fervently…) I didn’t know what God was doing, but I prayed as He directed.

Shortly thereafter my brother graduated from Campbell University. My mom and I attended the ceremony and off in the distance I saw my father. I didn’t let my mom know it, but I missed him. Really I just missed having a father. But I said a quiet prayer. He saw me as he was leaving and greeted me. First time in 8 years.

When mom and I made it back to the car she handed me an envelope. Inside was my brother’s graduation invitation. Pointless, right? Well I opened it anyway…

Go grab a tissue right now… No? Suit yourself. I’m not liable if the forthcoming tears short-circuit your electronic device.

…and inside was a letter from my father telling me that he missed me. He left me his phone number and email. I slid my glasses over my eyes, pretended to nap, and cried as discreetly as I could.

It took me some time to contact him, but on Christmas Eve of 2011, I sat down and talked to my father for the first time in 8 years. And for the first time, he met my children. And for the first time, they exchanged hugs, kisses, and Christmas presents. And for the first time since my divorce, I felt secure.

He told me he was proud of me. That I was still the smartest person he knew. That I made the right choice in my former marriage. That my kids were strong, healthy and smart because of what I’d put into them. That he knew I was doing great things in my school and in the world for education. He’d been asking about me and following my accomplishments all along.

He was proud of me. He was sorry that he left me and offered reasons why… But when it comes down to it, those reasons never really matter. I assured him that I was glad to have him back.

We don’t talk often, but things are fine. I know how to reach him, and I know he loves me. Only months before I thought he was still angry and had forgotten all about me. I thought my children would never see their six-foot three-inch giant of a grandfather. And since we met again he’s sent me gifts for both my birthday and Valentine’s Day…

*pardon me while I wipe my face*

I know some churchy person is out there thinking, “Well you believe in God, and you know He’s a father to the fatherless.” And this is true… He was and still is Father to me. But in His fatherly wisdom, He knew I needed my daddy back.

So the deeper, more relevant truth remains. God loves us soooo much that He causes us to desire the right things in the right time so He can reconcile and provide in order to propel us into the next level.

I saaiiiddd…

God loves us SOOO much that He CAUSES us to desire the RIGHT things in the RIGHT time so He can RECONCILE and PROVIDE in order to PROPEL us into the next level.

Don’t believe me? Ok… Psalm 37:4. Read and digest for yourself. I’ll blog on that another day.

So what secret desires has God placed in you? Maybe you need someone to come back into your life. Maybe you need to be freed from others. Whatever it is, I pray the hearing of my story has increased your willingness to believe that God is ABLE and WILLING to do what you never thought was possible!

Your less krazy, much happier cybersister,

 

Alana

 

Family, Uncategorized

Parenting Blog #1: The Paradox of Parenting
After taking some time to think about the CHAOS I’ve endured at work the past month,  I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to the parents… Yep, ALL THE PARENTS! This is for the good ones who delight in their children and over-invest themselves at times and the bad ones who just leave the child-rearing to the television until all hell breaks loose and everyone else is to blame…
I’m a young parent, and perhaps you’ve done this longer and better than I have… but, as you probably guessed, I will speak on it anyway. One thing is certain. Parents aren’t teaching respect, kindness, and honesty to their children nor do they observe it in their own lives… and half of teaching is being the example.
If you noticed, I titled this “Parenting Blog #1” which means there will be more to follow… but for now here are a few guidelines I try to observe when raising my own children and when nurturing my students:
  1. Kids come first, but only some of the time. You do realize that one day they’re going to get up and leave you, right? That’s what they’re supposed to do! So you can’t pour ALL of yourself into them. Of course small children need much more attention, but even they can learn to sit still and talk to God quietly for a few minutes so you can have a few moments of peace. (SB: Yes, God really comes first. And if you’re married, your hubby should be second… yep, he comes before the kiddos even if he acts like one of them. After all, you picked him.)
  2. You know your child best. You carried them, you watched them grow, and over time you were able to identify their gifts and challenges. Play to their strengths and teach them how to overcome their challenges. Perfection is NOT the objective, but excellence is key. My daughter loves to use lots of different colors in her artwork, and while I’d never discourage that, I do want her to stay inside the lines. Am I limiting her creativity? Not at all… I’m teaching her that she can be creative within the boundaries that she’s given. We’re not going to create mess and call it a masterpiece.
  3. You don’t know your child half as much as you think you do. If you’ve ever said “Oh, my child would NEVER do that” chances are your child DID do it and KNEW you wouldn’t believe it. As children grow, they become masterful at manipulation and deceit, but we have to make it hard for them to succeed. You can pour all of your self into them, and they could still disappoint. If someone tells you something unpleasant about your child, consider the source and the possibility before becoming defensive.
  4. Right is right. If your child is right in an ugly situation, defend them.
  5. Wrong is wrong. If your child is wrong in an ugly situation, defend them, then discipline them. The “hell-naw-you’re-not-about-to-embarrass-me-like-that” speech is always a good one.
  6. Divide and conquer. Most situations aren’t black and white. Usually there’s a mixture of feelings, perceptions, and miscommunications involved, BUT it’s our job to help our children sort it all out. Children don’t have all the skills they need to make the right decision every time, but they need to learn them. Start with respect and kindness because they are always RIGHT. 
  7. Life is not a Disney movie. It is my firm belief that Disney screws us all up and makes us think we can do and be anything we want. While that sounds nice and gives us warm fuzzies, I don’t want a doctor who can’t do basic math… and let’s face it, not all of us are good at math. While I enjoy Finding Nemo and Tinkerbell as much as the next mommy (*sarcasm here*), I need to steer my kids in the direction where they are gifted. Most children have many interests, but are only good at a handful of things. Wherever you find their talents and giftings is where your child will be most confident, and confidence brings success.
  8. The other parent can do the job, too. Moms can be so critical of dads. I know I am at times… but when I disagree with something my childrens’ father has done, I talk bad about him to God, then he and I discuss it. (…nasty IM ensuing…) In many ways neither one of us is right or wrong. Just a few days ago, he called to tell me that the five-year old had to write sentences for talking in class. I could hear her sobbing in the background because I had warned her that she would be punished if it happened again. Since it was his weekend, I thanked him for calling and asked him to tell her that I wasn’t mad. Then I told him I felt it would be best that he handle the situation since she was with him. What a big step for me! Normally, I’d threaten to tighten up her behind when she came back home two days later… but what good would that really do? I would forget, she wouldn’t, and then I’d be a pushover. (Note: It’s better to be the bad guy than a pushover.)
  9. Your child is you. You ever look at your kids and wonder if you were as goofy, silly, and obnoxious as they are? The answer is YES! Go ask your parents! My son, at seven, has the same exact fears I had at seven. Briana gets in trouble for talking just like her dad did. It’s undeniable, so be understanding. Consider what your parents did to raise you, and apply it if it worked. Dismiss it if it didn’t.
  10. Be creative, patient, and affectionate in your child-rearing. What more is there to say?
My one little blog won’t change every parents’ approach to raising kids, but I hope that you will at least, being the perfect parent that you are, pass this on to someone else who is less gifted than you. (I will be soooo ticked if someone sends this to me.)
After all, those of us who are a little touched, i.e. krazy, need a little help from time to time.
Your cybersister,
Alana