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Guest Blog by Fr. Blaine Hammond

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Fr. Blaine Hammond is a Priest in the Episcopal Church, currently working at St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California.  He is married to Dr. Elizabeth Forbes, and they have three children; all in their 40s now.

Before his ordination, he worked several years for the Boeing Company in Everett and Renton, Washington, for the Post Office, drove buses for Seattle and King County, rebound and repaired books at a seminary library in Denver, ran the computer division at a small event management company near Denver, and supervised the Word Processing Department at the JFK Child Development Center, part of the University of Colorado Medical Center, in Denver.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Washington, a Master of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Since being ordained, he has worked for congregations in Lyons, Colorado, Castle Rock, Colorado; Seaview, Washington, and his current position. Also, he has volunteered with congregations in Clayton, California, Alameda, California, Battleground, Washington, and Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Blaine Hammond leads the congregation where I teach pre-school. It’s a treat to watch him tell our little ones about God in chapel each month. Also, he contributes a column in The Piper church newsletter. So, I asked him to share his insight with us this week, and am thrilled to have a male perspective! Please welcome Fr. Blaine Hammond!

Blessings, Rebecca

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A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard, Robert Coles, wrote a book titled The Spiritual Life of Children (1990, Houghton Mifflin, Boston).  What interested me about it was the way that he set aside the preconceptions of his profession and listened to the things the children had to say; and having done that, how he worked to understand the ways that children tried to fit their understandings about God and religion into the world they were in the process of encountering and trying to learn about, and vice versa.

My observations of children, having raised three to adulthood along with my wife, have convinced me that children are not simply small, unlearned and incomplete adults.  They are, in many ways, something quite different from adult humans, in terms of the ways their brains and bodies work, and the ways their spiritual lives work.  It is that, I think, that Jesus was talking about when he said that we not only need to be willing to receive children as worthy of our adult attention, we need to learn from them and even try to become more like them if we are to be able to understand and enter the kingdom  of God.

Those can be hard things to think about when a tired, manipulative, demanding, whiny child is interrupting us for the fifth time during a telephone conversation or making our shopping experience a monstrosity.  But when we are not trying to correct, mold or escape from our children, watching them and listening to them can really teach us lessons about looking at, experiencing and thinking about the world in ways we have forgotten.  It can also teach us lessons about what faith, love, understanding and hope mean.

One of the things Dr. Coles reports was a conversation that ensued when a group of children heard an ambulance siren go by outside.  “I noted, yet once more, how often children (like adults) think of God as a judge, a critic, or a benefactor: one who rewards and punishes.  The children also managed to give God a psychology, one not unlike their own.”  They had been talking about a sickbed picture, and the discussion turned to whether God was, or could be, like the doctor in the picture.  Many of us adults have formed enough of picture of God to satisfy ourselves.  I wonder how often we can sit with a child, not to teach the child what God is like, but to listen as they speculate about what God could be like?  Or even to speculate with other adults, or by ourselves, after so many years of having our opinions settled?

We often think we need to protect children against thinking about the difficult things of life.  But they think about them anyway.  Children are right there at ground level, where things  happen that we don’t even notice.  Hidden from our eyes in the grass are dead birds and small animals, which the children discover and wonder about as they play, along with the discarded items of adult life.  What do they think about these things?  How does it affect what they think about God and the world, life and death?  We’ll never find out if we don’t open the subject up with them.

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Miscarriage: The Loss of our Baby

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The Ultrasound Technicians slowly moved her wand through the warm gel along my lower abdomen. I watched her face desperately searching for a ray of hope. She turned off the equipment, “I’m sorry Mrs. Krusee, but your baby’s heart is no longer beating.” Water filled my eyes, What! This can’t be happening…I’m only five weeks along!

On my ride home, my mind rehearsed the devastating report. I reflected on the fact we married later in life at age 35, had our son Austin at 36, and tried for over a year to conceive this baby at age 39. My heart sunk!

I shared the crushing news with my husband Randy. We cried, knelt at our bedside and prayed for God to heal our broken hearts, and to bless us with another child.

My doctor suggested I rest my body for 30 days before trying again. I did, and to our surprise the following month, we discovered we were pregnant!

Nine months later, we welcomed our precious daughter Alicia.

Recently, a friend taught me the baby following a miscarriage is called a “Rainbow Child.” I like that analogy of something beautiful following a storm, because she definitely fills our lives with color. Also, I have hope and look forward to meeting our baby in Heaven some day.

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For those of you who have also suffered the loss of a child or struggle with fertility, I want to extend my sympathy to you. I empathize with your inexplicable pain, and pray you find comfort in the loving arms of God during your difficult time.

Blessings, Rebecca

PS

Now available in paperback!

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Guest Blog by Mona Hodgson

I first met Mona at Mt. Hermon’s Writing Conference in 2010 when I attended her class on writing children’s books. Her dynamic teaching style allowed me to learn so much in just a few short days.

Mona is the author of nearly 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include bestseller, Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional. six desert and princess Zonderkidz I Can Read books, six I Wonder books, and more.

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Mona’s writing credits also include several hundred articles, poems and short stories, which have appeared in 50 different publications.

Mona is a speaker for women’s groups, book clubs and reading groups, schools, and conferences for writers and librarians. And director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

Mona is an amazing woman balancing career, family, and ministry! Please welcome Mona Hodgson!

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PROVIDING EXAMPLES

It’s no secret that children learn by example.

We all do. Adults included.

Show me how to make an omelet. Let me see the ingredients spread out on the counter. Allow me to watch the process and technique you use, and you exponentially increase my chance of making a decent omelet.

Tell me how to make an omelet then send me home to my kitchen, and I may or may not recall all of the steps for success.

That’s likely true for all of us. And that truth certainly applies to children. Whether it was one of my toddling daughters repeating a new word in her language-learning-process or one of my grandsons picking up his plastic hammer like he’d seen his papa do with a man-sized hammer.

Being shown love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, hope, and truth through example rather than being told their importance or value is why we love stories. Human Interest stories put faces on the abstract numbers of people affected by an earthquake or tornado. The journey stories of Olympic athletes cause us to cheer for those who have overcome personal hardships or family tragedy to compete. A verbal warning about the dangers of greed or healing power of forgiveness is not nearly as effective as a story that shows consequences and results through a compelling character or cast of characters in a vivid story world, whether the story told is nonfiction or fiction.

Providing examples through story is one of the most effective ways to teach a child or share truth with an adult. It’s why I write historical fiction, but it is also what inspires me to write children’s books. I want to provide authentic characters, real or imaginary, who demonstrate the nature of humanity and highlight the grace of God. Stories of loss or failure, faith and hope. This desire led me to study the stories of various women featured in the Bible and write Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, published by Zonderkidz in their Faithgirlz line.

Through the stories of Bible women from the Old and New Testaments, girls (and women) learn that they are not alone on their journey. They come from a long line of strong girls—girls who struggled to know God and to follow His plan, just as they do. Learn more about Real Girls of the Bible and other story-rich resources at http://www.faithgirlz.com/shop/real-girls-of-the-bible-31-day-devotional/ and www.MonaHodgson.com.

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FIND MONA ONLINE:

Website: www.monahodgson.com

Blog: www.monahodgson.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

Twitter: https://twitter.com/monahodgson

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/monahodgson/

Encouraging Children

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee, nestle in your favorite chair and soak up the words from today’s devotion dedicated to mothers.

Today’s Passage

Children are a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3 NASB).

A Story

On a crisp winter evening, I sat down with my family at our dinner table and posed the question to my then six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, “Kids, where would you like to go this year for our mission trip?”

Our youngest thought about it, “I’d like to go to Camp Attitude in Oregon.”

“Great idea Alicia! Let’s go!”

I couldn’t wait to see what was in store this summer. I’d heard some amazing stories from other families who helped at camp in the past.

Two weeks prior, we met at our pastor’s house along with the other volunteers to discuss expectations. “Randy and Rebecca, your family will help the OI children next week. Camp will have a full time nurse and physician on site.” What’s OI?

I learned that  OI is the acronym for Osteogenesis Imperfecta a.k.a. Brittle Bones Disease. These children have extremely fragile bones.  In fact, the previous year, a young boy was rushed to the emergency room for a broken arm from falling off a picnic bench. Fortunately, the doctors placed a cast on his shattered bones and he returned to camp the same day ready to play.

At Camp Attitude campers attended for free and often their medical foundations pay for their travel expenses. For many parents and siblings, it’s the only time all year they participate in extracurricular activities such as boating, hiking, swimming, etc., because their special needs child requires care 24 hours a day. This freedom is given via their “Buddy” who is assigned full-time to shadow their child.

We headed north to Foster, Oregon. We didn’t know what to expect at camp, because we’d never spent time with disabled children before. How would our kids react? We did arrive with open minds and willing hearts/hands.

After we set up our tent, we headed to the barn. We heard a loud Beep! It was the charter bus arrived from the airport carrying families from the United States, Canada and Europe.

We joined the camp Director, and she assigned our team’s daily chores which included cleaning the mess hall tables before and after meals, scraping plates, washing dishes and scrubbing bathrooms. Austin jumped up, “I’ll scrape the plates, Mom.”

“I’ll help you wash the dishes, Mommy,” chimed Alicia.

The Director then asked if anyone would be willing to haul the trash using their four wheel drive quad runner.

I sheepishly raised my hand, “I have a motorcycle license.”

“The job is yours,” she smiled.

I grabbed the keys, stepped outside and found a heap of waste and recycle next to a new quad runner.

We pitched the trash in the modified trailer. I fired it up the engine. “Jump in family. We’re going for a ride.”

With Austin on my right fender and Alicia on my left, we made our rounds. Who knew collecting garbage could be so much fun?

The next day, while clearing tables, I saw Alicia pushing a little girl in a wheel chair on a special swing. She ran up to me, “Mom, I helped Rachel. She needed a push.”

“That’s awesome! Good job Alicia!”

The week whizzed by. On our last night, we watched the camper’s talent show. It warmed my heart to watch my kids cheer on their new found friends

The next morning, the campers were bused back to the airport. Our team of eight volunteers was assigned one final task; to clean all the cabins and restrooms which accommodated 120 campers.

Five hours later, my sore body emerged from the last cabin. All done!

I’m grateful my family and I served together at Camp Attitude. We met a lot nice people, learned about special needs families and worked together as a team.

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Since our visit to Camp Attitude, I’m more aware of other’s needs. I don’t get it right every time, but it’s my heart’s desire is to be a conduit of God’s love.

Moving from praying to action requires planning. Here is some ways we can help others.

  1. Pray Pray God would show you who needs encouragement today. I often find these are my own children, friends’ children, my children’s friends, co-workers’ children, neighbors, my students or even Facebook friends’ children.
  2. Take Action I look for ways to encourage people God has placed in my life. Truth be told, this requires thought and energy. For instance, if I send an encouraging note, it requires that I have stationary and stamps on hand. You too can prepare things in advance you may need to encourage someone such as casseroles, gift cards, clothing, household items, etc.

God has placed children in your life. Who needs your encouragement today?

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I want to reflect your love to my child(ren) as well as other children. Give me eyes to see, ears to listen and hands to take action.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn

What is the one way you can love or encourage your child(ren) in your life today?

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Looking for a good read about being the Mom God designed you to be? Read The Confident Mom – Guiding your Family with God’s Strength and Wisdom

My Miracle

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It’s been a few years since I talked about this very personal story, because my eyes still fill with water when I think about it. However, I wanted to share my trial and blessing with you this week to possibly encourage someone who may be struggling with a similar issue.

In 2007, my husband and I desperately wanted to have a second child so our son would have a sibling to play with. We were nearly forty-years-old and the physicians test you for everything under the sun once you’re over the age of 35. It’s scary how they tell you the risk of Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, Gestational Diabetes, etc.  But, we were trusting the Lord in all aspects of this pregnancy, “Children are a gift from God.” -Psalm 127:3

In the Fall, we conceived only to lose our fetus just five weeks into our pregnacy to a miscarriage. We were devastated, and prayed we’d get pregnant again very soon. And, we did!

During my first trimester, my OBGYN found a spot during a routine exam. Three long days later, he called to say it was cancer and would require immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After hanging up the phone, I slid to the floor and wailed. This can’t be happening to me…I’m pregnant!

After careful research, I discovered the dosage necessary to kill the cancer cells would cause my body to reject our child. Distraught is an understatement on how I felt.

Later that night, Randy and I read in our Bible “If anyone among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”- James 5:14

The next day, we took our then eighteen-month-old son, Austin, and met with our pastors at church. One anointed my head with Holy Oil from Jerusalem while five others knelt at my feet. They prayed I would be cured and that we could keep our baby.

We waited two tortuous weeks for an update from my Specialist. Unbeknownst to me, each night Randy would grab his pillow and hit the couch unable to sleep. He prayed for God to allow him to keep his wife and child.

The call finally came. My Oncologist announced he collaborated with seven other colleagues, and they decided to surgically remove my tumor. I could then begin treatment after our baby was born. Yeah, we get to keep our baby!

I underwent two surgeries; one in March to remove the cancer spot and one in May to verify “clear area.” When they went in the second time, to their amazement, it was all gone. My doctor told me it was a “miracle,” and I was cancer free. In fact, he was so pleased with the lab results, he canceled my post-delivery chemo and radiation treatment. Glory to God!

In September 2004, we welcomed a healthy baby girl named Alicia Lee Krusee to our family!

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Fast forward ten years, I am happy to report that I’m still cancer-free, and our daughter Alicia is thriving 5th grader. She is a firecracker! Praise God for answered prayer!

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A Time For Everything

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 1:1

One of the things I love about Spring is everything comes alive. The sun peaks out of its winter blanket, the flowers bloom, newborns arrive and the outdoors brim with activities.

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I muse watching my pre-school class frolic with insects. It’s especially fun teaching them about the miracle of metamorphosis where a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. When we read Eric Carle’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” they burst out with laughter after the hungry caterpillar eats too much and is bulging.

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Spring also hosts Easter which makes me believe God can take dead things and make them alive again.

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I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often hard to look for the rainbow when you’re in a storm.

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As the season progresses, I’ve made a conscious effort to look for God’s hand at work in nature, my life and other’s lives.

I saw His work in nature during my husband and I’s recent visit to Rio Del Mar Beach to study the Bible. As I watched the waves crash, I remembered in His Word, God tells the ocean how far to go.  Amazing!

As we soaked up the sun, God blessed us with a pack of humpback whales that spy hopped and cleared their spouts as they passed by.

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Then, there is His work in my life. Lately, I believe the Lord is teaching me to be thankful in all situations. My son, Austin, read II Timothy to me a few days ago where Paul reminds us that if we have food and clothes, we ought to be content. Ouch! True confession – I have a restless heart that longs for more, and often must remind myself to be happy with what I have.

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Finally, there is His work in the lives of others as evidenced in the life of Bethany Hamilton whose story was portrayed in the movie, Soul Surfer. She was viciously attacked by a shark and lost her left arm as a result.

Fast forward ten years, she’s married, has a baby boy, continues to surf, and is filming a new movie. It’s awesome to see how God is working in her life!

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Today, as I think about the various seasons, I’m reminded that God has taken my highs and lows, and weaved them into a colorful tapestry called life. I pray He’ll continue to give me insight into His plan and purpose for me and my family. I eagerly await His beckon, “Come and taste that the Lord is good.”

Reflection: Ask God to remind you of a season in your life He’s brought you through. What did you learn as a result?

Prayer: God, please help me to embrace the seasons of life as they are a part of your plan.

Happy Easter

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He is Risen!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, two women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” He is not here; He has risen! – Luke 24:1-5

Happy Easter!

March 30, 2015

Guest Blog by Pat Baer

My then three-year-old “Twinkler” and I met Pat Bear nearly eight years ago at Baymonte Christian Pre-School in Scotts Valley, California. Pat is an amazing woman, leader, and educator! I’ve invited her to guest blog this week, and I love her challenging insight as a parent/grandparent! Reflecting on It. encouraged me think about my use of technology and how it impacts my children. Please welcome Pat Baer!

Blessings, Rebecca

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Pat Bear lives in Santa Cruz, CA, married to her high school sweetheart. Although formally retired, Pat continues to teach an consult early educators. She believes in the early years are the most influential in shaping who we become. Jesus is her Savior and the driving force behind everything she doe. She enjoys writing, walks on the beach and any three-year-old who will play with her.

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Just Another Day at the Park

Parks are a terrific place to watch parents with young children. Sunny weekday mornings seem to beckon stroller-pushing moms and their preschoolers to come visit.

A recent trip to a local playground proved to be insightful for me. I spent a morning enjoying, observing and pondering the world we live in.

This particular day four moms and ten children happened onto the play area where I sat. Kids ranging in age from infant to prekindergarten spilled into the equipment area toting Sippy cups, jackets, shovels and even a teddy bear. Their moms sat on nearby benches.

Shortly after arriving, phones surfaced from their purses and pockets and remained in hand most of the morning.

Whether the mothers were chatting amongst themselves or checking in with their kids; the phones continued to scroll, text or snap pictures with noticeable regularity.

I realize technology is here to stay and this is the new reality children are growing up with, but I have to wonder what the residual effects will be as this generation matures. What messages are being imprinted in the minds and hearts of our children.

The mothers I observed were not unique. They could be found on any playground of any neighborhood across the US.

Apparently we think we’re expert multi-taskers.

I observed one of the women checking her phone every couple of minutes at the same time she chatted with her friend and watched over her three children. I can’t help but think somebody in the mix was short-changed as she multi-tasked.

Perhaps it was the mom herself.

I wonder if she saw her 4yr old son give a comforting hug to the little girl he knocked over at the bottom of the slide. Or if she noticed the inquisitive grandmother stop and chat with her daughter playing alone in the sandbox. Maybe neither of these scenes would be majorly life-altering, but they were definitely missed.

The phones were also used to take pictures. One mother followed her adorable daughter around the play area like paparazzi with a superstar. She tried to take candid shots, but the 3yr old was way too photo savvy for that. With each approach the little girl would turn, pose and belt out a big bold, “Cheeeese”.

What messages are we sending through our photo obsession? I wonder if we actually miss the essence of the moment by trying so hard to grab a lasting piece of it with pictures.

Our phones are a piece of equipment designed for communication. My concern is we’re communicating much more than we realize through these small devices.

When the day has ended and the sawdust emptied from small shoes – there will be messages sent through the airwaves that had nothing to do with pixels and photographs.

Little people will do what we do.

They will cherish and value what we cherish.

They will learn to speak as we speak.

Consider visiting a park. Try taking off your shoes and turning off your phone. I guarantee you’ll be better off for it – and so will our kids.

Guest Blog by Iola Reneau

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I met Iola last year at the Mt. Hermon Writing Conference, and we instantly connected. She’s a dynamic woman who has persevered through life’s many ups and downs; including the loss of her husband. This week, I invited her to share her thoughts on parenting. You may follow her writings at www.iolareneau.com. Please welcome Iola Reneau!

Blessings, Rebecca

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Time equals Love:

Sometimes we hear a word that is so simple but yet so incredibly powerful and profound that it is life changing. When I heard the statement in children’s ministry “time equals love to children” it had a huge impact on me.

I didn’t have parenting role models in my life growing up that demonstrated healthy loving relationships or many resources as a young mother and baby Christian either.  I thought that being able to stay at home and available 24 hours a day was really fulfilling that statement, but I was wrong.

And in the middle of my multi-tasking, chaos God gave me a revelation  that just because I was physically with my children did not mean I was mentally or emotionally available to them, and that led me to prayerful consideration of what my time spent with my five little children looked like. And it didn’t look good.

I realized that I obsessively cleaned house, I was overly concerned about the right clothes, and educational ability and a myriad of other unhealthy standards. I thought these were what a mother was supposed to make sure their children should have and that to do less would make me a bad mom. And then there was that awful word “multi-tasking” it had become like a mantra for me.

But the statement “Time equals Love” would not leave me alone, I knew that I was being spiritually dealt with.  It was one of those moments when I could almost hear God saying, “Pay attention, this is the important part”.

And so I began to prayerfully pay attention and these are a few take always that I learned from that one small statement “time equals love”, of which I praise God for using in my life to change the course of manic mothering to create a very cool and present mom experience.

  1. Kneel down and make eye contact with all children while talking, playing, correcting.
  2. Smile and really listen to them without out interrupting.
  3. Laughter~ Laughter~ Laughter
  4. Hugs then look them in the eyes and smile.
  5. Crazy Play Time~Be Silly
  6. Walks Together~Park Time
  7. Story & Library Time
  8. Quiet Time Together
  9. This should be #1 Share God Moments with your children.

Pray together. Share stories of how God has answered specific prayers for you, your family and others. Talk about how amazing everything God created is, especially them.

If we do this while our children are small, it is more likely that when they are teenagers they will want to talk to us and listen to what we have to say, because they will know, there is no one else other than Almighty God who loves them the way we do. I know this is true because four of my children are adults, the youngest is seventeen, and they are all open and comfortable sharing with me and staying in communication. I believe it is because God taught me this valuable lesson.

Guest Blog by Barbara Taylor

There are many ways we can impact children’s lives. One way is to sponsor a child. I’ve invited fellow Author, Barbara Taylor, to share why she sponsors children. Barbara is a former businesswoman with a passion for serving children living in poverty. In fact, she’s the Santa Cruz Area Ambassador for Dress a Girl Around the World and loves telling others about what God is doing through this ministry to raise the esteem of girls living in poverty near and far. In addition, she loves to write and tell stories from her heart. Some of her work is published in club newsletters, community newspapers, Compassion International blogs, and Angels on Earth magazine. Please welcome Barbara Taylor!

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How to Launch a Life

So, who was it? When did it happen to you?

According to Wess Stafford, former President and CEO of Compassion International, we all have those moments we recall when someone said something to us or did something for us that launched our life. In fact, Dr. Stafford collects these personal stories and compiled them into a book that I love called Just a Minute.

He states, “I am convinced if God places a child before you, if even for a moment, it is a divine appointment. You have a chance to launch a life, if you will. You never know when you are making a memory.”

His book gave me cause for pause as I knew it rang true in my life. For me, if not for my third grade teacher, I doubt I would be writing this today. She encouraged me to write simply by asking what I wanted to be when I grew up. Since I  loved reading, I blurted out, “An Author,” without really much thought.  “You would be very good at that, Barbara,” she said with such credibility. The fact that she cared what I thought and saw my potential spoke volumes to me.

After reading Just a Minute, I have been on the look-out for ways to pay this affirmation forward to the children God places in my life. My children are grown now and there aren’t any small grandchildren around yet. So, I have to seek out opportunities to connect with youngsters. Most of my encounters are through corresponding with children I sponsor through Compassion International. My husband and I have even traveled abroad to visit some of our sponsored children. Are we really launching lives? I wonder.

This is Tahiri.

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Blessings, Rebecca

PS Se Habla Española? Me Gusta Comer Fruta and Me Gusta Comer Vegetales are now available in paperback!

Beauty from Ashes

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Ever experienced a loss? I have, and shared it today at Twin Lakes Church Women’s Blog Resonate.

I’d love to hear your story of survival!

Guest Blog by Columba Lisa Smith

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There are a variety of educational choices for parents to select from; one being homeschooling. I’ve invited fellow Author, Columba Lisa Smith, to share with us her reason for choosing to homeschool. If you’re interested in more information on homeschooling or single parenting, check out her site Single Mom Faith. Please welcome Columba Lisa Smith!

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What Every Mom Should Know about Her Quirky Kids

When my oldest son was about two, I noticed him poking a stick into the living room carpet.

“I’m digging for worms,” he explained, the way other boys might tell their moms they were playing cops and robbers.

One of the reasons I chose to homeschool was my kids’ personalities. My children were not your cookie-cutter variety. This would have made things challenging in a conventional school setting.

I enjoy reading the journal I kept of their antics:

  • I opened the kitchen cupboard today, and found Emily’s shoe sitting in a pan with two feathers sticking out of the lace holes.
  • Today, after I made Elliot’s bed, I told him to straighten his stuffed animals. He lined them up neatly, all facing the wall.
  • At dinner, I asked Caleb how many stars are in the sky. He looked at me like I was dense, and said, “All of them!”
  • Caleb is recovering from a cold. He says he feels “slightly ignagorative.”
  • Today, Emily said, “Mom, can you imagine when I’m 20 and you’re old and in a rest home?” And, “Oh, Mom! You look so much better in that coat!” When Caleb opened his birthday gift, she indignantly blurted, “I had to pay ten dollars for that!” (All shared with permission!)

So you see, I homeschooled them partly for their own safety! I didn’t want peer judgment to quash their uniquely developing personalities.

As my kids grew, I realized their quirkiness was an elemental expression of their developing gifts. My oldest son has always constantly thought up inventions, and is now studying engineering. My second is an insightful writer and budding comedian. My daughter’s bluntness is morphing into fierce yet tender passion about various causes.

Even at home, it’s impossible to protect our children from unhealthy input. It can come from family members, including ourselves. Although I love the way each child is different, sadly I’ve sometimes caught myself judging their unique gifts, instead of recognizing that God instilled them into my children for a purpose.

Of course, it is important to recognize and correct bad attitudes and wrong-doing. This takes practice and discernment. We prune with one hand and water with the other. Kids need both.

What unique gifts have you noticed in your children?

Blessings, Rebecca

PS Do you have a future Paleontologist in your home? “I Like Dinosaurs,” is now available in paperback!

Seeking Wholesome Children’s Books

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled to find good, wholesome books for my children to read. So much of the reading material on the market is dark or incorporates inappropriate language.

Just this morning I received an e-mail from a fellow Author, Bill Myers, expressing his concern about the direction of publishing children’s books.

“…But I am so alarmed at what is happening to children’s books. N.Y. publishers are pushing for homosexual and transgender themes while several Christian publishers are abandoning children’s books altogether or asking that they not mention Jesus Christ (to sell more books). I guess “alarming” is an understatement.”

Since I can’t regulate everything my son or daughter read, we agreed as a family, to screen what we see or hear. If we encounter inappropriate material, we stop it immediately. For instance, if the kids come across vulgar language, they close the book and find something else to read.

In accordance with this week’s theme, I’ve invited my ten-year-old daughter, Alicia, to share her review on a clean book she’s discovered, “11 Birthdays,” the first in the Willow Falls series by Author Wendy Mass. Please welcome Alicia Krusee!

Angelna De’Lago is a mysterious person that lived in Willow Falls for years. She protects Amanda and Leo to not have their birthday over and over again. But Amanda heard Leo say something mean and threw out a magical seed that protected her from having her birthday all over again. So, Angelina De’Lago helps her find that seed so she can finally can have the day after her birthday (Saturday).

I like “11 Birthdays,” because it is very adventurous and helps you learn how to restore a long lost friendship. Also, I like history and “11 Birthdays” has the history of Leo and Amanda’s Great Great Grandparents and how they were enemies and then became best friends all by fixing a window.

What children’s books do you recommend?

Blessings, Rebecca

PS Do you have a future Paleontologist in your family? I’m thrilled to introduce my latest book, “I Like Dinosaurs!” Christy Shults has created adorable dinos your child is sure to love!

Guest Blog By Dianna Cornell

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Our extended family plays an important role in our lives. I’ve invited my friend and fellow writer, Dianna Cornell, to guest blog today. She’ll share her insight on being an aunt with us.

Personally, my extended family play an integral part of my life; especially growing up with a single mother. They were her key to success.

When I was six, my Aunt Etta Ruth flew with me Grayville, Illinois to visit my Grandma. There, I experienced a Midwest culture. Who knew you could eat supper and dinner?

Then, there was a time when I was 16, my Aunt Donna drove me to Washington state from California to visit my Aunt Mary. I’ll never forget my first big road trip!

Today, I keep in touch with an aunt in Washington, two in Montana, and two in Illinois.

I hope you enjoy Dianna’s Journey as an aunt as she’s an amazing woman who has survived a tumultuous medical history sprinkled with miraculous healings. You can learn more about her story on her blog!

Please welcome Dianna Cornell!

Blessings, Rebecca

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LIFE AS AN AUNT

I step into the world of another, and I see life from a different view.  What is an Aunt? What is my role as an Aunt? And does an Aunt have a voice. Children are a true gift. They have great value for who they are, not for what they can do.

At the beginning I thought my role was to love, help and be available when needed for the children. But this is only part of my role, at least in my life. But then, I noticed it was important to listen to what the children really had to say.

My nieces have mentioned to me that I played an important role in their lives when they were a child. They could be open with their secrets, thoughts and feelings without judgment. In return, they would listen to what I would have to say, pointing them in a positive direction. Letting them know, whatever happens in their life, they will always be loved.  For who they are, not because of what they can do.

There were times I would voice an opinion on certain matters to parents. Some would take offense, or I would take offense and at other times they would listen, taking what I had to say in merit.  Have I crossed the line, should I have been silent? Or did my voice matter? As an Aunt at times, I may have crossed the line. Then there are times I should be silent. However from the fruit that I see sown in my nieces, my voice did matter.

dianna

Bio: Dianna Cornell

I am a kidney transplant survivor over thirty years, and 52 years old. Jesus is my passion. I am with the prayer team at “Hilltop Ministries” as well as the “Women’s Encounter Room” in Santa Cruz. I have had my story written, “Do I Have a Choice.” To remember all that God has done and to tell others the good news that God loves them. I love where it says in the bible that God breathed life into us…Man is that not amazing! He breathed life into you.

Because I was in and out of hospitals from the time I was 9, I grew up fast. I have had over 25 operations. Lost my hearing, paralyzed from the nose down and had to learn to walk again three times. God healed me, over and over again. Through all this suffering I have come to know the Lord in a deeper way. Who I am is a big part of who he is. My life would not be whole without God. The words that I speak and the life that I live are because of him.

Dianna’s Journey blog:     www.diannacornell.wordpress.com

Hilltop Prayer Meeting:       www.hilltopministries.com

Women’s Encounter Room: www.weradvancingfreedom.com

“Tween”age Concerns

Recently my two tween children asked me some difficult questions. I’m familiar with my son asking for the latest Lego set. However, I wasn’t prepared when he asked if he could have an Instagram account. I’m also accustomed to my daughter asking for American Girl items. Yet, I wasn’t prepared when she asked me if she could start wearing make-up.

So, I conducted a poll on my Facebook page and wanted to share the advice I received from other great Moms in case you too struggle with similar issues.

As for the Instagram account, the majority of parents allowed their children to start at age 13, and they closely monitor their child’s activity and friendships. Good to know since, my boy will turn 13 in a few short months!

As for make-up, most parents allowed their daughters to wear make-up starting in 7th grade. They highly recommended a skin care consultation to teach her how to take care of her skin. In addition, they recommended a natural look. Great insight! Phew, I still have two more years to soak this one up…

Parenting can be challenging sometimes, but it is rewarding. I write along side some wonderful Authors for our church blog, and appreciate their life stories. If you’d like you may read  Resonate blog.

Lastly, I wanted to share my latest beginner reader with you, “I Like The Ocean.” Together, you and your child can read about some of the things you may see in the ocean.

Blessings, Rebecca

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