Archive for September 29, 2012

My Daughter Saved Mr. Potato Head

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but my daughter did save Mr. Potato Head. It happened when she was about 3-years-old and we went to the “dollar-theatre” to see Toy Story 2. In one scene, Mr. Potato Head and the other toys faced the dilemma of crossing a highway without being seen. With great stealth, they hid under traffic cones (a brilliant idea that left them with no way to see anything but the inside of the cone) and scuttled across the street. Mr. Potato Head, having short stubby legs, was the slowest to cross. Before he could push his cone clear across the street, a truck with a large concrete pipe strapped onto its bed, jackknifed. The straps holding the pipe in place broke and the pipe began to roll. It rolled right off the bed of the truck and straight for Mr. Potato Head. Unaware of the danger rolling his way, Mr. Potato Head nonchalantly pushed his cone into the street. To his friends (and to the audience) it looked as though Mr. Potato Head’s time had come; surely smashed potato was on the dinner menu. But, my daughter, exhibiting a sudden surge of energy and great courage, jumped to her feet, grabbed the seat in front of her and yelled, “Go, Mr. Potato Head…Go!” With this energetic encouragement from my 3-year-old daughter, Mr. Potato Head glided across the street and out of the pathway of the rolling pipe, never realizing his near dinner experience.
People around us giggled…so did I. At the same time, I took pride in my daughter’s concern for Mr. Potato Head and her energetic effort to help Mr. Potato Head, even if he is just a cartoon. Ah…but that is the interesting part to me. At 3-years-old, my daughter did not realize that Mr. Potato Head was merely a cartoon…an imaginary spud. She did not really know the difference between “real” and “not real.” To her they were all real. Children at different ages have different levels of knowledge and, as a result, different struggles. In preschool, they do not understand the world of real verses unreal. They cannot sit still for as long as their middle-school-age cousin. In elementary school, children still have a limited attention span. Girls have cooties and guys are gross. Children, tweens, and teens will all forget to do their chores or do their best to “get out of them” so they can run off with friends or watch TV or “anything but chores.” Teens may become moody and even argumentative. They will push for independence and, in so doing, push the limits of our rules and patience. But to effectively parent our children, we need to know and accept their developmental limitations. To help our children mature, we have to realize they are not little adults. They are infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kids, tweens, and teens. They do not know as much as their adult parents. They have not matured in their thinking or understanding. They are overwhelmed by things that do not overwhelm more experienced adults. Effective parents will “walk a day” in their shoes, see the world through their children’s eyes, and have empathy. In compassion, we will remember that our children are still learning. In empathy and compassion, we will discipline…but we will discipline in love. We will explain the rules in a way that our children can understand, at their developmental level of understanding. We honor our children by taking their developmental level into consideration when we establish expectations, rules, and consequences. So, take the time to study your child’s developmental level. To learn more about your child’s current developmental level and the expectations of that level, check out:
     ·         0-5 Years Old 
0-18 Years Old  

Strengthening Family Intimacy

Have you ever wondered how to build intimacy in the family? Or asked yourself how to reconnect and restore relationship after an argument? How do families grow closer to one another? What can I do to increase the love and trust in my family? Good questions…I’m glad you asked. Family intimacy grows when individuals make daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor. That’s right; with our actions and words, we make deposits (large and small) into the Family Bank of Honor. The more deposits we make, the deeper our intimacy becomes; and, the deeper our intimacy, the greater the returns on our investment. Realize though, that we also make withdrawals from the Family Bank of Honor. Sometimes we make those withdrawals unintentionally, sometimes as a result of anger, poor choices, mistakes, or misunderstandings. Either way, withdrawals happen. And, one withdrawal can wipe out several deposits. In fact, John Gottman notes that in a “good marriage,” spouses make five deposits for every one withdrawal. In “master marriages,” the spouses make twenty deposits for every one withdrawal. I believe the same is true for families. So, if you want to live in an intimacy-rich family, or have a family that has millions in terms of love, start making multiple daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor. Here are several deposits you can make into the Family Bank of Honor today and every day.
·         Say “Thank you,” “please,” and “you’re welcome.”
·         Smile at one another.
·         Hold the door open for one another.
·         Fix a meal or snack for your family.
·         Help wash and fold the clothes.
·         Clean the kitchen…or simply clean your room.
·         Help mow the lawn.
·         Offer to get a drink or a snack for another family member.
·         Watch what another family member wants to watch on TV.
·         Pray for your family.
·         Give compliments to one another. 
·         Give one another a hug.
·         Seek the advice of a family member.
·         Listen closely one another.
·         Do what your family member asks you to do.
·         Do favors for one another.
·         Complete a chore for another family member.
·         Play a game.
·         Write a note of appreciation.
·         Tell each family member something you admire about them.
·         Practice daily acts of kindness.
·         Bring home something special for one another–flowers, candy, gum, a card…whatever small gift a family member would enjoy.
What are some of your favorite ways to make deposits into your Family Bank of Honor? 

Book Review: Family by God’s Design

Family by God’s Design was written by John Salmon, PHD, and published in 2011. Since its publication I have had the privilege and joy of talking about its content with various Christian camps and churches. If you have not had the opportunity to review Family by God’s Design yourself, here is a brief summary.
God designed the family to reflect His relationship to His people—a relationship of honor, grace, and celebration. Unfortunately, society pulls families away from this ideal and downstream from the beauty of God’s design. As a result, families find themselves adrift in a culture that emphasizes individualism, entitlement, and performance. Even families within the church find themselves caught in this cultural drift. As a result, family members become disconnected and isolated from one another. They find themselves living in the same house while behaving like contestants on an episode of Survivor. This is not God’s design for the family. It does not reflect His love for His Church.
Families that become celebrating communities of honor and grace reflect God’s family design. Becoming a celebrating community of honor and grace demands thoughtful action and intentional effort. Family by God’s Design guides families through the Biblical basis of the intentional family and explores practical ways for families to become celebrating communities of honor and grace.
Family by God’s Design is divided into three sections. Section one focuses on honor in the family and offers practical advice on how to make deposits into the family bank of honor. Chapters focus on treating one another as precious, using speech that honors, keeping one another “in mind,” and accepting one another’s influence. The section on honor also explores practical ways to remain honorable in the midst of conflict and the importance of honor in discipline.
Section two focuses on grace. In this section, Family by God’s Design explores how families can become grace receivers and grace givers. Topics include practical ways of giving one another unconditional acceptance, remaining available, attentive and emotionally connected, “giving up” for one another, and forgiving one another. A final chapter explores how to discipline in grace.
Section three focuses on how to shape your family into a celebrating community. Chapters in this section develop a Biblical perspective on playfulness, celebration, and the importance of discipline for celebration in the Christian family. The reader will also discover practical suggestions for implementing rituals of celebration in this section. Family by God’s Design explores the celebration of marital intimacy as well.
Overall, Family by God’s Design invites families to become a celebrating community of honor and grace that will witness of God’s love for His people. It is an excellent resource for those entering into marriage or parenthood. In addition, it can be easily used as a guide in a Bible Study focusing on the Christian family. 
Here are a few comments from readers of Family by God’s Design:
“If you would like to establish a healthy and biblical family environment, read John Salmon’s book Family by God’s Design. He gives you practical, concrete ways to develop honor and grace while living everyday life. Implement these ideas and watch your family blossom!” -Tim, husband, father, & attorney
“Dr. Salmon has done a wonderful job of surveying much of the relevant material available in reference to marriage and family. Beginning with the introduction, there are numerous analogies and metaphors to help the reader grasp his ideas. Throughout Family by God’s Design, he introduces information from the best authors today to assist the reader in understanding how a healthy God-honoring family operates. You clearly see his belief in the importance of marriage and family as a part of God’s design.” -Rev. Dr. Terry L. Mann–Executive Director, TWOgether Pittsburgh
Family by God’s Design elevates the importance of family relationships by demonstrating ways for kindness and love to permeate day-to-day behaviors. The helpful hints presented are easy to implement and make good sense. This book reminds us why cherishing our families is such a blessing.” -Nancy, wife, mother, & child/adolescent mental health worker
If Family By God’s Design sounds like a book that could help your family, click here to purchase it through our website.

How to Train Your Children

How to Train Your Dragon (oops, I mean) Children

Maybe,” [Old Wrinkly] said, “you can train a dragon better by talking to it than by yelling at it.”

“That’s sweet,” said Hiccup, “and a very touching thought. However…from what I know about dragons…I should say that yelling was a pretty good method.”
“But it has its limitations, doesn’t it?” Old Wrinkly pointed out.
–From How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell
Indeed it does; yelling does have its limitations. Yelling at children simply “scrambles their brain.” Young children cannot think clearly while being yelled at. If they cannot think clearly, they cannot learn the positive behaviors we desire. Teens, on the other hand, simply shut the yeller out. Their focus quickly shifts to “how unjust” it is to be yelled at, how “they always yell at me,” or “they expect me to control my temper but…” The teen becomes more focused on our yelling behavior than the misbehavior that led to the yelling. They focus on the behavior of the one yelling and totally disregard their own inappropriate behavior. No, simply yelling at a child “does not an effective parent make.” Yelling definitely has its limitations. How then do we impress on our children the importance of positive behavior? When they have engaged in the same inappropriate behavior time and time again, how do we make them understand the need to change? When we really want to impress our children with the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, “actions speak louder than words.” Quit yelling…and let them suffer the consequences of their behavior.
     ·         Don’t yell at them for waiting until the last minute to do their school project. Instead, let them struggle through the process of completing it, even if they have to miss out on a favorite TV show or a desired activity. Let them suffer the poor grade if they do not complete it on time.

·         Stop yelling about taking the garbage out. Simply ask them to take it out. If they do not take it out, watch it grow until they ask you for something. Then, remind them that they did not do what you asked of them. Calmly ask them how they think you should respond to their request after they disrespected your request. Ask them, again, to take out the garbage and let them endure the consequence of taking out an overflowing garbage can.

·         No need to yell because your children did not do their one or two basic chores around the house. Instead, let them know that they cannot go out with friends…or watch TV…or play their video games, until they have finished their chores. Then stand firm on that statement until the job is done.
You get the idea. Children need to learn that misbehavior makes their life more uncomfortable than appropriate behavior. Yelling will not get that message across. Yelling distracts from that message. Allowing children to experience the consequences of their behavior will impress that lesson on them. Unfortunately, this means that we, as parents, have to step back and allow our children to endure the consequences of their behavior. We hate to see our child get a “F” (or even a “C”) because they waited until the last minute…or struggle and complain while picking up the overflowing garbage…or miss an opportunity they might enjoy because they have to finish a boring (even tedious) chore around the house. We hate to see our children suffer. It can be painful to watch, painful for the moment; but, the long-term learning for our children will prove priceless. They will learn that appropriate behavior results in a better life and mature decision-making produces greater happiness.

The Secret to Family Peace

I discovered a secret to peaceful family life. I want to share it with you even though it is a secret. Perhaps you can share it with a few of your friends. Even if you choose to keep it our little secret, I think you will discover that this secret to a peaceful family life adds joy and contentment to your family. The secret comes in two parts. Ready? Here it is…the secret to a peaceful family: Seek peace and pursue it. Wait, don’t stop reading yet. I know it sounds like a trick. Too simplistic…just a gimmick. But take a moment and consider what it means to seek peace and pursue it.
First, seek peace. Have you ever misplaced something–maybe your cell phone, your glasses, or your favorite book? You know it’s somewhere in the house and you make an unending search for it. You retrace your steps. You think about where you might have left it. You look everywhere, even unlikely places like the refrigerator. You elicit the help of other family members. You may literally “turn the house up-side-down” until you find what was lost. You seek it out. Seek peace in the same manner. Search out and investigate family members to discover what will bring them peace and what will bring peace between you and them. Seek out information about the behaviors that create peace. Include the whole family in the search to find the behaviors, attitudes, and words that will bring peace. Through your seeking, you may find that speaking with kindness, practicing kindness, telling the truth, offering compliments, helping with chores, and other similar behaviors can create peace. Keep searching for more. Seek opportunities to speak these words of peace and to engage in these actions. Seek peace!
And second, pursue peace. Now that you have discovered some of the words and actions that lead to peace, pursue peace. Don’t just wait for opportunities to create peace, pursue them! Have you ever watched a child try to catch pigeons on the sidewalk? Or played a hearty round of “chase and catch” with your dog? Your dog jogs left and you follow suit. They back up and you pursue. They run to your right and you dive. You dart this way and that way in an effort to catch your dog. Wherever they go, you pursue. You invest energy, your whole body and mind in the moment, to pursue your dog. For your family’s sake, pursue peace in the same manner. Pursue peace with your whole self. Pursue those opportunities to show kindness. Pursue moments when you can speak words of kindness. If the opportunity for peace starts to pass you by, chase it down…dive on it and catch it. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by, take advantage of every opportunity for peace. Practice those words and deeds that lead to peace every opportunity you find…and pursue more opportunities.
Well, I guess the secret is out. To have a peaceful family, seek peace and pursue peace. One more thing—enjoy. Enjoy seeking for peace and those things that make for peace. Enjoy the pursuit of peace. Enjoy the rewards of living in the peaceful family that your actions and words will help create.

Teach My Children What? And When?

Effective parents use verbal instructions as one method of teaching their children. To effectively teach our children, we have to answer two questions. First, what do we teach our children? Second, when do we teach our children? First things first–what do we teach our children? Here are 6 “what’s” that family shepherds teach their children.
     ·         Verbally explain the rules to your children. Even more, verbally explain the reasons behind the rules. To be most effective, keep the explanations brief, clear, and concise. Make sure the explanation is geared to your children’s developmental level. How you explain the rules to a 4-year-old will sound very different than how you explain the rules to your 16-year-old.

·         Tell your children the positive alternatives to any negative behavior you correct. Let them know what you want them to do as well as you do not want them to do. Do not lecture. Simple tell them the expected behavior.

·         Compliment good behavior when you see it. Affirm their positive character. In other words, “catch them being good.” Never underestimate the power of simply noticing and acknowledging what your child does right and well. Doing so teaches a powerful message–positive character and good behavior gets noticed and results in reward.

·         Encourage your children’s effort. A fulfilling life does not come through achievement and performance. A fulfilling life results from the investment of effort. Make sure your children know that you notice and appreciate their effort to do the right thing, to work toward goals, and to participate in managing the family home. Teach them that effort is much more significant than the perfect final product.

·         Tell your children about their family heritage. Giving children information about their ancestors can offer patterns to follow and patterns to avoid. A family heritage builds their family identity. It offers stories of inspiration and motivation. My children love to hear stories about my own mistakes as a child…and it helps them learn how to avoid those same mistakes. Sharing your family heritage is a great way to teach your children your family values.

·         Teach your children daily life skills like how to build friendships, how to treat a date, and how to problem-solve. These teaching moments will come up naturally when various “issues arise.” You and your child will encounters many opportunities to talk about topics like dealing with a difficult teacher, how to say “no,” how to manage time, or how to make up with a friend after a disagreement.
As you can imagine, teaching our children takes time…which leads to the second question: when can you teach your children? The short answer is “any chance you get.” The longer answer is that some moments present better teachable moments than others. You find those teachable moments by spending time with your children. In fact, some of the best opportunities to teach our children arise at the most unexpected moments. For instance:
     ·         Teach your children when you sit in the house. Talk about various ideas and lessons at the dinner table. Keep it light and enjoyable and you will make quite an impact. TV and movies also offer an excellent time to talk with your child about family values, the consequences of actions, or decision making as well as a host of other important topics. Do not lecture. Just enjoy a simple conversation. Share ideas. Let them disagree with you. Even when they disagree, they will begin to think about what you have said.

·         Teach your children “on the go.” Most parents drive their children all over town. You will find that driving in the car offers an excellent time to talk. Your children are “captive” as you drive. They do not have to make eye contact, adding a level of comfort. There is usually some background music from the radio, helping everyone relax. Sit back, drive, and wait…or ask a simple, benign question. Your child will soon begin to talk. Enjoy that time…listen, problem-solve, share, and teach.

·         Teach your children while relaxing in your home. One of the best times for teaching occurs at bedtime. Something about the night-time seems to open children up. They begin to talk about their day, their worries, and their joys. Let them stay up a few extra minutes when they start talking. Let them share their day with you. Listen for what excites them and brings them joy. Rejoice with them. Hear what concerns them and reassure them of your presence and help. Problem-solve, share, and teach.

·         Teach your children when you get up. Teach them how to start the day off on a positive note—to eat a good breakfast, to practice gratitude, and to anticipate the good that might come during the day. Encourage them to recall family values and traditions of kindness. Share ideas, schedules, and thoughts. Problem-solve any potential difficulties of the day. Listen. Teach.
We teach children so many important lessons throughout the day. Some lessons are very serious. Some have a great impact on their lives. Other lessons simply add to the joys and fun of life. Either way, your presence is crucial. Be present. Be attentive and available. Listen, share, and teach.

6 Ingredients to Build Family Intimacy

We all yearn for intimate relationship. We long for the kind of intimacy that allows us to stand before another person without fear of rejection, without feeling shameful about our perceived inadequacies, and without hesitation to give ourselves to another person…to be completely known, deeply loved, and unconditionally accepted. We can learn to nurture that type of intimacy only within the family. One of the first lessons we learn from our family is that intimacy takes effort. We all fall short. We behave in ways that interfere with intimacy and the restoration of intimacy takes work. With that in mind, the deep intimacy we desire begins when we accept personal responsibility for our own actions—actions that interfere with intimacy and actions that enhance intimacy. Here are six actions to help you build deeper intimacy in your family.
     ·         Own Your Own Actions. Admit that your behavior either creates or destroys family intimacy. What you say and do will build deeper intimacy with family members or deepen the chasm between family members. With brutal honesty, assess whether your actions and words lead your family toward greater intimacy or push your family to further separation. Take personal responsibility for your behavior and its impact.

·         Acknowledge the Impact of Your Behavior. If your words and actions lead to intimacy, acknowledge the joy you experience in relation to your family. If your words and actions have driven a wedge between family members, confess your wrongs. Humbly admit your fault without making excuses. Express a genuine desire to change your behavior. You might even present a plan to change your behavior and bring intimacy back to your family relationships.

·         Seek Forgiveness. Along with confessing any words or actions that have interfered with intimacy, ask for forgiveness. Ask, don’t demand, plead, or give ultimatums…simply ask. This is different than acknowledging the impact of your behavior. Genuinely seeking forgiveness opens us up, reveals our desire for deeper intimacy, and voluntarily places the future of our relationship in the hands of the person who feels offended. Think about that for a second. In sincerely asking for forgiveness, we become very vulnerable. This step of vulnerability reveals our true desire to see the relationship restored.

·         Live Out the Fruit of Repentance. Our family may doubt the sincerity of our verbal pleas for forgiveness. So, let your actions do the talking; after all, actions speak louder than words. Diligently engage in loving actions that promote intimacy. Reveal your desire for intimacy through acts of service. Speak words that heal wounds and draw family together. 

·         Forgive Graciously. When family members offend you or hurt you in some way (and they will), forgive them! Graciously let go of your desire and your right for justice. Open your heart and mind to remember and recognize the positive character they exhibit in their lives. Allow yourself to observe their effort to say and do things to enhance your relationship. Let go of the offense and let it remain in your history, not in your present.

·         Accept Each Family Member Unconditionally. Receive each family member into your life and heart with the express purpose of showing them kindness. Accept them regardless of mistakes, shortcomings, and irritation. Make sure each family member knows that you love them for who they are, for their uniqueness and their distinct contribution to the family…even in the midst of necessary discipline or momentary anger.
These six actions can enhance intimacy in your family; and, when practiced regularly, they will build a hedge that can protect your family intimacy. One last thing to remember: practice makes perfect so practice…practice…practice.

4 Gifts Children Hate to Love

My birthday is this month. That means another year older (wiser?) and an opportunity to enjoy a couple of birthday traditions. One, we eat lasagna and cheesecake for my birthday. I love lasagna and cheesecake. Although my doctor may not agree, I think it is a great tradition. Two, I give gifts to my family. Nothing big—just something to let them know I love them and keep them in mind. Interestingly, they seem to forget this tradition every year. They always look surprised when I give them a gift. I like that. In a sense, I give myself the gift of watching my children’s face light up when I give them a “birthday surprise.” Although I enjoy giving gifts on my birthday, I think we give gifts to our children gifts all year.  Not necessarily tangible gifts, but important gifts all the same. For instance, here are four gifts I believe our children benefit from all year round. These gifts change their lives for the better, help them mature, and improve their relationships.
First, give your children the gift of responsibility. Your children may balk at this gift, but it is a gift. By giving your children chores and responsibilities, they learn that their actions have meaning. They have the privilege of making a meaningful contribution to the home and family. Making a meaningful contribution enhances their sense of personal value. Yes, the gift of responsibility will keep on giving, contributing to a life-long positive self-concept and strong work ethic.
Second, give your children the gift of accountability. Although this gift is a tremendous gift, it does come with a cost to you and your child. That cost involves discomfort. To hold children accountable for their actions, we must allow them to experience the discomfort of negative consequences for inappropriate behavior. Watching children squirm in the consequences of their negative behavior usually means feeling discomfort as a parent. Most parents really do hate to see their children suffer. But, truly giving the gift of accountability will mean allowing your children to suffer discomfort at times. The true gift of accountability results in learning the difference between right and wrong, wisdom and foolishness. Accountability teaches our children to make wise choices, engage in mature behavior, and use wholesome, uplifting speech.
Third, give your children the gift of opportunity. I don’t mean just any opportunity. I am talking about the opportunity to sacrifice for others and to serve others. We often get wrapped up in giving our children every opportunity to learn, participate in community activities, and experience stimulating environments. These are good opportunities, but our children need more. They need significant opportunities, like the opportunity to serve and to sacrifice. Sacrificing for others can be as simple as giving up the last cookie or as significant as giving up time to help at a food kitchen. Service can be as simple as clearing the table after supper or as significant as a mission trip to a foreign country. Either way, the opportunity to sacrifice and serve begins at home. Build a home environment that supports and encourages sacrifice and service in your family and let it extend from your family to the community at large. After all, the opportunity to sacrifice and serve builds character, humility, and compassion. What a wonderful gift to impart to our children!
Fourth, give your children the gift of anonymity. I know, this sounds strange. We need to acknowledge our children. We need to make sure they feel recognized and accepted for who they are…value and cherish by their parents. However, they do not require praise for every little thing they do. In fact, too much praise can actually make children doubt the sincerity of the praise and, as a result, doubt their own ability. Sometimes, the gift of anonymity is just the thing they need to learn the value of their effort. The gift of anonymity teaches children to complete chores, engage in kind deeds, and work their hardest for the internal satisfaction of knowing they did well. So, praise children for their effort, encourage their work and progress. But, don’t overdo it. Allow them to succeed under the cover of some anonymity as well. Balance your praise with the gift of anonymity.
Quite the gifts, right? Parents can give these gifts to their children all year round. Our children may hesitate in unwrapping them, but they will eventually rejoice in the benefit these gifts offer—the benefit of becoming mature adults who know how to make responsible, wise choices and find joy in serving others.

Book Review: Generation to Generation

Family is the ideal environment in which to teach a child right from wrong and the value of relationship. Unfortunately, many families seem to abdicate this responsibility to churches, schools, and various clubs. Wayne Rice, youth worker, ministry consultant, and parent, calls families back to their role as leader in teaching values to our children. In Generation to Generation, he challenges parents to accept their unique position as spiritual leaders in their family, restoring their role as spiritual guide for their children. The material in the book was originally designed for a workshop presented by HomeWord, making it fast paced and easily digested.I appreciate several key aspects of this book. First, the author emphasizes the unique role and position of parents to “train up their child.” No other person or institution carries the same relationship, has the same invested interest, or spends the same time with a child as that child’s parents. Parents stand in a unique position, with unprecedented opportunities, to train their children in a manner no one else can even compare. Taking advantage of this opportunity demands that parents make a long-term commitment to connect with their family. Although this investment takes time and effort, the dividends are compelling and eternal–you don’t want to miss out on the results of this investment.

Generation to Generation offers a look at potential long-term family goals as well practical ways to connect with your children on a daily basis. This book also includes an excellent chapter on communicating family values to your children. Throughout Generation to Generation, Mr. Rice offers dozens of practical ways to connect with your children and instill family values into their lives. Overall, any parent who desires to raise children who “know and love God” will find this book an excellent and practical addition to their parenting toolbox, one they will constantly pull out to reference and use.

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What I Learned at Family Camp-2012

I just got home from a wonderful weekend at Camp Christian. Jim and Terri Jones organized a relaxing and inspiring weekend for the family. I enjoyed seeing old friends, making new friends, and getting the opportunity to speak about “The Wanted Family.” One of the joys of speaking is the insights and ideas other people share with me after the session. Since everyone did not get to hear these comments, I wanted to share a few with you.
In one session we talked about what we can say to our children and spouses when they leave for the day. Perhaps we could wonder out loud how God would reveal Himself to them during the day, or what opportunities God might provide for them to serve Him during the day. After the session, one person told me how they encouraged their child to think about the fruit of the spirit each morning. When their child asked about their external appearance—questions like, “How’s my hair?” “Do I look fat in this?” “Do I look OK—they would answer the questions but also add comments about the internal fruit of the spirit—questions like “How’s your attitude of gentleness today?” “How will you show kindness today?” “How’s your peace today?” Wonderful advice!
I received another great piece of advice after a session in which we talked about taking time each morning to prime the day for God. One man told me how he had learned to intentionally and purposefully “put on the full armor of God” each morning. Each morning, he would go through the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) and imagine putting it on for the day. He even challenged me to take the time to put on the full armor of God each morning for the next 21 days. A good challenge; I plan to take him up on that challenge…will you join me?
From another participant, I learned the joys of riding bikes as a family. I saw some families with children of all ages enjoying some family bike-riding. One particular mother told me of how much she enjoyed riding with her daughter. She noted how they could relax, get away from all the daily demands, and truly enjoy one another’s company. And, in the process of bike-riding, her daughter would open up and begin to talk to her about the joys and struggles of adolescence. What a tremendous opportunity to connect and grow together. Great insight!
I even learned from the younger children at camp. (Aren’t they the best teachers sometimes?!) This year, the children taught me that God lifts me up when I get down. Thanks, I needed to hear that message. And, because it was taught in song, I’ll remember it even longer. Thanks!
Finally, on a lighter note…we heard a wonderful “snoot flute” recital. Well, only one song, but it was really good. And how many people get the opportunity to hear a song played on a “snoot flute” by a real “snoot flute master?” If you ever get such an opportunity, I guarantee it will be a joyous moment you will never forget!
As you can see, we had a great time at Family Camp. We enjoyed time meeting with friends, playing games like carpet ball and 9-square, going to “Paradise” for a swim, and learning about God’s design for the family. I want to thank everyone who was there for all the support, encouragement, and fellowship. Look forward to next year!