Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are you asking or telling?

This is for the Gebhards fans out there! Another gold nugget of parenting wisdom.

We were so excited when our first daughter Kalena could finally say "Please" and even more excited when she began stringing her words together so she could say "More please!" However, as she got older, something about the phrase "More apple juice please." didn't sit right with me and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. She is saying please, right?  Then we heard an interaction between Kurt and one of his munchies. He asked the simple question "Are you asking or telling?" It clicked right away to me that when kids say "More please" they are actually commanding the adult to get them more, even though politely asking please.  So when we hear a "More please" we re-direct the command to a question of "May I have more please?" Our kids picked up on this quickly and we can quiz them on what they have just said by asking "Are you asking mommy, or telling mommy?"  Even Katie at 2 years old can tell when she is asking or telling.  When they are older and forget, even just a pause or a "Try that again please." can remind them to ask instead of tell. 

Praise God for giving us the Bible as a guide to raise our kids, and for all the wise parents I have and continue to learn from!! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

The "Why?" Drama

This is something we learned from our pastor Kurt Gebhards (and his amazing wife Julie) and we love it. We try to encourage our kids to ask permission to ask "why" when they are asking "why" in rebellion, anger, bewilderment or any other response to our commands.  For instance, when I tell my kids it is time to go to the store and they respond "Why?"  We try to teach them that kids never have the right to demand answers from adults. They may ask if they can ask why "Mommy, may I ask why we have to go to the store now?"… and usually the answer will be yes, because we want to serve our kids by explaining things to them. However,  they shouldn't feel they have the right to an answer, and there are times when the answer is no, "I can not explain "why" to you", or "I can not explain why at the moment."   There are instances, of course, that they do not have to ask "May I ask why?", like when we are learning about something or I am teaching them something (like how to cook) and it is natural they ask why ("why do you have to beat the eggs?").  Kids learn the difference quickly between the two situations and quickly learn when they must ask if they can ask why.   It is good for them to learn to question authority with due respect, and realize they are not always entitled to answers. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Training Toddlers Biblically

Recipe for heart change: Scripture + prayer + the Holy Spirit + consistency= a change in heart and a more sensitive conscience towards God.  We are training their conscience to be biblical. In order to do this we must use scripture and ask for help from God daily.

Specifically for 0-2 years old:
Babies are smart. As soon as they are about 1 years old (and some even before 1), they begin to learn the meaning of words. Even if they can't say the words, they can learn what words, and even big words, mean.
Some good biblical words and phrases to tech and use with young toddlers (even before they seem ready):

Good/bad (or sinful) reaction
Happy heart
Obedience / disobedience
Gentle/ Gentleness
Whining/ complaining (I use these interchangeably so they understand Philippians 2:14)

I chose some verses for my toddlers with basic easy phrases with which I can use everyday that are the exact words of scripture, and I chose the versions of translation with the easiest language for kids :

(ESV) Titus 2:5/6 Be Self-controlled (Titus 2:5 addressing young woman, 2:6 addressing young men)
(NASB) Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle...
(NIV) Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another... ( When one sibling is having difficulty having patience with another sibling, I often say, "Sara, please bear with Katie." I use this biblical term which the children have learned means patience.)
(ESV) Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.

I have Katie repeat (or I say to her) Titus 2:5 over and over during a temper tantrum and a lot of times it really helps her to calm down. We try to always accompany these verses with prayer. God's Word, and the Holy Spirit have so much power when we use them together repetitively and daily in our lives and with our kids:
We should sound like a broken record with scripture verses as we train our children.

An easy way to remember these 4 verse references (which help in many situations): 
T= Teach (Titus 2:5 and 6)
M= My (Matthew 5:5)
C= Children  (Colossians 3:13)
C= Christ  (Colossians 3:20)

Additional verses I use constantly:
(NKJV) Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing 
(ESV) John 13:34 ...love one another
(ESV) Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.
(ESV) Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always
(ESV) Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers

During Anger moments, I also sometimes use this too. 
Putt off/ Put on:
(ESV) Colossians 3:8- Put…away… anger (some versions say put off or put aside)
(ESV) Colossians 3:12- Put on… kindness

Since we can't do anything without the Lord, these verses are key too:
(ESV) Matthew 19:26 …"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
(NKJV) Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Some phrases I use starting at 1 year old (younger kids get shorter phrases or just words… older kids get longer phrases/conversations):

Katie, is your heart happy or angry? An angry heart does not honor God. Lets pray and ask God to help you change your heart.
Katie, you are having an angry heart. What is Colossians 3:8. What is Colossians 3:12. Lets pray that God will help you put on kindness.
Katie, you are having an angry heart, Say Titus 2:5 with Mommy: "Be self controlled" (say it several times) Lets pray that God will help you be self-controlled. 
Katie, thank you for calming down, God loves it when we put away anger. Your gentle and calm heart is so pleasing to God.
Katie, was that a good reaction or a bad reaction? Was your heart being sinful or obedient to God?
I know your sister hit you, but what was your reaction? Was that pleasing to the Lord?
Katie, are you obeying or disobeying. What does God want you to do, obey or disobey?
Katie, you are having a sinful reaction. You are disobeying mommy when you have a sinful reaction. 
Katie, I really loved your obedient response to mommy. Thank you for honoring God with your response. 
Katie, that was not honoring to Mommy. Can you try that again? / Can you say that again in a way that honors mommy?
Katie, are you obeying right away, all the way, with a happy heart? 
Katie, you are not obeying with a heart that pleases God, so you are not obeying. Mommy has to discipline you when you do not obey.
Katie, you did not put your shoes on right away. Mommy has to discipline you for disobedience. 
Katie, you came to the table right away when mommy asked you to. Do you know that your obedience really pleases the Lord? It makes God and Mommy so happy!!
Katie, when you took that toy, was that selfish or selfless?
Katie I saw you sharing, that means you were being selfless!
Katie, thank you for being patient! Having patients honors the Lord!
Katie, when you are not being patient, you are being angry. What does God want us to do with our anger? (put it away)
Katie, God tells us in the Bible to be gentle with others. Are you being gentle or harsh?
Katie, that was a harsh response to your brother when he messed up your tower. Please try your response again in a way that is gentle. If you are having a hard time with your brother, please come ask mommy for help with him. (Have your child say "May I have help with _____." Instead of tattling.)
Look at what a good attitude Katie is having! Look at how Katie's happy heart is honoring mommy while she cleans her toys, lets encourage Katie!! (Praise the good behavior to others in the family)
Katie, you are having a sinful reaction to bedtime. (Sometime when it is not bedtime, practice the correct reaction to the announcement of "Bedtime!")
Katie, when she took that toy did you have a loving response or an angry response? (a little bit older: What kind of response did you have?)
Katie, when you spit your food out and are crying over the peas you have to eat, you are disobeying and you are not being thankful to God for this food He has given us. 
Katie, you did not obey mommy, so I have to discipline you. 
I do not want to discipline you, but God tells me that if I love you, I must discipline you and I love you so much.
Demonstrating it in your own life is key. Beware of being a hypocrite. If you are going to use God and scripture to train your kids, put it to use in your life first.
I say these things on a regular basis:
Mommy is having a bad attitude. Mommy needs to remember what the Bible says about a bad attitude, and ask God for help. Will you pray with me that God will help mommy have a heart that pleases God? Do you remember a verse that could help Mommy right now?
Mommy was harsh to you (or Daddy :) Will you forgive me? Lets pray that Mommy can "Put on kindness". 
Mommy's heart is angry. Will you forgive Mommy's sinful heart? Mommy needs God to help, lets pray and ask God for help. 
My 4 year old notices I am beginning to lose my patients and says "Mommy, blessed are the gentle." I could ignore her, which is what I want to do in the moment… or I could say "You are right sweetie. God wants mommy to be gentle right now. Will you forgive me for being harsh? That was sinful. Lets pray that God will help mommy's heart to change and to be gentle." 

God bless you mommies!!! Be encouraged that as you practice and practice and don't give up, it gets easier and you see yourself and your children changing, growing in patience, and being sanctified with hearts that more clearly reflect the love of Christ!!! All glory to God alone!!! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sister Cuddles

I caught these two cuddling at breakfast and was fortunate to be able to snap some pictures before they saw the camera.  Lord, may they love each other deeply as they love and serve You for their entire lives!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pajama Ride!

I thought I should document our first "Pajama Ride." It was stupendous. We are reading through Diciplines of a Godly Family by Kent Huges with our Community Group, and the book enlightened us to this fun idea for the family... called a Pajama Ride.  Here is how it goes. When all the kids are in their P.J.s and tucked into bed, mommy and daddy line all their shoes up at the front door (slip on ones are best).  The lights are all out, but you can hear whispering and you know no one is asleep. Then, mommy and daddy come running into the kids room with cheers of excitement yelling, "Pajama Ride!!" We flip on the lights, grab all the kids out of their beds, and rush out the door and into the car. We don't tell them were we are going but we end up at a place where we get something yummy to eat (yogurt, ice-cream... the book suggests a Fosters Freeze) Our kids thought this was the greatest thing in the world (and why wouldn't they!) It will be a good way to bond as a family and create fun memories several times a year. Here is the picture: Kalena and Sara are so excited they are screaming at the top of their lungs, Katelyn is still trying to figure out what is going on and why she is in the car instead of her bed and what all the screaming is about, and Andrew is just still trying to finish his bottle, although he was so pleased with the cryes of delight and joined in whole heartedly! Fun times!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sara Says...

Kalena: Singing a song over and over at the dinner table.
Sara: Kalena, I think God has some words for you.
Kalena: (puzzled) What are they?
Sara: You should ask Him. Just say "God what are your words for me?"
Kalena: God, what are your words for me?
Sara: (in a soft voice) He says that you should stop singing that song.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The New Bike!

When Justin got home from Kz, the Lord gave him a very special blessing. He went out to go on a bike ride... but came back to ask me where our bikes were. Alas... they had been stollen right out of our patio! Although this may seem like a weird blessing, it was actually an amazing act of God. Justin had been hinting, while training for the Kz bike tour, that he had the wrong type of bike for road cycling and that his bike was not technically the right size for him. However, sweetly he dismissed thoughts of getting a new bike because there was no way financially. Praise the Lord for renters insurance on our stolen bikes, Justin got money for his bike our baby bikes seats and parts, and my bike (which I bought for $20 at a garage sale and was way too big for me) and was able to buy a new bike. Also, in the Lord's providence, the only bike in town that was big enough for Justin was on sale at a bike store down the street from us. I was able to replace my bike with a cheap one from Craigslist (I don't foresee my self ever riding more than a few miles :). Now we both have bikes that fit our height and Justin has the nice new "hybrid" bike he was dreaming of (I didn't even know there was such a thing- it means you can ride it comfortably in dirt or on the road).  Because of Justin's height restrictions for a new bike, Kalena figured that daddy would have to settle for a black or grey bike. She was sad because she loved all the bright fun colors of the other bikes. Even though we took the teachable moment to combat materialism in her little heart, sure enough, the only bike that fit him had gold accent stripes around it. This was so exciting for her because her favorite color right now is shiny gold.

God is good to us and he gives us special blessings when we commit our ways to Him, love Him, and obey Him. 

Kz Tour

Justin was blessed this summer to be able to go visit partners we have in Kz.  There was a four day bike tour, that some of our partners host every year. They invited Justin to be a part of it. They coached Justin's training for about 4 months prior to the trip, going on rides of 20- 30 miles. His last ride was around Lake Tahoe during family camp, which is about  70 miles. He borrowed a bike while he was there, and went on the tour with the 15 other men (a few parnters and the rest Kz men).   He was able to encourage our partners, and build new fun friendships with some national Kz men. Justin had a great time... they they rode through rain and they even rode 100 miles one day!  Some of the wives and children followed them in vans with tents and food. They camped on the side of the road and the wives cooked for them. I was so proud of him because I am sure at times it was very hard! It is exciting to see the Lord working in this part of the unreached world. 

Praise God for the Kz Tour, our partners there who work so hard for the gospel there, and for the blessing of bike riding!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Six Years Old!

Kalena is six today. When I kissed her goodnight, for the last time as a 5 year old, I pretended to cry. She laughed and thought it was funny...but the truth is that I was really fighting back tears.  Our pastor said recently that families with small children are in the best years of their lives. I believe it. We have so much fun everyday and are always so sad to say goodnight. Kalena fills our lives with sweetness, laughter, cuddles, fun and excitement. We praise God for this last year with her. So much has happened! She passed kindergarden (whew!), learned how to ride a bike, learned how to swim, and has now started to thrive in 1st grade.  She is writing sentences, reading long words, and is a wiz kid when it comes to memorizing her verses! She has such a sweet and tender heart when it comes to caring for Katelyn and Andrew and helping me around the house. I love this little girl with all my heart and having her gone all day in 1st grade is more than I can handle!! My heart breaks everyday she waves goodbye. I strive to pray for her constantly throughout my day. I pray that God will shape her and mold her into a woman who is pleasing to Him. I pray that she will honor and worship Jesus, and be able to point others towards Him. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1 Year Old!!

Our sweet Andy Buddy is ONE!!
He is walking all over the place and even tries to run now and then. He has been saying "Da Da" for a while now, but recently has mastered "Ma Ma" and it melts my heart every time I hear it. He has also started doing sign language for "please" and "all done," and when he sees or hears a dog he tries to do a little doggie bark which is SOOOOO cute!! Although we can't understand his words, he is constantly trying to talk to us... stringing all kinds of noises and sounds in to words. Sometimes he looks at me as if I should be able to understand him. I wish I could!! I know there is so much going on in his little mind!
Andrew is a happy baby. He is always ready to laugh (especially when we kiss his belly!) and sometimes just looks at me and starts laughing. His sisters are relentless huggers and kissers and are constantly trying to make him laugh. I believe the correct term is "smothering," but he doesn't seem to mind. He adores each of them and loves to play with them.
He is quite a bit tougher and stronger than the girls. He falls, but hardly notices. He knocks over furniture. He loves loud noises. When we dunk him in the pool he doesn't mind.
My favorite things about Andrew: How he holds out his little hands for me when he wants to be picked up.  I love our cuddle times when I feed him his bottle before bed. He has a special place he puts his head on my chest then he tucks his little arms in and just cuddles. It is so precious.  I love when I pick him up to hold him and he pats and rubs my back. He is just so cute and sweet and we are having so much fun with him everyday!

My prayer for Andrew is to become a worshiper of the Lord Jesus Christ. May he follow the Savior with every ounce of his being and lead others to do the same. In his sermon on Sunday at Hickory Harvest in NC, Kurt Gebhards preached about the difference between those who know about Christ and those who really know Christ... and, simply put, it is the difference between heaven and hell. I pray with my entire heart and soul that my Andrew will really truly know Christ. I love you more than words can say sweet baby Andrew!!

Twain Hart

We had such a great time with our dear friends the Comforts, Gilmores and Wenslawskis at Twain Hart Lake!! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Five and a Half!

Kalena is growing up so fast! It has been hard to keep up with her (literally as now she rides SUPER fast on her new bike). She has finished her year in Kindergarden, lost two teeth, and gotten glasses all in the last few months. She is quite an avid reader now and reads to us every night before bed.

Here are some of Kalena's thoughts about her new bike: "Mommy, I want to just stay out here FOREVER and ride my bike!!" "My bike is like 100 toys all in one." "Mommy... this is exhaustingly fun!"

I love it when Kalena gets hurt (and is crying) while hugging and consoling her she also rubs and pats my back too. It is precious.

I love it when Kalena is trying hard to make a decision, and she always asks me "which one would you pick?" or "What do you think I should do?" It has been fun to think of creative ways to teach her how to make good decisions and I hope she never looses her desire to seek council.

I love it when one of her brothers or sisters goes too close to the street or a pool and Kalena becomes so extremely worried that she just can't handle it. She panics! It just shows me how deeply she loves them.

I love that almost every night Kalena asks me to massage her back and wants to cuddle. We have so many wonderful conversations at night in bed. She is so much fun to talk to.

I love her sweet smile, giggle and laugh.

After Mark and Emily's wedding, late at night, Kalena sat with me on my bed and picked out all the bobby pins from my hair (there were quiet a few). She was so sweet and gentle, and seemed so grown up. We both had so much fun, talking and giggling... it was such a sweet time we shared and I will never forget it. I am so thankful to God for this sweet little girl who is also becoming such a wonderful companion and friend.  I love you Kalena. More than words can say.