African Americans and Women Played an Important Role in the Fight for American Independence

Tomorrow is the 4th of July or as Americans have come to know it as Independence Day.  It is well known what this day celebrates- our hard fought independence from the British almost 250 years ago - and the many people who played key roles in the fight.  We frequently think of our founding fathers as the central figures in the war.  What many may not know, though, is that there were also African Americans and women who played a critical part in securing our freedom.

Salem Poor is one of those people. He was born in Massachusetts as a slave, but at the age of 22, had saved up a year’s salary so that he could buy his freedom.  Once freed, he enlisted in the army and this would bring him his notoriety only a year later.  Poor was instrumental in the Battle of Bunker Hill- an important battle in the fight for America’s freedom- defeating several British officers and inspiring paintings commemorating the victory.

Also Massachusetts-born was former slave Peter Salem. He was not only an important soldier in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but also in the entire American Revolutionary War.  At the time of his recruitment, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety only recruited free African Americans.  He traded his life as a slave to fight in the army.

Women such as Margaret Corbin also played major roles in the war. Corbin and her husband helped in defending Fort Washington, but when he got injured, she took over, manning the canon. She did not hesitate to take it upon herself to do a job meant for two.

These and many other men and women are often forgotten in history.  But, do not let that happen.  Teach your children about this day and all the different people who risked their lives to fight for a cause they profoundly believed in.  It makes our history much more vibrant and interesting by doing so.

Plan A Parent-Child Date Night Every Now and Then

Last week, I wrote about how important it is for parents to have regular date nights away from their children so that they can develop a deep relationship with each other.  Today, I am focusing on a parent having a “date” or “date night” with a child.  Why would such an event be important?  The answer is simple – because it is a special time specifically set aside just for the parent and child to bond.

Each child is unique.  In order to learn what is truly distinctive about your child and the gifts God has given him/her, you need to spend time with each of them apart from your busy day.  As you do, you talk, ask questions, listen without being judgmental, laugh, hold hands and do whatever else makes you both have fun and enjoy each other’s company.  There should be no cell phones, lap tops, or other demands on a parent’s time and attention, as your full concentration should be on spending quality time with your child.   And, you can stay home or go out for an activity; you can go to a free event or an expensive one, such as dining at a fancy restaurant.  You can do them once a month or more frequently.  The choice is yours. 

In her blog, homeschool mom Heather Brown gives very good advice about parent-child dates and makes some creative recommendations about what to do with your child on these “dates”.   To read more, visit this link.

How to Choose a Bible for Your Children

Do you have a Bible for your children?  Many parents buy story books for their children with stories out of the Bible because they do not believe that their children will be able to understand the Bible.  I continue to encourage parents to buy an actual Bible for their children so that they can begin to read God’s Word for themselves.

In the online article Choosing a Child’s Bible, writer T. Capps provides some excellent guidance in selecting the right Bible for your children.  Important considerations are:

1. Make sure that you purchase a Bible that is the right reading level for your child.

2. Buy a Bible that is the complete Bible, and not just one part.  That way, your children learn from young about the Old and New Testaments.

3.  If the Bible has pictures, ensure that they are accurate and not cartoon characters or scary.  The Bible is not a cartoon book, and children should not think of it as such.

4. Purchase a Bible that has maps and other information to help your children learn more about the time periods.  Maps, timelines, etc., offer assistance to children and make the Bible more understandable.

5. Make sure that the Bible is durable and further consider a cover for it so that it can last many years.

The author makes many more helpful suggestions.  Spend time considering what Bible to purchase as it will be a prized possession for your children for many years. To read the entire article, click here.

How Can Christian Parents Build Self-Esteem in Their Children?

Although my quote for today’s blog is not from the Bible, I believe it to be nonetheless very appropriate about self-esteem.  Just what is self-esteem? Essentially, it is the way a child thinks of himself/herself.  As Christian parents, what can we do to build self-esteem in our children?  We, of course, do not want them to grow up to be conceited and self-absorbed but there is a balance between healthy self-esteem and an inflated ego that we should understand.

First, we need to know and fully appreciate how God sees us and there are a number of Bible verses that show us that God sees us as very special. For example, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him”.  Psalm 139:14 says “(f)or You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  In Ephesians 2:10, we are described as “God’s masterpiece”. Since He created us as such valuable, superior beings, we should see ourselves that way.

Second, it is important to make clear to our children that they should not rely on anyone’s praise from day to day to have self-esteem.  We, as parents, may praise our children some days, but not on other days.  Also, other people may not praise them, but in fact, may say negative things to them.  Their self-esteem and confidence should derive from God, who is always consistent and loving, and not from humans.  Help your children learn and memorize Bible verses that mention how special they are.  It is the Word of God that will serve as the foundation of their confidence.

Third, each child has different strengths.  Focus on building those strengths.  Remind them that all their gifts and strengths come from God. James 1:17 (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”).

 

Former President Obama is a Wonderful Role Model for Many Things, Including Being a Reader Who Enjoys Books

Former President Barrack Obama is a true role model.  He is a loving husband and father.  He enjoys continuing to learn and grow.  And, he especially loves to read.  During his presidency, he often promoted the importance of reading to students, and would actually take some of his precious time to read to them.

In an interview with the New York Times just days before he stepped down from office, President Obama made it clear that “books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.”  He especially found enlightening and helpful books by such great men as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  In fact, he told the reporter that he would often leave his office so that he could read.

Not only is he a reader, but he is also a well-known author.  His love of books led him to write in order to encourage others.  I truly hope that he continues to promote literacy, especially among our African American and Hispanic young men.  If President Obama loves to read, it should be cool for young men to read too.  What an impactful message he sends!

To read the entire article, please CLICK HERE.

What is One of the Most Important New Year’s Resolutions That You Can Make For Your Children? Read more!

    I came across this post by an unknown author about reading to your children.  As you may know, my blog centers on improving the lives of children, primarily through literacy.  It should be no surprise that I would continue to inspire adults to read more to and with children.  As we begin a new year, I encourage you to add that as a New Year’s resolution as it keeps reading on your most important things “to do” list each day.  

    As the unknown author writes, it only can take 20 minutes a day.  That is 20 minutes out of 1,440 minutes that we have each and every day.  Surely you can squeeze in the time!  But, if there is one day that you just have 10 minutes, still do it.  Don’t put reading off to a time in the future when you believe you will have “enough time” because often, that time does not happen.   Make procrastinating a thing of the past and just do it!

    What about where and when to read?  The author again gives you some suggestions.  Think about all the things that you do each day that require some sort of waiting time, and then add reading.  While you do laundry … while dinner cooks – these are just a few of those times.   Moreover, read during any time of the day – especially on weekends and holidays.  Search for opportunities to read. 

    I love it when the author suggests to “Hide the remote; let the computer games cool.”  We all know that these electronic devices steal reading time away from us.  So, in other words, don’t even turn on the television.  If you have it on, turn it off and then don’t let anyone else turn it on while reading is going on.  With computer games, you may have to pull your children away from them, but pull, pull, pull!  Those games won’t go anywhere and when you give the approval for your children to return to them, they will still be there.

    While reading, have your children snuggle close to you.  This is a wonderful time to bond and love on them.  They hear your voice.  They feel your warm touch.  They know that they are truly loved!  And, as the author says “Hey, don’t quit.”  Tomorrow is another day to read, and read, and read some more.

Helping Your Children To Make New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a brand-new year and I’m sure that many of you have already sat down and written a list of resolutions to start off the year right.  Some parents think that new year’s resolutions are just for them as adults.  However, parents can help their children make changes and improvements in their behaviors and habits by encouraging and helping their children to make new year’s resolutions too.

In her online article 8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions, author Wendy Schuman gives some good advice.  First, she encourages parents to be role models for their children in making and following through with resolutions.   For example, if eating healthy is at the top of your list as a parent, make sure that you do your best to purchase healthy food and eat it.  Include your children in making healthy food choices and planning healthy meals.  And, ensure that there are plenty of nutritious snacks around, as we all know that kids love to snack.

Second, have your child write a short list of resolutions of just 2 or 3.  Ask your child: “What is the most important improvements that he would like to make?”  A long list can lead to frustrations when your child does not achieve every single item listed.

Third, be positive.  Don’t look for every time that your child has not followed through on a resolution and nag about it.  A nagging or criticizing parent can cause a child to develop a lack of self-confidence.  Instead, if your child does not follow through, try to remind him of the many successes that he has had in the past.  Encourage him to not give up and continue toward making the resolution a reality.  Each day is a new day and your child can always begin again.

Fourth, develop a family ritual around resolutions.  Get together as a family and share each person’s resolutions.  Make them meaningful. Be kind and loving to each other rather than critical and judgmental.   This is the beginning of a fresh new year that God has blessed you and your family with.

To read her entire article, CLICK HERE.

 

Allowing Our Children to Face the Consequences

As parents, many of us do not want to see our children suffer for their mistakes or negative conduct.  We love them so much that all we want to do is protect them.  A very important parenting tool, however, is that we allow our children to face discomfort and consequences from their actions so that they can learn that their decisions and actions have ramifications in their lives.

As Christian parents, we should have rules for our children to follow.  Have your family write up some rules for everyone to follow.  If and when they violate the rules, natural consequences must follow.  These consequences can be creative ones.  In her online article Creative Consequences for Kids, author Kim Sorgius shares some of her suggestions.  She writes that first, rules at home should be simple and not give a child any wiggle room.  As an example, she requires that her children clean their room.  Once she comes to check, if she finds anything out of order or not put away, she takes the item for a period of time, such as a week.  If the problem continues, she may give the item away to charity.

Another example is when her child is too loud or whinny or saying mean things.   The consequence for that negative behavior is that the child cannot speak for a while.  This especially works well, she writes, when children are driving with you in the car.

After her article, Ms. Sorgius shares comments that other moms have written about what they do for consequences.  One mom wrote: “If you don’t eat what mama cooks you’re gonna be hungry.” How long do you think it will take your child to figure out that he had better eat what his mother or father cooks or he will go hungry?

Be sure to plan out consequences when you are not angry.  Be creative.  Your children will break rules, so expect it and help them learn how to develop character and discipline.  

Read her entire article by CLICKING HERE.

 

When Planning What Gifts to Buy Your Children This Christmas, Remember This: Your Presence is More Important

As parents, we often spend much of our time planning what presents to buy our children, particularly as Christmas approaches.  Another video game? Another DVD? Music lessons?  Dance lessons?  The newest fad watch?  The list can be endless.  For this holiday season, stop and think about the fact that your children would much rather have time with you than with a gift.

Consider instead planning an activity that will become a family tradition.  Your children will have life long memories of all the fun they had with the family rather than the gift.  Such family traditions can include having the entire extended family over for a meal; or volunteering time together to help the less fortunate; or attending church together.

What about planning a family trip together?  You can select a different location each year.  One Christmas, my sisters and I planned a family trip to a popular theme park.  We rented a large home and our parents and all our siblings and their spouses and children came.  We had such a wonderful time and made enduring memories.  

Also be sure to include some relaxed time.  What about simply going outside and looking at the stars?  Or trying a new recipe for a special desert? Or playing fun games with them?  When was the last time that you were the horse and they rode on your back?

Spending time with your children requires planning.  But, these plans will be the most important and life changing plans you can make. 

 

How Much Time Do You Spend Each Day Listening to Your Children?

During these busy holiday times, it is especially difficult for us to take our time as parents, slow down, and listen to our children when they speak.  Active listening skills can be developed - it just takes your desire to want to do it.  I love this quote from Catherine M. Wallace on today’s blog because I believe it is so true.  Listen to your children today and show them you love them so that when they grow up, you will always be considered as a parent to talk to.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have some very important information on their website about parenting and developing the skills of active listening with your children.

Active listening is one of the most important ways to build a close and loving relationship. Here are some of the active learning skills that the CDC recommends:

  1. Stop what you are doing and focus your attention exclusively on your child.
  2. Engage in eye contact when speaking.
  3. Get down to your child’s level physically.  If your child is sitting down, sit down too.
  4. Reflect or repeat back what you understand your child to be saying to make sure that you completely understand it.  
  5. Don’t worry about getting things wrong.  It is more important that you are listening and trying to understand.

On this website, the CDC gives examples of active listening skills so you can read for yourself and get suggestions.  Please visit it to learn more: CLICK HERE.

Encourage Your Children to Smile

A warm, smiling face reveals a joy-filled heart.  

Proverbs 15:3

I love this version of Proverbs 15:3.  When I read it, I think of children smiling, genuinely and eagerly, because there is so much natural joy in their hearts.  Children love to play and laugh and have fun.  Smiling is a big part of that.

As a lay children’s minister for many years, I taught God’s Word in a fun-filled way.  I firmly believed that if a child was having fun, the child would learn God’s Word quicker and also know that God is a God of joy and fun.  We did puppet shows and dressed up in costumes to act out stories in the Bible.  Yes, we acted silly and goofy – all to get the children to be happy and excited about our great God. 

For me, smiling is a perfect way to show my faith and my thankful, joy-filled heart.  If I am smiling, that means that I have put my faith in God to help me to have a successful day and overcome any obstacles that try to block my progress.  And, I think that smiling is a sign of strength.  No matter how much pressure may be brought on me, smiling means that I am at peace, having put my trust in God.  Many people believe that smiling and joyfulness only come after our lives are perfect but that is not true.  The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength to be overcomers – not that joy only comes afterward we overcome.   (Nehemiah 8:10)

Smiling to others also encourages others to smile too and can be a blessing to them.  Do you smile to and with your children?  If they see you model smiling, they will be sure to follow in your footsteps.

It has been said that a smile is the prettiest thing that you can wear! What is the alternative? The upside down smile is a frown.

What To Do If You Have a “Shy” Child

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and love and a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

I often hear a parent refer to a child as “shy”.  What does that mean? According to psychologists, shyness relates to being uncomfortable in different settings, including social settings.  It is different than being an introvert, because introverts like being by themselves and do not want much social interaction.  A shy child is usually unwilling to take risks in any situation.   Studies show that “shy” children can learn skills to help them overcome the fears that they have and grow up to be well-adapted, confident people.

I would first like to say that as Christian parents, it’s important how we “label” or “brand” our children.  Remember that your child is listening to what you call him or her.  Once a parent labels a child as “shy”, that child will grow up and live up to that label.  Stop calling or labeling your child something that is contrary to the Word of God.

If you have a child who displays some timidity or bashfulness, start first with searching the Bible for stories that will encourage your child and show him/her how ordinary people overcame their fears by having faith and focusing on God.  Find scripture verses addressing fear and help your child to memorize them.  This should be a part of your daily routine.  Play games with these verses and make it fun.  Also, support your child in meeting new people and being in new situations.  What we say about and to our children should always line up with the Word of God.

How Should Christian Parents Respond to Bullying?

Now that our children are back to school and settled in, I would like to discuss a subject that seems to be increasing in frequency – bullying.  As Christian parents, how are we to handle bullying, whether our children are being bullied or are the bullies or are the persons standing by watching or video-taping the bullying?  This is a challenging and complicated subject because as Christians, we immediately think about Jesus telling us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).

But is that really what the Bible instructs us to do?

The following incident just recently occurred at a high school.  A teenage student walked off the campus and was pursued by another student, who kept verbally taunting him.  The victim hung his head and did not respond to the constant taunts.  The bully caught up to the victim and hit him in the jaw, breaking it.  There were other students who were standing around watching and some were even video-taping the incident with their cell phones.  Adults passed by in vehicles.  No one did anything to intervene and stop the violence.  It was only when one of the videos was posted on the internet, did the community find out about what happened. My heart ached as a mother to hear about this victimization and brutality.

Bullying is too difficult a subject to fully address in a short blog, but there are a number of helpful websites.  I especially encourage parents to visit and read the information on THIS WEBSITE.  One of the leading experts on bullying is Paul Coughlin, the founder of The Protectors, an anti-bullying movement, whose own daughter was bullied.  Mr. Coughlin helps parents learn about bullying and teaches what they can do, in turn, to help their children.  He calls it “bully-proofing” your children.

Bullying can be very devastating to children.  Prepare yourself and your children for it so no one is caught by surprise if and when it does happen.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, before making plans to participate in its activities, I ask Christian parents to research and read about this so-called “holiday”.  One of my children’s books discusses the true origins of Halloween - It’s Not About You Mr. Pumpkin - A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Halloween.

Many Christians do not know where Halloween started or what it involves.  Some think that it is just harmless fun for children, such as dressing them up in costumes and knocking on doors asking for candy.  I believe that it is very important for parents to understand the pagan origins of Halloween and the rituals that were and still are involved.  Shockingly, next to Christmas, it generates the most amount of money for retailers.

In preparing to write my book, I did a significant amount of research.  The celebration was started by people known as the Celtics who lived in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Their priests were known as Druids, who used evil spirts to do dastardly deeds.  They believed that on October 31, the lord of the dead Samhain, would call out from the dead for all the evil spirits to go back and visit the homes where they used to live or the homes of their living relatives.  These evil spirits began “haunting” homes.   People living in these homes would put out food to stop these spirits from coming in and also put up scarecrows to scare them away.

Over the years, decorations became scarier and uglier.  The focus centered on death, witches, wizards, ghost and all things evil and scary. Soon, the aim was to get children involved.  Why not make it appear fun and playful – then children would be eager to participate?   Since children love to eat candy, offering the evil spirits food turned into offering children candy.

There are many alternatives in which your children can participate – especially those activities sponsored by churches.  Usually these festivals involve fun activities that do not involve any of the Halloween aspects.

You can read more about my book and order it by CLICKING HERE.

Pray for Your Children's Teachers

As the new school year flows into its second month, consider teaching your children to pray for their teachers.  Before doing so, be sure to read Shane Pruitt’s August 10, 2016 online article 10 Ways to Pray for Your Child’s Teacher This School Year.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  1. Pray for peace in the classroom.  With so many different children with all kinds of personalities and so many demands placed on the teacher, the spirit of peace should reign. 
  2. Pray for wisdom on how and what to teach and also what the teacher should say to each student.  
  3. Pray for patience, strength and understanding to guide the children along the proper paths.
  4. Pray for unity – unity within the classroom, unity in the relationship between parents and the teacher, unity among the teachers, and unity within the school and its administration.
  5. Pray for the teacher’s spiritual, physical and emotional endurance.  Your children need and deserve teachers who are stable and grounded and will last through the entire school year.
  6. Pray for the teacher’s personal life.  Oftentimes, we don’t think about a teacher’s life outside the classroom.  Pray for the teacher’s home life – marriage and children, etc.  Pray that the teacher has interesting hobbies that he/she can enjoy and relax with and then return to the classroom refreshed.

This year, instead of complaining about teachers, pray for them.  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)  You can read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Build Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

For the month of September, I have been centering my blog posts on inspirational, back to school quotes for your children.  In this last blog for the month, I would like to focus on teaching your children to trust God.

Trusting God first starts with children understanding and accepting the critical truth that He loves them unconditionally.  Unlike a parent whose love may be denied based on the child’s actions, God always loves us because He is love.  Since He loves us so very much, we know that we can trust Him in everything.

On her webpage, Rachel Wojo writes about many ways to teach trust to children.  She suggests taking your children to a planetarium, for example, to help them understand how big our God is and how His ways are greater than our ways.  She also has a list of Bible verses to read with your children to help them build trust.  She further suggests spending quality time praying with your children, and when their prayers are answered, remind them of all that God has done for them.  To learn more, visit her webpage by clicking here.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Build Honesty

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8 NLT

This is my third blog post for the month of September on back to school inspirational quotes for your children. Today, I would like to stress the importance of honesty.  Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  John 14:6.  Since He is the Truth and our example, we should strive to be truthful in all that we say and do.  

Being honest all the time is not easy.  When your children are in school, there will be times that they will be asked questions.  Will they speak the truth or lie?  Help them to be bold in honesty.  In doing so, it’s important to remember that your children are watching and listening to you.  If you do not tell the truth, it will be difficult for your children to do so.  Be a role model of integrity for them. 

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Instill Courage

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

I’m continuing with back to school inspirational quotes for your children during the month of September and today’s blog post is on instilling courage.  As your children return to school, they are dealing with many different fears – fears of the unknown such as new teachers, new classmates, new activities, etc.  The Bible is filled with stories showing how ordinary people overcame their fears by keeping their focus on God.  Pick out some stories and read them to your children.

One wonderful example is Daniel in the lion’s den.  Discuss the characters in the stories and how they stood out from among the others.  Select verses focusing on courage and help your children memorize them.  Pray with your children for strength and courage during times of transition.  Talk to them about the situations that they are going through.  Help them develop a deep understanding that God is faithful and will always be with them.

For the Month of September – Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Stress Their Uniqueness

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.

Psalm 139:13-14

    Since the month of September involves our children going back to school, I would like to give parents some inspirational, back to school quotes for their children in my blog posts for this month.  This week’s blog focuses on encouraging your children to stand out in their classrooms and among their friends.

In other words, they should strive to be the special, unique persons they were created to be, and not try to blend in with the crowd.  Build up their self-confidence.  Talk to them about their God given gifts and talents.  Speak blessings over them in the mornings and pray with them before they head out to school.  Read Bible verses that refer to how special they are.  Don’t let this be just another start of an ordinary school year, but seek to make this school year exceptionally different and special.  It’s up to parents to set the stage for their children’s success. 

Teaching Your Children the Importance of What Happened on July 4th

    Is July 4th just another barbeque holiday for you and your family?  Yes, it’s great to have a day off to spend time with family and friends, but July 4th has such important history behind it.  Share that history with your children before you leave home.  

    Just what happened on that wonderful day?  Our country back in the 1770s consisted of 13 colonies ruled by Great Britain.  The colonists became very angry because Great Britain began imposing many taxes on them without their knowledge or representation in Parliament, and began protesting against this.  In response, Great Britain sent in soldiers to quash all resistance.  

    The colonists chose representatives to meet to discuss what they would do.  In 1774, a group of representatives formed the First Continental Congress and met in Philadelphia to begin discussing becoming independent from Great Britain.  They made a list of demands to King George and began forming militias to defend themselves.  The British did not back down and sent in more soldiers.  In 1776, a group of men led by Thomas Jefferson were asked to write an explanation as to why the colonists wanted independence.  This document became known as the Declaration of Independence.  It refers to God five times, as they believed God was very important in guiding them to establish our new country and God had created us all to be free and equal.

    On July 4, 1776, Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence.    This day has been remembered and celebrated since.