April 21, 2014
The Lord Maintains His Creation
This past weekend I had the privilege of being in the Hill Country of Texas, and this year more than ever, the wild flowers were stunning. You can see a video of me with the flowers on my video this month. I was reminded of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reminding His followers that God takes care of the flowers of the field. And if God takes care of these flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more does He take care of you and me? As moms, we need that reminder don’t we. It is easy to worry about every possible thing that could happen to our precious kids. But remember, God loves them and cares for them. Let’s not live with worry and fear, but rather faith and trust, seeking His direction.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Glorious Father and Creator, I praise You for the incredible way You have created this universe. The order in Your Creation is beautiful to observe! I praise you for being a holy God of order. I confess that I struggle with worrying about __________. O Lord, help me to cast my cares on You and remember that you care for even the smallest flowers, and you care for us. Thank you, Lord, that I am never alone. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love. Help me to express your love and care to my children, so that they too will walk in faith and not fear. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
April 14, 2014
Easter egg hunts are a fun tradition for most families. As we watch our kids run around the yard in delight hunting for eggs, I’m reminded of the pursuits we all seem to hunt in life. It’s almost humorous to watch our kids on a passionate pursuit to fill their baskets with eggs that simply contain cheap candy and meaningless trinkets, yet on the other hand we as mothers are often guilty of the same silly pursuits. Okay, so we don’t have our cute little baskets, but we do have are darling little calendars which we fill with big girl pursuits hoping they will satisfy us or give us significance.
In this springtime of refreshment and renewal, let us consider our pursuits. Instead of chasing meaningless trinkets in order to satisfy our immediate cravings, let’s reconsider what is truly worth pursuing. The golden egg if you will. We can choose which eggs we will chase after, so why not chase after that which is lasting and eternal. Passionately pursue Christ. Paul put it this way, “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Egg hunts may seem fruitless and unfulfilling in some ways, but there is one hunt that will never disappoint. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul. He is the one prize who satisfies our longings and meets our deepest needs.
Here’s one of our favorite recipes for Easter morning:
Easter Morning Rolls
2 cups self-rising flour 2 cups softened vanilla ice cream (softened)
Lightly stir ingredients together until just moistened. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Fill ¾ full. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Yields 16 -20 muffins. We use these muffins as an Easter tradition at our home and talk about how the rolls symbolically represent Christ, the bread of life. The muffins have two ingredients just as Christ is made up of both God and man. The white color represents his purity, and the flour is self-rising (which represents our Easter celebration of Christ rising from the dead).
April 6, 2014
Never underestimate the power of prevention. Although some tantrums are unavoidable, there are others that perhaps can be diverted by preventative measures. Through wisdom and discernment we can move around certain potential land mines, and experience fewer explosions. Here are a few toddler land mines to avoid.
• Terrible Timing. Don’t run errands when the kids are tired, hungry or over-stimulated. Make a general plan for your day and if at all possible run errands in the morning while the kids are more alert and energetic. Careful not to overdo it. Too many errands in one day is a tantrum waiting to happen. Avoid long outings and make sure you take time for food and opportunities to run and be less confined to the stroller or car-seat.
• Un-Prepared. You know your child. If he needs extra snacks bring them along. If he gets thirsty all the time, bring extra juice or water. If your child can’t stand wet or soiled clothes, bring another change of clothing, and always make sure you have enough diapers on hand. Another important preventative measure is to bring along some extra toys and books for those times when you find yourself unexpectedly waiting, whether it is in traffic, in a restaurant or in the grocery store line.
• Inconsistent. No Means No. Unless some sort of abnormal circumstance occurs you must stick with your guns. If you give into a tantrum, your child will learn that screaming works. Be gentle and firm, but don’t change your mind just to quiet them down. Use a creative distraction or alternative if you must.
• Too many rules. We may set ourselves up for sabotage if we set too many rules and regulations in our homes. Keep your rules simple and easy to obey so it is not necessary to be saying “No” every time you turn around. You only frustrate a child with too many Nos. Be reasonable and open. Toddler-proof your house for the time-being, so every other word coming out of your mouth is not a rule.
• Lack of Attention. Some kids need, desire and even thrive on quality time with you. Make sure that you take time each day for some good ole eye to eye communication. Sometimes we get so busy doing activities and interests for our child (or for ourselves) and we forget to give them very essential undivided attention. I’m not saying you need to over attend your child (which some moms are in danger of), but I am saying just as you feed your child each day be sure to feed them the delicious gift of your attention as well. While you are shopping, keep your kids engaged in the process by helping you find the green can or picking out their favorite soup.
• No choices. As your child’s independent spirit develops, give them small and simple opportunities to make decisions. Do you want to read this book or that one? Do you want the orange sippy cup or the pink one?
• Growing Them Up too Early. Let’s not give our kids a ticket to frustration by placing them in activities or giving them tasks that are over their heads. Teach and stretch, yes. But there is a delicate balance of expecting too much. Give them age appropriate toys and provide age-appropriate activities, so you set the stage for success rather than frustration.
• Failing to Tell Expectations. Always remember to tell your child how you expect them to act, especially as you approach a new situation. On the way to the indoor play land say, “Honey, I expect you to obey mommy. We will eat lunch and play, but then we must leave when I say so for little Kelsey’s nap time.”
• Forgetting to Notice the Good. Take advantage of the times your kids do something right to tell them “Good job, I’m proud of you.” Our kids love attention and encouragement and will live up to the kind words you say about them. You can bet if you tell your child “I’m so proud of you for not being fussy at the grocery store today,” they will work hard not to whine or complain the next time you go.
• Junk food. Sugar, caffeine and junk foods can affect our body’s ability to handle stress, so it stands to reason that if effects our young child’s body even more. Feed your children wholesome foods which will help sustain them longer and give them strength to adjust and persevere, instead of going hyper. You may detect that your child is wild after eating certain types of foods. Begin eliminating different foods form your child’s diet and see if their behavior is affected. I discovered orange juice tended to make my oldest daughter a little out of sorts, so we took it out of her diet.
• Over-stimulation. Too many activities, too many people and too much sugar can be a recipe for disaster. Guard against overwhelm by recognizing the needs of your child. Some kids thrive while others explode from sensory overload. Turn off the television or loud music, move into a peaceful room with less people if you begin to see the first stages of over-stimulated fussiness.
• Trying to be a Lone Ranger. We must build a team with those who spend the most time with our kids. Explain to your spouse, the grandparents or a favorite sitter how you plan to handle tantrums and how to prevent them. Ask them to join you in the family effort. The more consistent the main players are in your kids’ life, the quicker your child will learn that tantrums get him nowhere. And that’s the goal to keep in mind; you are gently trying to teach your child tantrums are not a healthy way to get what you want. Tantrums are not a becoming quality for an adult, so just like potty training we need to help them get rid of diapers and tantrums as they begin to grow up and leave the toddler years behind.
Hope these were helpful! This is an excerpt from my book , A Positive Plan for Creating More Love, Less Anger (Thomas Nelson)
March 17, 2014
Like a March wind, a toddler tantrum can blow in at any time. Let’s talk about some strategies that may help you work through the trying moments of tantrums. No matter what the reason for the outburst of rage, the first and most important rule is for you as a mom to stay calm. If you allow yourself to become angry and out of control then you have two tantrums on your hands and that’s not a pretty sight. Besides if you scream and yell, you will teach your child several new lessons; how to get someone’s attention through screaming and it must be okay to scream because mommy does it. So, rule number one in handling your child’s tantrum is keep your cool and speak to your child in calm and soothing tones.
Try the following methods to handle the tantrum. Not all of them will work with your toddler, but explore and begin to figure out what is effective for calming down your child.
• Verbalize the Frustration. Gently help your child verbalize his frustration or say it for them. “Mommy knows you are mad because you can’t buckle the car seat yourself. Let’s do it together.” Do not try to negotiate with your child, simply let them know you understand what he is trying to do or have.
• Hold them. Sometimes when a child has lost control he needs a secure and loving embrace to help him calm down. Some kids do not respond well to being held. One of my daughters liked to be held during a tantrum and one didn’t; she became more enraged as she tried to get away. Know your child. Boys especially may need to be released to work out their frustration physically.
• Move to another Location. If you have a safe room or a fenced in back yard where your child can work out his tantrum, remove him from the source of frustration and allow him to work it through himself. Remain in fairly close proximity so he knows you haven’t left him, but don’t give the tantrum attention. If you are in a public place, you may want to take him to the parking lot or the bathroom in order to change the environment.
• Firmly and Gently tell them NO. If you know the tantrum is of the manipulative nature then lovingly and firmly explain that you are not going to give him what he wants. Stick with your firm No. Tell him when he calms down you will begin to work out a solution or alternative. If you are at home, let him cry it out to his hearts content. He will eventually stop. If you are in a public place you may need to remove him to another room or outside until he gains composure and sees that you mean NO. Recently I observed a mother and toddler in the seats in front of me on a plane. As the boy began to scream and cry because he wanted the trailer which went with his toy truck, the mom gently took his face and said in a soft, firm voice, “No, we don’t scream on the plane.” The boy calmed down. Then this wise mom offered him hope, “Perhaps grandma or Uncle Bill has a trailer you can put on your truck.” The boy was content for his mother let him know she heard him, but also let him know what was expected of him. Then she offered hope.
• Offer Hope. We all need a glimmer of hope. When you tell your child No, if possible offer hope for something different down the road. With no hope in sight, a child can become discouraged or exasperated, but alternatives and possibilities are calming and encouraging.
• Distract your child. This is a useful tool if you know the tantrum is born out of frustration. Toddlers have short attention spans, so a distraction can take their mind off of the immediate source of tension. If you are at the store ask your child to help you find the next purchase, or look for something that is his favorite color. If you are at home, distract them with a new project or different toy. On occasion a child may be bored and need something to keep him stimulated. Bring extra toys or snacks along when ever you leave the house.
• Ignore the Tantrum. If you are at home and you can tell the tantrum leans more toward manipulation, then do your best to ignore the tantrum. You may want to move to another room, but if your child is young don’t leave their sight as they may feel very insecure. If you are in a public place then ignoring it may not be the best solution, but you can move them to a quieter place.
• Do not allow Aggressive Behavior. Don’t ignore a tantrum if your child becomes violent with you or someone else. At this point it is time for disciplinary action as he must learn to curb this behavior. Tell your child you will not allow him to hurt others, remove him from the situation and then punish accordingly.
Next week we will look at some preventative measures to keep the tantrum from happening in the first place. This is an excerpt from my book Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love Less Anger (Thomas Nelson). Click here to order the book.
March 3, 2014
Creative Ways to Console
There’s no one perfect solution to console a crying baby, but there are a few creative ideas moms have used throughout the years to help soothe the tears. Try several of these methods to see which ones may work for your precious one.
Rocking. As anyone who has ever whiled away the hours on a porch swing knows, there is something calming about a gentle rocking motion. Consider standing with your baby in your arms and swaying back and forth, rocking in a rocking chair or glider, or placing the baby in a baby swing.
Change of Venue. Putting your baby in the stroller and taking her for a walk may calm both you and her down. Another helpful idea is to put your baby in the car seat and take her for a ride. Perhaps a quiet, dark room or a different setting is all she needs to regain some composure.
A Snug Wrap. A swaddling wrap is a way of firmly wrapping a newborn, helping him feel more secure. Here’s one way to swaddle your baby: Spread a receiving or lightweight blanket on the floor. Fold one corner of the blanket down. Lay baby faceup on the blanket with her head just above the folded end. Pick up either the right or left side of the blanket and pull it over your baby to tuck it in snugly under her opposite side. Fold up the bottom of the blanket to cover her feet, then wrap the remaining side of the blanket around her, keeping her head and neck exposed. Do not wrap too tightly, and do not leave your baby in a swaddle wrap for more than eight hours in a row. I recommend a blanket called the Miracle Blanket, which is created especially for babies as a swaddling wrap.
Singing or Consistent Rhythm. Your baby was accustomed to the rhythm of your heartbeat while in the womb, and some newborns are soothed by a similarly consistent rhythm. Consider gently humming or singing a lullaby to soothe your fussy baby. I sang “Jesus Loves Me” and other simple Bible songs to calm my babies. Some parents have found the rhythm of the washing machine or dishwasher can help.
Pacifier or Teething Ring. Some babies have a strong desire or natural reflex to suck. A pacifier may be the calming factor your child needs. Usually between three to eight months old, babies begin cutting teeth, which may increase irritability. Excessive drooling, biting, or even a mild temperature may be an indication that a tooth is surfacing. To soothe your baby’s gums, offer her a cold, wet washcloth, a refrigerated (not frozen) teething ring, or teething biscuits.
Baby Massage. Gently rub or massage your baby’s back or tummy to help soothe the crying.
Stimulation. Although one reason babies cry is from overstimulation, it can also be possible that your baby is bored and may need attention or stimuli. There are plenty of baby boredom busters on the market. Visit your local toy store or do a search for “smart baby toys” on the Web.
Gas Remedies. It is possible that your baby may need to be burped or needs to be fed in a more upright position to avoid gas pains. If your baby arches her back or draws up her knees in pain, she is likely to be suffering from gas. You may want to consider Mylicon Infant Gas Relief, which is safe for newborns and available over the counter at most pharmacies. Sometimes babies have an intolerance or allergy to certain foods. A simple change in diet may make a difference.
Colic. Mayo Clinic estimates that 5 to 25 percent of babies have a frustrating period of inconsolable and intense crying known as colic.4 Colic is typically defined as crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Generally the episodes show up in the late afternoon or evening. A colicky baby may be difficult or even impossible to console during these crying episodes.
In addition to trying the methods already mentioned in this chapter, it is important for you to try to stay as calm as possible if your baby is colicky. I know it is difficult to remain relaxed in the midst of incessant crying, but your baby can pick up on your stress and tension. Again, don’t hesitate to ask if you need to call a friend or see if your spouse can give you just a short break. Use the opportunity to take a quick nap, read, talk to another adult, take a shower, or simply step out of the house in order to regain your composure. If there is no one to call at the time, then you may need to lay your baby safely in her crib and step into another room for a while.
Take Care of Yourself. It can be unnerving to hear your baby constantly cry. If you have gone through the checklist of possible reasons your baby is crying and nothing seems to fit, then take a few measures so that you do not become overwhelmed. Sometimes, you may need to put your baby down and let her cry for a while, or you can put on some relaxing music to calm your spirit and help you not focus on the cries.
These tips come from my book, Defuse, A Positive Plan for More Love Less Anger (Thomas Nelson)
Next week we will look at dealing with Toddler Tantrums.