Monday, February 20, 2012

Fruitful Parenting

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithlessness, gentleness
and self control.”
Galatians 5:22-23

I love this passage from Galatians.  Maybe I love it because of the wonderful song that dances in my head whenever I recite the fruits of the spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
Patience, kindness, goodness,
Faithfulness, gentleness, self control.
Of such there is no law.”

     Another reason is that this list is based on Christian strengths and not on weaknesses.  The Spirit of God helps us have love, joy, peace, and the list goes on….  This is the person I want to be and the qualities for which I strive.
      What does this list of strength based qualities mean for us as parents?  If the Spirit is fully a part of our lives then it should control how we relate to others, especially the children, in our lives.  So do the interactions you have with children reflect these qualities?
            Love… how do you show love to your children?
Joy.. is parenting or relating to the children in your life a joy?  Do the children sense that they are a joy to you?
Peace.. are the interactions with your children peaceful?
Patience… do you have patience with your children, especially with their maturity and developmental level and age?
Kindness… would your children say your interactions with them are mostly kind?
Goodness… how do you express goodness to your children and see the goodness in them?
Faithfulness… how faithful are you in your parenting?  Do you comment this to God each day?
Gentleness… are you gentle with your children especially when you consider that they are younger, less mature, and have less brain development than you.  Also the only power they have is what you give to them.  They are much more vulnerable than adults and therefore need more gentleness.
Self control…do you practice self control with your children, not only in the way you discipline them and control your anger, but also in the way you talk about them to others,  in jokes or sarcasm, or in the ways you may to tempted to give into their wants because it is just easier.

If you would like to work on this more, one idea is to start a “Thirty Day Fruitful Parenting” journal.  To do this just get a notebook and each day, for the next 30 days, write down at least one or more ways you express a spiritual fruit to your child or children.  And if there is an especially difficult area you are working on in your relationship, use the fruits in that area.
            If you try this I’d love to know how it worked for you.  You can contact me by commenting on this blog or emailing me at
            May God be with you this week as you navigate the joyful, but often difficult journey of being Jesus to the children in your life.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding the Lost

3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

 Luke 15:3-7

This scripture has an important message about how we treat children.  Like all of us, children get lost sometimes.  Yes, they can get lost literally, but they can also get lost figuratively.  We typically think about this parable as people lost in sin, however, I hesitate using the word “sin” when we are talking about the behavior of children.  I believe this is too powerful a word to use with children.  Yes, they misbehave and they have inappropriate behaviors, but to tell a child that he or she is sinful, is inappropriate.   Children are sensitive and they take things very literally.  The younger they are the more this is true. 

However, children do get lost.  Children can be lost in their behavior, in their emotions, and in the sin that others have put in their lives in the form of overly harsh discipline, abuse or neglect.  It is our job as parents, caregivers and teachers to go and find them, to not be angry with them for getting lost, and to rejoice when they are found, bringing them back into the fold.

To find a child that is lost in behavior, we need to look at what they are going through and not just become angry with them because they are misbehaving.  The shepherd did not get angry with the lost sheep, but he searched and searched until the sheep was found.  To find the child means to find out what is causing the behavior and to work with that.

In my work as a preschool teacher, a little girl got lost in her behavior one day.  We were done with our work time, and I asked the children to help clean up.  This little girl, who had a complicated home life but usually did well in school, got lost as soon as I told her it was time to pick up the toys.  She started screaming and threw herself on the floor in a tantrum.  Being human, I admit that anger started building up inside me at this child’s strong reaction.  However, I also realized that her response to my request was way over the top, and something else was probably going on with her.  So I picked her up and took her to another room so she could calm down.  As I held her and patted her back, through her tears these words came out: “We have to move and we can’t keep our puppy.”  With this statement, I knew why she was lost.  She was lost in grief and sadness.  Because of her home life, many things were not stable for her.  This was one more thing that was being taken from her that she had absolutely no control over.   

I truly believe that Jesus helped me be his hands that day to find this child that was lost in her behavior.  And I’m thankful that even though I initially got angry at her out burst I was able to see passed the actions and see what was truly going on with her.  If I had have gotten mad at her and punished her for the behavior I believe she would have gotten even more lost and it would have been even more difficult to find her.  Jesus calls us, just like the shepherd, to search and search until the lost are found and then rejoice. 

Thanks for visiting today and may God bless you in your work to be the hands of Jesus in the lives of children.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jesus Calls Us to Welcome Children

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them,
but the disciples rebuked them. 
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.
He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 
And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16

Thanks for taking time to look at my new blog.  It's dedicated to one of my passions how we care for children and especially how we care for chidlren in the church.  As Christians, we are called to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ.  This is true in all areas of our life, including how we relate to, care for and teach children.  Welcome the Children emphasizes the example Jesus set for us in the gopels for how we value, care for and teach children.

A passion for children.....
With more than 28 years of professional experience and volunteering in the church, I have been working with children and adults, families and churches helping them understand how children grow and thrive.  After receiving undergraduate degrees from Hesston College and Bethel College, I went on to obtain my graduate degree in education from Wichita State University. 

In the early years of my career I worked for the Harvey County Health Dept. on licensing daycare homes and centers, and teaching early childhood workshops.  I also taught workshops for parents, teachers and foster parents through Kansas Children's Service League.

Teaching children is also a passion of mine and I taught in early childhood classrooms as a MVS (Mennonite Voluntary Service) volunteer at the International Institute in St. Louis, MO.  I also taught in the Wichita School system as a classroom teacher and at Wesley Medical Center Daycare as lead teacher and program director.

Later I taught at New Creation Early Childhood Program.  Most recently, I was director/teacher at Zion Preschool and an Early Childhood Instructor at Hutchinson Community College.

My passion for teaching children and educating adults is not just part of my professional life.  I have also worked on the Christian education committees of all the Mennonite churches to which I have belonged and taught in Sunday school classes, Wednesday night programs, and Vacation Bible school.  This summer (2010) I had the privilege of giving a session on "Welcoming and Embracing Children in the Church" at the Western District Conference.

Supporting me along the way has been my husband, Tim.  God has blessed us with two great daughters, Terra and Ruth.

Along with weekly postings in this blog, I also offer workshops on issues relating to children in the church.
Thanks again for stopping by.  May God be with you and bless you as you do the sacred work of caring for children.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome the Children blog is coming soon!!
Please check back later.