Nine Tips for Peaceful Progeny

August 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

As my son, recent college graduate, returns home for a final roost before testing his wings, I have been reflecting on our strategies in raising him. I thought I’d share some that were more successful – we’ll save stories of the less successful for another day. I don’t claim these as my own ideas; we gathered whatever worked from friends, books, and our own childhoods.

1. Either/Or –Give children options while guiding them toward your own goals. We used this often enough that four-year-old Matt mimicked our policy with his little sister. “Merry, here’s how you play this game . . . Merry, you can play the way you’re supposed to, or you can just not play. Those are your choices. Do you want to play the way you’re supposed to or not play?”

2. Odd/Even –Matt got odd days, Merry even, for both chores and privileges. Before I’d holler for a helper, I’d remember the date and address the appropriate kid. As we’d head for the car, instead of hearing “Shotgun!” and squabbling, we’d hear, “It’s the second, my day in the front.” No questions asked.

3. Change it Up – Honestly, I’m not so good at this, but my husband Wes is a master. When the kids (and I) circled around in a pointless argument, he abruptly asked some completely unrelated question. Although his tactic was glaringly obvious, we would all frequently comply.

4. No-Thank-You-Bite –Although now I only rarely turn my nose up at anything edible (still no brussel sprouts), as a child I preferred meat and potatoes only. Somewhere I heard that our taste buds change every seven years; true or not, I use it as a mantra for tasting. Although this plan doesn’t eliminate all fussing, we found requiring a bite much more manageable than a whole helping.

5. Two-Minute-Warning –We got much better cooperation with “Two more times down the slide, then we have to go.” If fussing ensued, the number decreased to one more time – or a return to that first strategy: “Two more slides or now – which do you prefer?” Same thing applies to chores: “You need to start cleaning your room in the next thirty minutes” works better than “Get in here and clean your room!”

6. Say Sorry – Not them, me. When I could hear that shrieky tone enter my voice, my kids responded with great forgiveness if I stopped and apologized for taking out frustrations on them. Sometimes a bedtime apology was called for due to a long day of grouchiness. I’m hoping they’ve picked up on this model for future relationships.

7. Nights Up – We weren’t terribly consistent with this, but I love the idea. Give each child some alone time with the parents by allowing them to stay up past bedtime once a month and choose an activity. Some things we did: bake cookies, play games, wrap Christmas presents, read a book.

8. Celebrate Spirituality – I love this tradition. We celebrate our children’s spiritual birthdays—the day they chose to follow Jesus. Each year we go out for dinner, often inviting friends. Everyone present sets a goal for spiritual growth. At each celebration, we review our old goals before we set, or reset, new ones.

9. Age and Absence – Not an idea or strategy, this point is a reality to reassure you. As the kids grow up and are not interacting daily, they learn to appreciate parents and each other. I’ve experienced the joy of maturing relationships with my own siblings, and now I get glimpses of the future of cease fire in my children’s sibling battles!

Comment Prompt: Share your parenting strategies, please.

Help Your Kids to Lose Weight

By Julie Morris –

Here’s a scary statistic: Over one-third of our children are overweight or obese. This number has tripled in the last two decades! Here are some practical ways to help them to lose weight:

When they are teens or older, don’t focus on their weight or what they eat. Instead, focus on yourself as you…
1. Eat in a healthy way and start exercising daily for 30 minutes.
2. Write down what you eat.
3. Get the junk food out of our houses (even if this is unpopular).
4. Cook in a healthy way (even if others don’t like it at first).
5. Encourage family meals almost every night—where you sit down together to eat.
6. Provide lots of green vegetables and fruits so that no one will be hungry.
7. Don’t lecture overweight kids about their weight or preach to them about healthy eating.
8. Journal your feelings and have a daily Quiet Time with the Lord. Don’t hide the fact that you do, but don’t brag about it either.
9. Invite your kids on fun activities that encourage exercise such as hikes in the woods, walks in the park, swimming, skating, golf or bowling. Do other not-so-fun things with them such as gardening, washing the car, parking far away from the store, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, walking briskly in the mall.
10. Pray for your children to have a desire to lose weight and make other healthy lifestyle changes. And pray that as they see you lose weight and feel better, they will want to join you.

When your overweight children are young, you have more control over them, so also do some of these things:
1. Teach them how to read labels and make healthy choices. Whether they’re eating out or at home, make a game of finding food “bargains.”
2. Teach them how to have a brief Quiet Time almost every day. If they can’t write yet, help them to draw pictures of their prayers and Bible verses. Help them also to journal their feelings by drawing pictures of things that upset them.
3. Give them non-food rewards when they do something good. Don’t reward by giving them their favorite foods, punish them by taking favorite foods away or calm them with food.
4. When having family celebrations, focus on the fun of fellowship instead of food.
5. Teach them how to cook in a healthy way, but never put them on a diet or force them to eat something they don’t like.
6. Limit their TV, computer or video-game time. One good rule (but not very popular at first) might be to allow them an hour of TV, computer or video games for each hour they spend doing sports, riding their bikes, or playing outside.
7. Don’t tell them that they can never have sugar or other junk food, but limit it. Supply yummy substitutes instead.
8. If they say that they’re hungry between meals, offer low calorie snacks; for example, small packs of raisins, fruits, baby carrots, individual packages of low-fat cheese and yogurt.
9. Never shame them for overeating, gaining weight or making unhealthy choices. Give them lots of hugs and compliments and let them know that you love them.
10. Don’t focus too much on food, diets and weight. Let healthy eating and exercise be a normal part of every day.

The difference these changes can make in your life and the lives of your children will amaze you! Place checks next to the items that you want to try and start making some changes today!

Adapted from Guided By Him…to a Thinner, Not So Stressed-Out You! by Julie Morris and Sarah Morris Cherry.

A New Year’s Resolution Solution: It’s All in Your Head!

By Laurette Willis –

Does fitness begin by doing physical acrobatics or is it mental acrobatics that must come first? God gives us the answer in Romans 12:2 (NIV). “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It’s what’s on your mind that counts! It’s estimated that we think about 60,000 thoughts per day at a speed of 600-800 words per minute.

Do you find your thoughts consistently running along positive paths or negative ones? When something bad happens do you think or say, “It figures. Nothing good ever happens to me.” Or do you say, “You know what? I’m not moved by this because God says in Psalm 34, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all,’ so I’m coming out of this one, too!”

Does God “tell it like it is”?

Why are people who quote God’s Word called extremists and fanatics while those who quote Murphy’s Law are considered realists who are just telling it like it is? Did you know God never told us to “tell it like it is?” In fact, if that were the way God operated, creation would not have happened.

Imagine if God had stepped out into the black void of space and said, “Hey, it sure is dark out here.” It would still be dark! God chose not to “tell it like it is.” Instead He “calls those things which do not exist as though they did”(Romans 4:17 KJV).

He used His Word and said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3 NIV). And there was light. Since we’re made in the image of God and Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be “imitators of God as dear children,” doesn’t it make sense to say what God says instead of what the enemy and the world say?

Start Looking in a New Mirror

Thinking and speaking God’s words and thoughts will change you! Your faith will grow as you hear the Word of God. You will begin to see yourself in a new light with a new mirror: the Word of God. It will become easier for you to encourage and bring hope to others, for you’ll begin to know that the Lord can help them. Situations that used to baffle you will become easier to understand.

Health and fitness issues will also become easier to solve, for godly fitness is tied to what the Lord is telling you that you can and should do to take care of your body. Your health and fitness also depends on the development of the fruit of the Spirit–especially self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23)–more than any diet or exercise routine.

Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s Word today. You will LOVE the way you look..in Him!

Make Level Paths for Your Feet—in the Kitchen!

By Julie Morris –

“That’s lame!”

Evan, my five-year-old grandson, loves to say “That’s lame!” to show his disapproval. He says it when I cut off his favorite cartoon after he’s watched TV too long or when his mom offers him a healthy choice rather than the candy he is asking for. We often hear “That’s lame!” from this precious little guy. Evan knows that being lame is not fun…and so do I. My weakness with food is definitely lame.

In Hebrews 12:13 (NIV), God talks about people who are lame, and tells us what to do if we are one of them: ‘“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
I’m normally not lame when I walk, but before I started “making level paths for my feet,” I would often get tripped up when I walked in my kitchen. I would have wonderful intensions in mind, but at certain times, like when I baked cookies or started eating chips out of the bag, I’d stumble over my good intensions and fall into overeating.

But many years ago I learned what I could do to make level paths for my feet so that I could stop all of this lame behavior and be healed of my uncontrollable cravings.

I’m excited to tell you that God’s promise in Hebrews 12:13 is true. I know because I lost my harmful extra pounds 30 years ago (!) by making healthy paths for my feet—especially in the kitchen. And I am no longer disabled by out-of-control blood pressure, fatigue and other incapacitating things my overeating caused.

Here are some things that I do to make level paths for my feet:

1. I pray daily that God will help me to make healthy choices.
2. I use a well-balanced food plan similar to the Food Pyramid.
3. I write down what I eat each day.
4. I meet weekly with my accountability partner Tish, and am honest with her about how I have eaten and exercised, as well as other goals I have decided on.
5. I let go of negative emotions because I know that resentments are fattening, pouting puts pounds on and worries widen hips.
6. I don’t go to the grocery store when I’m starving or stressed.
7. When I’m going to a party or out to dinner late, I eat a light snack so I won’t be too hungry.
8. I limit foods that trigger my cravings because the few seconds of eating are not worth the hours (or days) of cravings that are sure to follow.
9. I seldom bake sweets.
10. I take it one day at a time.

If you are disabled because of overeating, I pray that you will make your own list of things that you can do to make level paths for your feet.

Comment below and I will help you personally to learn what you can do to stop being lame!

Shattered Illusions of a Goody-Goody

July 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton

Confession: I captured my husband under false pretenses.

Not intentional deceit, I make every effort to be open; I strongly believe in being frank—but somehow, on first impression, most people judge me to be ladylike. This notion even lingers beyond acquaintance. Perhaps some of my traits and habits reinforce the reaction: I have a girly southern voice; I collect china cups and saucers; I tear up over Hallmark commercials and romantic movies.

Even those who are not so impressed with me have been known to categorize me as a goody-goody.

Unfortunately, as my husband discovered after our wedding day, the illusion does not hold up under day to day living. I’m often loud, silly, grouchy, and selfish to name a few not-so-ladylike attributes. Thank God, over the last twenty-five years, Wes has found other reasons to love me!

One day in the first year of our marriage, I shared with him the story of what I considered the follies of my youth:

As a freshman in college, I wanted to spread my wings and test my new freedom. I stepped outside of my moral standards and went with a group of friends to well-known strip club. (Please hold back your gasps; there’s worse to come.)

I felt daring, cosmopolitan, wild. Upon the urgings of the crowd, I even tipped a dancer a dollar and asked for a kiss. I flushed with my audacity. I managed to rationalize and smush any shame.

We tromped back to the dorm and fell into the dreamy slumber of slightly tainted innocence.

The next afternoon, I developed a scratchy throat. By evening, my glands were swelling and red. I scrambled through my mail, and, with horrified dread, I re-read the letter from my mother: “Mimi says to be careful. She read an article saying that there’s an epidemic going around of gonorrhea of the mouth.”

Fear drove spikes through my heart. Shame escaped its prison and swamped me. I cried myself to sleep, nightmares haunting me with the necessity of confessing to my parents that I had an STD.

I did not.

And, I did not confess my misdeeds until much later. In spite of my own regrets, I was surprised that when I told Wes, seven years later, he was angry. Now, with the perspective of our silver anniversary, I know that I shattered some of his illusions with that confession.

Recently, I revealed this story to a church friend. She, too, was horrified and grossed out by my peccadillo. I tumbled off the pedestal I didn’t know she had put me on. That fall is probably a good thing since I don’t belong there.

Praise the Lord that I do not have to earn the image of being good. In Romans, Paul says Jesus gave me His righteousness (3:22). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 NIV).

Comment Prompt: What impressions – true or false – do people have of you?

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