Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winning Their Hearts

I see the same reoccurring theme with parents that have managed to develop and maintain deep and  meaningful life long relationships with their children.   
There is a very unique bond these families have, a bond that brings them together and keeps them close even after the children have grown.
If you were to write a parenting "how to" with their secret trick it would be the shortest book ever, consisting of only one sentence.  It would simply read, "There is nothing more importance than winning your child's heart".

I think that children should be born with a warning label that reads:
"Warning: If you don't win the heart of your child, someone or something else will."

Understanding the foundation of what it takes to win these little hearts is simple and obvious, but sometimes it is the obvious that is so easily overlooked.  I believe that by  following the three A's  we will win the greatest treasure on earth.....our children's heart!

So what are these magic three A's??
Affection,  Attention &

When we meet these emotional needs of our little ones, a deep, natural and mutual respect develops.
Anytime we put quality ingredients into something we produce a quality product, this is true everywhere in life and it is no different in child rearing.

Now, I said "understanding the three A's is simple and obvious," however implementing them can be quite different.
The first A could stand for Amore (the Latin word for love), but love by itself isn't enough. Our children need more, they need affection.
Affection is when we express our love through our action.  It isn't enough for our children to just hear that  they are loved, they need to physically feel it... daily.  We can never assume that these little ones "know" how we feel about them.  We must freely give them affection even when they aren't seeking it.

The next A is for attention, something we all know our children need.  Most of us have every intention of giving our children all the attention that they could possibly desire, but life tends to get in the way.  It is so easy to put off our children until "tomorrow" but it won't be long until our little ones stop counting on "tomorrow" to every come.  It is easy for us to use the excuse, "it isn't the quantity of the time we spend together, it is the quality."  Well, to that I say, you are only half right.... it is the quality but it is also the quantity, they are equally important.  
Children are smart and they realize early on that people make the desires of their hearts their priority.  How easy it is for us to sometimes confuse our needs from our wants, leaving our little ones craving attention.

The final A is for affirmation, a basic desire inside all of us.  Everyone needs to feel valued, needed, and that they have a purpose.  Our little ones have so much to share with us, so many stories, ideas, feelings and concerns.  They need to know that the words that come out of their hearts go directly into ours.  How often do we give them our undivided attention looking into their eyes as their words flow from their little mouths?  t Sometimes it is so hard to turn of the demands and chaos of the world so that we can even hear them speaking.
Most of intended to.... we plan to... 
but minutes turn into hours, hours into days and before we know it, our best intention are left just that....intentions.  The problem is that our little ones get tired of waiting on us and eventually they loose interest in sharing their hearts with us.

I wish that I always got it right....
I wish that I could focus my life so intently on my children that I never miss an opportunity to win their beautiful little hearts.

Oh how I do love those moments when I do get it right.... those moments when I can SEE that I am winning their hearts.  I have seen it in light that shined from my son's face after I said, "I believe you," when he insecurely asked, "Do you believe me mama?"  I've heard it in my daughter's voice in the way she said, "I love you mama,"  after I responded with more compassion than she had anticipated.  I feel it in the special kisses of my sweet little girl who often struggles with being able to give them and in the way my baby girl tugs my legs in desperate attempt to be lifted into my arms.

We may not ever have it all together
but we will always get it right if we never give up.

Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I will choose to follow...

Quite frequently you hear a new christian say that they have decided to follow Jesus, but I can't help but wonder if they really know what they are agreeing to.

There is even a song, "I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back....no turning back."  

Webster defines the word follow as, "to come or take place after in time, sequence, or order."  But do we Really comprehend the full meaning of following someone like Jesus.  A lot of people misunderstand what it means to be a Christian, buying into the idea that once we make a commitment we are "fancy free".  Some even believe that life will become easier and all of the stress will be gone.
The truth...
When we commit to following Jesus we must first understand who He was and what His mission was about.  The Gospels tell us that Jesus traveled long hard journeys, never knowing where He would rest His head or how food would come to Him... He simply knew His father would provide.  Jesus's feet were dirty and sore from traveling on rough terrain but he never complained or questioned God's purpose for His suffering.  

If you plan to follow Jesus you better put on your hiking boots and roll up your pants because the road you are about to embark upon isn't paved or smooth.
God doesn't promise a life without pain, what He does promise is that He will always sustain us and be with us through our journeys, just as He was with His son.  
Prepare to suffer and be ridiculed.... remember we are following Jesus so we go where He goes.

Jesus was hungry, tired, and anguished at times...... 
                                                                          are you willing to be hungry, tired, and anguished?
Jesus put aside His own burdens to carry the burdens of others..... 
                                                                             are you willing to carry the burdens of others?
Jesus did the illogical and walked on water....
                                               are you willing to do the illogical?
Jesus told God, "Not my will but Yours be done.".... 
                                                  are you willing to lay down your own desires for the will of God?
Jesus was brutally crucified for the inequity of all people....
                                                     dare I even ask???        

So why would anyone accept this journey?
For the same reason Jesus did, because the prize far out weighs the cost.  Earth is not our reward it is our place of preparation.  We are being molded and shaped into the people that God has created us to be, but our journey is sometimes painful.   
 We can endure this kind of journey because
God tells us that, 
"... I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. " Isaiah 41:10

Choosing to follow Jesus provides us with all that is missing from our lives. I think most of us would agree that in the deepest place of our hearts we all long for the same thing, something that if it was unobtainable to us, would leave us in a state of mere existences...
Where would we be without HOPE? How would we face each day without the hope of something better than the pain of yesterday and the uncertainty of tomorrow?
It is because we have a God that is bigger than our circumstances... that we have Hope!

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.   Jeremiah 29:11-12 

The fact is we all choose to follow something, it could  be another person,  self desires,  or power.  But these things will only leave us wandering in endless circles, leaving us frustrated and exhausted.   Why choose to follow Jesus down the difficult narrow path?  Because God promises to never leave us or forsake us... if we choose this path we will never walk it alone.  When we follow close behind our savior, trusting in His guidance and direction,
 He will lead us right into eternity.

And for that reason I choose to follow Jesus.......

 "Do you not know? Have you not heard?  
The LORD is the everlasting God,  the Creator of the ends of the earth.   
He will not grow tired or weary, 
   and his understanding no one can fathom. 
 He gives strength to the weary 
   and increases the power of the weak. 
 Even youths grow tired and weary, 
   and young men stumble and fall; 
 but those who hope in the LORD 
   will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
   they will run and not grow weary, 
   they will walk and not be faint."
Isiah 40:28-31

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