Living for Self or Others

9 09 2013

mapleseed

Do you wish you could live life more passionately? To have enough energy to serve others. To teach your kids by example how to have a servant’s heart. So they won’t be self-centered, but yearn to help others.  This story may help you begin a discussion with your child about supporting others instead of satisfying self.

 A Good-Enough Life

Once upon a time a tiny maple seed fell from a towering maple tree.  It fell onto a leaf floating down a stream.  When the wind blew, the tiny maple seed clung to the leaf and held on tightly.  It was a good-enough life for the maple seed.

Birds called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have a place to build our nests.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

A squirrel called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  I will have a home to build my nest.  I will have branches to climb.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

Some children called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have fun climbing your branches.  We can tie a swing from your branch.

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

Some adults walked by and called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have shade for resting when we rest.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

A chef went in search of a maple tree.  He spotted the maple seed and said, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.   I will have some maple syrup for the pancakes.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

The tiny maple seed started to realize there could be more to his life.  He began to think he did not have a good-enough life.  It was not good enough just to float through life clinging to the leaf.  He started to think of everyone he could help by simply letting go of the leaf.  If he let the wind blow him to good soil, he could grow to be a tall maple tree.

A passion grew in him greater than any tall tree.  He was determined to grow branches for the birds, squirrel, and children.  A desire grew in him to help the adults have their shade and to help the chef get his maple syrup.  He let go of the leaf.  The wind blew him to good soil.  His dream of helping others became a reality.

*****************

Are you floating along hanging on for dear life?  Are you living a good-enough life?  Could there be more?  Could you have a greater purpose?  Could you impact the lives of others for God’s kingdom and for His glory?

We all share the passion of raising godly children.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

We all share the mission to share the gospel.

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” Mark 16:15

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”   Ephesians 3:8

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”  2 Corinthians 5:20

We all share a love for the Lord.  Loving God is not only a command, but our delight.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  Matthew 22:37   (Deuteronomy 6:5)

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:5

“Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”  Psalm 111:1

Our love for God spurs us on to action.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  John 14:15

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:11

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

How will you show God’s love to others?  What will be your passion, your burden, your life’s mission?  Will you be a voice for the voiceless, a support for the vulnerable, a help for the hurting?

We’ve all been given gifts which are to be used.

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”  Romans 12:4-6

In that passage of Romans (Romans 12:4-15) many examples are given.  Some include: teaching (verse7), lead (verse 8), distributing to the needs of the saints (verse 13), and being given to hospitality (verse 13).

Using your spiritual gift will equip the saints and edify other believers.

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”  Ephesians 4:7, 11-12

The gift God has given you will become your passion.

Perhaps you have a burden for others, but limited time.  You could be a faithful prayer warrior.  Moses interceded for a multitude of God’s people and God changed His mind.   (Exodus 32:9-14)  Your prayers for others can make a difference.

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…” Colossians 1:9a

“.. .pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”   James 5:16-18

Maybe like Nehemiah you have a passion to encourage others.

“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses… Therefore, wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.’”   Nehemiah 4:14, 20

Perhaps you have a passion to comfort others and show compassion.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”    2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Maybe you have a passion to do good works by helping those in need (visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc.).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:10

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”   Titus 3:8

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  James 2:18, 26

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

Have you considered sharing your talents to bring the joy of the Lord into the lives of others?

“And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”   1 Samuel 16:23

“For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”   Philemon 7

You may have a heart for the unlovely, lonely, or those rejected or ignored by others (the elderly, the handicapped, the homeless, the child without parents, the student who is unmercifully teased by others).  Ministering to them could be your passion.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”   Matthew 25:37-40

If you think you have nothing to offer the Lord, think again.  Scripture tells us that weaker members have an important purpose.

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty.”  1 Corinthians 12:11-23

What legacy will you leave to your children?  You can teach your children a powerful lesson simply by living your passion.   

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Boston Marathon

16 04 2013

marathon runner
“I can’t sleep.”
What’s the solution? It depends on who’s got the problem.

Adults battle sleepless nights. Young parents literally can’t get any sleep.

Hospital noises may prevent a patient from sleep. Snoring may be the culprit in a marriage.

But, if your child said it the night of the bombing in Boston, you know exactly what that meant. Your child was really saying, “I’m scared. I’m worried it could happen here.”

Parents once again are struggling with what to say to their young children. How can we calm their fears when our own sense of security has been rocked?

Worry consumes our thoughts.
Why did this happen? HOW could it happen? Can we prevent it from happening again?

Experts are saying there’s really no way they could ever guarantee complete safety for an event such as the Boston Marathon. There’s a limit to what can be done.

Likewise, there’s a limit to what we can do to ease the fears of a child. We can assure them adults are working to keep them safe. But, we can’t give them what they desperately need: complete peace.

When our son, Chris, was in elementary school, I felt similar helplessness. I couldn’t guarantee his safety when he went off to school. He often got bullied (as many children with ADHD did). I reassured him that adults were there to help. And I prayed with him.

In high school, Chris suffered a break from reality. He received help from a psychiatrist and entered a psychiatric unit. After his release from the hospital, he received homebound instruction.

When he returned to school, I worried he might be too mentally and emotionally fragile.
What if he becomes fearful or gets distressed? What will he do? Where will he go? Who will help him there?

I gave him a Pass It On® Message Card to keep in his pocket. He could pull it out anytime he needed reassurance from his heavenly Father. The card reminded him God was with him. Each message would restore perfect peace.

Chris learned that the Bible truly is the best weapon for worry. God’s sword can battle fears. There is power in the Word.
passitoncard
The bombing in Boston may have ripped through your child’s peaceful thoughts. In addition to what you’re doing and saying, pass along a scripture message. Your child can cling to God’s strong hand whenever or wherever you’re not there. By reading the powerful message of hope you lovingly tuck inside the pocket of his pants.
Godshandholdingchildshand'





The Average Child

10 04 2013

average child
What’s good about being average? Is it a problem if a child isn’t the smartest or fastest? What if a child works harder than most and is—well—average?

From a teacher’s perspective, I viewed those students as precious jewels. They often possessed a silent humility, were quiet leaders, and exuded refreshing charm. Their goal wasn’t to outdo others, but to support and encourage peers. Qualities not often celebrated.

This is not to say that talented and academically superior students can’t display those qualities. Nor is it to say that all children who are average demonstrate those special character traits.

In my experience, however, many students who are average play supportive roles. They may have satisfactory academic performance and age-appropriate abilities in music or sports. But, their very presence in a classroom is an asset. These low-maintenance, selfless children enhance their community of learners. They demonstrate respect, determination, and diligence.

It seems that the average child goes unnoticed. The misbehaved student demands attention. The struggling learner gets help. Exceptional children receive accolades.

Students who excel academically receive awards. Superior athletes, gifted musicians, and talented artists get trophies.

What awards are there for the average child? There are no categories for extraordinary character. Where’s the award for a child who is compliant, supportive, attentive, thoughtful, helpful, pleasant, reliable, and considerate?

Why are no awards bestowed on such children? Surely, God is well-pleased with them. The Bible is full of exhortations to love others. That’s precisely where many average children shine.

Here’s to kids with fine character! And to their parents who teach them by example!





It’s never too late.

24 01 2013

EEstudyskills
The winter months are often difficult for teachers, parents, and students. Flu season interrupts learning. It’s hard to believe this school year is almost half over. The countdown to the end of the year starts in the back of educators’ minds. It’s not too late to help struggling students improve skills needed for all learning.

Every teacher embraces the responsibility of teaching students the basics…skills which are necessary for successful learning. Good learning habits contribute to positive academic performance. Deliberate instruction of study skills is the key.

Those study skills can be taught by parents.
Here’s a document which summarizes what most teachers know and do. As a parent, you may find you do many of the things as well to help your child perform well in school.
Teaching skills for all learning

Here’s a PowerPoint presentation which clarifies how to explicitly teach nonacademic skills that are the foundation for all learning.
Teaching young children basic skills





How do we explain it to children?

15 12 2012

worried eyes

The recent events that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut have captivated our attention. Among the many questions flooding our mind is, “What do we say to our children?”

Experts are offering wonderful advice. What to say. How many details to give.

One recommended saying, “You don’t need to worry. If anything like that happens in your school, the teachers and principal would surround you. Police officers would come to rescue you. Your father, and I would rush to get you.”

Few are emphasizing the importance of how to speak to children. If a parent speaks those reassuring words with an anxious tone, the child will mirror the adult’s stress.

Kids take their cue from parents. Throughout my 34+ yrs. as an educator, I’ve seen evidence of that fact. Kids can tell if a parent is worried. They can sense concern. It’s hard for them to believe things will be okay when the adult seems fearful.

When I told my second graders I had multiple sclerosis (MS), they read my expression. Studied my face. It was critical for me to convey the seriousness of my illness along with reassurances. My tone of voice, words, and facial expressions all had to match.

God had given me a peace about my illness. So I calmly conveyed the news. Here’s part of what I said:

“It’s not contagious. I have good doctors and I’m taking good medicine. There’s no cure. It’s no fun having MS. But, I have a choice. I can focus on the lousy parts of MS or I can think about the Truth. The Bible tells me God loves me and will help me. When I feel really sick, I get a love attack…God sends lots of people to help me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who do my chores at home when I can’t. You can help me by praying that I won’t have to absent. It makes me sad when I can’t be with you. I miss you. Sad things happen to everyone during their lives. When sad things happen, it helps to remember the promises in the Bible. Let’s all sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ very slowly so we can think about the words in the song.”

Afterwards, I had the students write about MS. It was important to know what they understood and how they felt about my illness. I asked them to finish three sentences:

MS is…

I think God allowed Mrs. Chandler to get MS because…

I learned that when things are very sad or are very hard…

Their responses revealed they understood the illness. More importantly, they reacted very calmly to the news. Just like my demeanor.

Follow the advice of experts. Remember you’re the expert about your child. So, also follow your intuition.

First, prepare yourself. You may be in desperate need to feel God’s supernatural peace which passes understanding. With His calming assurance, you can approach your child. Ready to inform and remove fears.





Guaranteed: Better Attention, Increased Motivation, Improved Memory

26 09 2012

Want your child to pay attention without being told? Sound too good to be true?

When I taught second graders, I found alternate ways of getting them quiet. Rather than telling them to settle down, I’d whisper to one student. Or I’d tip my rain stick. Sometimes, I’d present a concealed object hidden in a box or bag.

One day each year, I’d begin a math lesson by writing on the board, “Welcome to your first silent lesson. No one talks starting now.” Then I’d write a math problem coupling it with gestures. I’d point to the two numbers in the ones column and shrug. The students would quickly catch on. Everyone would join in by sharing silent signals. Tiny fingers would fly in the air sharing their answers.

Usually, we require students to memorize events, demand they pay attention, and hope they are motivated to learn. But, changing the way we introduce or review information can engage students more naturally…more in tune with how their brains work.

For example, novelty, curiosity, and emotions can be used to your advantage when teaching children.

Ever whisper to another adult while kids are in the room? What do the children do? They stop talking and strain to listen. They can’t resist the temptation to eavesdrop. Changing your volume got their attention. Without you having to demand it. Without you even wanting it. The unusual speaking volume didn’t go unnoticed.

All people, big and little, love to guess what’s in a gift-wrapped box. We shake it and even smell it. Why? It’s fun to predict.

Most of us remember the Chilean miners who were trapped for 68 days back in 2010. People were glued to their TVs watching the events unfold. Why? The drama resonated with us. We could imagine the horror of the miners and their loved ones. The miraculous rescue of every man erupted in celebrations around the world. The joy on their faces inflated our hearts. Almost as if we could feel their relief. Certainly, we could imagine it. We’ll never forget. Emotional experiences are memorable.

Many educators are implementing strategies recommended by brain researches. Specific methods improve student academic performance, increase motivation, minimize behavior problems, and elevate attention.

They plan activities which are: novel, interactive, structured to encourage deeper thinking, or multisensory.

In addition, they design activities which involve: physical movement, music, art, or drama.

Other beneficial lessons simulate real life, engage students’ emotions, spark healthy competition, challenge students’ perceptions, include storytelling and anecdotes, provide opportunities for students to make choices, or give time for reflection of new concepts.

Click on the link belowfor your list of those strategies. Pick one category each week and plan an activity.

Brain research for parents





Preventing School Boredom

14 07 2012

                     

Many parents take advantage of summer months to help students maintain skills taught during the school year and to prepare for the next academic year.

If you dread the upcoming year because your child hates social studies or history, here are a few suggestions to increase motivation. Things you can do at home either during the school year or during the summer months.

Attached is a document I created that includes ideas based on brain research. Activities which wouldn’t seem like typical school lessons. For fun summer boredom prevention.

Use the list as your guide to think of ones that would match your style, your child’s preferences, and upcoming history units.

Note: The brain based recommendations pertain to any subject area.

Motivating Bored students