Sunday, March 22, 2009

When To Step In

“I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight!” - Psalm 59:4

Recently, we got together with another family for dinner. My husband and I enjoy this couple, but we only see them a couple of times a year. Part of the reason for this infrequency is that our kids don’t particularly enjoy theirs.

Our friends’ kids love playing, they have creative ideas for games, and they are very energetic. The problem is not in finding things to play; it is in the way they play. Throughout the evening, my younger daughter came to me with regular reports on how their playmates were hurting her, using poor manners, and behaving disrespectfully. When we got home she said, “Sometimes those kids are just too much for me.” My older daughter came home with the news that she was repeatedly hit, pushed, poked, and kicked throughout the evening, but since she wasn’t seriously hurt, she hadn’t mentioned it while we were out.

In the past, we have coached our girls through ways of handling situations with these kids. We suggested things to say to work out the conflicts that inevitably arise. However, things appeared to have gone too far this time, and we told our girls that when their friends are irritating or annoying, they need to try to work it out themselves. If they get hit or physically touched in any way they don’t like, they can tell us and we will step in.

Generally, I don’t like getting involved in kids’ squabbles. I think it often causes more problems than it solves. What’s more, kids need to learn the art of negotiation. They will clash with people their entire lives, and won’t always have mom and dad there to help smooth things over. The earlier we can give them tools to work out their own problems, the more practiced they will be when they go out into the world on their own.

However, sometimes there comes a point where things go too far and our children really do need us to intervene. In the process of learning how to work things out, sometimes they need an advocate, particularly when they are under physical attack. It is especially difficult for kids when the one who’s after them is not their sibling. When it comes to brothers and sisters, many kids will just hit right back. But most kids know not to get rough with those outside the family, so they need help learning how to respond to this type of situation.

Kids also need to know that they have the support of their parents when social situations get sticky. Share what you do help your kids when they have trouble dealing with others.

Next week we will continue on this topic by talking about ways to help our kids avoid being the source of playtime problems.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fighting The Global Food Crisis

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:35-40

If you listen to K-LOVE radio, you probably know that Wednesday, March 11 was Global Food Crisis Day. The radio network teamed up with Compassion International to spread the word about our world-wide hunger epidemic and to raise money to feed starving children.

According to the United Nations World Food program, families in every nation on the planet are struggling with rising food prices, food shortages, and in many areas, natural disasters. They call this combination a “perfect storm” for malnutrition and starvation. Approximately 4.4 million children die every year from this problem.

While I have always had a heart for kids, I found myself more passionate about children’s issues after becoming a mom. I felt more compassion for the heartbreak a mother faces when she has to decide which child will eat today because she doesn’t have enough to feed her entire family. I cry more quickly when I hear stories of kids eating cookies made of dirt to help lessen the hunger pangs. When I look at the bounty in my own pantry, I can’t help but whisper a prayer for those with nothing.

Amazingly, it costs very little money in our culture to feed those in another. The average cost of feeding a child in a developing country for an entire month is only $13. As a mom, I feel the need to not only take care of my children, but to help other little ones as well. If you feel the same way, go to and click on the words “Global Food Crisis” to donate.

Sadly, kids are also starving right here in our own communities and neighborhoods. We can help those families by making sure our local food banks are well stocked. At a time when most of us are feeling a financial squeeze, it can seem overwhelming to take on the needs of others. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it ourselves. Help your kids pull a wagon around your neighborhood and ask each family on your block to donate one canned food item. Think about how quickly you could collect 30, 40, even 50 cans for your community's food bank!

By working together, we can each do a small part in making a big difference for hungry children around the world. What ideas can you share for helping people get enough to eat?

Friday, March 6, 2009

What A Wonderful World

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9

An interesting thing happened today. Two separate people sent me two unrelated e-mails with links to cute/inspiring online videos. I enjoyed them both immensely, but the uncanny thing about this was that both videos were set to the same song—Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

I realize that YouTube is full of videos set to this beloved song, but I don’t think it appeared twice in my inbox by coincidence. In fact, I received these two e-mails several days apart, but opened them one right after the other. I didn’t know what either message contained, but was greeted with the same song twice in a row. I don’t think this was a coincidence either. Today, I needed a reminder that this truly is a wonderful world.

Just before opening these, I sat down to write my weekly blog post. “I’ll just quickly check my e-mail first,” I told myself. This was my way of procrastinating because I wasn’t quite sure what to blog about. My brain was swirling with thoughts about my husband’s grandmother who is in serious condition after having a heart attack yesterday. I considered posting some thoughts about managing our schedules after having a heart-to-heart this morning with a friend who is feeling out of control because she tries to do too much. Or maybe I would write something to encourage the women out there who’s husband’s don’t know God, since another friend was lamenting about that issue earlier today. I had plenty of depressing topics to choose from.

But then I heard this song, and it reminded me that despite the troubles and worries of everyday life, God is mighty. We truly do live in a wonderful world. He created not only a beautiful place for us to live, but amazing people to share our experience with. When we strip away the politics and the economics, we can find our way to a simple truth. At its core, life is good. God loves us so much that every day He gives us another beautiful sunrise, a breeze to blow away the mistakes and regrets of yesterday, and a warm sun to encourage us to try again.

If you are feeling down, or frustrated, or alone today, take a step outside and enjoy this wonderful world. Consider it a gift from your Father.