How to encourage your children

Spoiler alert: I’m not very good at this.

I’m am not a natural encourager.
It is not my spiritual gift, if you want to put it that way.
I have an analytical mind, which delights in ruminating on all things, actions, words, ideas, jokes, dreams, songs, pictures, movies, turns of phrases. Everything! You pick something I will sit for minutes, hours, days thinking over it, dissecting it, pulling it apart, rearranging it, finding different possible meanings or intentions or directions or… Well, you see what I mean.

But, God calls me to love my family sacrificially, to “consider others as more important than myself” to paraphrase Philippians 2:3, to get out of my head and my thoughts and put love into action.

Encouragement is, I think, the most basic way to “put on love”, as Colossians 3:14 commands us to do.

My ‘three steps’ for how to encourage your children, or really anyone in your life.

1. Get to know them

The first step in how to encourage anyone, but especially our children, is to get to know them. Each child is different, in case you haven’t noticed, so each one will be encouraged differently.

For example:

My son loves a quick hug and a sentence saying how much I love him. A simple “I know you can do this” when he’s frustrated is just what his little heart needs to hear.

My middle child on the other hand would dig in her stubborn heels and let loose the sass machine if I said “I know you can do this”. I’ve tried. Her response was: “I know I can’t!”
For her, I have to do something different, because she is different from her brother.

Get to know your child. What helps, what doesn’t, what haven’t you tried yet. And remember, they are not just different from each other, but also your children are different from you! What would never in a million years be something you would like, may bring joy to their souls.

2. It will be inconvenient, so be patient.

This is less of a step and more of a reminder for you.

These moments when your child needs you rarely come when you are ready for them.

Before launching into fixing your kid’s problem, take a deep breath, calm yourself (and the situation if necessary), and set your heart in an attitude of patience. Because the whole point of encouraging your children is to love them. “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4), not ‘love is busy’.

3. Repeat the encouragement. Say it again. Today, tomorrow, in a week, in a month

Point made, yet?

Seriously though, keep encouraging your child! Don’t just do it once and check off the box. That’s not how it works. It’s certainly not how it works for you, is it?

Remember, we as Christians are modeling Christ, God himself, to our children (and to the world!).
God repeats himself a lot. A major theme in the bible is how incredibly forgetful we humans are, and how often God is reminding us, his people of who he is and what he’s done. Your children are humans too! They forget, and just like they need repeated instructions to clean up the Legos all over the floor for the eightieth time, they will need repeated encouragement and love from you, too.

“I know you can do this.”

“I love you, even when…”

“Here, let’s do this together.”

“I understand, sometimes I feel that way, too.”

“I hear you, thank you for telling me!”

“I love watching you play, can I play too?”

“Big hug and kiss?”

Go encourage your children today. (Or whoever you happen to be around today, tomorrow, any day of your life: your spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, coworker, neighbor, friend, etc.)

“That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3)

Soli Deo Gloria!

To My Soul – An Advent Poem

An Advent poem after advent? Yes, because if we hold to his first, we look forward, ever expectantly, for his second.

In what will you be content,
Oh Soul?
What is it you love?
What loves you faithfully back?
Nature’s delicacies are pure,
But fleeting.
And people,
My dear people,
Are sincere,
But faulty.

Satisfaction is in the 
Transcendent incarnated,
Word made flesh,
Promise fulfilled,
Delight manifest,
Joy dawned,
Love that came down.

Find your yearning in the King
Who made,
Who is,
Who always will
Be beauty,
Love,
Goodness,
And Truth.
Find what you long for 
In Him, my Soul.

By Anna Young

Twinkling – A Christmas Poem

Here is the full text of the poem:

Strands of bulbs deck each home,
And something flickers as we go.
The bright colors, and the warm glow
Settle my mind to rest, not roam.

Her eyes flash!
The voices rise to a crash!
She squeals, “More!”
Her siblings debate the best seen before.

“More Christmas lights!”
An encore for this favorite of sights.
I ignore the glaring clock,
And we go once more ’round the block.

By Anna Young

Also, here is me reading the poem aloud, which is how poetry is meant to be experienced.

Soli Deo Gloria

Meditating on the Word

I do not know why, but this particular Psalm keeps coming up.
As a child, I knew a song that contained some of the words of this Psalm. I would sing it over and over to myself when I was alone and scared in my room for one reason or another.
Psalm 56 just happened to be next in my Bible reading this morning. I was so refreshed by it, I thought I would share it, along with some recent snaps of our morning outside time on our front steps.

Psalm 56
To the choir master: according to The Dove of Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
     all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
     for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid, 
     I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
     in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
     What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
     all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
     they watch my steps,
     as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
     In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
     put my tears in your bottle.
     Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
     in the day when I call.
     This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
     in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
     What can man do to me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
     I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
     yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
     in the light of life.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Relationship-ing

During a pandemic? During a second shut down?

Yes and yes.

Life does not stop because of crisis, or rules, or sickness, or personal issues, or job losses, or stir crazy children, or school closures, or whatever. Life still happens. Importantly, relationships still happen. Most importantly, the calling and commands of God do not change (or completely evaporate) because of circumstances.

I am a wife. I am called and commanded to honor my husband.
Nothing going on has changed that.
I am a mother. I am called and commanded to teach, train, instruct, discipline, love, and encourage my children.
Nothing going on has changed that.
The fact that I am a mother, has also not negated the fact that I am a wife, and that the calling and command to honor my husband came before and trumps that of the calling and commands in regards to my children.

My relationship with my husband is crucial in raising our children, and my relationship with my husband takes precedence over the relationships with my children.

So, I need to take the time to keep investing in my relationship with my husband. I need to keep dating him.

Every couple is different. So finding what works for each couple will look different.
Some couples like to go out, do something different, explore the outdoors, do something service oriented, cuddle with a movie, buy each other sentimentally significant gifts, and so many other things.
For us, its talking. Yes, this pair of introverts loves spending hours together just talking. Talking together it how we date. It’s how we dated (literally, so many hours of college were spent just sitting in the Chick-fil-a parking lot talking, letting our food get cold, and our sodas watery).

So, maybe in a pandemic, or under certain shut-down/stay-at-home orders, formal dates are challenging. We love good food, so that’s been a change for us, not looking forward to that one time every few months to try some yummy food at a restaurant.
But, we have tried making new things at home, and ordered out (thank you Door Dash!) a good bit.
We like to give each other “just because” gifts. We can’t do anything real fancy, but my husband came back from the store last night with cranberry juice, my absolute favorite! So, you know, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be special. 🙂

I will say that although talking is a favorite for us, communication is not key to every relationship. Communication is essential to any relationship. There are no exceptions here. The more significant and central the relationship, the more important communication is.

No matter what relationship you are in: married, dating, single, child, parent, co-worker, grandparent, grandchild, teacher, student, friend, boss, employee. Keep investing in it, keep pursuing it, keep talking, keep doing that thing that connects you, keep working through those hard things that you butt heads over, keep forgiving, keep saying sorry, keep learning, keep teaching, keep being kind, keep relationship-ing.

Soli Deo Gloria