2017 at 8:24 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Q: How do I cut back on my children’s screen time? My children are four and six, and I keep reading reports about the dangerous effects of too much screen time, but I don’t know how to get through a day without their TV shows, or how to get errands done or go out to eat without using a device. Any advice you have would be most appreciated.
When you are caring for small children, the days can feel like they are forty hours long. Your children’s needs are so constant, your energy is so low, and screen time is so there. One half-hour show turns into three. You can’t get through the grocery store without pulling out a device. Then the guilt crashes in.
But how much screen time is too much and what can we do about it? One of the most potent dangers of screen time is how easy and accessible it is, which means that as mothers, we need to be all the more intentional and deliberate in how we regulate our children’s use of electronic devices. We can’t just slide into screen time. But neither can we make mothering decisions in reaction to the latest dire report or because Melissa Gates said so. If we’re going to parent with peace and resolve, we must start with God’s Word. In order to evaluate our child’s screen time biblically, we need to ask ourselves: What is our biblical responsibility as parents and how does screen time contribute or detract from that God-given responsibility?
As Christian parents, our responsibility is simple: We are to “bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
This means, first of all, that we must teach our childrenGod’s commands. What does this look like? Deuteronomy 6 paints the picture: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (6: 6-7). In other words, our motherly teaching from God’s Word—not Curious George or My Little Pony—should be the primary content filling our children’s days. So let’s take our child’s screen time and hold it up next to Deuteronomy 6 for a moment. Do God’s commands or the PBS Kids lineup comprise the bulk of our child’s educational diet? Which characters fill our child’s imagination and who do they talk about—the Octonauts or theCreator of all the creatures of land and sea? Can our children sing more TV intros than they can recite Scripture verses? Answers to questions like these will expose those hidden areas of excess screen time.
Second, we must trainour childrento obey God’s commands. Our primary mission in the early years of mothering is to train our children to listen to and follow our commands—immediately, completely, and cheerfully—so they will, by the grace of God, learn how to follow the Lord with all their hearts and reap the blessings of obedience. Start here, and screen time decisions get real clear real fast. How much screen time is too much? If our child spends more time on a device than in “Mom’s School of Obedience” it’s too much time, simple as that. When is it appropriate to give our child a device? If we hand our child a tablet every time they fuss or put them in front of a show whenever they get wild, we are, in fact, rewarding disobedience, and undermining the whole operation. Now, please know, it is not wrong to let your child play an app while you chat with the in-laws or to watch an extra hour or two of television when you get the flu. But if screen time has eclipsed training time, or become a tool for manipulation, we must prayerfully reevaluate its place in our home.
Maybe you already know. Yep, I’ve let my kids have too much screen time and I feel terrible about it. We’ve all stumbled in many ways as parents, but we must never let our pride to get in the way of serving our children. If we have trusted in Christ for salvation, we can acknowledge our parenting failures, receive God’s forgiveness and grace to change, and parent—guilt free—from this day forward. And be assured: It is possible to wean your child from excess screen time without losing your mind. Here are a few practical ideas:
1. Start small. If you try to remove all devices all at once, you will regret it big time. The more heavily you have relied upon screen time to fill the hours and smooth the rough spots in your day, the longer the weaning process may take. So start small. Choose one time and place (home, at first) to go sans device. Eat this elephant one bite at a time.
2. Replace screen time with special time. Instead, of suddenly declaring to your unsuspecting children—“That’s it, no more screen time!”—tell them it is time for something new and exciting. Get out a new toy or check out some new books from the library. Hand them a drink, their favorite stuffed animal, and tuck them into a special reading corner. Instead of a morning date with their favorite show, have art time with crayons and a coloring book. Develop a plan ahead of time and make it fun and special. Give it a “name” and be excited about it. Maybe even set a timer and train them to stick with a single activity for a few more minutes each day. And when you leave the house, pack a bag of go-to activities or treats. You can also replace the background noise of the television with stories and songs that teach God’s Word.
3. Don’t give up. If things don’t go well at first, this should only confirm your original suspicions that a change was sorely needed! So don’t get discouraged, but persevere. It takes time to replace a bad habit with a good one. And it requires consistent training. Maybe you need to plan trips to the grocery store where the only purpose is training them to get through without screen time. Maybe, after dinner, you have your children practice sitting quietly with a few books for ten extra minutes, so that eventually (the operative word, here) you can go out to a peaceful dinner as a family. Whatever you do, stick with it, and you will, after many days, reap the rewards.
4. Give screen time a set time. When you do let your children use a device or watch a show, be deliberate and intentional. Choose a time each day—like when you need to make dinner, or help another child with homework—and teach them to sit still with their device for a specific amount of time. Thus, screen time becomes part of their obedience training and gives you that needed break as well.
5. Don’t freak out in an emergency. If your child starts getting restless in the middle of a long ceremony, or if you are out of milk and Tylenol and your little one is snotty and fussy, by all means, hand your child a device and thank God for the blessings of technology. You can get back to teaching and training in the morning.
Parenting is hard, but our God-given parenting responsibilities come with his grace which fulfills “every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thess. 1:11, emphasis mine).With the Spirit’s help, we can resist the siren call of screen time and teach and train our children to love and follow God’s commands.
2017 at 7:39 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
School days are upon us again. This means broken pencils and slow computers, late night study-sessions and pop-quizzes, classmate conflicts, “light bulb” moments, and lots and lots of reading.
But there’s something even more certain we can count on this school year: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6).
If you are in Christ, goodness and mercy shall surely follow you all of the days of your school year. The bad days and the good days. The days when you fail a test or get left out at lunch. The days when you finish a paper or make a new friend. God’s goodness and mercy are pursuing you like a pair of bloodhounds, each and every day—whether you see them or not.
“Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins,” explains Charles Spurgeon. Goodness shadows us, in the halls of our high school or by the kitchen table at home, providing all of the strength, wisdom, perseverance, and patience we need, to help us glorify God. And Mercy’s right behind, picking us up when we fall, pardoning our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
We may not know what discouragements or delights await us this school year, but surely God’s goodness and mercy will follow us, every single day.
2017 at 6:11 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
I was talking to my friend, Katie, the other day, and she told me that her newborn is waking up every two hours at night. Another friend has a couple of little ones extremely close in age. The older one has stopped taking naps just as the little one is starting to walk. Anyone tired yet? The season of mothering young kiddos can be completely overwhelming. You have a vague memory of a life where you used to accomplish goals and tackle to-do lists, but these days you marvel when you get a shower before lunch time. It can be so easy to get discouraged. The needs of your children are non-stop. So how do you maintain what’s most important? In the wise words of my mother—YOU SIMPLIFY!
What are the things we cannot neglect? It’s not a trick question, so I’m gonna give you the answer: our relationship with the Lord, our marriage, and those kiddos we were just discussing. And how do we tend to these priorities when we are up every two hours at night? Here’s nice me giving you the answer again: we create a SIMPLE plan.
How can I (simply!) keep my soul happy in God? Maybe you set aside time during your kids’ first nap each day to read God’s Word. Maybe you pray every time you do the dishes.
(I have so many dishes, that really would be “praying without ceasing!”) Ask your husband to take care of the children for thirty minutes each morning, so that you can read Scripture and pray. Or you can set open Bibles throughout your house, like Jean Fleming did. Maybe you use the ESV Bible plan that takes you through the Bible in two years (instead of one) or check-out my favorite ESV Bible plan for Moms with littles. Set a SIMPLE and attainable goal.
And how about the wonderful reason you became blessed with all this chaos—your marriage. Once again, SIMPLE goals! Ask your husband what one thing is most important to him in your marriage right now. If pretty much everything else is getting dropped, what does he want you to hang on to? Just start with one thing and make a SIMPLE plan for that one thing.
The kids, well there really is one SIMPLE focus when they are young. They need to obey, and we’ve gotta teach ‘em. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed as we consider all that our children need to learn in order to grow up into young men and women who live as lights in our dark world. But as my mom loves to quote Annie Sullivan as saying—“Obedience is the gateway to knowledge.” For our children, obedience is the gateway through which we can bring them the great gospel story.
The exhausting and all-consuming season of caring for little ones is just that—a season. Your kids will grow and you will be able to indulge in more complicated plans with little extras like showers in the morning. But until then, take a nap and make yourself a SIMPLE plan.
The other day, one of my sons asked if I liked a certain music artist he had heard about from a friend. “I like a few of his songs,” I told him. “A couple of them are beautiful, but some of his songs are not God-glorifying.” This spun off into a conversation with my two boys about music.
How do we help our teens discern whether or not a song is godly? As I told my boys, there are many helpful questions we can ask (thank you, Bob Kauflin!), but one way we can determine if a song is God-honoring is to ask: “How does this song make me feel?” I know, I know, it sounds like I’m throwing open the doors to whatever music we “feel” like listening to. But hang with me for a moment.
God gave us feelings to motivate us. Emotions move us to action. We feel happy and so we laugh, we feel righteous anger and we defend, we feel compassion and we help. And music? Music stirs up the feelings that move us to action. This is the ultimate purpose for the gift of music: to stir up emotions that move us to God and godliness. We sing praises and play instruments, in order to excite feelings that move us toward God.
So if this is God’s purpose for music, then it is vitally important that we ask: “How does this song make me feel about God? How does this song make me feel about godliness? And how does this song make me feel about sin? Or, more broadly, think about the kind of music you like to listen to. Does the music on your playlist leave you more angry at others, or grateful for God’s goodness? Discontent with your life or desirous of doing good? Hating sin or loving righteousness?
How does your playlist make you feel? Better yet, does the music you listen to make you feel the way that God wants you to feel?
As I told my boys, a song may not contain any “bad words” but still be bad if it stirs up emotions that warm your heart toward sin. A song’s meaning may even be vague or the words enigmatic, but if it stirs up arrogant, selfish, or lustful desires, then it is ungodly. On the flip side, a song may not mention God or his Word, but the words and music together generate feelings of awe at his beauty and majesty in creation, shame for sin, or selfless love for others. This is a good song.
Like medicine through an IV, the music that flows through our children’s earbuds affects every part of them—including their emotions. And their feelings, in turn, influence how they act and think. If we are to be wise parents, we must not simply tell our children not to listen to ungodly music (although we must tell them that!). But along with biblical boundaries, we must also help them curate a music playlist that stirs up and promotes godly emotions.
Asking “How does this song make me feel?” doesn’t lower the standard, allowing a flood of ungodly music into our teens’ libraries. Rather, it raises the standard higher—for them and for us. Music that is pleasing to God is music that generates godly emotions.
Envy isn’t just a kid problem, but kids haven’t gotten good at hiding it yet—which gives us as parents the opportunity to help them see and overcome its tenacious grip. How can we help our kids overcome envy? Three simple ideas.
1. Talk to your children about envy. Talk to them when they are tempted, and before they are tempted to envy. First, explain what envy is. Envy not only wants what someone else has (“Why can’t I have an iPhone too?!”) it resents the other person for having it (“I just don’t like her.”).
Then, starting with the 10th of the 10 commandments, and moving through Scripture (a simple keyword search will get you started), talk about what God thinks about envy (Hint: it’s pretty bad). Show them how envy is what Jonathan Edwards once called “the most foolish kind of self-injury” because it only makes the envier miserable. Take them through John 21 and talk to them about Jesus’s antidote for envy.
2. Help your children repent of envy. If our child has given into the sin of envy, help them pinpoint the who, where, and why. Lead them through a specific prayer of repentance. Remind them of the forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross, and the Holy Spirit’s power to help them change. Encourage your child that God is graciously revealing this sin now as a sign of his mercy and goodness. If they can learn to turn away from envy at a young age, they can be spared years of unhappiness.
3. Give your children a plan for overcoming envy.
1. Spot envy. Help them to recognize the feelings of envy, and what they mean. Emotions of envy are like an alarm that tells us there’s a sinful fire in our hearts, and we need to put it out now.
2. Stop comparing. Comparison is envy’s bread and butter. No comparing, and envy starves and dies. So teach your child to stop looking at others and thinking about what she has or what she looks like or what she gets to do.
3. Start thanking. Envy dies in a thankful soul. Help your child make a list of God’s many good gifts, and then help them add to that list. Have them save their “thankful list” and pull it out whenever they are tempted to compare or envy. For every envious thought about what they don’t have, teach them to pray and thank God for what they do have.
Envy is an emotion that is fed by a habit—a habit of comparison. When we help our children, at a young age, to look up in gratitude instead of sideways in comparison, we can protect them from envy.
“How do we raise our children in this world of beauty gone bad?” This question—in the appendix of Mom and Nicole’s book, True Beauty—is on the forefront of my mind these days as my three daughters are getting older. Two simple ideas have been guiding my approach of late.
First, I’ve been considering my own childhood experience. My mom—following the counsel and example of her own mom—was careful to minimize excessive focus on my appearance at a young age. It will come in its own in time, my grandma would tell her. No need to rush. In my case, I was so unconcerned about my personal appearance, that even when I had reached my mid-teens, “it” still hadn’t come.
My sisters (four and five years older than me) love to tell the story about how they finally went to my mom and asked if Janelle could maybe start brushing her hair occasionally. They had to appear in public with me after all. I’m happy to report that I now daily brush my hair and even wear make-up. “It” finally came! But looking back, I see how the lack of focus on my outward appearance when I was young was a means of protection in my life. I have found my struggle with worldly beauty standards to be minimal, and I know that is in part due to my mom’s wisdom in allowing me to be “young” and not hurrying my transition into adulthood.
Secondly, I was provoked by a conversation with a friend a couple years ago. After having four boys she became pregnant with a little girl. My friend was finally getting to design that girly-girl nursery and wanted to have a quote from True Beauty featured in her daughter’s room: “True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.” She wanted her daughter to grow up with a daily reminder of the true definition of beauty. Such a simple idea, yet the potential effect is immeasurable. I followed her example, hanging the same words on my daughters’ walls. My youngest can’t even read yet, but as soon as she can, I want thoughts of the Savior’s beauty to fill her mind each day.
Never has the world around us made it more difficult to raise daughters with a biblical understanding of beauty. But God has not called us to a hopeless task, and I encourage every mom (of girls and boys) to read True Beauty and spend careful time considering the appendix, “True Beauty and Our Children.”
“The beauty of grace that overwhelmed our own hearts through the gospel of Jesus Christ has lost none of its power. Our Savior can do for our children as he did for us. Grace makes true beauty irresistible. So we pray with hope in God to open the eyes of the hearts of our children to the dazzling beauty of Jesus Christ.” ~Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre
2017 at 6:47 am | by Nicole Whitacre
If you were to come to my house today, you would find, on the chalkboard in the kitchen, the Whitacre Word of the Week: “industrious” which means “diligent and hardworking.” It may seem like an odd word for the start of summer vacation, but it’s there for a reason. That’s because one of the lessons we are trying to teach our children is the value of hard work. As Ben Sasse puts it in his recent book, The Vanishing American Adult, we don’t just want our children to learn how to work hard, we want them to “embrace their identities as workers.”
Work is not something you do during the school year so that you can grow up to do it from 9-5 and then complain about it the rest of the time. Work is a gift and a calling from God (Gen 1:26–28). “Since God is the one who calls people to their work,” explains Leland Ryken, “the worker becomes a steward who serves God.” That’s how we want our children to think about themselves. Who are you? We are workers, we are stewards who serve God. We have been saved by God’s grace from sin and wrath to do good works (Eph 2:10).
Creating workers is a work in progress. But this summer, we have deliberately set out to do a few things toward that goal.
First, we want to teach our children that serving God starts small—in the home, in the local church, and in the community. So, we have taken our boys over to serve the widows in our church with yard work. We have asked our girls to take on various chores in the home to serve the family. We have plans to visit some of the elderly in our neighborhood.
Secondly, we are teaching each of our children to create something. This project was inspired by Sasse’s book where he points out that children these days often learn how to consume more than to produce. So the girls are learning how to sew and use a sewing machine and each will hopefully have something to show for it by the end of the summer. Our middle son is making a chicken coop—and it’s coming along nicely! And our oldest son is well on his way to completing a writing project he’s been tinkering with for a while.
We also deliberately purchased a house in a neighborhood where there’s lots of work to be done. Our yard is large and overgrown. There is lots of wood to chop, stumps to dig out, and about a million weeds to pull. Sure, our yard is great for backyard soccer games and catching fireflies, but we remind our children that it is a blessing and a responsibility. The creation mandate to “subdue the earth” applies to this little plot of earth that we are blessed to call ours.
One thing we’ve discovered is that certain children like certain kinds of work more than others. One of our boys really enjoys schoolwork, while the other loves to do manual labor—and “never the twain shall meet.” So, we challenge our son who enthusiastically serves with yard work to cheerfully learn his fractions and our son who loves to write and read, to get out there and work with his hands. I’m not sure if either of them will ever love the same kind of work, but I hope they will both learn to fight laziness in all its forms, and do all their work cheerfully as unto the Lord.
Do we sound like mean parents? It is summer after all! Isn’t this a time for kids to rest and relax? Please know that we are giving our children plenty of fun. We go to the pool and the library, play soccer, turn on the sprinkler, and make frequent stops for slushies. But we hope that our children will learn to appreciate rest and recreation even more because they have learned how to work. Our prayer is that the work they do this summer will seep into their very bones and will embed itself as part of their identity—so that whatever work God calls them to do, they will grow up to think of themselves as “stewards who serve God.”
2017 at 6:30 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
A mother with small children—I’ll call her Katie—sent me a question:
Recently a friend, an older woman in my life, has been urging me to “take care of myself” and not to “lose myself” in mothering. I know this is for a season—my children will not be little forever—and I know this is where the Lord has me. I have no desire to bring anything else onto my plate of being a wife and mom. Did you have people tell you similar things? If so, how did you respond to them?
I am happy to try and answer any question that you have, and honored that you would ask! Your question reveals the grace of God in your life in the form of humility and wisdom and I pray that you feel the Lord’s pleasure. Here are a few thoughts that came to mind when I read your text. I hope they prove helpful!
First, let me say that it is obvious that your friend loves you, cares for you, and wants the best for you—and that’s very meaningful. What a blessing to have a friend who is so affectionate and supportive. Although I don’t believe her advice reflects biblical wisdom, I don’t want that to take away from her heart for you, which I believe is sincere. I’m sure you know this even better than I do.
It is clear to me by your question that you already understand that you are in a season—one of the most intense seasons of your life! When I look back on my years as a mother, the seasons with small children and with teenagers were the two most exhausting—and rewarding—times in my life. When we understand the biblical principle that life is lived in seasons (and it’s obvious you do!), we know that this time won’t last forever. This intense season will come to an end and a new one will begin. This helps us to endure the tiredness—it won’t last forever! And it helps us to seize and enjoy the opportunities and rewards—for they won’t be here forever, either.
But to live this season of motherhood to the fullest will require “losing yourself.” It’s part of the bargain. So far from being something to regret, losing yourself is the ultimate goal of motherhood. It gets to the heart of what it means to serve Christ. Actually, the very worry your friend has for you—that you might “lose yourself—is actually something that is commended and encouraged in multiple places in Scripture. For example, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt. 10:40). When you’ve lost your life, you’ve truly found it. In biblical logic, when you lose you win. Now, this certainly flies in the face of popular advice such as your friend has received and is seeking (with the best of intentions) to pass on to you. You are a discerning woman and you detect the lie embedded in this potentially attractive advice. But we are all vulnerable, which is why I would encourage you to do a Bible study of your own to strengthen your conviction and to encourage you as you persevere. Studying Scripture always helped me in seasons of weariness or doubt in motherhood, when everyone else seemed to be absorbing feminist ideology and I would wonder if it was all worth it. I would go back to Scripture to strengthen my convictions. Here are just a few verses to get you started. You find it in every gospel and sometimes more than once (Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33, John 12:25). Paul also covers this in Philippians (2:4-7). One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah which describes God’s care for those who care for others (Isa. 58:10-11). Those are just a few places to get you started, and I pray that they will serve your soul.
Finally, one thing I want to add by way of qualification—by “losing yourself” I don’t mean that you shouldn’t try to take care of yourself. Obviously, Scripture does not talk about denying ourselves to the neglect of basic care of our bodies and souls. You need rest—as much as you can get right now—and you need refreshment for your soul. So while I would wholeheartedly encourage you to continue to “lose yourself” for the sake of your children, I would also encourage you not to neglect sufficient rest and refreshment so you can serve your family even more effectively. So maybe consider, What are one or two things I can make sure I put or keep in my life that help strengthen me spiritually, physically, and emotionally? Maybe you need regular times alone to read a good book that encourages your soul. Maybe you need to be sure you get regular times with your husband, without the children. These are not selfish strategies, but rather intentional times of refreshment to strengthen you for service.
Katie, let me close by encouraging you again. It is obvious by your text and by your life that you have set your course in a God-honoring direction. I believe the Lord is pleased by your humility, your sacrifice, and your care for your family. I am praying that God would strengthen you and give you much encouragement. If there is any other way I can serve you, it would be my joy and delight.
2017 at 7:23 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Last month I finished homeschooling two of my granddaughters, who are moving on to new schools for third grade. As I like to do at the beginning of each change of season in my life, I took some time to prayerfully plan. What next? How can I best serve my daughters and my grandchildren this year? Inspired by two godly grandmothers, I decided to start with the two most important areas of all: Scripture and prayer.
Sometimes we overcomplicate this grandma thing. We fret over what our grandchildren think of us and how we can make them happy. We struggle to figure out how to navigate our role in a way that doesn’t cause tension with our children. We dote on our grandchildren, and then we worry that we will spoil them. But even though cultural expectations change through the years, the biblical ideals for a grandmother are fixed and clear. Besides being a godly example, we can do no better for our grandchildren then to pray for them, and, as we have the opportunity, encourage them to love God’s Word.
Grandma Lois, the maternal grandmother of Paul’s son in the faith, Timothy, taught Timothy the Holy Scriptures from when he was just a baby (2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 3:14, 15). Lois didn’t leave all the biblical teaching and training to her daughter, Eunice. She was actively involved in teaching her grandson the Scriptures. I want to imitate Grandma Lois and be an active part of teaching each of my twelve grandchildren to know and love the Word of God.
I asked myself: What is one simple way that I can teach my grandchildren the Scriptures this summer? I came up with an idea to encourage Scripture memory. I call it 10for$10. I made a list of memory verses and challenged each of my grandchildren—from ages 4 to 17 to memorize as many verses as they can. For the older children, I will give them ten dollars for every ten verses memorized. For the littlest ones, the goal is more manageable—4 for $4 and 6 for $6, depending on their age. To keep things affordable, the 10for$10challenge runs from June 1 to August 31.
My hope is that, by the end of the summer, each one of my grandchildren will have memorized many verses that they will store up in their hearts for years to come. Yes, it might cost me a little money, but I can think of no better investment than to encourage my grandchildren to treasure God’s Word. I believe and pray that as they work on memorizing Scripture, God’s Word will work in their hearts to draw them closer to His Son.
Grandmother Katie, my paternal grandmother, had an astonishing fifty-six grandchildren! Even more remarkable, she prayed for each one of us by name, each and every day, until she went home to be with the Lord. Now that I am a grandmother I try to follow her example. Granted, it is easier—I only have twelve grandchildren which doesn’t feel like very many in comparison to Katie! And while I do pray for each of them by name, lately, I began to feel as if my prayers had become too general. So I decided to create a prayer notebook where I can catalog specific prayer requests for my grandchildren and the answers to those prayers.
I can think of no better way to encourage my daughters than to pray for the salvation and spiritual growth of each one of their children. And I can think of no better way to encourage my grandchildren than to let them know that their grandma is carrying their burdens—praying for their anxieties and trials, for their tests and their jobs, for whatever concerns weigh heavy on them as they navigate this tricky road to adulthood.
I’ll never measure up to Grandma Lois or Grandma Katie, but I do want to follow their amazing examples. I pray that, if nothing else, my grandchildren will be able to say that their grandmother was a woman who taught them to love God’s Word and who prayed faithfully for them. It’s simple, maybe, but it’s also hard to think of a better legacy I can leave my grandchildren. I pray God will bless my feeble efforts as he did for Grandma Lois and Grandma Katie.
2017 at 8:59 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Summer was always my favorite season as a little girl, and I ran headlong into those glorious months free from school with all the energy I possessed. So now, as I come upon another summer as a mom with four children I’m equally excited. I’m also grateful for the example my mom set for me growing up. As with everything else in life, she approached our summers with great intentionality. Now don’t get me wrong—she provided many wonderful opportunities for fun and rest. I still remember our local pool which offered an hour of “free swim” every morning from 8-9 during the summer. Most days, my mom would drive us, and a carload of our friends, to swim in the ice cold waters of Upper County Pool. How we ever thought “freezing swim” was summer fun is a mystery to me, but Mom provided this and many other summer memories that I will always cherish.
But Mom also saw summer as a land of opportunity and refused to let us squander it. One specific memory I have is the afternoon of “quiet time” she required. After lunch from 1-3, we had to stay inside and spend at least an hour of that time reading. The other hour was to be spent in some other constructive pursuit such as art, music, cooking, sewing etc I still remember chafing against this rule, not exactly appreciating “quiet time,” as it interrupted my play time. Sorry about that Mom! But I was chatting with Nicole the other day about this very thing, and we were recounting all the good that came from that small requirement. Obviously, it instilled in us a love for reading but that was just the beginning. It also helped us to appreciate the value of structure and scheduling, of habit and discipline. It gave us focused time to cultivate our gifts and desires. Many of the things we love and pursue today such as art and writing were born in those hours of summer quiet. The benefit we have received helps us persevere in creating similar structures for our own children. So much value from such a small and simple practice.
And so, as school draws to a close, let’s ask: How can we be intentional this summer? Is there a skill that one of our children has been wanting to learn? Is there a particular character quality where we can creatively facilitate growth in our family? Maybe for you, this will be the “summer of kindness” for your kiddos, like it was for Nicole’s a couple years ago. Maybe you can create a structure for your kiddos to grow in reading, which happens to be my summer goal this year. This will look different for each of us, but just remember, a little bit of intentionality in these years has the power to effect not only your kids but even your future grandkids. That’s a summer to get excited about!