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Jessica RoseA few days ago, I told my kids that we would practice a little bit of “school” each day, to get ready for when school begins in about a month.

Our neighbor’s son has been coming over to study with my kids, so my focus has been more on the three boys, practicing math and reading with them.

Yesterday, as I didn’t have much for my daughter to do, she asked if she could write an essay.

Sure!

She finished it this morning and – wonder of wonders – she gave me permission to post it as well.

This essay was unprompted and I had no idea of the topic until she read it to me about 15 minutes ago. All I could do was smile.

 

We Are Called by Jesus to do Different Things

By Jessica Rose, 7 years old

Some people want to serve Jesus. There are many ways to do that.

Example: I want to go back to India and witness and help the poor.

Sometimes people are called to do things at places they never even thought of going.

Example: My mom thought she was going to Ireland or Scotland, but she went to India instead.

We are all God’s children. He has a plan for all of us.

Whether you are big or small,

God has a plan for us all.

Sometimes God wants us to do little jobs. Other times God wants us to do big jobs too.

So I will do my job the very best I can wherever I am.

The end.

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Martin Luther King Jr. is most famous for his speech that began with, “I have a dream.” There were many reasons his speech was so powerful, and perhaps one of the reasons was because that phrase resonated in the hearts of all who heard it then, and hear it now.

“I have a dream.”

We all have dreams, some that we hold so deep inside that no one even knows they’re there. Maybe it’s not yet time to live that dream, or maybe we’re afraid to try and see it fail.

But we all have dreams, and in many ways, those dreams are what keep us alive and sane and moving forward.

The Bible put it like this: “Without a vision, the people perish.”

Something in us dies when there is no dream or vision, no goal to reach towards.

Reaching toward a dream – especially when that dream involves making a difference to others – is moving from existing to truly living.

Many have dreams and goals, but it’s those ones that are outstanding and different in some way, ones that portray an uncommon life behind that vision, that call for attention.

Some might say, “My dream is to become a millionaire.”

Good for you. I’m sure that might impress a number of people and cause people to wish they were you, but if that’s all you want out of life, that’s pretty sad. It’s good to be comfortable and have enough, but then what?

Life has to be lived for something more than oneself. Only then do we find true meaning and purpose.

My mom has a dream, a vision. More than that, she has a calling.

She’s a midwife, and, (IMHO) one of the best ones around. She has a gift of making people feel comfortable, cared for and loved. Ask the neighborhood kids and our friends when we, her own kids, were growing up. They all called her “mom.” She just let people know she cared, and they felt it.

So what’s her dream?

A birth clinic.

She has helped hundreds of women deliver their babies at home, and enabled them to have natural, beautiful and memorable birthing experiences. She’s given education on nutrition and health, and made it possible for so many women to start their parenting in an excellent way.

And, like anyone with a real vision, she would love to see this work expand. A birth clinic would make it possible to hold prenatal classes, childbirth education, and so much more. It would give those who aren’t able to have home births – but would like another option than birthing in a hospital (where c-sections are at a current rate of 1 in 3) – another option:

Birthing in a clinic, cared for by concerned and knowledgeable women.

Do you have a dream? If so, you know how much it means to someone to see their dreams become reality. Can you help my mom’s dream – and the dreams of many women in the Central Valley – come true?

[Search for A Time to Be Born in Mission: Small Business, and They are awarding grants to up to 12 small businesses, and your choosing A Time to Be Born just might make it possible to help many women see their dreams come true. The deadline is June 30th, coming up fast, so please don’t wait!]

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It’s not that I have nothing to write about. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have so much that I want to write about that it’s almost overwhelming. Words flow and the ideas come at the oddest of times, usually when I don’t have a pen and paper at my side. My husband helped with that problem. On my last birthday, he got me a phone.

It was a pretty cool phone; I could write with it! I could create MS Word documents, power points, even excel programs. And when I couldn’t write, I could record audio for a time that I could type it up. I was set.

The problem? Not long after my birthday, and before I had the time to figure much out about my phone and get in the groove of using it, my life became a lot busier. Imagine having a couple of friends who would help with your kids whenever you needed a breather, and then from one day to the next figuring out how to operate without even a spouse for a couple of months. Thank God that phase didn’t last long, but needless to say, my blog remained untouched for that period of time, and my Facebook seldom perused.

Life has its cycles and there always seems to be something or another that requires a good amount of time and focus. It’s not always the same thing and it’s often a challenge for me to find the right balance between my responsibilities before the next cycle or stage comes along that requires a different focus or balance altogether.

I’m an incurable multi-tasker. Therefore, one main challenge for me is to let go of something that I no longer have time for and avoid spending every waking moment of the day involved in everything that’s part of not only my current cycle but past ones too. I just try to fit it all in—not always the best thing.

Example? It’s a typical school morning with my sons. I spend it at the school table teaching them. I help the older one with his reading; once he’s working on his own, I do some flash cards and educational power points with the younger one. Once he runs off to play, I open my laptop and continue working on an editing job or writing project, of which there are always at least half a dozen to choose from. It’s good to stay busy and not waste time, but when it gets to where Allen has the mindset that, “Mommies don’t play” and when Jessica sings “wheels on the bus” with her brother, it comes to what the mommies do on the bus and she sings, “the Mommies on the bus go edit, edit, edit, all through the town”, well, I guess there can be too much of a good thing.

Back to writing. Over the past month or so, the storylines started. It began with a dream I remembered one morning and by the end of the day it had developed into the outline for a children’s novel. At the moment, I have the rough outline of nine stories or books… with 5,000 words or less written in each one. Not a lot of “story” just yet, probably because I haven’t focused on just one at a time.

It’s great to multi-task but I’m realizing that at other times it’s important to focus on just one thing. In all things, “a just balance is the Lord’s delight”. [Pro. 11:1] I actually hope to write on the topic of balance, especially for parents with many responsibilities in this age when being a parent is so much more than just “being a parent”. Maybe I’ll write a book about it! Okay, make that ten. 🙂

But first, I had another idea, which you’ll see in upcoming blog posts… Stay tuned.

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Me and Jessica, a couple weeks before Aiden was born, March, 2009

And I’m excited about it! A Doula (Greek for “woman caregiver”) has quite a few helpful synonyms to understand what it is: labor coach, mother assistant, childbirth assistant, labor companion. In short, it is someone who stays with a laboring woman and helps coach her through each moment and encourage her through each stage until after the baby is born. The primary purpose of a Doula is to have an educated understanding of the natural birth process and to help parents—especially the mother—make it through the process, to the end of a satisfying and positive birth experience.

Why, with doctors and nurses readily available who are knowledgeable of the birth process, would a laboring woman need a personal coach? Not every woman “needs” one, but I can personally attest that they are a great help! My mother acted as a doula for me during my first labor and delivery, and a great friend, Celestina, for my second and third. The fact that they had been through the process before (each of them had six kids!) was in itself a great help. I knew they had done it and their calming strength and encouragement was a wonderful support.

And I know it’s not just me. A book I’m reading through, “The Doula Book,” has some amazing stats about the difference in births when a doula is or is not present. These statistics are not just one study, but gathered from ten different studies from different countries.

“The presence of a doula reduces the overall cesarean rate by roughly 45 percent, length of labor by 25 percent, [labor stimulation] rate by 50 percent, pain medication by 31 percent, the need for forceps 34 percent, and requests for epidurals [35] percent. Doula support enhances the well-being of mothers and babies, leads to fewer medical interventions in the process of labor and delivery, and saves money.”

There is even surprising evidence that the presence of a doula makes a more long-term difference than would be imagined. There is a striking difference in a mother’s attitude and behavior toward herself and toward her baby, the only difference being that she received constant support through labor and delivery. Breastfeeding is easier and there are fewer problems doing so, the baby has fewer visits to the doctor, the mother has a closer relationship with her baby and responds more quickly, and she has less anxiety or depression. (Rephrased from, “The Doula Book”.)

Having a baby—whether a first, second, or tenth—is a magical time. It’s also pretty hard. The moments that move by almost too slowly at the time become etched in your memory forever. A baby is a priceless gift from God and the whole process of labor and delivery is nothing short of a miraculous demonstration of God’s creation.

For thousands of years, births occurred usually at home, in the presence of caring women, mothers, those who had been through it before, understood the process, and could coach a woman to work with her body to help it do what it was made to do…bring forth new life. Today, the process of labor and delivery is treated more as a medical procedure, and often an emergency. If things are not progressing according to the ideal time frame, something is given to speed up the process. This interference often results in more and more interferences, proven by a Cesarean rate that has hit above 30 percent of all births in the U.S. and teetering at around 90% in some countries.

When did I first think about being a Doula? Well, with a mother who was first a doula, and then a midwife, I read plenty of books on the topic and was familiar with the birth process long before I became a mother. I remember when a friend of mine was having a baby. When she headed to the hospital, something in my heart said, “I’m supposed to be there”. That was probably the moment I realized I wanted to be a support to mothers in labor. I wasn’t even a mother yet. Now, after having three children of my own, and at a point in my life where I have the time and wherewithal to get a bit of training, I am on my way to attend Doula classes this weekend!

It is always exciting to make a step towards your dreams, especially if that dream has something to do with helping or being a support to others in some way. The future is always as bright as the vision in our hearts. Oh, and if you’re pregnant and looking for a Doula and are in or near Fresno, or want to help me get to wherever you are :), I’m happy to be in touch!

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It’s the first of February, 2011. Time for some resolutions!having fun with son in leaves

 

Whatever happened to January first, and New Years resolutions? Well, it went something like this.

 

It was December 31st, so I sat with my two older kids. We talked about all the things that had happened in the past year, outlining highlights or bigger things that we had done. They told me the things they were most thankful for and I wrote them down. We then discussed the year ahead, and any goals and hopes they had in relation to it. They each chose some things they would like to do or learn or accomplish in the New Year. They each thought of and chose their own verse that they would like to claim as they ask God for help in the upcoming year.

 

That evening, New Years Eve, we met together—mommy and daddy, grandma and grandpa and the three children. It was then that I realized I had not really thought of and decided on my own goals and prayer for the New Year. I was busy helping the kids get theirs together that I didn’t take time to stop and think about my own.

 

In pondering it, I realize there are a thousand-and-one things I would like to do; some of them I am even working towards already. As an idea person with an overactive mind, I often have to balance a bit of practicality in there; otherwise I would be constantly rushing from one idea to the next, without having enough time for any of them. I would probably avoid prioritizing and end up wasting a good amount of time. Don’t get me wrong; it’s all good stuff. No offense to those who enjoy such things, but I couldn’t imagine spending even five minutes on Farmville or an instant in Mafia Wars; video games make me feel like my brain cells are oozing out even faster than they do on a normal day; I relax in front of a movie maybe every couple of weeks, if that. Yes, the things I would love to have time for are good things, like finally getting around to writing those books that I have in my mind (at least half a dozen at the present time); there are a couple of languages I would like to learn; I would love to study more on a bunch of topics. So if it’s good stuff, then what’s the problem? Well, there’s that good old quote that always makes us feel there’s more to reach for:

 

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better, best.”

 

The thing is, I know what my best is. At the end of the year, if I don’t learn a single new phrase in another language, or even write a word toward my new book (one of them), or study any of the topics on my mind…if there’s one thing I would like to be able to say that I accomplished, it is this:

 

I was a mother, a parent, a wife. I took time for my family and put them first, before any other favored projects or to-do’s. I took time to play with the children and have fun. I noticed the times that were opportunities to teach them, not only reading and writing and mathematics, but also important values such as sharing, positive thinking, and true friendship. I helped them take a few more steps towards eventual independence, but I’m still holding their hands until they are ready to let go. I pointed them towards Someone who will always be able to hold their hands and lead them no matter where they go or what they do as they grow older. I was a mother, a parent…the most important job there could be, and I enjoyed helping to build a family.

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The Puzzle

From the early-learning wooden or foam variety to intricate 10,000-piece or 3D types, puzzles are a proven way to develop problem-solving skills, as well as a pleasant hobby for all ages.puzzle pieces

When I was 11, I became fascinated with jigsaw puzzles. My mother and I would relax together at the kitchen table, piecing together increasingly complex puzzles. We would cover the unfinished puzzle with the tablecloth at mealtimes, then remove it afterward and get to work at finding that next piece.

It has been a while since I’ve had the time to assemble a major puzzle, but my toddler is learning to put simple ones together. I can take one look at the pieces and easily tell where they will fit, yet my little boy sometimes struggles to find the proper place for the piece he is holding. When he gets stuck and frustrated, he turns to me and I give him a suggestion or a clue. Eventually he figures out where each piece goes and is happy. I love that look of accomplishment that he gets when he has completed the puzzle.

Sometimes we face complicated situations where there appears to be no way out or through. It’s often during those times that we realize “resorting to prayer” is our best option. How like children we are, trying to piece together and make sense of difficult situations ourselves, when God is ready, willing, and able to help.

Like a parent, He enjoys helping us work on the puzzle of life. From His vantage point He can easily see which piece needs to go where, and what should come next. He doesn’t put the puzzle together for us, because we wouldn’t learn much if He did. But when we get stuck, He can give us hints. He works with us piece by piece, and piece by piece we see the picture come together.

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Why My Heart Melts…



Exchange between me and Allen

my son Allen at 11 months

Allen, at 11 months, always the charmer

Mommy: Allen, I love you.

Allen: I love you too.

Mommy: I love you three.

Allen: I love you all the way to fishy heaven and back.

Mommy: Is that where you plan on going?

Allen: No, I’m going wherever you are going…so that we will be together.

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