The First Thanksgiving: A Joyful Hope

Re-blogged from my blog over at Christlinkd.com:thanksgiving

This year, I’m going to make it a point with my children to focus on the first Thanksgiving and the role that God had in it.

The First Thanksgiving

In September 1620, the Pilgrims left England for the New World. The trip took over two months and was very hard on the passengers (just over 100 people). Enduring the elements and the storms of the open sea, the Pilgrims held fast to their mission and relied on Divine Providence to survive.  They finally arrived in what is now Massachusetts at the end of November 1620. After several days searching for a suitable place to disembark, they chose what they called Plymouth Rock on December 11. Before stepping foot on land, they signed the Mayflower Compact, which is referred to as America’s first document of civil government. 

The Pilgrims leaned heavily on prayer, and that was the first thing they did upon arrival. Unfortunately, they were not ready for the realities of a Massachusetts winter, and almost half of them succumbed to starvation or sickness before the spring of 1621. It is said that at one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn each. But then- Hope. A trading vessel arrived, and the Pilgrims traded beaver pelts for corn. In the summer of 1621, assisted by Native Americans, most notably Squanto, who had accepted Jesus and become a Christian thanks to a Spanish monk after being captured and sold into slavery in Spain, the Pilgrims’ crops were plentiful. Squanto taught them to grow corn, use fertilizer, kill deer and fish. Governor William Bradford decreed December 13, 1621 a day of feasting and prayer so that the colonists could show gratitude that they were still alive. It was a three-day feast! Of Squanto, Governor Bradford said that he was “a special instrument of God for good beyond their expectations.”

Below are the joyful words of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, describing the first Thanksgiving.

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

I just love those words from Mr. Winslow so much! You can practically see him smiling when you read them. How joyous and grateful the Pilgrims must have been! They were faithful to God and He provided for them. What a great message to share with our kids as we gather around the Thanksgiving table this month, almost 400 years later! God’s love never changes.

Here are some of my favorite verses to share with your kids this Thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:1-6 – O Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, And a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

As Christians, we are to be thankful and should be joyous all throughout the year, not just for one Thursday in November, but doesn’t reading the story of the Pilgrims just make your heart smile? I know it does mine, and that’s what I’ll be sharing at the table this year.

Sources: http://christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-g007.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/thanksgiving-Christian.html

Image Credit: www.journeyofworship.com

Another School Year, Another Milestone

Image Credit: sheknows.com

Image Credit: sheknows.com

Re-posted from my blog over at christlinkd.com:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”.” (Isaiah 30:21)

“Before you know it, they’ll be graduating and getting married.”

That thought has been banging around in my head all evening. Those words were spoken by my mom earlier tonight as we chatted about my kids.

Whoa. Slow down. I’m not ready for all of that!

On Monday, my daughter and son will start fifth and fourth grades, respectively. I know everyone always opines, “Where did the time go?!” or some other variation of the same lament, but it is SO TRUE. I believe as adults our own recollections of our childhoods make those precious years seem so vast, like an eternity. And as parents, we’re struck with the cold hard truth that childhood isn’t really that long at all. If we’re lucky, we get 18 short years to have our kids at home, to watch them grow and to help shape them into the young men and women that God wants them to become.

Eighteen years. We’re gifted with eighteen years before our kids are adults in the world’s eyes. As we grow older we realize just how short eighteen years are.

Yes, I’m feeling a little sappy, a little melancholy about this. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know a little about my kiddos- my daughter the gentle spirit and my son who is perpetually set on warp-speed, both in action and words. I want to wrap them both in a gigantic bear hug and not ever let them go. But we all know that can’t happen.

And so, we will faithfully pack their backpacks on Sunday night and we’ll prepare for the start of a brand new school year. I’ll fawn over them, and they’ll let me hug them and still think it’s cool to hang out with Mom for their last official night of summer vacation. And time will march along.

But all along I am praying. Praying for God to keep them close and for them to keep Him close in their hearts.

Tonight, as I was searching for scripture to help me, I found an amazing blog post over at The Hill Hangout.  I’ve excerpted a portion below:

 Philippians 4:6-7 – Lord, I pray that my children will not be anxious for anything as they go back to school. Call them to Yourself in prayer so that they will submit their requests to You with thanksgiving. Grant them Your peace in their hearts and minds in such great measure that they are blown away.

Colossians 3:23 – Father, help my children to understand that whatever work they do is not to please teachers or even to please their parents, but it is ultimately to please You, their Heavenly Father. They work for You and not for anyone else.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – Lord, grant that my children may rest in the fact that Your grace is sufficient to carry them through whatever comes their way. When challenges arise that are too much for them, You are carrying them by Your great strength.

Philippians 4:8 – Jesus, when we compare ourselves to others, it is easy to focus on ways we don’t measure up instead of focusing on what You have made us to be. In those moments, remind my children to focus on what is true, what is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and of good report. Lord, if there is anything good or praiseworthy, help her to meditate on those things.

Isaiah 43:2 – Lord, school can be overwhelming. Turn my children’s attention to the fact that when they pass through the waters, You are with them. When they go through rivers, they will not be overtaken. When they must walk through fire, You will be with them and will protect them from being scorched.

Isaiah 54:17 – Father, the Enemy is always on the hunt to harm us. I speak Your word over my child that says no weapon formed against them shall prosper and every tongue that rises against them in judgment shall be condemned. It is their heritage as Your servants and Your righteousness will protect them.

Matthew 5:9 – Jesus, Your teach us that those who make peace in troublesome situations will be called Your sons. May my children be instruments of Your peace in situations full of strife and arguing.

Psalm 133:1 – Lord, according to Your word, it is good and pleasant when Your children live together in unity. Father, give them godly friends at school with whom they are united. Provide friends who share the same beliefs and interests so that they will have strength in numbers to stand against the schemes and temptations of the Enemy.

Matthew 5:6 – Jesus, You teach us that You will bless those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In this world there are many distractions that my children could follow. Place in them such a hunger and thirst for Your ways that they aren’t interested in the ways of the world. Consume their thoughts, hearts, and minds with Yourself that they might be filled with You.

Proverbs 1:5 – Father, Your word tells us that a wise man will hear and increase learning and that a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. Lord, give my children godly teachers who can provide wise counsel and inspire them to search after learning. And one they have learned, give them understanding in how to apply what they know. Make them wise.

Matthew 12:35 – Jesus, You tell us that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, while an evil man out of the evil in his heart brings forth evil things. I have tried to store up good in my child’s heart. Help them to be ministers of good so that they reap goodness from others. Quickly show them ways in which they might be sowing evil so that they can correct their ways. Give them wisdom in dealing with other children whose ways aren’t full of goodness.

Romans 12:2 – Father, this world is not our final home. Help my children not to be conformed to this world. Help them to set their minds on the fact that we live this life for a greater purpose than entertaining ourselves. Grant that they could be so gospel-minded that they aren’t swayed by the ways of the ungodly, but that they would always live with a crystal clear focus on winning this world to Your kingdom.

 

 

 

Teaching Our Kids to Lose Graciously

i060607dtm2Re-posted from my blog over at christlinkd.com:

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

This summer my kids are playing baseball for the first time. They are in the Wildcat League, which is far less competitive than some other leagues around the Fort, such as Little League, etc. But the level of competitiveness was not a deciding factor in my choice of their summer sport. To be honest, cost was my first consideration. I did, however, want them to play their first year with a group that was a little more laid-back, especially while they’re learning the basics.

The kids wear matching hats and jerseys, but some wear shorts, some baseball pants. They share equipment and take turns playing all of the positions. Their games are fun, and the scores aren’t posted up on the board; rather, they are casually announced by the coaches as each team is coming off or going onto the field.

Yet, even in this casual and just-for-fun atmosphere, poor sportsmanship rears its ugly head, both from the players and, shamefully, from some of the parents.

As moms and dads, we all know how important it is to teach our kids to lose graciously. It starts with siblings or friends at a very early age, with simple games and competitions. Not just in sports, but in other things like board games or who gets to go first or is chosen to be the line leader in the classroom.

I believe that losing graciously, or more to the point, showing good sportsmanship, comes down to humility.  It’s about doing everything to the best of your ability. If you do that and your opponent comes out on top, it means swallowing your pride and offering a genuine “Good game!” and a handshake-and really meaning it.

It would take me months to count on fingers and toes how many times, as a mom, I’ve heard, “He/she cheated!” or “That’s not fair!” in response to one of my two kids ending up on the losing end of a situation.  Last week at baseball, as a matter of fact, a player from my kids’ team was called out at first base. Some of the kids in the dugout (including my son) started yelling, “He was safe! That’s not fair!” In fact, even at the end of the game, as we were loading up in the van, my son was still angry over that call.

It was a great teaching moment. We went over the rules of the game, the fact that the coach had a much better view of the play and that no matter what, the coach’s calls always stand.

It’s such a hard lesson to learn, losing graciously, but one that is so essential in shaping the character of our children.

There are so many examples that have made headlines of athletes, parents and coaches resorting to poor sportsmanship, public tantrums and even violence. It’s rare to find coverage of role models and GOOD sportsmanship, and that is what our kids need to see celebrated in the news.

I’ve found a few examples I’d like to share with you.

1.      Act of Sportsmanship Gives Texas High Schooler Shot at Glory

A Texas teen has set the example of sportsmanship by unselfishly surrendering the basketball to a developmentally disabled member of the opposing team so he could score a point during a game. (CBS News)

2.      Chasing Silver: The 200m Usain Bolt 2008 Olympic Race

We all know that Usain Bolt broke the World Record in the 200m race in Beijing….but do you know who got the Silver? And why was it one of the Olympics’ biggest controversies? (Bleacher Report)

  1. I Believe in Tim Tebow

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster’s), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts. (ESPN)

My kids’ Wildcat baseball team has yet to win a game, but they are improving every week. It’s so wonderful watching them develop what for some of them will be a life-long love of the game.

It was during that same game with the contested ‘out’ call last week that I pinpointed my personal MVP. His name is S, and he was playing third base. My son H was pitching; the other team had the bases loaded and H was about to walk the kid at bat. S calls out from third, in a sincere and friendly voice, “You can do it, H. It’s OK!”

 

 

Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

courtesy of The Christian Pundit

courtesy of The Christian Pundit

Re-blogged from christlinkd.com

When my daughter was a toddler, I went out and bought myself a copy of The NEW Strong-Willed Child. I thought for sure that I had a SWC on my hands. Little did I know what her sweet, quiet baby brother had in store for me! Turns out my daughter, although she can be a handful at times, is mostly a kind, well-behaved kid who would rather hide behind me than get into trouble of any kind.

My son, only 15 months younger, turned nine just a couple of weeks ago. He is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges in my life. He is quick to talk back, argue with his sister and perhaps most challenging- he is quick to anger. He tests my patience like nothing else on this earth, but I know that God gave him to me for a reason.

It is indeed a fact that dealing with my son’s behavior caused it to take a day longer than normal to get this week’s blog post together. God must have known I needed the extra inspiration! We have to laugh, right? Otherwise, we’d go insane!

So what exactly is a SWC? Here are some of my observations:

  1. A SWC will challenge any rule. From bedtime, to hygiene, to all disciplinary guidelines. For example, here are some exchanges we’ve had recently:
  • “H, wash your hands.”
  • “Why?!”
  • “We’ve talked about this. You always wash your hands after you use the restroom to get rid of germs.”
  • “No. Germs don’t hurt anything. It doesn’t matter.”
  • “Mom, do we have to do homework right when we get home?” (He asks me this EVERY day when I pick him up from school)
  • “Yes, H, right away. It doesn’t change. You do your homework before anything else.”
  • “WHY?! We shouldn’t have to do it your way!” <anger>
  • “Mom, can we set up a lemonade stand when we get home?” (He asked me this today when I picked him up from school)
  • “No, H, I told you that you can do that on Saturday when we have our garage sale.”
  •  “Aaaagghhh!!!!” <anger, kicking the back of my seat>
  • “H, you can’t go past the rope to get closer to the animals.” (at the zoo)
  •  “Oh, really? Why not? Their arms aren’t long enough to reach the rope.”
  1. A SWC is stubborn beyond what a parent would think is humanly possible. I’m telling you, this kid could wear down the toughest interrogator. I am convinced he could sit through 48 hours of intense questioning and not break a sweat, all with a smug look on his face.
  1. Dealing with a SWC, you are in a constant battle of wills. No matter what you say, what punishments you dole out, they are unflinchingly defiant, because they don’t want to ever be the one not in control.

 

Believe me; I go back and forth internally all the time about whether H is strong-willed or just misbehaved. But having two children, it’s pretty apparent that he has an iron will. Yes, some of it IS behavioral, but most of it is about control, pure and simple.

So, each morning I get up and put on my invisible armor, because raising a SWC is like going into battle each and every day. We are in this battle together, H and I, and each day we have the scars to prove it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my son! I wouldn’t trade him for a million ‘easy’ kids. God made him this way for a reason, and chose me to be his mom for a reason. I have no doubt that H will go on to great things in his life. I love that I know he’ll have a strong character when he’s a man and that he’ll have great passion for whatever he chooses to do.

These are some excellent observations from The Christian Pundit:

– It’s easier to guide and mold a strong will in a child than it is to try and put will into a child that has none.

– Strong willed children are the ones who become leaders in their field. Know of any weak willed presidents? Colonels? Martyrs? God can use this strong will for mighty good.

– Strong willed children are usually very open, even in their sin. You know what they are thinking and you can deal with it. When sin is hidden, it is hard to deal with. When it’s in your face, you are able to confront it immediately. Hypocrisy is rarely an issue.

– You will pray more raising a strong willed child simply because they bring you to the end of yourself so quickly. More prayer is always a good thing, for you and your child.

God will give you the grace you need to raise this child. He gave you the child, and He will give you everything you need to glorify Him in parenting the child. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Parenting H has definitely brought me closer to God. I spend more time in prayer for him than for anything else, and maybe that is one of the reasons I was blessed to be called his mom.

Whatever the reasons, I wouldn’t have him any other way.