Posted by: spaghettipie | June 12, 2008

Book Review – Don’t Make Me Count to Three

(I accidentally mixed up the reviews between last week and this one. I’ve corrected the Ted Tripp review – sorry for the repeat!)

Title: “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” A mom’s look at heart-oriented discipline
Author: Ginger Plowman

Where Ted Tripp leaves off in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Ginger Plowman picks up. If you agree with the philosophy of parenting being more than just correcting your child’s behavior, but guiding them to love God and make wise choices, but you struggle with how to incorporate that into your daily life, this is a great resource. It is filled with Scripture and wisdom, as well as practical ideas.

The book is divided into three parts: Reaching the Heart of Your Child, How to Give Biblical Reproof and the Biblical Use of the Rod. Plowman’s approach is to introduce a concept, share the Biblical view and then walk you through possible conversations you would have with your children. She addresses issues like sharing, obeying, lying, and sibling rivalry to name a few. At first, I felt like these examples were a little cheesy, I later found myself using her exact words in my preschool Sunday school class. The effect was astounding. The situation was immediately and peacefully resolved and I felt like I had actually reached the child at the heart level.

The other main point I walk away from this book with is that it is not enough just to show our children what not to do. We must be diligent to also show them the correct response. Plowman walks through many examples of correcting her children, showing them the Biblical reason and then walking them through what they should have done. It is time consuming and requires effort, but as Plowman shares, “This is how we train our children to walk in the righteousness of Christ.”

This book is filled with Biblical wisdom and practical application that works. I highly recommend it to not only parents, but those who interact with children on a regular basis.

Posted by: spaghettipie | June 5, 2008

Book Review – Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Title: Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Author: Ted Tripp

This book, I imagine, is (or will be) considered one of those modern classic parenting books. Ted Tripp draws on his vast experience as a pastor, counselor, school administrator, speaker and father to share with us his perspective on raising children. His underlying principle is that our role as a parent is to guide our children to understand themselves and the world in which they live. To do this effectively, we have to do more than just tell our children, we must lead them through open communication, self-disclosure, living out our values – shepherding their hearts. Tripp states, “The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts.”

The book is laid out in two parts: Foundations for Biblical Childrearing (the philosophy) and Shepherding Through the Stages of Childhood (the implementation). He begins with exploring the idea that the heart determines behavior. He walks through the various influences our child development that affect what fills the heart. He then reminds parents of their place of authority. I think this is an important concept to internalize, because I increasingly see in our culture a desire to be friends with our children, rather than parents. We focus on making our children like us, and so we gloss over the difficult responsibilities like discipline.

Tripp then moves into a section on goals, and what I loved about this part is how he shifts our focus from ourselves to God. For example, rather than wanting to raise well-behaved children – because it makes us look good or because it gives us control – we want to raise children who love God so much that they want to live in obedience to Him (not us!). These and other goals he discusses may seem good, but they are not Biblical.

The last section of the first part discusses many different Biblical methods, ranging from communication to spanking. While I appreciate his discussion and agree with many of the points he makes, parents should be aware that he does express some fairly rigid beliefs. Personally, I think you should consider the personality of each of your children and apply the methods that are most effective. However, parents should not dismiss the rationale and Biblical mandates behind what he suggests just because they disagree with the method or the extent to which it is used.

The second part is intended to be a more practical implementation of his philosophy. To me, this is the weakest part of the book. I walked away from the book still unclear how to implement most of the ideas he had discussed.

Overall, the concepts in this book are great and well explained. It could stand to be a little shorter and more concise, and needs more concrete points of application. But it is definitely worth the time to read.

Posted by: spaghettipie | June 3, 2008

Creation Revelation

My 2.5-year-old daughter absolutely loves this song. Every time she hears it, she sings and dances along. Even if she’s in another room playing with toys, if she hears the beginning notes she comes tearing into our living room to watch it.

All around us, creation reveals the creator. Do you carry the same enthusiasm and love for creation as the song indicates? Do you marvel at the ocean, clear blue skies, arachnids, hot magma, and giant squids? Do you consider his creation to be a work of art, a creative expression of who he is? Slow down today and observe your surroundings. What can you learn about your creator from his creation?

Indescribable, by Chris Tomlin

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Posted by: spaghettipie | June 2, 2008

Lessons from Never Say Diet

I’ve been reading Chantal Hobbs’ book, Never Say Diet as a part of my mental shift about eating. While I appreciate her straight-forward approach and her intolerance of the typical excuses we bring, her approach and tone will not work for everybody. I do like that she continues to remind readers that the plan she outlines must be tailored to fit your lifestyle and your preferences. She gives a solid framework, but the reader must fill in the details. This flexibility makes the program less overwhelming and much more likely to effect real change.

For me, I’ve really been impacted by the following points.
1) Mental change must come first, otherwise you will not make a lifestyle change. In my personal evaluation of what needed to change, I finally came to this realization. I appreciated the affirmation of this point. If I don’t change my mindset first, then the surface-level behavior changes are not going to stick.

2) Stop making excuses. See it as important as a full-time job. Chantal leaves no room for excuses – even ones that would gain the support of anyone (like busy schedules, pregnancy/a new baby, or even an ill family member). You are allowed to make no excuses. Period. For me, I need that type of kick in the pants.

3) It’s okay to feel a little hungry. Chantal points out that our natural instinct is to eat until we are full (or stuffed!) because our body is programmed to protect itself against starvation. Just because you feel a little hungry shortly after a well-balanced, well-portioned meal does not mean you should eat. Drink a glass of water and push yourself to wait until the next meal. Chantal teaches that it is NOT okay to skip meals. But you don’t need to fill yourself to the maximum at every meal. You will eat again. Remember, to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you put in. This was a great reminder to me that I do not need to always satisfy the desires of my flesh immediately. I am no longer a slave to my flesh!

If you are tired of dieting and are looking to make some real changes in your lifestyle, this might be a book for you to check out. Just remember to take it with a grain of salt, and implement a plan that is tailored to you.

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 29, 2008

Being Fully Present

(cross-posted on Spaghettipie)

As I lay in bed last night thinking over my day, I saw snapshots of me being with my family – but not fully there.

I asked my daughter to feed the dog . . . while I was staring at my computer screen.

I played with my daughter in her play room . . . while I thought about something I needed to get done later.

I kissed my husband when he got home . . . while I calculated how soon we needed to leave in order to deliver a piece of furniture on time.

I listened to a friend talk about her day over the phone . . . while I scanned my email for new messages.

I heard Rob Bell speak once, and a statement he made returned to me. He said something to the effect of “I learned about being fully present one day when I was playing with my young child and realized he had just said my name three times before I even realized he was talking to me.”

Oh, I mourned those lost opportunities to really connect within those relationships that are most important to me! It’s not that I need to be playing with my daughter every second of our day together; she needs to learn how to play on her own some. But when I’m with her, I want to be fully with her. When my husband tells me about his day, I want to be completely present. When I have my quiet time with God, I want to be focused on him and not thinking about the other things that need to be done during the day. We say relationships matter, but what are we communicating when we don’t really give them our full attention?

Being fully present. In an age where we place a high value on multi-tasking, and we aim to do too much in one day, it’s difficult to do. A couple months ago as I tried to simplify my life, one thing I committed to doing was turning off the TV when I was not actually watching it. I was amazed at how much more productive I was without having the extra noise in the background. Although I could indeed multi-task, I didn’t realize the effect it had on my ability to work. I think it’s the same way with relationships.

So my goal today is to be fully present with people: to stop what I’m doing to engage with my daughter when she comes to talk with me, to look people in the eye (and not look at other things . . . like the computer!) when I’m talking with them, to do nothing else but listen while talking on the phone with a friend, to actually think about how amazing my husband is when I welcome him home with a kiss.

How can you be more fully present with people today?

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 27, 2008

Financial dependence

For the first time in our marriage, my husband and I find ourselves required to closely monitor our budget each month. The timing of when certain checks clear our account actually matters, and we have to carefully orchestrated the movement of funds in and out of our bank.

Oddly enough, this place of dependence is refreshing to our walks with God. When decisions in life revolve more around which option we want, rather than which option can we afford (if any at all!), we can easily be seduced by the illusion of self-sufficiency. As we have scrutinized our spending habits more carefully, I realize what poor stewards we had become. I spent a lot of money on things just because I wanted them, with little regard for whether or not I needed them. (which sounds a lot like the same issue I struggle with when it comes to eating: simply pleasing my flesh.)

Despite our shortcomings, we’ve been amazed to see God’s provision in our lives and how he has honored our decision for me to stay at home with our daughter. I read recently someone calling it “God math” because when we look back on some of our income and expenses, we shouldn’t have made it. And yet, a published magazine article here, a bonus from work there, and all of our bills, PLUS some has been covered. Isn’t that just like God? He gives in abundance, not always “just enough.”

I love how God uses every relationship and situation in our lives to reveal an aspect of his character to us. For me, during this season I am seeing that he is dependable and he is abundant.

What do your finances teach you about who God is?

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 12, 2008

Green Cleaning

When the brand Method first came out, I gave it a try in an effort to reduce the amount of harsh cleaning chemicals I use in my home. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with its cleaning ability, and soon moved back to my old products.

Sometime later, a friend introduced me to using vinegar (diluted with a little water). I love it! The smell goes away quickly – or you can add scented oil to it – and it cleans up messes with ease. Vinegar has some natural anti-bacterial properties, so that’s a big plus in the kitchen. I just use a small spray bottle, and I estimate between 1 to 2 parts (vinegar to water) to as strong as 2 to 3 parts (vinegar to water). Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

For some additional great cleaning tips, check out this post by Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 12, 2008

An Update on The Plan

About 10 days ago, I wrote about my revelations with eating on my other blog, Spaghettipie, and I outlined a plan that I would follow to nurture healthier habits. I’m happy to say that I’ve lost a couple pounds already. More importantly, I’ve had quality time with God every day since then and am back to memorizing Scripture. I feel renewed and refreshed. Better yet, I’m seeing a change in my decision-making process regarding food that does not leave me feeling guilty or dissatisfied.

I’m also reading a book by Chantal Hobbs called Never Say Diet. Now, I can’t say I recommend this book for everyone. I think some personalities may struggle with her approach more than others. But here are few of the points that have influenced my thinking.

  • Make healthy living and healthy choices a full-time job. It’s not optional, so it can’t be set aside for another time.
  • You have to start with your mind. Eliminate all of the excuses. Yes, all of them.
  • It’s okay to leave a meal still a little bit hungry. Our natural instinct is to fill ourselves. Choose a healthy portion, and then stop. Just because you feel hungry does not mean that you should eat. (But don’t not eat, either)

I love that the first few chapters in her book deal with the mindset aspect before any plans or discussion of eating habits. That’s exactly the realization I came to, so her thoughts resonated with me.

I’d love to hear any other thoughts on maintaining (or making the transition to) a healthier lifestyle!

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 8, 2008

Family Fun Project

I was looking for a fun craft to do with my 2.5-year-old daughter, and stumbled across this great idea from Family Fun. If you have never visited their website or seen their magazine, take some time to peruse their great ideas.

For this project, I taped the contact paper down on my daughter’s table. We cut out hearts and flowers from patterned paper, used stickers, and I had a bag full of different shaped sequins. When we finished, I covered her project with a second piece of contact paper, and then cut the entire project into three bookmarks. I punched a hole in the top, tied a ribbon, and wrote “Happy Mother’s Day” on the top with a Sharpie.

We will definitely do this project again, though, as we both had a great time (and made little mess!).

Clear Con-Tact paper
Masking tape
Flat stickables, such as felt scraps, tissue paper squares, crepe paper streamers, ribbon pieces, cut-up calendars and magazines, and feathers

1. Begin by taping a piece of Con-Tact paper, sticky side facing out, to a wall or a low table. Set out bowls of small, flat stickables nearby (see the materials list).
2. Now let your toddler explore the sticky feeling of the paper first with his hands, then by placing the items against the paper. Once he gets the hang of it, just sit back and enjoy the show.
3. Preserve the collage with a second piece of Con-Tact paper. Frame the artwork with colored masking tape around the edges.
4. Keep the fun going! Make a theme collage, such as a nature collage with flowers and leaves or a color collage of all things blue.

Getting Started with Creative Projects for Little Hands
1. Keep it safe. Make sure supplies are labeled nontoxic and are not choking hazards. Discourage kids from putting supplies in their mouths.
2. Set it up. Designate an art area in your home with an easel or a low table where young artists can stand to work (this is usually easier for them).
3. Don’t rush. Make sure you allow plenty of time for setup, exploration, and cleanup.
4. Don’t stress over mess. Set things up so cleanup is easier for you, then try to relax and let your child have fun.
5. Write it down. Before you forget, write the date on your child’s creation and, if she’s talking, what she said about it.

Posted by: spaghettipie | May 6, 2008

Cell phone stewardship

I opened our recent cell phone bill yesterday and nearly fell out of my chair. We recently switched our plan to the “Favorite 5’s” plan offered by T-Mobile. We’ve been long time customers and have been happy with their service. Before choosing the plan, we analyzed a couple phone bills and knew that the change was definitely positive for my husband. 75% of his calls are indeed to the same 5 people. The move for me was a little less certain, but we decided to try it.

I knew this past month would be a little over because I coordinated a large fundraising banquet. We don’t have a home phone right now, so all of the calling was done on my cell phone. Needless to say, I was on the phone a LOT more than I thought.

So now I’m left with trying to figure out some answers. Do I watch my minutes like a hawk and just take care not to go over? Do my husband and I get separate plans that make sense for each of our calling habits? Do we up our minutes? Or do we go back to a land line? Bottom line, I need to be a better steward of my time and money. Any thoughts from those of you out there?

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