Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sheltering the Elderly (And include your children)



We are busy with our families, raising our children, pursuing our hobbies, climbing the corporate ladder. How often do we stop in the middle of living life, and give honor and respect to the elderly.

1. Send Mail
A large percentage of our Shelter: Postmarked mail goes to the elderly -- often to retired pastors and pastor's wives who feel like they are not doing (or did) anything for God. 

2. Take Time to Visit
Schedule a thirty-minute visit into your week. Wrap a ribbon around a cookie, or flowers from your garden. Watch their eyes light up when you present your gift. Ask questions about when they were young, and really listen. 

3. Take them For a Ride
One elderly lady I knew loved Wendy's Frosties. Her pastor's wife would pick her up, and take her to get a Frosty. It wasn't a big trip, but gave her a breath of fresh air and new surroundings. Drive them past some gardens or, in the winter, tour the neighborhood to view the Christmas lights. 

4. Fill a Bird Feeder
Winters can be hard when the elderly can't get out of the house. Place a bird feeder outside the window where they sit. (Check out the kind that suction cups to the window.) Stop by each week to make sure the feeder is full.

5. Share a Meal
Cook extra when you prepare a meal. Home cooked meals taste good to seniors, even if they are receiving Meals on Wheels or other subscription meals. Don't watch them eat; take a meal for yourself. If they are in a care facility, find out if you can join them for lunch or dinner. Someone recently paid for my daddy's meal at a restaurant. He didn't see anyone he knew, but it was a kindness that cheered him. 




Senior Service Activities for Children

Memory Verse to Teach: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:40).

1. Plant flowers:  Attending to their loved one's grave will give give joy. Let your child do as much as possible. If the senior can't go with you, take pictures so they can see what was accomplished.

2. Decorate for holidays: Decorate their door or a small stand at the care facility or home. This is good for teenagers to plan and execute.

3. Play a game: Take and play a Dominoes or Checkers game. Helping put a 32-large-piece puzzle together is another great activity.

4. Read a book: Seniors who were book lovers often cannot see to read. Have your child take a beautiful picture book to read to them. Suggestions: Small Gifts in God's Hands by Max Lucado, A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingles Wilder 

5. Color together: Take a new box of crayons. With the vast variety of adult coloring books, it's easy to find one a senior will enjoy. 

6. Share a pet: A senior can receive joy and peace by petting an animal. Listen to their stories about their own pets.




Sheltering the Elderly (And include your children)



We are busy with our families, raising our children, pursuing our hobbies, climbing the corporate ladder. How often do we stop in the middle of living life, and give honor and respect to the elderly.

1. Send Mail
A large percentage of our Shelter: Postmarked mail goes to the elderly -- often to retired pastors and pastor's wives who feel like they are not doing (or did) anything for God. 

2. Take Time to Visit
Schedule a thirty-minute visit into your week. Wrap a ribbon around a cookie, or flowers from your garden. Watch their eyes light up when you present your gift. Ask questions about when they were young, and really listen. 

3. Take them For a Ride
One elderly lady I knew loved Wendy's Frosties. Her pastor's wife would pick her up, and take her to get a Frosty. It wasn't a big trip, but gave her a breath of fresh air and new surroundings. Drive them past some gardens or, in the winter, tour the neighborhood to view the Christmas lights. 

4. Fill a Bird Feeder
Winters can be hard when the elderly can't get out of the house. Place a bird feeder outside the window where they sit. (Check out the kind that suction cups to the window.) Stop by each week to make sure the feeder is full.

5. Share a Meal
Cook extra when you prepare a meal. Home cooked meals taste good to seniors, even if they are receiving Meals on Wheels or other subscription meals. Don't watch them eat; take a meal for yourself. If they are in a care facility, find out if you can join them for lunch or dinner. Someone recently paid for my daddy's meal at a restaurant. He didn't see anyone he knew, but it was a kindness that cheered him. 




Senior Service Activities for Children

Memory Verse to Teach: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:40).

1. Plant flowers:  Attending to their loved one's grave will give give joy. Let your child do as much as possible. If the senior can't go with you, take pictures so they can see what was accomplished.

2. Decorate for holidays: Decorate their door or a small stand at the care facility or home. This is good for teenagers to plan and execute.

3. Play a game: Take and play a Dominoes or Checkers game. Helping put a 32-large-piece puzzle together is another great activity.

4. Read a book: Seniors who were book lovers often cannot see to read. Have your child take a beautiful picture book to read to them. Suggestions: Small Gifts in God's Hands by Max Lucado, A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingles Wilder 

5. Color together: Take a new box of crayons. With the vast variety of adult coloring books, it's easy to find one a senior will enjoy. 

6. Share a pet: A senior can receive joy and peace by petting an animal. Listen to their stories about their own pets.




Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Father's Day Tale



My Daddy:

I met my daddy on September 16th, too many years ago. I didn't know how special he was, although it didn't take long before I made him my own favorite hero. They say the best thing a daddy can do for his children is to love their mother. Anyone who knows him, knows he passed that one with flying colors. He has a giving heart, and he cares deeply when someone is hurting. His integrity is beyond reproach. He not only loves his children and grandchildren, but their spouses, too. He loves it when all of us are together. His great-grandchildren delight him.


My Children's Daddy:

Everyone said I'd never find a husband, because I would never love anyone as much as I loved my daddy. Well, they were wrong! Although it really did take a special man. He was the best choice for me to love, but also the best choice for a daddy, too. He was patient and loving -- so proud of his girls. He loved the girls when they were young -- even when people thought he was Emily's grandfather. But he is still interested and involved in their lives.



My Grandchildren's Daddies:

Then another man joined our family. The one that Melanie says reminds her of Granddad. Shawn is an amazing father to his four children. He puts his family first. He's teaching them the importance of hard work, love for God's Word, and the joy of giving back. 



Most men have time to get used to the fact they will become a father. The last man in our family became a father overnight when, along with Emily, they decided to take an 8-year-old into their home four days a week -- four days that quickly turned into full time. Jonathon is determined to pour as much love and God as he can in the time they have Emma. She's learning things that will last a lifetime.

These are the four men in our family. I'm blessed. Billy Graham said, "A father is one of the most unpraised, unsung, unnoticed, and yet the most valuable asset of our society." Today I'm noticing the fathers in my life. And thanking God for all four of them. 








Saturday, June 11, 2016

Encourage Mothers of a Child with Autism


Our most difficult task as a friend is to offer understanding when we don't understand. Robert Brault





At a recent recital, a boy with autism sat in front of us. He would reach back and pat my leg, then the leg of my husband. His mother would ask him to turn around and he would – then it would be too much for him and he’d reach back again. It wasn’t bothering us, but I’m sure his mother was worried it would. I’ve been thinking of it since then and wonder what we are doing to encourage these mothers who never get a moment to relax.

1 in 88 children are born with autism. We often overlook the mothers of children who have autism. Every child diagnosed with autism is affected differently. But their mothers are all the same – working hard to be their advocate and to help their child live the best life they can. Too often our words can make them feel like an unfit mother – as though the diagnosis is somehow caused by inferior mothering. 



Here are some ways you can encourage these mothers:

1. “Love me, love my child” isn’t just a saying.


Loving a child with autism encourages their mother. Most children with autism have something they obsess over. In “The Eagle Tree” by Ned Hayes, March loved trees – most of all, climbing them. A book about trees, leaves, or a tree wall art would make mother and child smile. Take time to interact with the child over his obsession.

2. Celebrate their child


A few weeks ago a sweet girl was celebrating her 18th birthday party. Unable to deal with a traditional party, her mother planned a mail celebration to cater to her love of mail. Her suggestion for gifts was a $5.00 McDonald’s gift card or $5.00 so she could shop at Dollar Tree, where knows exactly what she wants to purchase every time. Michelle (Mom) was overjoyed when 84 cards showed up. She gathered them as they came in and put them all in the mailbox on her birthday. The joy on this sweet girl’s face when she saw that much mail was priceless.

3. See the positives
Love these little ones for who they are, instead of judging them for who they aren’t. Some people see the child’s arm flapping and never stop to understand his action is an expression of his joy. They see the fidgeting and fail to see their beautiful smile. They see the intense obsession, yet don’t stop to listen to the statistics they have committed to memory. Stop seeing the negatives and rejoice in the uniqueness of the child. Verbalize by saying, “He’s so good at…”

4. Educate your children and plan dates

By educating your children about autism, you are giving them the chance to understand, and in understanding, know how to approach with an offer of friendship. When your children understand why a child with autism flaps, fidgets or is obsessed with one subject, they can become inclusive. Invite them over for play dates, have the family over for supper, plan outings with them. A grocery story is a nightmare for children with autism. Ask your friend to leave their child with you while they grocery shop. Divorce rates in families with autism is 80%. Give the parents a date night. Once you and your children understand the variables, offer child care for a few hours or overnight. You may lose one night of sleep, but your friend can sleep through the night.

5. Bring caffeine and chocolate

Some days are harder than others. Their child may be up roaming in the night. Show up at their door with a coffee shop drink. Find out their child’s favorite snack. Don’t forget the siblings. Parents, by necessity, need to give more attention to their child with autism. Make sure you make their siblings feel special, too. 


Does God equip these mothers-of-children-with-autism? Definitely. But, you may be the one He wants to use to encourage them. They need someone who accepts and encourages, someone who shows up at the door with their favorite drink. Someone who is willing to clean the bathroom or sit on the couch and listen. Perhaps they need you to worship with them, read Scripture, and sing songs of praise, just to help them rest in the arms of Jesus a while. They also need someone who will chatter about the important to them, make them laugh, and discuss new fashion trends. Sometimes they just need distracted.

A child with autism is so much more than their diagnosis. They can be silly, curious, caring, focused, intelligent, strong, loving, and, like your child, very different from each other. Get to know them, and you will be sheltering a child. Love them, and you will be sheltering your friend. Try it, and you’ll find out who receives the biggest blessing of all.

Linked to:  
 
Coffee Shop ConversationsFaith 'n Friends

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sheltering Child Victims of Pornography






400 counts. 400! That's how many the mother of a sweet four-year-old was guilty of -- how many pictures she sent of her own little girl. She is going away for a long, long, time. But while that keeps this woman from hurting her daughter further, this little girl will have memories that will haunt her throughout her life. 

The Demand Project reports that child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. According to the FBI, there have been a 2500% increase in arrests in the past 10 years. 

There are many equally disturbing statistics available, but I want to give you ways to help.

1. Report it: If you find child pornography on a computer or other electronic device, call the police. Confronting the individual will only cause them to threaten you and get rid of the evidence. Let the authorities handle it. CyberTipline

2.  Donate to the Innocent Justice Foundation: Nearly 625,000 child pornography traders have been identified nationwide; however, only 61 Internet Crimes Against Children task forces have been allocated minimal funding to take them off the streets. That means that there are close to 11,000 offenders per team. Most ICAC teams can arrest 50-100 perpetrators per year. Arresting all of these child molesters they currently have located would take them 100-200 years. We need your help to get them the tools they need to do their jobs and the local, state and federal funding to make our neighborhoods safe again for our children. (innocentjustice.org)

3. Shelter the Victims and Families: As in the above 4-year-old's case, the children are often removed from their home. It's a bewildering time for them. Stuffed animals, comfy jammies, a craft kit to keep their mind occupied, a soft blanket or throw -- all these things are comforting to young children. One of Shelter: Postmarked members makes special pillowcases to send to children. 



My goal in writing this post is not to sensationalize this sinful crime. It's bringing awareness, and offering a few ways we can shelter these innocent children. Sheltering isn't always fun. When we shelter, we are called to bear burdens, enter the pain and nightmares of voiceless victims. Ask our Heavenly Father to help you answer the call of "Who will go?"
 


What Joy Is Mine







Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sheltering Mothers of Toddlers




A mother is someone who loves her kids even when they are driving her crazy. That definition is one all mothers will agree to. We love the idea of being a mother. We look at our sleeping toddlers and our hearts swell with love. We cheer over successful potty times. We are thrilled with those first wobbly steps. But if we were were all honest, we would admit to days when it isn't all heart-swelling-love.

One baby spoon of carrots can spray a long way. A felt pen won't always wash off a wall. Toothbrushes and hair clips do not flush. You won't remember the last thing you needed at Walmart until you reach for a diaper and realize the box is empty. 

Mothering -- how I loved it! I had a wonderful support system when my children were little. And with nine years between daughters, it was easy. But when I see mothers in the mall -- one crying child in a stroller, little stair-step boys yanking on their momma on each side -- I realize just how much encouragement our young mothers need.  

Have you ever heard, "There's a card for that?" There is, I'm sure. But a simple note card can shelter a young mother just as much as a $4.00 card. 

1. Write a Scripture Blessing:

May the LORD make (Emily) increase, both (her) and (her) children. May (she) be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 115:44-15

Blessed is (Melanie) who has believed the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.  Luke 1:45

May the Lord bless and protect (Katie); may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of (her); may He be gracious to (her), show (her) his favor, and give (her) his peace.


2. Add Encouragement:

You're doing a good job mothering your boys.

{24/7} You're handling that mothering shift well.

Sometimes even a Momma needs a hug. {hug}

Someday your children will "rise up and call you blessed."

God chose you to be this child's momma -- He knows you are the best mother for her. 




3. Write a Prayer:

Lord, envelop this precious momma in your arms -- give rest, peace and joy, expand her heart with love and patience when days go awry. Assure her of your loving forgiveness when she is disappointed with her impatient responses. Give her your heart to know how to train her child to know, love, and live for you. Amen.

4. When God Says "More"


Gifts

  • Body Butter
  • Candle
  • Journal
  • Soft nightie
  • Purchase three hours of a baby sitter's help.
  • Decadent candy

Parenting Book




Gift Cards

  • Coffee Shop
  • Spa
  • Arts and Craft Store

Give of Yourself

  • 2 hours of cleaning (I wouldn't be comfortable with this, so make sure it's okay before you show up!)
  • A meal that just needs heating.  
  • Child care
  • Laundry 
  • Errand Running
Ideas to Feed your Creativity

I have a board on my Shelter: Postmarked "Gift Ideas for Young Mothers." From creative packaging for cookies to larger gift baskets, each idea can be personalized for the mother God has laid on your heart. Often in our eagerness, we want to choose who we think needs our encouragement. I've found down through the years that, for successful encouragement, I need to ask God who HE wants me to encourage. Often I'm surprised, and through my greatest surprises -- the ones I think, "Really, Lord?" -- I can so clearly see the hand of God.

Don't be overwhelmed with the size of what you can do. I've seen God's blessing on the smallest gestures when done with a loving heart. Jesus, like the loaves and fishes He multiplied, will multiply your gifts of the heart.





Friday, May 20, 2016

God: the only answer to the world's heartache



I see them on Facebook, meet them in the words of their blogs, watch them in the middle of the grocery store, and even encounter them sitting in a pew at church. Their heart is breaking under the load they have to carry.



They just found out their husband is involved in pornography. 

Their wife is having an affair with one of your friends.

Their bills are larger than their paycheck.

Their child is was caught shoplifting.

Their baby died in an accident involving a drunk driver.

Their daughter has an eating disorder.

Their father is fighting cancer.

Their grandson is in jail for a crime he didn't commit -- or one he did.

Heartbreak -- we encounter it everyday. We walk beside it in the mall, drive beside it, worship with it, exercise beside it at the gym. What's our response to the souls whose heart beats cataclysmic grief? Do we have anything to give when the tapes of their head play a tune of failure over and over? What would it take to give new hope to those whose dreams lay in a puddle at their feet? 

We offer them our God. 



Our God who loves.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1). 
 
Our God who gives rest.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Our God who gives peace.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace (Psalm 29:11).


Our God who gives hope.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).



Our God who gives confidence.
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Our God is the only answer to those devastated by the hard things life brings. 
 
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