Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas groove tunes

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.- Shirley Temple

I love Christmas music and it's playing long and loud at our house.
Here's my current top 5!

Greg's music is a staple at my house at Christmas. This one is very catchy...and this next one has such fun lyrics:

This is one of my FAVOURITE Christmas songs. I cry almost every time I hear it.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Joseph in the Christmas story. I like this song because it reminds me of the great integrity and character that Joseph had.

And the final one is great jazz. The piano solo on this is insane. Harry Connick Jr. never disappoints

How about you? What are your favourite Christmas songs?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Disrespect: A Heart Attitude Part 3

 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self,created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24(emphasis mine)

When mediating through some of the challenges of Disrespect, we use these mind maps.
We have a Disrespect mind map and a Respect mind map.
The premise I use when I mediate through issues of disrespect is to follow what scripture encourages us to do in Ephesians 4:22-24.
There are certain things that we need to PUT OFF,
but it is not enough to put off disrespect. You need to PUT ON respect.
Of course, you can't do this in your own strength, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
That is where prayer comes in.
The imagery used with PUTTING ON and PUTTING OFF is very clear to a young child.
You can even use the example of wearing really grubby clothes and taking them off and then putting on a clean shirt.

Here's a typical conversation that will take place after an episode of disrespect in our home.

"So, we're over at the chart again. Do you know why?"
"Yes." A deep sigh. "I was being disrespectful. But she started it."
"Well, I'm dealing with you right now and some of the behaviour that I saw (or heard) that is not acceptable.

Where's your heart at right now?
Are you in a place of humility--ready to receive instruction, willing to listen and ready to repent and forgive?

Or are you struggling with a proud heart that is unwilling and wants to do things your own way?

Once we decide/pray to have a heart of humility, then we look at the flower of Disrespect.

I ask: "Why don't you tell me what happened."
Listen carefully as the story is told.
How did you respond?
How did that make you feel?
How did you express your feelings?

"I yelled at them and called them a name."
"Is there anything else on the chart that you were doing?"
"Yeah. An angry face."
"Ok. Anything else?"
"Where do these actions come from?"
We then trace the flower stem down to the base of the plant.
Anger from a sinful thought life.
"What made you angry?"
"She wouldn't leave me alone. She never leaves me alone when I'm drawing. I just want her out of my space."
We discuss whether this is an issue of unforgiveness or idolatry/selfishness.
We talk a little bit about some of our thoughts and attitudes that we were holding onto.
We trace things back to the ROOT and discuss how pride played a role in the event.

Next, we look at the PUT ON or the RESPECT mind map.
What could you have done differently?
What have you done before that brought peace in this situation?
How would having patience changed things?

How would having gentleness changed things?
How do you feel when you are angry compared to when you are at peace?
Do you think you can recognize when you are starting to feel angry?
What would kindness sound like in this situation?
What would happen if you practice self-regulation in these situations?
What do we need to do next time?
How could we express our feelings in a respectful way?
What could we do if they don't listen to us after we express ourselves?

Sometimes, we spend a few minutes praying for those we've disrespected, or writing up a list of reasons we are thankful for them or read a scripture reminding ourselves why God loves them.
And sometimes we never get to that step because of the  craziness of life!

In the end, I ask the final question:
What do you need to do to make things right again?
"I need to apologize for my behaviour and ask for their forgiveness."
Sometimes, they need to do more than that--fix, replace, restore something.
Depending on what has happened, I will sometimes have the children involved sit down together and do a craft or read a book together. Something fun to build the relationship back together.

I have found that using the mind maps to follow through the various of aspects of disrespect keep us on task and cuts out any manipulation or deviating from the actual incident.
We are also able to spend time discussing where our thinking went wrong and identify a plan for the future when similar situations come up.
For us, this method is working in our home.

Disrespect: A Heart Attitude Pt. 2

More great pictures and drawings from yours truly illustrating the heart attitude of Respect.
Another amazing mind map!

We keep rockin' the flower/plant metaphor and start at the root of it all.
We first talk about how our hearts need to be in a place of humility.
Reading several scriptures on humility we write out that a humble heart is a heart that:
listens to and follows counsel
repents and forgives
has a willing spirit or attitude
is a soft heart

The base of our plant is called "Peace from a Renewed Mind."
We talk about the Romans 12:2 that admonishes us to renew our minds--to think fresh thoughts, thoughts that fall into the category of Philippians 4:8 
When we think those thoughts instead, we focus on having:
a thankful heart
rest in God's love for us and others 

That grows into one of two flowers.
The first one we focused on was Obedience Through Honouring Actions

The actions that flowed out of a heart of humility and a renewed mind are:
submissive spirit

The other flower that has bloomed is Respect through Honouring Communication

(ignore the purple line through the flower, it was made by a little person pretending to be Harold and the Purple Crayon)

Respect through Honouring communication looks like:
waiting your turn to speak
accepting others views, accepting the terms
giving your full attention
using words of encouragement
having a calm demeanor
As you can see, the Respectful Plant is almost the exact opposite of the Disrespectful Plant

Come back tomorrow to see how I use both of these incredible drawings to mediate through issues of disrespect.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Disrespect: A Heart Issue Pt. 1

Today you will all encounter my mad skillz in mind mapping.
Try not to be jealous
(snort through the nose)

Yesterday, I went over the fact that disrespect is a heart issue.
Today, I am going to show you how we are using a mind map to mediate through episodes that involve disrespect at our house.

This is a drawing of a root.
Please, hold your applause. I am trying to resist being proud here.
That was a pun, people.
Because the ROOT of the issue involving disrespect is a Proud Heart.
We went through a few scriptures that describe pride and picked a few things that stood out to us:
hard heart
refusing to forgive
rejecting counsel

Again, another exemplary drawing, another of my many talents--the stub of the plant....
We discussed how anger is an emotion that tells us that our feelings have been hurt.
If we don't deal with our anger (forgive, confront the situation and bring resolution)
then we will let angry thoughts spin around in our head.
It springs up from a proud heart and forms the base of our plant.

Unchecked anger develops into:
bitterness from unforgiveness
fear and anxiety
There is two ways this anger can go...
Brace yourself for another gem from the artistic mind of yours truly...
I call this piece "The Stem of the Plant Known As Disobedience Through Sinful Actions"
(I'm expecting a commission job any day now)

We then discussed what Disobedience Through Sinful Actions looks like:

Next, I uncovered more artistry...
Disrespect Through Sinful Communication

It was easy to come up with many "petals" to this plant because this is what is in full bloom at our house.
Looking at different scriptures we listed the various forms of Disrespect:
raising your voice (clarified after some discussion to mean 'raising your voice during a conflict' and not 'calling someone in for dinner')
unwholesome talk (swearing, rude words, etc.)
rolling eyes
name calling
angry countenance
rolling eyes. Apparently, I wasn't paying attention the first time I wrote it
(or perhaps it is an artistic statement with a double meaning...who knows what mysteries lie inside my art?)

This is the end result!
Please, put your money away...this isn't for sale.
Save your dollars for those in need.

In my next post, I will talk about how we use this mind map to mediate through issues that arise at our house.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Disrespect: What Container Are You?

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Matthew 23:26

We're working through attitudes of disrespect at my house.
As we do, I've been praying and thinking and coming up with all sorts of scenarios to teach disrespect and its effects.
I borrowed this idea from the book The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo.

Disrespect is a heart issue.
And to drive the poit home, you'll need to round up the usual suspects:

Pitchers or measuring cups
various liquids (milk, vinegar, water, food colouring, syrup)
and several pieces of paper with the words Heart and Mouth printed on them

Explain to your children that the "belly" of the pitcher is like our heart.
The spout--where the liquid pours out--is like our heart.

Next, show the various containers and ask:
If milk is in this container, what will pour out of it? (milk)
If water is in this container, what will pour out of it? (Water)
Go through several liquids showing how what is in the container is what will come out of the container.
Next, ask if kindness  is in the heart of this container, what will flow out of it's mouth? (kindness!)
Give your children a taste of the sweet syrup or honey.

Now, take the pitcher of water and add red food colouring.
Explain that the red food colouring represents angry thoughts.
Then ask, if anger is in this heart, what will come out of its mouth? (anger)

next, add vinegar to the container that held milk.
Have your children examine how the milk curdles.
Explain that the vinegar is bitterness.
Ask, if bitterness is in this heart, what will come out of the mouth? 

Talk about forgiveness and repentance.
How coming to Jesus and confessing our sins allows us to be washed and made whole again.
We're a clean container...
free to have good things come out again.

Together make some juice from frozen concentrate together.
Cut the frozen block into sections.
Put each piece in with the name of love, joy, peace, etc. attached.
Add water-kindness
then pour the juice into cups and discuss what it tastes like.

Once everyone's had some to drink, we added oil to the juice.
We talked about how the juice didn't look the same, but it tasted awful.
This is a great way to show that sometimes our hearts SLOWLY turn bitter.
Keep adding odd things until your juice is no longer the colour, taste or smell of what it once was.
Great discussion follows.

Some Mediated Questions to use:
Do you notice what is happening when we add something new to the liquid?
How long does it take to turn a different colour?
How often did we have to add bitter things in order to turn the sweet juice into a gross tasting drink?
How much did we have to add?
Can you give me an example of where this has happened in your life?
Can you find a way to make the container clean again?
What would happen if....
...we never cleaned the container?
...if we only added oil, but never vinegar-could we still drink it?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts on Survival Thinking

A few weeks ago I wrote about chasing after our child's heart and working on their character.
I also said that I would share some of the ways I have doing that.
This week I hope to finally put words to my downloaded images and publish a few strategies I have been using combined with my Mediated Learning approach.

Before we enter into what is most likely to be a Series on Re-establishing Respect, I realized that it is important to preface it with a bit of honesty and humility.

Here goes...

In our home, we are currently working through the issue of Disrespect.
I wasn't keen on admitting this on my blog..or my life. It seems like I am announcing that I am a failure as a parent. Not exactly the type of thing you put in bold print.
But... an issue like disrespect isn't one that you can pretend doesn't exist.
Everybody knows it does.
Best to face it head on, I suppose.
Even though it's uncomfortable.

Here's something to know.
Yes, I have slacked in this area.
I am proud of it? No.
Will I justify it? No.
Some food for thought, though...
When you are going through a hard season in your home life, you are more focused on surviving it, then on catching every issue and parenting it.
Because the truth is, some days you really don't have the emotional capacity or wherewithal to handle or to parent the way you need to.
Some might argue that you can't make excuses for poor parenting, that you should have been turning to God for His grace to parent better.
 And I would argue that some days all you have is the ability to ask God to grant you the strength to make it to the end of the day knowing that you fed your kids, hugged them and got them in bed at a decent time. Sometimes that, in itself, is the miracle.

At the end of the hard season though, you have succeeded in surviving.
You've made it out in one piece.
A little worse for wear but alive, intact.

Now, it's a new season.
And your eyes are open to the fact that in your emotional state you let some MAJOR things slide and you are dealing with, in my case, a lot of disrespect.

So, if you are me, you have a meltdown for a week, cry on the phone to your mother and watch the entire two seasons of Life Unexpected on Netflix. 
You know you should pray.
You know you should read the Bible and ask God for wisdom.
You just feel so stupid that you are where you are.
You feel that more than disappointing God, your children or your spouse, you have disappointed yourself. And we all know that we can be hardest on ourselves.

But finally, your mother tells you to stop living in self-pity and start worshipping God and it will all come out right.
So you do.
And it does.

And here's what you realize:
Survival thinking is useful when you are in survival mode. 
Survive thinking gets you to ...survive. It gets you to make it out of the situation relatively in one piece.
But there comes a time when you recognize that the "survival" season is over, and if you are going to move forward in a healthy way...then, survival thinking has to go.

For example, one of my survival thoughts was...I just don't have the time or emotional capacity to handle this on top of everything else. There are other battles that need my reserves of emotion and care.
Now my thoughts have to be...God, please give me the strength to make the time to invest more of myself into this child and give me wisdom on how to go about it.

God is really good at putting broken things back together. 
He is really good at restoring things. 
Lean into that. 
Abandon the survival thinking and embrace the God-thoughts: All things are possible with God.

And the other tip...

This is going to take some time.
 A lot of time investment on your part.
But that's ok.
Because God is really good at doing a quick work with willing hearts.

Lean into that. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Girl Jenny

This is my girl Jenny.
We have been friends since coke-bottle glasses were all one could buy for eyewear.
We have been friends since 72 oz. Snappy Mart mugs were worn as hats (as pictured here)
We have been friends since before email, smart phones and Skype.

We have only one person to thank for our friendship:

Yes, THE Rebecca St. James is responsible for our friendship.
See the picture: Sunday Apil 5 1998. That is the day our friendship was born.
And life has not been normal since.

Let me tell you about my girl Jenny.
She liked to say, "Let me tellllll you!"
We met because a mutual friend bought us tickets to the Rebecca St. James concert.
I was 19, she was 13 and we had both never been to a concert where we sat 5th row.
Our immediate bonding came when she offered me ear plugs. I didn't think we'd need them.
I now know that I'd be deaf today if it wasn't for her bright orange ear plugs. The Rebecca St. James You're the Voice concert was anything but quiet.

Anyway, we were sitting in the car after the concert, talking. Jenny told me that she wanted to grow up and be a photographer. 
I had a package of new film in my pocket (I know, I'm dating myself.  But like I said, we've been friends for a loooooooong time.)
I felt God say, "Give her the roll of film. Tell her that you believe in her and hear dreams to be a photographer."
I did and she was incredibly thankful.
And since then, we've been really good friends.

By the way, guess what she does for a living now?
Yep. You guessed it. Photographer.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, right?
Random Amen from the crowd.

 Jenny and I remained friends when I moved away.
Jenny is pointing to a picture of me that she taped to her wall.
It was one way that we could still be together!
She is nothing, if not, loyal.

We wrote each other letters.
I told her that I got new black rimmed glasses that were all the rage.
She started wearing pink gorillas on her head, as pictured here.
We wrote and mailed letters. 
We have been friends before email, before smart phones, before Skype.

She would write to me about what God was doing in her life,
what boys she had a crush on, what the youth group was saying about Dawson's Creek.

I would write to her and tell her about what God was doing in my life,
how I didn't think any boy would have a crush on me and I avoided telling her that I was watching Dawson's Creek.

She would write and tell me of her accomplishments in skating, her going ons with best friend, April, and update me on the fact that BELTS ice cream parlor was no longer painted lime green but now a boring beige.

I would write her and tell her that I found a boy who had a crush on me, update her on the crazy going ons with my best friend and sister, Amy and I would let her know that it was really a shame that they painted the BELTS ice cream parlour.

And I'd send her photos to remember the time:
...when we loved to take photos with our mouths open,
or wear fake hair and orangey-black sunglasses.
She'd remind me to be a diva, but not to be rude about it.
We would dream about being under cover spies,
or dream of taking flight like Mary Poppins,
and we would always remind each other to always act like a lady.
you were posing for a weight loss commercial.
Then all bets were off and ....
you could brag as much as you wanted to!

We were always honest with each other. 

And that really let things go straight to the heart.


Then came the day when the boy who had a crush on me asked me to be his wife.
And Jenny came and stood by my side.
(This is a photo that really sums up our friendship. We are both leaning on each other, laughing so hard).

I got married, we danced to Carman at my wedding and then I said good bye.
This was the last day that we saw each other....until now.

Eleven years went by.
Email was invented, and we wrote copious updates.
Me about married life and being pregnant.
She about a skating buddy named Jennifer and why they would never date the same guy again.
I would tell Jenny that I quit my job to spend time with my kids.
She would tell me that on her last day at K-mart she announced over the loud speaker:
Attention K-mart shoppers, the '80's are over. Please dress accordingly.
Skype was invented.
I would meet Rome, the love of her life.
And she would witness me being severely bandaged up after a surgery on my legs.
She would send me emails from her smart phone and I would eschew technology.

I would write to her almost daily after I worked on my novel. 
She would encourage me and tell me that I would one day be published.
I would tell her that one day she would be a published photographer and we could celebrate each other's success'.

And then the day came.
I wrote her and told her that my book was getting published.
She wrote me back this big, long email about how tired she was because she had been photographing a wedding all day.
And then she wrote an immediate email after saying, "Wait. You're getting published?!!!!!!"

We arranged a phone chat to delight in the success.
And then she dropped a bomb of her own.
A magazine had just picked up her photos and were looking at doing a few-page spread of her work.
(insert high pitch screaming here!!!!!!!)

So, it made complete sense that she should come to visit me and we would celebrate our
publishing successes.

And when she got off the plane we did what all good friends do when they see each other.
We acted like we'd never been apart.
We ate all you can eat sushi and talked endlessly about the literary themes found in The Hunger Games.
(That is soooo Capitol)
We went to Starbucks in our pajamas and made jokes to grumpy businessmen in the elevators.
And we drove to the mountains.
We boarded a gondola and ...
tried not to think about falling to our deaths.
We hiked about and took pictures of us with toques on our heads.
Red toques. No one's going to miss us if we get trapped and lost out in the woods.
I am wearing a siren on my head.
Must be payback for all my smart aleck gorilla and Snappy Mart hat jokes.

Jenny and I are all about history. When it came time to rent a swim suit for the Hot Springs, it was obvious we were going to kick it old school in these early 1920's matching Grandma swimsuits.

In the next few days we managed to cram in late nights (who needs sleep when you're older and more mature, right? That will kick us in the butt next week!). Late nights of Tim Hawkins comedy watching, sharing all our favourite country music, 
reading Robin Gunn Jones and eating a large amount of Schmoo.
(Schmoo is a Jenny Original recipe)

We went skating and she showed me that she still has what it takes to be a diva-performer.
And I showed her why she is the photographer and I can't take pictures that look decent.
She ate the pickles I made and almost ate the whole jar.
She bonded with my kids over telling them her homeschool stories.(Jenny was homeschooled with the exception of two years).
She stayed up wayyyy too late with my husband and I trying to watch My Fake Fiancee off of youtube.
And I'm not going to lie...
There may have been a few rounds of karoake to Rebecca St. James GOD album.
I mean, of course there were....

it's the only way we can thank Rebecca St. James for her helping hand in making us become the friends we are today!