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Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:20 (NKJV)

 

Trisha Porter[i], talks about the fears she had as she contemplated being a foster parent and how she also found a way to resolve those fears in their life:

I feared it would hurt too much to give them back, especially if I knew the situation they were going back to was far from perfect. As she found out, the truth is it does hurt.  And yet, she concluded that “if I can provide God’s love, food, shelter, stability and safety for even just a few months, that’s a God-given opportunity.”  While the foster care system is not perfect, as Christians “we have an opportunity to shine a light in this hurting space. Our mentality has to be that of redemption and restoration. You and I may be the individuals God uses to put a family back together. What a privilege!”

Finally, I feared it was going to be really hard and uncomfortable.  She found out she was right…it is really hard.  In her case, though, it had a lot to do with her personality.  As she explains, “I realized I’m a control freak, I don’t like unknowns, and I’m selfish. I really don’t like dying to self (Matt. 16:24)” Today’s world has conditioned us to strive for and enjoy success and comfort.  We don’t particularly like the idea of pain and suffering, or denying ourselves.  Denying self is painful.  And yet, only as we do so are we able to become more like Jesus.

What does denying ourselves to help others mean?  “God has made provision that ignorance need not exist. Those who have means are to take up their God-given responsibility. The poor are the purchase of the blood of the Son of God, and with God there is no respect of persons. The Lord says, “Sell that ye have, and give alms.” Instead of hanging a necklace of gold and jewels about your neck, instead of adorning and decorating your mortal bodies, you are to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus. You are to impart to others, and care for the destitute and the ignorant.”[ii]

 

Father, help me to deny myself that I may help those in greater need.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Fears-of-Fostering/

[ii] White, E.G. Review and Herald, March 17, 1896 par. 8

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Do something – 1

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get. Matthew 7:12 (MSG)

 

A crisis is most often unexpected, which means we have not planned properly for it.  It could be an accident that leaves us bedridden for several days or weeks, or the birth of a premature baby which means a prolonged stay at the hospital, or a death in the family.  Well-meaning people want to be helpful and yet don’t know what to do, and often they will ask, “if there’s anything I can do please let me know.”

Having been on that side, Suzanne Fleet[i] knows that there are indeed some things you can do without even asking which can be so meaningful and helpful to a family (or a person) in crisis.  She suggests four things you can do:

  1. Provide food. For people in the southern United States, their first reaction to bad news (and also good news) is to start making a casserole. You might think the family will be overwhelmed with so much food from different people, but they will be grateful for everything that’s provided for them. They may not have any groceries or anything prepared, so ready to eat meals will come in very handy. Do check in about food allergies and dietary restrictions first.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are always good, and if there’s a way to have ready-made salads they can serve quickly it can be very helpful, too.
  2. Run errands. Why not call or text your neighbor in crisis and ask if they need anything you can get for them. Fleet tells of her experience, “One of my incredibly sweet neighbors texted me almost every time she went to the grocery store. ‘Do you need anything?’ I still remember crying one day after getting her message. I needed everything, but just bread and strawberries would get me through that day — and that translated to an extra 45 minutes with my baby at the hospital. Another mother at my older son’s preschool bought his school supplies without even asking. I just got a text from her saying, ‘I got your school supplies. Take it off your list.’ These are the gestures you never forget.”

Father, help me to be thoughtful and take action with people in crisis.

[i] http://www.today.com/kindness/dont-ask-just-do-4-ways-you-can-help-family-t55141

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It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Matthew 10:25 (NKJV)

 

Whether we recognize it or not, our kids are watching us.  In fact, they’re not just watching us, they are imitating us.  It’s like a serious game of “Simon Says;” our children learn from our actions and practice it much more than what we preach. It is important to remember that whatever we do we are teaching and discipling even when we’re not aware of doing so.  As Christina Embree[i] writes, “If we can find just a few spots to be intentional about creating a healthy, faith-formational habits for our kids to emulate, it can go a long way in establishing some instincts that will, for a lifetime, turn their hearts towards Christ.”  Here are three ideas she suggests that can become habits in and beyond your home.

Pray before meals.  Don’t treat that prayer as something rote and religious.  Instead, take the time to have a sincere, from the heart conversation with God thanking Him not just for the food you have but also the life and family you’ve been given.  In fact, maybe every so often you can have a prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the meal instead of prior to.

Combining prayer with the meal is a teaching moment about how we worship God.  Take a look at these words:  “In the morning the family should gather about the table quietly; and it would be well if on the Sabbath there should ever be a simple, palatable meal, yet something that would be considered a treat, all prepared–something that they do not have every day of the week. Then either before or after the meal should come the family worship. This should be a service in which the children could all take a part. All should have their Bibles, each reading a verse or two. Then a simple hymn may be sung, followed, not by a long, wearisome prayer, but a simple petition, telling the Lord in the simplest manner their needs, and expressing their gratitude for God’s mercies and blessings.”[ii]

 

Father God, help me to teach my children through words and actions to worship you and thank you for everything you give us daily.

[i] http://refocusministry.org/2015/10/23/accidental-discipleship-habits-your-kids-pick-up-from-you/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Bible Echo, February 13, 1899

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Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; Matthew 13:24 (NKJV)

According to Dr. Perri Klass[i]  several recent studies have confirmed the importance of reading to our young children and what that does to their literacy development.  On of the autheirs of this research speculated that a picture book may stimulate creativity in a way that cartoons and other screen-related entertainments may not.  As he explained, “When we show them a video of a story, do we short circuit that process a little? Are we taking that job away from them? They’re not having to imagine the story; it’s just being fed to them.”

Other studies have shown that it is important that young children hear language, particularly from people, not from screens.  One of the sad realities is that poor children heard millions fewer words by age 3.  Well, evidently it turns out that reading to, and with, young children may amplify the language they hear more than just talking.

Interestingly, Psychological Science reported on researchers who studied the language content of picture books. When they compared the language in books to the language used by parents talking to their children, the researchers found that the picture books contained more “unique word types.”  Because books contain a more diverse set of words than child-directed speech, children who are being read to by caregivers are hearing vocabulary words that kids who are not being read to are probably not hearing.”

As Klass concludes, “And as every parent who has read a bedtime story knows, this is all happening in the context of face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual. It’s what makes toddlers demand the same story over and over again, and it’s the reason parents tear up when we occasionally happen across a long-ago bedtime book.”

Read with and to your children.  Use picture books, but make good use of a children’s bible and read to them from God’s book. They will benefit scholastically, but most important, they will grow spiritually.

Father God, help me to make of our reading time a growing experience for our children both intellectually and spiritually.

[i] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/bedtime-stories-for-young-brains/?_r=0

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A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. Matthew 10:24 (NKJV)

School has started for most kids.  For many parents, sending their kids to school for the first time can be a heart-wrenching experience while for their children it is a right of passage of sorts.  For other parents,  sending their kids to school is a moment to celebrate after a long summer of restless, incessant activity by their children.  Now, their teacher get to keep the kids for about eight hours a day during the length of the school year.  Many parents express appreciation to the teachers for their work and effort to help their children.  At the same time, Terri Peters shares 9 annoying things parents do that drive teachers crazy.[i]  It would be good to be aware of these things and make some changes for their benefit as well as our kids:

  1. Give them yet another coffee mug as a back-to-school gift. It is nice that you wish to express your appreciation to your child’s teacher; that is very thoughtful. Some teachers have an entire collection of mugs they have received from nice parents, but perhaps you can consider other options like school supplies, or a gift card they can use to treat themselves after a long day.
  2. Ignore information from the school, and then complain that you don’t know what’s going on. A teacher said that, in a world where parents spend all day checking Facebook, she finds it frustrating to hear them say they don’t have time to check the school website for information, to read the school newsletter, or to check their child’s backpack for notes that are sent home. It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure you know what your children is learning in school and if the school or teacher wants you to know anything about their education.

It is also important that both parents attend the parent-teacher meetings so you can hear from your teachers about the progress your child is making and the challenges he/she may be facing.  Your being there shows your child you care about their education and that they can’t get away with any misbehavior while in school.

Father God, help me so that I may support and encourage my child’s teacher as they help me educate them.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/parents-heres-9-ways-you-drive-teachers-nuts-t40711

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Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:5 (NKJV)

Brian Dollar[i] describes the last two principles that should guide our attitudes and our words as we talk with our children.

  1. Prepare your response. Older kids sometimes test their parents by saying things intended to shock you; don’t take their bait. Instead, keep a straight face, acknowledge that you heard the comment, and say something like, “Interesting. What do you think about it?”

Think ahead of time, “How are we going to respond – or react – when our kids tell us something designed to elicit outrage or shock?”  You can either role-play with your spouse, or maybe even look in the mirror to see the expression on your face when your spouse plays the role of your child and says something shocking.

Dollar explains, “In tense moments in relationships, people often make one of two mistakes: They ‘get big’ or they ‘get little.’ They get big by talking loudly, leaning forward, glaring and making demands. Or they get little by slumping in the chair, looking down, mumbling inaudibly and giving in to any perceived threat. This response doesn’t happen just once; it becomes the pattern of every significant and difficult interaction.”  If you are aware of your normal responses to difficult conversations, you’ll be able to make choices before, during and after their conversations with your kids.

  1. Know your child. Your child’s gender, personality, experiences and age all play vital roles in how he/she process the ups and downs of life. We need to notice what makes each of our children tick and then tailor our communication to fit that child in that situation.  We tend to know our children better when they are small, but this becomes a more challenging task when they become teenagers, or even young adults.  When we become a little more vulnerable we give them permission to be a little more honest and open. As conversations progress and become a normal part of your relationship with your kids, they’ll realize you aren’t out to control them; you respect them, and you want God’s best for them.

Father God, Help me to listen to what my children tell me, even if they intend to shock me and to respond in a helpful, loving way.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/How-to-Lead-Your-Kids-Through-Life-s-Tough-Topics/

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Caregiver burnout -3

When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:38-40 (NKJV)

An article in WebMD[i] helps us remember what we need to do to prevent caregiver burnout.  Today we look at where you can turn for help:

Home health services. These agencies provide home health aides and nurses for short-term care if your loved one is seriously ill.  Even if you are a health care professional, you can use additional help.

Adult day care. These programs give seniors a place to socialize, do activities, and get needed medical care while at the same time giving you a break from caring for them.

Nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. These sometimes offer short-term stays to give caregivers a break.  While this is a very difficult decision, keep in mind that this is just a temporary measure.

Private care aides. These are professionals who help manage care and services.  Insurance may cover some or all of these expenses.

Caregiver support services. These can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others facing similar issues, find more information, and locate additional resources.  Social service agencies can provide you information about any support groups or services available.

Area agency on aging. It can help you find services in your area such as adult day care, caregiver support groups, and respite care.

National organizations. Search for local chapters that help people with conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. These groups can provide resources and information about respite care and support groups.

Caring for a loved one in need is a privilege and a wonderful opportunity to show them our love in a tangible way; just don’t allow an act of love to affect you or your family in any negative way.

Father God, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve my loved ones in their time of need.  Give me the strength to do it faithfully.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/caregiving-insights-15/care/avoid-burnout?page=2

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