The Practice of Pondering: Teaching Children to “Be Still and Know.”

On the surface, it would seem that I’m the least likely person to teach anything to anyone about being quiet.  Or still.  I promise you.  My whole life has essentially been a series of suggestions to “sit still,”  “stop talking,”  “wait a minute,” “slow down,” “take a breath,” “hang on a sec,” or “let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

I’m a learn-out-loud, talk-it-out, idea person.  My thoughts tend to take u-turns when I don’t verbalize them.  That’s just who I am.

But, I’m learning.  And growing.

And, it turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, despite the conventional wisdom – especially when we are talking about the Lord.  Because… “He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it…”  Hallelujah!

A few years ago, God highlighted an innocuous little verse for my restless heart, and it became a clarion call for my life.   “But Mary treasured up all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”    The verse is found in Luke 2:19 right after the telling of the “Christmas Story.”

Picture Mary here, holding her infant child.  Less than a year before, she was just an average girl, but then, she is visited by an angel, told that she has been impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and that the child she is carrying is the Savior of the world!?  Christ is then born in a dirty stable, in a town far away from home,  and soon, strangers suddenly start visiting them – guided to them only by the hand of God, and then they begin worshiping her baby – right there in that dirty stable.

Instead of freaking out, instead of drowning in her overwhelm of the entire situation, instead of emotionally imploding at the sheer weight of God in her life (like MY postpartum self would have done)….. it tells us that Mary “treasured up all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart.”

I was suddenly so struck by this phrase.   And challenged by it.  Perhaps I could spend more time just”treasuring and pondering”

So, I purposed to start “practicing pondering.”    Just a daily time of quiet thoughts – meditation – about what God is doing in my life.

I know – I said the “M-Word” – MEDITATION.  Cue the patchouli incense and crystals.  Ummm..no.  We are talking here about Biblical meditation.  Psalm 77:12, “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Meditation is simply disciplined thought.

As this new habit began to enrich my life, I quickly realized that my kids needed a dose of this as well.  But, teaching kids to “meditate” quietly isn’t easy.  I needed some practical tools, so I set out to find some.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned in the hope that you can use it to teach the children in YOUR life the art and discipline of quiet time.  Or maybe you need these tools for yourself!

First, we must understand that children crave time to be quiet and still.  They NEED it to mull their BIG thoughts about God.  Having a practice of meditation as a child is a great navigational tool for relationships as well.  There are many studies that demonstrate its lifelong benefits.

In the beginning, the empty quiet space feels like eternity.  One way to help define this time for children is to use music.  Choose a 2-3 min hymn or inspirational (but low-intensity) worship song, and have children find a comfortable spot on the floor to “think” about God while the song plays.  After the song, simply ask them what they thought about.   Don’t be surprised or discouraged if it’s NOT God at first, just keep encouraging them.  Children love routine and the consistency of the familiar, so consider using the same song every time for a while, but eventually you can choose longer songs or two songs to extend this time.

Any good teacher will tell you that “prompts” are another great tool.   Each night before bedtime, we started giving our kids a high/low prompt.  It’s a simple way to get their brain reviewing the day and thinking about moments and experiences, and the feelings they associated with them.  It’s a very simple concept – “Take a moment and think about your day.  In a couple of minutes, I am going to ask you to tell me about your high moment and your low moment today.”  What was the best thing about today (high)?  What was the worst thing (low)?

One of my favorite prompts came from a VBS that my kids attend every year.  It is the “God-Sighting” prompt.  They give all the kids a silicone bracelet with the words “Watch For God,”  and each morning they ask kids to recall “God-sightings” from the day before.   It’s so great!   I always stay for this part of the VBS morning, and it makes me cry EVERY.TIME.  Hearing kids talk about the rainbow they saw, or the friend who sat with them…or whatever little pint-sized anecdote they come up with to illustrate where and how THEY saw God in their life is so heartwarming.   We’ve adopted this in our lives.  It’s as simple as a morning reminder to “watch for God” today.  And an evening moment to stop and think for a few minutes (ponder), and then let’s talk about your God-sightings for the day!   (HINT:  if your kids take showers or baths unsupervised, that’s a great time to encourage them to do this!)

Finally, and unsurprisingly, consistency is key, like anything with children.   Find a time or two that makes sense in your family’s day,  and implement one or two of these ideas daily.  I think you will be encouraged by it.   Try it for a week, and then share how it has worked for you.  Share with your child’s Sunday School teacher, your small group, your church elders and pastors, or on your church social media pages.It’s a great way to testify of the work of God in your family and encourage others in the process.

Advertisements

Real talk on Religion with Bristol Palin

Ok, I’m not talking WITH her, I’m just talking TO her.

Bristol Palin is pregnant again.

However, lest any of you judgy-mcjudgerson’s want to pass a verdict down from your lofty bench of responsibility, abstinence, or safe sex-i-ness, she planned the pregnancy this time.

So there!

She doesn’t want your lectures or your sympathy, and she cares “this much” about negativity. In fact, if you don’t like her choices you should just “deal with it.”
What she presumably DOES want, however, is for you to continue reading her blog on “faith and being a mom,” buy her book, and watch her on reality shows– (she relied on her faith to get her through Dancing with the Stars). Oh, and also, support her in her important causes (for which she is paid), such as preventing unplanned (teen) pregnancy.

*blank stare*

Here’s the thing: If Bristol were the “single mother who lived next door to me, ” I like to think we’d be friends. I bet she’s fun. I like her tenacity and boldness, and I resonate with her desire to speak her mind. Alas, we aren’t neighbors or friends. But as a woman, a mother, and a Christian, I am her sister.

So, I am left with saying this here; Bristol, Please stop it.

Please stop publicly using your faith and projected moral superiority, as a reason that no one should judge you, all the while judging other people.

Please stop standing and shouting on the moral high ground when you’re knee-deep in a pothole.

If you are going to make a living out of broadcasting your life and your faith to the world, please stop being confused and frustrated when others have commentary on it.

The problem with a “deal with it” attitude is that it paints Christianity in an ugly light to the rest of the world. The beauty of our Christian faith is that we get to be gloriously imperfect, and ugly, and still redeemed. A little humility, particularly at this juncture, would go a long way toward endearing others to you, but also–and more importantly, to me–in drawing the world to God. “Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief “- you know, that kind of preaching.

I don’t blame you completely, though. The faith community is obsessed with public displays of faith in the sense that we love to relate to someone in the public eye – and we often have the mistaken idea that somehow being famous makes those people a “better” advocate for our faith. So, we repost their quotes, blog posts or speeches, as if somehow by osmosis, our religious purposes will be accomplished. I can’t tell you how many Facebook memes I see daily with “Christian” quotes from celebrities or politicians, coupled with a proverbial “Amen” from the posting party.

If you asked the human brother of Jesus Christ what “real” religion is, you might have heard him say this:
True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties, and to keep the world from contaminating us. – James 1:27

I have a friend. He’s not famous. He plays basketball with prisoners at a large prison most weekends, and loves them in their brokenness. This is pure religion. Another friend collects coats and blankets for the homeless in our city, and hand delivers them with love and prayer. Another friend organizes backpack drives for foster children. Yet another friend works tirelessly to eradicate juvenile sex trafficking. None of these people have a national platform, but if they did – I’m pretty sure they would use it in the good cause of “pure” religion.

Instead of being snarky to your critics, I suggest you welcome them, Bristol. Don’t blow them off with smug pictures and trite sayings. BE about what you talk about. And use your public platform at this pivotal time in your life to affect some real change in the world, and not just spare change in your pocket.

I write this to encourage Bristol Palin and other public people of faith; Instead of talking about your faith and cloaking your public persona in it, and then being annoyed when others use it against you, WORK out your own faith with humility in the public square. It’s pretty hard to criticize someone who is in the trenches doing the good work.

Aside

Thoughts on Motherhood

 Being a mother takes sacrifice. 

I have given up so much.

From the moment of conception, my body was given away for the pleasure, purpose, and enrichment of someone else.   Thus began my journey of complete sacrifice.  

When I became a mother, I surrendered – body and soul. 

My womb became a shelter for a growing life, protecting it from the evils of this world.

My hands became tools to change diapers, to clothe, to bathe, to rock.

My bosom became an endless buffet of nourishment for a hungry child.

My feet became instruments to carry me up and down the halls, walking until the colicky cries subsided.

My shoulders became pillows for a weary toddler head.

My knees became hinges to both rock my body, in a mothering dance, until sleep overtakes the weary one, and to bow my body in fervent prayer for a watchful charge of angels to stand in my stead over his bed.

My voice became an all-night radio of lullabies.

My fingers became safety bars for a wobbly toddler, and the feathery stroke of comfort on the cheeks of a feverish child.

My ears became sonars, intently tuned to the frequency of small sounds in the night; a wimpering baby, a thirsty toddler, a fearful child, and someday, I’m sure – a tiptoeing teenager.

My eyes became x-rays – observing everything – seeing past surface awareness and assessing scenarios like only a mother can – with the keenness of a secret agent.

My mind is captive to thoughts of my children – no daydream is complete without a wandering to thoughts of them.

My heart is held prisoner by their love. 

Everything I am is now punctuated by this first and noble role, and I will never be the same. 

Yes, I have sacrificed a lot.

I have given away every part of me to fulfill this purpose, but in the beautiful way he always does, God gives it all back ten-fold. 

When pudgy hands reach out to hold mine, my hands are mine again – better hands than before.

When I dance around the living room, with his little feet on mine – my feet are mine again – better feet than before.

When he runs to me with open arms to fling around my shoulders and climbs on to my knees for a story and a snuggle, my shoulders and knees are mine again – better shoulders and knees than before.

When he whispers, “I love you mommy.”  And I whisper back, “I love you too.”  My ears and my voice become mine again – much greater ears, and a much greater voice than before.  

When I became a mother, every sense was heightened. 

Awareness was elevated to a new level. 

Pleasure and pride became a euphoric bursting in my chest.

Pain and anguish became agonizing depths of desperation.

Peace and comfort became abiding .

Love multiplied like sunshine on mirrors.

As I reflect on the things I have “given up” to be a mother, I am reminded that whatever God asks us to give away, he returns to us in greater measure than we could ever imagine.  I purpose to live my life looking expectantly in faith for those moments of return on my investment.   I know they will come, and they will be many. 

Mothers, I leave you with these encouragements from the words of God…”Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”

“Therefore, Be not weary in well doing, for in due season, ye shall reap, if ye faint not!”

What moments can you point to in your mothering journey when you recognized that God has given you back “above all that you could ask or imagine,” and the sacrifices you made that seemed so great at the time, became small in the light of the blessings you have received. 

I don’t know about you, but my cup runneth over!

Happy Mother’s Day to the beautiful women in my life who continue to teach me what being a mother really means.  With special love and a grateful heart to my own mother, Kathryn Maldonado, whose sacrifices for me were greater than most.  

With love,

Corrina

Mother to Luke – age 5, and his brother – scheduled to arrive in this world on June 18th.

Repurposing Plastic Easter Eggs



As the impending giant community  Easter Egg Hunt draws near, I’m already seeing mounds of multi-colored plastic bubbles in my sleep.   I don’t know about you, but at our house, those things NEVER seem to disappear. They lie, in wait, in the darkness of my hallway, just outside the bathroom, so that my middle-of-the-night, jammie-clad trek to the “facilities” is interrupted with either; the obnoxious sound of a crunched plastic egg piercing the peacefulness of the night, or the slightly more obnoxious sound of my muffled scream as said egg pierces the tender skin of my recently pedicured, statue-esque feet.  (Okay, fine…truth be told, my feet are more like Hobbit feet, but you get the picture!)

But I digress…

Anyway, long after the masses of freckle-faced children in pigtails and denim overalls (yes, I live in Mayberry in my head), leave the carnage of their epic hunt behind on the grass, and long after your little angels have eaten their fill of “individually wrapped, non-melting” sugar bombs, YOU will be left picking up the plastic, multi-colored pieces. 

Never fear…..Corrina is here! 

When I took acting improvisation classes, we played a game called, “What is it?”  An everyday object is tossed around a circle, and each person must come up with a new idea for what the item is.  (Simplified Example:  A paper towel roll becomes a telescope…etc)  I found it very stimulating to make my brain do this, and I have compiled this list for you, in hopes that you will be inspired to think about everyday objects in a new way as well.  It can be a frugal, GREEN (yes, I said it), creative and fun way to engage your family and be better stewards of the things you have at home.  I have included ideas for learning tools – either for home or classroom – as well as household uses.  If you have other ideas for creative repurposing, please submit them in the comments section below!  

So without further adieu, here’s the list:

Using Plastic Eggs as Learning Tools:

1.       Resurrection Eggs – An Easter Advent calendar.  For the 12 days, leading up to Easter, have children open one egg each day.  Contained inside is one item representing an element of Passion Week – i.e., a nail, a sponge, a cloth, a rock, etc.  Here’s a link to a great demonstration of how to make Resurrection Eggs.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YZZKe73_-8

2.      Spring Advent Eggs – A less religious version of the above, you could substitute items representing new birth, such baby chicks, flower seeds, etc to countdown the days until the first day of spring.  (This obviously may fall before Easter, so save the eggs, or plan ahead)

3.      Vacation Eggs – Same idea as above….getting kids to countdown to vacation with small items representing the trip in each egg.  You could also include “coupons” for things to redeem whilst on vacation if your child will need extra incentives to behave or participate.  For example, you could offer a coupon good for a “before dinner ice cream cone,” to be redeemed after child has successfully carried their own luggage through the airport….or whatever works for your family. 

4.      Math Eggs – There are many variations on this idea, and it can obviously be adjusted based on the level of your child (mine is a preschooler), so think outside the “egg carton.”  Here’s a few;  1.) Using a marker, write a number on each half of the egg. These two numbers will be added together. Give the child dried beans or jellybeans to use as manipulatives, and have them put the “answer” inside the egg.  2.) Same as the addition, but start with the largest number of beans already in the egg.   They then subtract the smaller number to leave the answer.  After child has completed the dozen, have them write out each sum in long form with the answer, and then recite them to you out loud. 3.) Here’s a different twist as they get better at “head math.” Break the eggs apart completely. Write out a sum on one half of the egg, and the answer on another half (keeping the halve colors the same will give help, so adjust accordingly).  Have the child match until the dozen is complete.  4.) For young children, you could draw dots on one end of the egg, and have the numeral on the other half for matching.

5.      Language Eggs – Thinking just like the math concept, you can do; 1.) Rhyme matching, 2.) Uppercase/Lowercase matching, 3.) Synonym/Antonym matching, 4.) For young children, a sticker with the “first letter” – i.e..(Ant picture with an “A”) 5.) Sentence making – this is a longer, more independent activity, and can be adjusted to the difficulty level.  It does require some prep on an adult’s part.  Have parts of speech (pieces of a sentence) in each egg.  The children can hunt for the eggs first, and then put the pieces in order to make a sentence.  This activity can be expanded for a classroom setting, or over the course of a week if needed.  In a classroom, you can divide into groups and have each group come up with the parts of speech, and then hide the eggs for the other group.  Make it a race.  To expand further, make it a paragraph with multiple sentences, and require the story written out with illustrations to be complete. This can be really funny if you use silly verbs (think Mad libs), and have interchangeable options for the story. 6.) Foreign language Eggs – Useful for drilling vocabulary.  Have the English word on one half, and the translation on the other half.  Make it a timed drill. 

6.      Social Studies – 1.) Label an egg carton with the name of a president (or other historical character).  Have facts about that person written on slips of paper inside plastic eggs.  This works best if you have either; more than one character to work on, or more facts than are true for the one character.  Have the child correctly place all the “true” facts about the character into their egg carton.  2.) Timeline Eggs – Have important events inside each egg.  Number the inside of the empty egg carton 1-12, have the children place the eggs in chronological order.

7.      Science Eggs –Just adapt the concepts in the other subjects to fit. Here’s a couple of quick thoughts; 1.) Phases of metamorphosis, 2.) Scientific names of plants or animals matched with layman names, 3.) What’s Inside?  Fill each egg with a different substance. (Dried corn, oatmeal, flour, beans, Jell-O, etc.)  Make sure you use different weights, sounds, textures, etc.  Have all the items available to look at, and using only feeling and listening, the children must guess what’s inside. 

 Using Plastic Eggs as Household Tools:

1.       Store pantyhose

2.      Store individual necklaces to keep from tangling.  (Especially useful for trips).

3.      Fill with Potpourri, and place in a drawer, or the bottom of a trash can for freshening. (Be sure it’s the type with holes, or you’ll need to poke your own holes in it.)

4.      Fill an egg with sand and use in the bottom of a “too light” gift bag.

5.      Store crafting supplies or beads.

6.      Store small hygiene items such as tweezers and nail clippers in eggs in your bathroom drawer for ease of finding.

7.      Strings eggs together and make an Easter garland for the mantel or as a window decoration during Easter Season.  Also consider turning those Fichus in your house into an Easter Tree.  Decorate it like you would your Christmas tree – ribbon, garland, eggs etc.

8.      Store spare buttons.

9.      Make your own mini travel sewing kit.  Store some thread, safety pins, and a small piece of sponge with a couple of needles poked in it. 

10.   Make your own mini first aid kit to store in the glove box or purse.  Include Band-aids and a mini tube of Neosporin.

11.   Store USB or SIM cards inside an egg in your desk drawer.  Keeps them protected, and easy to find when you need them!

12.   When traveling, store cotton swabs or cotton balls in an egg to keep them clean and ready.

13.   Use to hold small “servings” of play-dough.  Take a few in your bag – great for restaurants and waiting rooms. 

14.   Use to hold single servings of snacks – for you or the kids.  Keeps the portion size right and its fun to hand an egg full of cheesy fishes to the back seat when needed.

15.   Use as reinforcement for good behavior. Fill with surprises and give one to your child when deserved.  EXCELLENT for plane travel or long car trips.

16.   Homemade Croquet!  Use sticks and plastic eggs, and fashion makeshift goals in your yard for a quick family game!

17.   Decorate with ribbon and lace and fill a basket for your table.

18.   Decorate eggs with googly eyes and felted features, glue to a popsicle stick and have a puppet show!

HAPPY EASTER!!!

 

Homemade Donuts: Regular and Gluten-Free!!

Thanks to my friend, Amber, I’m making the world’s intestines a little calmer with this gluten free donut recipe.  I can attest to the yummy-ness factor of these donuts.  Some of the best homemade ones I’ve ever had – and if she hadn’t told me, I would NEVER have guessed that she had made me the gluten-free version!!   It’s a rainy weekend in my part of the world, so this is a great family activity with yummy rewards!

 Happy Baking!!

 
Regular Recipe:  (gluten free subs below)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp salt

…1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon(although I use a full tsp.)

dash ground nutmeg(i use about 1 1/2 tsp.-makes them taste better!)

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup of milk

1 egg, beaten

1 quart oil for frying

Heat oil to 375. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg . mix in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk and egg until smooth. knead lightly, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. roll out to about 1/4 inch. cut with doughnut cutter. carefully drop into oil. fry for 3 minutes(turning them over half way) or until they’re golden brown. drain on paper towels and when they are cool melt chocolate, or make a glaze to pour over.

for it to be gluten free:

replace the all-purpose flour with bob’s red mill gluten free all purpose flour.

add 1/2 tsp xanthum gum(it replaces the “elasticness” that gluten has.

Then follow the recipe. you wont need to knead it, because gf dough is super sticky. i use about another cup of GF Flour to roll it out with my hands. then i dip my doughnut cutter in the flour every time i cut out a doughnut-then it doesn’t stick to the cutter.

Thanks, Amber!

Custom Baby Set Giveaway!

One of my favorite crafters of handmade bags, Bekah of http://www.leidibird.com is giving away a Custom New Baby 4 Piece Set, which includes a quilted changing pad and 3 coordinating burp cloths in your choice of a custom fabric! TODAY is the LAST day to enter, so head over to her blog at http://www.leidibird.com/blog/ and check it out!

%d bloggers like this: