Kids

5 Gifts You Can Give A Parent Of A Child With Special Needs

5 Gifts You Can Give A Parent Of A Child With Special Needs

by Noelle Rhodes

Being a parent of a child with significant struggles has made the journey of parenting...unique. Though at times, it has been hard and heartbreaking, it has turned out to be a great adventure that has changed my life forever. It has deepened my faith and has taught me huge life lessons. [Continue Reading...]

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Teaching Your Kids About Money – 4 Easy Steps To Get You Started

Teaching Your Kids About Money – 4 Easy Steps To Get You Started

by Kimberly Amici

It’s been 12 years since I have been free of consumer debt. Having struggled with managing money myself, I knew it was important to equip my kids with the necessary tools to manage their money. I want my kids to know their math facts and spelling words, but I also want them to be financially intelligent.

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Do You Hear God Knocking?

Do You Hear God Knocking?

By Barbara Ruglio

I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me (Is 1:2b)

Can you relate?  I certainly can!  Blessed with compliant elementary-age children, I experienced their coming-of-age years like a death. My sweet children had disappeared and I found myself staring at my defiant teen and wondering, “Who are you and what have you done to my daughter?” [Continue Reading...]

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Monday’s Child is Full of Grace…

Monday’s Child is Full of Grace…

by Chelle Wilson

Our son is an aspiring musician, and he was preparing for a big performance. The night before, we set out a suit, pressed a shirt, debated ties, buffed dress shoes, picked socks, and packed everything including grooming products. Suit bag and tote at the ready, we were all set. [Continue Reading...]

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The Hero in Me: Inspired by the Hero That’s He

The Hero in Me: Inspired by the Hero That’s He

by Diana Jones

I recently saw a commercial for the show The Hero hosted by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.I was intrigued by the title and decided to tune in. For those of you who have not seen the show, it’s a reality competition.  10 ordinary people are placed together in a house and put through a series of mental, physical, and emotional challenges. Each week, the viewers vote to determine which contestant was the most heroic. [Continue Reading...]

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Teaching My Kids to Pray God’s Word Plus FREE Scripture Prayer Cards

Teaching My Kids to Pray God’s Word Plus FREE Scripture Prayer Cards

 by Kimberly Amici

I wasn’t sure what to pray with my kids in the evenings. I got tired of giving thanks for the wonderful day and then asking God to give us a good night sleep. “Now I lay me down to sleep…” didn't seem like a good option.  I can remember as a little girl saying it before I’d go to sleep at night, though I could never remember if I was supposed to pray for my soul to keep or to take. Eventually, fearing that I was going to get it wrong, I stopped praying this prayer altogether.  [Continue Reading...]

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Book Review: Preparing Him for the Other Woman by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Book Review: Preparing Him for the Other Woman by Sheri Rose Shepherd

by Diana Jones

One day while author Sheri Rose Shepherd  was snuggling on the beach with her 3-year old Jacob, he looked at her and said: “Mommy, can you marry me?” Sheri responded by saying that she would love to, but mommies can’t  marry their little boys. Jacob cried and said, “Then who am I going to marry?” In an instant, something in her shifted; she realized that she was responsible for raising someone’s future husband. At that very moment, Sheri led Jacob to pray about his future wife. [Continue Reading...]

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Memorizing Scriptures from the Bible with Your Kids

Memorizing Scriptures from the Bible with Your Kids

It all started when I sent my kids off to their very first Vacation Bible School.

At the end of the week, they came home with a set of dog tags. Each tag featured a different Scripture they had learned. I could hardly believe it when my then three year old was able to recite more than one Bible verse to me, complete with body movements. “Wow, this is awesome!” I thought, then over the next few weeks I taught my kids a few more Scriptures.  [Continue Reading...]

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You Lied, Summer. You Lied!

You Lied, Summer. You Lied!

Years ago, I remember my mother laughing at a commercial of a father dancing through the aisles of Staples (office supply store), as he filled his cart with school supplies for his children. The father had a huge smile across his face as he galloped through the store. The music that played in the background was It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The commercial aired near the end of August - approaching the coming school year. My mother was laughing so hard, I think I spotted tears escaping her wearied from the summer break eyes. Back then, I was the offended child wondering how my mother could be so coldhearted. Didn’t she enjoy me being off from school all summer long? 

Now, I stand as the sympathetic parent secretly wishing that year-round schooling was available. [Continue Reading...]

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Susanne Says - Dealing with Angry Teens - Part 3

Susanne Says - Dealing with Angry Teens - Part 3

Today's post is by contributor Susanne Ciancio, LPC, Licensed Professional Christian Counselor.

Dealing with Angry Teens - Part 3

In May, we discussed the difficulties of 

Dealing with angry teens, Part 1

. The key point was to distinguish between when someone is expressing anger—which is normal and needs a healthy, boundaried outlet—and disrespect—which is using our anger against people with disparaging, condescending, mean comments.  We focused on changing the behavioral dynamic in the family between parents and teens and the importance of role modeling and owning our own anger before we can help our teenagers (or anyone else for that matter) with theirs.  We also talked about how our teens need to learn to express their anger in appropriate ways. We ended with the question: Should we permit anger at all?

 

 

 

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Preparing to Let My Baby Go

Preparing to Let My Baby Go

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, Genesis 1:14 ESV

A new day dawns. Sun rises. Birds sing. Flowers grow…It’s a new day. It’s as if all of creation knows, as if all of creation grows…today is a new day for my daughter.

Today, after years of preparation—hard work, sleepless nights, APs, SATs, ACTs, essays, extra help, extracurricular, education—today she decides where she will spend the next four years of her life. [Continue Reading...]

Just like the baby birds in the nest outside my window, Amelia is getting ready to fly. She’s the youngest of four. The last to soar. Will she make the right decision? What is the right decision?

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Susanne Says - Dealing with Angry Teens - Part 2

 Dealing with Angry Teenagers - Part 2

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Last month I shared the difficulties of dealing with angry teens. (Click here if you missed it.) The key point was to distinguish between when someone is expressing anger—which is normal and needs a healthy, boundaried outlet—and disrespect—which is using our anger against people with disparaging, condescending, mean comments.  We focused on changing the behavioral dynamic in the family between parents and teens and the importance of role modeling and owning our own anger before we can help our teenagers (or anyone else for that matter) with theirs.  We also talked about how our teens need to learn to express their anger in appropriate ways. We ended with the question: Should we permit anger at all?

WHY PERMIT ANGER?

When we permit our teens to express anger, we're ultimately permitting them to be separate from us, have a different viewpoint, become an individual, etc. I have told many parents that one key to saving your kids many hours in the therapist's office as an adult is to let them express themselves honestly and openly in the family. We don't have to agree, just show respect when our teens are speaking to us.

IS ANGER ALWAYS SIN?

Anger is just a feeling.  It's a barometer for how I'm doing in a relationship. The sinning occurs when we use our anger as a weapon against someone, to hurt or denigrate them. So yes, it is possible to be angry and sin not as Ephesians 4:26 admonishes us. For instance, if I'm angry about something and I know what’s going on for me emotionally, I could be free to say something like, "I'm really not comfortable with the decision you made on my behalf. I don't think my best interests are being considered."  If I'm disconnected from my relationship, and myself I might be inclined to say, "Are you kidding me?  I told you I'm not doing that! Not now, not ever!!! You always do this to me. There's something wrong with you! You never listen, you only think of yourself, etc., etc." The former sets a firm boundary while respecting the other person. The latter is combative and hostile. It's like throwing a torch in the relationship. We get to choose. When we role model respect, eventually, it will come back to us from our teenagers.

WHAT DOES AN ANGRY BUT RESPECTFUL EXCHANGE LOOK LIKE?

We need to take some time to really hear what our teens are saying to us. Set firm limits about being respectful, no trash talking, insults, etc. I'm not encouraging us to agree with them across the board, but if we can find one small area where we can legitimately agree or apologize, we should do so! The goal is to show them we care about their feelings, their perspective, and that we value their thoughts. This models respect for others, behavior we want to see our teens repeat.

Surprisingly, in most situations (about 80%of the time) a young person feels better just being able to get things off their chest. Everyone has a deep need to be heard and known. We can permit our teenagers to say, "I hate it when you do that," or "I hate it when things turn out that way for me."

We don’t have to remind them that we’re paying all the bills and that's why we get to make the decision. We can say something like, "I know this is tough; you will be an adult soon enough. Then all the decisions are yours, but so are the responsibilities."

One of the underlying causes of anger for teens is invalidation of feelings from people in authority. Just permitting our kids to have a chance to speak their mind can set them free from a portion of their anger. Remember this: no one skill or interaction changes the sum total of family life or parent/teen relationships. What we’re doing is endeavoring to change the emotional climate in our home. This takes perseverance and effort. We have to do our own emotional training before we require our kids to develop a new behavior.

Next month, we’ll talk about how to maintain influence in our teenagers’ lives, while making sure we avoid losing control. We’ll also differentiate between anger and rage and what to do about each. 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

  • Dr. William Lee Carter's classic book,The Angry Teenager. This book talks about why teens get so angry and how parents can help.
  • The Anger Workbook for Teens by Raychelle C. Lohmann is a great tool for teenagers who are willing to look at their own anger. It is chock full of techniques for anger management, coping strategies for frustration, self-control, and much more. I suggest the first book because most likely you're the one who is concerned about your teen’s anger. Don't buy the workbook unless you have a willing teenager motivated to work on their anger.
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Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website. 

EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us

photo credit: martinak15 via photopincc

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Choosing to Be a Mother

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This past January there was a lot of chatter on television and the Internet surrounding the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  While over the years I have not thought much about it, the buzz online stirred up thoughts that began circling around in my head about one fateful decision I made 39 years ago concerning the birth of my firstborn child.

I was 24 and my husband Michael was 29.  I was working as a hairdresser in a prestigious hair salon when I discovered that I was pregnant.  I was excited about the idea of having a child, but I was concerned about whether or not we could afford one.  When I married my husband I had also married his debts.

I immediately called my husband with the good news only to find out that he wasn’t as excited as I was.

He said he wanted me to get an abortion. 

“What?”  I couldn’t believe he said that to me.  I was surprised to find out that we had such different reactions to this pregnancy.  He had always wanted more than one child, and I wanted less than five.  However, I thought that he believed as I did, that an abortion was the shedding of innocent blood.“I am not killing this baby!”  I said to him.

Even though I did not have any church or Bible teaching on the subject, I knew that there was a baby growing on the inside of me and the idea of ending its life was out of the question.

In December of 1974 I gave birth to a 7lb., 6oz., baby girl. 

In the early years of our marriage, my husband’s job kept him on the road traveling most of the time so it was left up to me to raise our daughter the first few years of her life.  Four years after she was born, our small family relocated to New York, where the home base of my husband’s company was located. I soon discovered I was pregnant with our second child. 

Michael’s reaction to this second pregnancy was not the same as the first.  Our daughter had been such a delight to us that any fears my husband had about having children quickly disappeared.

I surrendered my life to God when our daughter was in third grade. 

We attended a church where the uncompromised Word of God was being taught.  It was a small church and my children sat next to me every Wednesday night and Sunday morning as the pastor taught the congregation.  After I learned about the power of God and how to take the promises of God and turn them into prayers, I began to pray every day for my children. I was able to encourage and instruct them in the Word of God in everything that we did.

Then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997.

 My daughter was by my side constantly speaking words of faith she had learned over the years. She would remind me that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and that With Godall things are possible (Matthew 19:26), even my healing.

Deuteronomy 30:19, Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live.

39 years ago I chose life and I am so thankful that I did.

Michael and I both are so very grateful that we did not abort our little girl.  Our daughter has grown into a lovely Proverbs 31 woman.  She is married and has given us three wonderful grandchildren. They are being taught the principles and character of God and to have a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom, blogger, designer, and entrepreneur.  She enjoys volunteering at her children’s school, running, and reading.  She and her family also enjoy traveling the country with Michael and me in our RV.  She has touched the lives of many people throughout the years with her peaceful and kind manner.  

The joy that our daughter has given to us over the years is priceless.

I made the choice for life and my descendants are now a living testimony to the goodness of God because of that choice. 

If you find yourself being pressured into terminating your pregnancy by having an abortion, I want to encourage you to remember my story concerning my daughter.  God has plans of a future and hope for both you and your child.  If you cannot find support from your family, there are many people and agencies that will lend a helping hand. Click here for a comprehensive resource.

My prayer for all moms is that you will find as much joy and delight in your child as I have had in mine.

Are you struggling with a hard choice? 

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Martha Wentz has been married for 41 years and is a mother of 2 grown children, grandmother of 3 small children. She ministerd to children, ages 7-9, for 18 years.  She also ministered for 9 years in Victorious Overcomers, a support group. Her body was healed of cancer and her marriage saved from divorce by the power & mercy of the One True Living God! She is the author of Unforgiveness, Cancer, and Healing. Click here to follow her on Twitter.

photo credit: storyvillegirl via photopincc

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Susanne Says - How to Revolutionize Your Relationships with Friends and Family

How to Revolutionize Your Relationships with Friends and Family

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Last month we looked at how to revolutionize our relationships with our teenagers by "moving in the opposite spirit" or doing the opposite of what seems natural. 

This month, I'd like to generalize this same technique for changing our relationships with friends and other family members as well. I have heard it said that relationships need to be renegotiated every three to five years. Things get stale, we get into ruts, the quality of our connections with friends and loved ones can always use an upgrade.

Managing Expectations

Sometimes we romanticize what life and relationships should be like. We forget connecting with people takes work and that we must examine the expectations we have for people and events. It helps to go into situations with our expectations rooted and grounded in reality: not the romanticized view that "we should all just get along" nor the pessimistic view that things will be tense or difficult.

Dealing with Offense

One of the key things that hurts relationships is criticism and its unfriendly cousins sarcasm and defensiveness. Being on the receiving end of one of these three lovely attitudes is definitely one of life's challenges.

Moving in the opposite spirit means we don't pick up the gauntlet that may have been thrown down through an insult or criticism. (Remember, through verbal communication, people are always telling us who they are, they're not defining us by their remarks.) So if someone makes a snarky comment and we don't "pick it up," then we’re free to respond instead of react. What's the difference? When we respond, we see the choices or options present in the interaction; whereas when we react we usually feel compelled to do something like get angry and hurl a criticism back, etc. In short, when we’re being reactive we have a very limited range of options.

It's in being able to press the pause button in the tense moment that we may find the freedom to move in the opposite spirit. Instead of attending to our feelings only, we choose to think.

WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE?

Sometimes it may be covert. A friend or family member may be negative or hostile. For the sake of my example, we'll say they're extending us the rope to argue with them. Alanon admonishes its members, "Just because someone extends you the rope (to argue, debate, or play the one-upmanship game, etc.) doesn't mean you have to pick it up."

Just because you may want to argue with me doesn't mean I need to engage. I was explaining this to my daughter recently and she said, "I think I know what you mean. Is it something like:  it takes four lips to argue and two of them are yours?"  Yes, that is exactly what it means!  (I think she heard that on a TV show.)   There's also an old proverb that says, "Be careful when you argue with an idiot. People passing by won.t know which one you are." 

What Moving in the Opposite Spirit Isn’t…and Is

Moving in the opposite spirit is not being more patient although that would help. It's also not being a doormat--women particularly become fearful and angry if they think that's what’s being asked of them. It's more like the modern martial art of judo. Judo is translated "the gentle way."  The strategies and techniques of judo rely on yielding to the oncoming force of your opponent. It is a disciplined sport that can be readily adapted to a very effective type of self defense.

Here's the bottom line:  judo is a way of using the enemies power by yielding to it. Moving in the opposite spirit accomplishes the same goal! We sense the force of our verbal critic or angry friend, husband, or colleague coming our way. We sidestep the intensity of their emotions (or possibly attack) by yielding our own right to defend ourselves. That is not to say that we volunteer for abuse. It's more like a mindful (self-aware) approach to disarm the negative emotions of someone who is coming at us with negative intent. Maybe someone is being mean spirited about your cooking or your home or your kids. While I'm all for giving a petulant friend or colleague a little push back if some bad behavior is occurring, that's not the strategy we're talking about today. Today we're talking about disarming our critics by giving way to the aggression that’s coming our way. We sidestep their opposition, instead of resisting it or defending ourselves against it.

The Spiritual Aspect

We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with powers and principalities, Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12. What does that mean? Sometimes we're going around in circles in our relationships trying to figure out someone or trying to figure out what’s going wrong or where the communication is breaking down. But sometimes the problem may be a spiritual one.

As I stated above, moving in the opposite spirit means dismantling that power of the enemy by yielding to it. Last month, I talked about the paradox of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. In the words of the old Johnny Mercer song, “Something's gotta give."  When we move in the opposite spirit, we choose not to pick up the gauntlet that's being thrown down, but we do choose a strategy. This isn't passive at all. It's strategic! 

Imagine what it would feel like if you wanted to give your husband a piece of your mind and in your fury you approached him with eyes glaring and steam coming out of the top of your head. Instead of saying something defensive, rude, or dismissive, he just sits down to listen to you! (I know some of you are thinking you may be in the wrong house with someone else's husband if that ever happened!). It won't be hard to imagine how differently that argument would go if you had your husband’s full attention. That is the basic essence of moving in the opposite spirit. It's doing the opposite of what people expect you to do. What a challenge! 

Proverbs 14:12 says:  There is a way that seems right in a man's eyes but it leads to destruction. The still small voice of the spirit warns us that our ways are not His ways, nor our thoughts His thoughts. His ways and thoughts are as different from ours as the heavens are from the earth (paraphrased Isaiah 55: 8-9.)   Moving in the opposite spirit separates us from our natural or carnal reactions to life's challenges. Even our most precious relationships bring strife, stress, and trauma. We need to be prepared. As I quoted last month, "If I always do what I've always done I'm always going to get what I've always gotten." (Henry Ford)

When someone lays down the gauntlet to argue with us, we don't have to pick it up. International author and speaker Graham Cooke says, "If you meet an accusation with an accusation, you do the work of the enemy." One of the names of the enemy of our soul is The Accuser of the brethren. When we’re upset and react naturally or carnally, we’re yielding to a negative or soulish emotion and permitting ourselves to be used by the Accuser.

DO YOU WANT MORE INFLUENCE?

Do you feel stuck in a relationship where you'd like to have more influence? Permit that person to influence you and watch what happens. I sincerely want to challenge you to train for some judo-like emotional training. We have to pass the test, Beloved!  For more on this type of emotional training, see Graham Cooke's book, Manifesting Your Spirit.

Your comments welcome HERE.

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Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website. 

EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us

photo credit: ♥serendipity via photopincc

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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The Art of Mothering

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It was the time of night where I like to settle into the hollowed out spot on the corner of the sofa, the one next to the lamp for reading and the table for setting down a cup of tea. Dishes washed and laundry folded, I sat down and anticipated an evening with a hot mug, a cookie or two, and complete control of the TV remote. I hung up my invisible “Mom Off-Duty” sign, and propped up my feet on the coffee table.

My son, lounging on the chair next to me, tried to engage me in conversation.

This is the same son who spent the last three hours challenging my authority, bickering with his sisters, and, truth be told, driving me a little bit mad. Deep down, I felt the warning light flash, “Do not engage. Off-duty. I repeat, do not engage.” He was minutes away from bedtime, and I was not prepared to go another round or five with him. Didn’t he see my sign? Apparently not, because he pressed more and more for an answer. I turned to look at him, and I could see his need sitting on the surface of his eyes like tears.  He wanted more than a nod and a mumbled word or two.

He asked me what he is good at…

“Like, what am I really, really good at Mom? What are my talents?” and an answer like, “You’re really good at antagonizing your sister” didn’t feel entirely appropriate.  When I looked at him, I saw the truth behind his question; his real need to hear who I think he is, apart from the bickering and the fussing and the constant admonitions for him to behave. I shifted from my hollow spot, to the floor near his feet. I looked up into his big brown eyes and I told him. I told him that he is smart and artistic—how he sees beyond the surface of things, to the heart of them. I told him his ear is gifted for music, and his head for numbers, and he’ll always read deeper, wider, and with more passion than any kid his age. I told him he is one-of-a-kind and a gift.

After he went to bed, and I sat down to my, now cold, cup of tea, I thought about how easy it is to remain disengaged and off-duty.

Motherhood often feels like a checklist, one that looks the same every single day.

Too often, my parenting focuses only on the tasks—those items I can check off as complete. But the work of motherhood isn’t simply about the baked chicken or the ironed shirts or the clean sheets. The true work of mothering happens when we pull ourselves out of the hollow places. The hard work gets done in the sitting by their feet with a listening ear, where mothering becomes less a series of tasks and more of an art.

Mothering is an act of creation that begins in the womb and continues in the heart.

We create a safe place where our children can ask the difficult questions and we give them the truth about who they are in our family, in this world, and in Christ.  We paint and draw and build these truths into them like artists, and with an artist there is no such thing as off-duty. 

Comments welcome here...

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Kimberly lives in Switzerland with her husband and favorite little people.  She copes with life’s biggest questions by drinking lots of tea, writing, and God’s grace. You can find her writing at www.kimberlyanncoyle.com or tweeting @KimberlyACoyle.

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No More Perfect Moms: It’s More Than a Book Titl

No More Perfect Moms: It’s More Than a Book Titl

Yelling at my kids to hurry up doesn’t get them to move any faster. Over-planning our days just over-stimulates everyone in our house. Planning meals is convenient … when I remember to thaw something in time to cook it for dinner. Too often I put chores and tasks before the people I love most.

The more I strive for perfection, the more likely I am to make an even bigger mess of our days, my attitude, and my kids’ moods. [Continue Reading...]

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Easter Story Cookies

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This past December, for the first time, I intentionally celebrated the Advent season with my children. In an attempt to have a more meaningful holiday, I followed along with Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands and participated in a daily devotional and craft with my little ones.

After seeing what a difference it made in the way my children viewed Christmas, I knew I wanted to do something special for Easter as well. 

My friend Jennifer introduced me to the Easter Story Cookies. This is a great activity to do with your kids while pointing to Christ and the reason we celebrate this holiday. 

You'll need:

  • 1 cup whole pecans    
  • 3 egg whites  
  • wooden spoon   
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch salt      
  • 1 tsp. vinegar      
  • Ziploc bag    
  • tape      
  • Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees     

Place pecans in ziplock bag. Beat the bag with a wooden spoon to break the nuts into small pieces.

Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.

Read John 9:1-3.

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Open the vinegar and let each child smell it.  Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl.

Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  

Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar.  

Explain that eggs represent life; Jesus gave His life to give us life. 

Read John 10:10-11.

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Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.  

Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.  

Read Luke 23:27.

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So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing.

Add 1 cup sugar.  

Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know we belong to Him.

Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

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Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  

Explain that the color white represents purity. In God's eyes, we are purified because our sins have been cleansed by Jesus.  

Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

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Fold in broken nuts.

Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper lined cookie sheet.  

Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.

Read Matt. 27:57-60.

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Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.

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Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.

Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.

Read Matt. 27:65-66.

GO TO BED!

Explain to your children that Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. They too may feel sad since they can't eat the cookies right away. They will need to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.

Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Point out the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!

Explain that on the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  

Read Matt. 28:1-9

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Download a printable copy of the Easter Story Cookie Recipe HERE.


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With a background as an interior designer Kimberly has is unique in her ability to be both creative and practical; now a stay-at-home mom she still enjoys exercising her creative muscles.  After God, her very active family is her top priority. Kimberly seeks to live a life that is spirit led with her husband Carl and their three young children in the NYC suburbs.

You can follow Kimberly in her journey to discovering the Sweet Spot of God’s success for her everyday life on her blog at Living in the Sweet Spot. or on twitter @kimberlyamici.Click here for her full bio.

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Susanne Says - How to Revolutionize Your Relationship with Your Teenager

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One of the best strategies for working with teenagers is to move in the opposite spirit, which means doing the opposite of what seems natural. Basically, this is a technique that disarms the stubborn or strong-willed person by agreeing with them. Sometimes it is as simple as saying, "Oh, yes, I see what you mean," after the teen delivers a criticism or harsh remark. This switches up the dynamic in the relationship and gives both parties a chance to restart from a more positive position.

What does this look like in real life?

One of my teenagers was very angry at me because there was a Friday night event his friends were going to and he wasn't allowed to go. (It was more than a decade ago. So I don't remember why he wasn't allowed to go exactly but it was probably a type of event my husband and I didn't approve of.) It was Saturday afternoon and I was returning home from my office. My then-15-year-old son was ready for a fight. He came rushing in to yell at me about how outrageous it was that he missed the night out. I took a deep breath…I had never seen him so willing to express his anger at me. I pulled out a chair and sat down and just listened. It seriously disarmed him. He didn't expect that reaction from me.

Most likely, my son expected me either to yell back, warn him not to be disrespectful, or go somewhere until he composed himself…all realistic expectations. But this day somehow the Holy Spirit had prepared me to move in the opposite spirit.

The result of moving in the opposite spirit

My son totally changed his approach when he saw he had my full attention. He then told me how he felt about being deprived of something he really wanted to do. Yes, he was mad, but mostly he was disappointed and felt powerless that we would withhold that opportunity from him. He assumed we knew how much it meant to him. Of course, that's my summary of his thoughts and feelings that day. It was a pretty emotional exchange.

THE GOAL

My son’s anger was diffused and he had a chance to talk about important feelings while still feeling them. Things didn't always go so smoothly at our house for sure. But I learned a valuable lesson: We need to make a distinction between anger and disrespect. As parents we shouldn't allow disrespect, but we can permit and even encourage expression of feelings. What's the difference?  Anger is expressed in "I" statements and disrespect is more character assassination, bullying, name-calling, and the like. A young person may start off in disrespect and be able to switch to respect because his/her feelings are being validated.

Sometimes kids, strong-willed or otherwise, just need a chance to be who they are without reprisal or parental injunctions like: "Don't you raise your voice to me" or " You know what's going to happen if you continue talk to me like that!"  Moving in the opposite spirit is doing the unexpected. If someone is being superior or prideful, take the one-down position of humility. If someone is being cranky or cantankerous you could be unabashedly kind or understanding. If someone is being critical, join with them, "Hey, I resemble that remark."

A picture of moving in the opposite spirit

Think about it this way. Imagine you're at a department store and feeling very angry and entitled because the clerk is taking way too long and you're not remembering your early morning moments with The Lord. Someone notices you and offers to let you go in front of them, saying something very kind and understanding and NOT judging you. It's totally disarming. It helps you own your "stuff."  Your anger fades and you may even have a complete emotional reversal. Why?  Is it because someone noticed your plight and saw things from your perspective and empathized with you?

Unless you're inherently very entitled, you know you don't deserve the "go to the head of the line" treatment. It exposes your character flaw to yourself. This is the side of God's learning curve we all so enjoy. What has happened here?  Someone has shown me acceptance during a time I least deserve it. I'm caught in the act of being myself. Yet, at the same time, I'm not being disapproved of but rather I'm being shown grace and favor. This is the part of God's training camp where our growth and maturation are expedited. Ah, yes, much more fruitful than lecturing and sermonizing.

We need to remember this application when our kids are getting on our last nerve. It has been said that our kids need our love the most when they least deserve it! That's also true of us and our relationships with The Lord and our friends and spouses, too.

The Irresistible Force paradox

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?  Parenting strong-willed or angry kids can feel like that age-old physics paradox. Moving in the opposite spirit sidesteps that dilemma by deferring to the immovable force coming at me and being in control of myself. As a parent, I know that having control over my emotions is the only way to ensure a good outcome. We're supposed to be in control but not controlling! What's the difference? When we're controlling, we don't permit scary feelings such as anger, hostility, disappointment from our kids, and we don't permit them to be separate from us. (“We'll tell you how to feel, act, etc.”)

Application

As parents we have many opportunities to provide experiences that mature our kids. I was a no-nonsense kind of parent when it came to homework, chores, routines, and the like, but I tried to permit a lot of dialogue about other things.

Next time one of your kids is indignant about a boundary or structure your family has set up, step aside! Pull up a chair and listen. Don't argue. Restate what they say; it's very validating. See what happens. Obviously, every scenario in family life doesn't offer an opportunity for moving in the opposite spirit. But maybe, just maybe, when you do move in the opposite spirit, you might find a lightening of tensions and more joy and understanding being generated around the dinner table or on long car rides. You truly have nothing to lose. “If we always do what we've always done, we're always going to get what we've always gotten.” (Henry Ford)

Is there a Biblical foundation for this?

The Holy Spirit is always moving in the opposite spirit. Isaiah 61 shows us that He gives us beauty for ashes, joy for our sadness, and the garments of praise for depression. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is another example of moving in the opposite spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven is truly opposite from the world we're living in. So why not operate from the kingdom in which we have true citizenship. (Eph. 4:20-22).

Moving in the opposite spirit can find a place in many of our relationship dynamics. (It is the crux of good customer relations.) Be creative! Seek the Lord for ways to apply the principle of moving in the opposite spirit with your kids, your colleagues, neighbors, and family. You may be very surprised to see how THE opposite spirit, the Holy Spirit, might intervene in one of the aspects of your daily grind and bring about an outcome that could only be from above!

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Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website. 

EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.

photo credit: Shavar Ross via photopincc

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How to Become a Wise Woman Who Raises Wiser Daughters

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“I wanted to share with my daughter how to set boundaries in dating; I just didn’t know how.” 

“I’ve been talking to my girl about what to look for in a guy. Thank you so much for backing me up!”

“I’ve known that a boyfriend isn’t the answer to the desires of my daughter’s heart, now I know what to say!”

These were some of my favorite comments this past weekend as I spoke at a mother/daughter retreat. This is my passion; to come alongside moms and empower women to become wise and in turn raise wiser daughters. 

When I was nineteen years old, some wise women came alongside me, teaching me that no guy, whether he is a dad, boyfriend, even an amazing husband one day, can fill the love gap in my heart. As I became a young woman, a wife, and eventually a mother, I began to realize the enormous need of women of all ages to have their hearts filled with this truth. 

I wanted to share what I had learned about love.

About 10 years ago, I began by inviting a small group of girls from my neighborhood over for pizza and brownies. Then I shared my story with them about how I fell for Jesus. One of the girls stayed afterwards to help me pick up. She asked if I would mentor her. I said, Yes!” Then she invited a friend, who invited a friend, who invited a friend…until we ended up regularly with six or seven girls.   

I began writing Bible study lessons, which I would email to the group. Then we met every Wednesday after school to go over the lesson and answers to their questions. The idea that Jesus was wild about them…well, let’s just say their comments included, “This is weird!” But as time went on, I began to see their understanding of Jesus’ love change. That wasn’t the only thing that changed, so did the way they thought about themselves. As their thinking changed, so did their actions. As I saw their self-worth and confidence rise, I just knew this was not just for this small group of girls, it was a message for every girl.

This was the small beginning of His Revolutionary Love and the conferences I now speak at all over America. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize one problem with my first book: the girls were reading His Revolutionary Love way too fast. Reading a whole book in a day is a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant! So I wrote Devotions for a Revolutionary Year: 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love for You . This way, a girl can soak in a bit of God’s truth about her every single day of the year. 

With one grown son and two high school daughters, I often feel like I’m not equipped for this raising children thing. Just when I think I have covered one issue, another one that I haven’t even thought of pops up!

Do you ever feel you’re not equipped as a mom?

Then you’ll want to join the community of moms who gather at my website who are purposing to raise wiser daughters.

I certainly don’t think that I have it all together, but we’re trying, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to figure this thing out together. Maybe this is just what you need? A place where you can get tips on how you can be a wise woman raising a wiser daughter too! Join us at www.LynnCowell.com.

Let me leave you with three of my favorite tips for getting your girl to talk to you:

Turn off your phone when she talks.

If it rings, dings, or bings, no matter what – leave it.

Look her in the eye.

Nobody looks anybody in the eye nowadays. When you do it says one thing, “I really care.” 

Care about what she cares about. 

Even if you have heard about the woes of life at the lunch table every day since school started, listen intently again. 

Today, Lynn is giving away a signed copy of her newest book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year: 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love for You. To enter, just leave a comment about an area you need help in as a mom. If life is super busy, just say, “I’m in!”

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Lynn Cowell is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has been married for over 25 years and has a grown son and two daughters in high school. She has written two books His Revolutionary Loveand Devotions for a Revolutionary Year. Her favorite things include the mountains, well-worn sweatshirts, and anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter. 

photo credit: pixieclipx via photopincc

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