Posts Tagged ‘kids’

With All Your Mind…

Long ago, I discovered the spiritual connections and benefits of staying connected to neurological research.  Many of the same things have continued to provide helpful connections in personal devotionyouth ministry, and as we’ve grown in areas of parenting, and especially parenting a child who had experienced trauma before arriving in our home.   It doesn’t make us experts, and these are not magic, but they certainly help give us a better understanding as we seek to be faithful with all God has given us.

So it is no surprise that I loved discovering the “Healthy Mind Platter” developed by David Rock & Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.  It was discussed in Sissy Goff’s newest book “Raising Worry-Free Girls“.  It makes sense, especially as we increase our understanding of how connected our neurological health is to every other aspect of our body & being.  Many of us were raised knowing we needed to pay attention to a healthy diet: a specific amount of grains, meats, fruits/veggies, dairy, etc.  But with a better understanding of our brains, comes an understanding of “diet” we are feeding our minds as well.  The creators don’t suggest a specific amount of time for each category, but the understanding is that each individual may have particular needs for their own health.   Each category comes with its own benefits, and our brains (& neuro-chemistry) respond accordingly in ways that help bring long-term health conditions that impact our entire being.  They’ve broken the categories into (in no particular order):

  • Physical Time (exercise):  Aerobic activity helps increase the oxygen levels in the blood, which contributes to brain health in important ways.  “Exercise releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters produced in the brain that reduce pain.  Exercise also increases the serotonin…which is often known as the “happy Chemical” (Goff, 2019)
  • Time In (introspection/silent prayer/mindfulness): Reflect on what has happened, what is happening. This is time without screens on, where there is space to be aware. Time here could also be spent reading and/or writing.
  • Focused Time (learning/purposeful): This is time to grow or nurture a skill or study a subject.   This helps build focus and makes or strengthens new connections in the brain.
  • Connecting Time (in-person/ eye-to-eye contact): Especially in a “virtually connected” world, this can be important for social development, as well as neurological health.  At every age, our “mirror neurons” help contribute to our understanding of others, our ability to be compassionate, and even our self-understanding through the eyes of others.
  • Sleep Time: Healthy and consistent sleep patterns are more valuable than our production/profit-driven world often gives credit for.  This gives our hippocampus time to process memories into long-term storage, restore and organize thoughts/feelings, and reminds us spiritually that we’ve been “set free” from the brick-making patterns of Egypt.
  • Down Time: When’s the last time you let your mind wander in a healthy way?   To gaze into the falling leaves, watch water flow downstream, enjoy watching the kids play nearby, or simply lay back on the couch breathing slow?  When your mind (or the kids) say “I’m bored” – let it be cause for celebration, in our overstimulated world.  It allows time for recharging the brain’s batteries, inspires creativity, and allows contemplation.
  • Play Time: Not practicing an athletic ability, but truly “playing”.  Here we have the opportunity to exist with lowered stress levels, build problem-solving, and remember to exist child-like.  Go mini-golfing, play Chutes & Ladders, bust out the old Atari, forget who wins, and enjoy the game itself.

You can follow the links or read the books to dive deeper into any of this, but I wanted to share it simply here.  We are called by Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)  I hope and pray that growing in these areas will help me to be faithful with what God has given me, help me to improve as a father, as a pastor, and as a friend.  May these things be a blessing to you as well…

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leading from behind…

We carried them.

Then they began to wobble forward.

Next, they grabbed our hands as we ran together.fallersons

Now – they run ahead.

It can be easy to feel like my job is done, but any parent will be quick to remind – we’ve still only just begun.  Walking is not the goal…just another part of the journey.  I love to watch them wander through the woods.  To watch them play, and see the sparks of wonder inspire flames of imagination.  It’s fulfilling, to offer them the ability to lead as we take to the forest, and see them choose paths both winding and well-defined.

There are so many pressures today to grow the next generation of world-changers.  To mold them into products that are marketable on the future economies of skill and value competitions.  To form them into athletic renaissance machines that can out-perform the others and shine in ways that obviously deserve scholarship money.

I’ll confess – I’m not immune to this.  Even in realms of spiritual maturity, there are major parts of me that want my kids to shine with the love of Jesus.  Not for healthy reasons, but to show the world – here, is a product I’ve helped create and offer my fellow humanity as proof of my/our worth.

So every once in a while, on purpose, I slow down.  I watch.  I absorb their wonder.  I stop measuring things and start inefficiently using time with them.  Another confession – I don’t do this enough.  I’m busy.  I’m a student.  I’m a pastor.  I’m a husband.  I’m a ________.

All of that to say – I hadn’t said anything much about parenting in a while, and this was originally a parenting blog. 🙂  So I figured I would remind the reader – I’m still a parent.   I’m not winning any awards, but my kids seem to be increasing in love.  My wife and better half probably deserves a TON of that credit, as she gets the most time at home with them.  But I’ll take a little.  And I’ll watch them run ahead with her, and pause to be thankful for it all..

Kids Book Now Available on Amazon!!!

Okay friends, here’s a quick update and we need YOUR help getting the word out!  We’re very close to needing to send our next payment in to help bring Phoebe home.   Documents we’ve been waiting for over a year are finally being acquired!  We’re so close to having the amount we need, but one more fundraiser will help tremendously!

Over a year ago, our daughters helped draw pictures to illustrate a poem I’d written about an imaginary land.  We sold a small amount of physical copies of this book, and those who purchased it yelled “hooray!”  Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to produce a physical book, and our profit margin was really really small.

So we’ve made the first book in a 3-book series available as an E-Book!  The 2nd and 3rd books will be released eventually, based on how much response this first one gets.  It’s a great book to help start conversations in your home about choosing to live simply, so that your family can be a blessing to others.  It’s available RIGHT NOW for only $3.99!! Just go over the Amazon by clicking the picture below or this link!

Thanks so much for your prayers and support, and please help us out by forwarding this along to anyone who might be interested!!!

LandFullofStuffCover

bedtime prayers.

Sometimes we can spend a few minutes in prayer, and move straight into our bedtime story without anything seemingly significant happening or being said.  On those nights, we believe the significant “thing” is simply the faithful prayers, and routines/rhythms of a home that values coming before God together.  Even when parts of the prayer seem rote and automatic, we make time and space available for hearts and minds to be honest before each other and before God.

We confess: there are nights this doesn’t happen.   (gasp)  We’re not too worried about forcing a child who was sleeping in the van on the way home to wake up and have a prayer time.  Or when mommy & daddy are wiped from a long hard day, we’ve been known to skip right to hugs and “good nights”.  But more oft than not, the days close with a pause for prayer and conversation about what God is doing in our hearts and lives.  If it does seem like the prayers become more repeating a few quick things without much pause for thought, we mix it up.  Some nights we ask each daughter individually what’s on her heart and mind, and then a parent will summarize all of these things in one family prayer.

Our church is beginning another emphasis on prayer right now as a reminder.  I’ve written before about the helpful reminder found in “7-5-2”.  It’s not a magic formula, and prayer does not guarantee a healthy family/home.  But prayer brings together hearts and minds in the presence of God, and when that’s done on a regular basis….it sure offers a great place for His Love and our relationships to grow.

Here’s a short video, where my hidden iPhone camera catches the unpolished prayers of our 5 and 6 year olds. It may help to know that we are adopting a daughter from Africa currently, our church is praying for a young woman named Mollie who’s been bed-bound for a while now, and our extended family were on their way to visit us that weekend…

Improv Ballet

Sure, our girls are shy at times.  But other times, they’ll get up from an almost-finished dinner and begin to dance together.  Not much forethought, and no practices…..they’re naturals…:)

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