Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 19: Curled Up with a Good Book ... Not so Small

Welcome  to Day 19 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart longs to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

Today’s Parenting Pointer

Curled Up with a Good Book

Spend a bit of time with me and you’ll hear my philosophy about children being exposed to too many screens.  It’s not that screens are bad.  They provide such a wonderful opportunity to access many things we otherwise could not.  But.  There is a “but” in this … we have to choose well, set healthy limits, and supervise access.  Easier said than done – as it is so much easier to plug something in and sit them in front of it when we want that well-earned break. 

All that being said, I want to remind you of what you already know.  Books are amazing.  Open a book and you open a world.  Lead a child to love reading and you spark their imagination, their creativity while introducing them to the portal for knowledge that has no limit in depth and breadth.  We just never will run out of good books to read. 

My husband was raised in a home with a bunch of readers.  They all loved books and would curl up in their separate corners of the home with their respective novels.  The problem for him was that no one really read to him, so he didn’t develop a love of reading.  To him reading was a way people put up walls.  In my home, we read together.  My parents read me bedtime stories, we read books together my whole childhood and we discussed what we read together.  In my home books were a bridge.   

I love reading.  Love. 

Here are some of the benefits I have seen from reading to my children consistently at all ages:

My children love to read.
This may seem obvious, but reading to my children has sparked in them a desire to enter into books themselves.  We love sitting together doing a “read-aloud” (where I read and they listen).  During one season of my older son’s life, he sort-of lost his passion for reading.  I prayed God would revive that passion and then I sought out other moms for lists of books their sons loved.  Armed with this list and powered by prayer, I started presenting books to my son again.  There have been days I wondered why I ever prayed that prayer – when my son has his head stuck in a book and I have to call him two to three times just to get his attention out from within those pages.  Truthfully, this is a problem I am glad to have. 

Good books teach moral lessons. 
I found this amazing book when my oldest was little called, “Books that Build Character” which has a 60 page intro about why books are vital to character development and how screen exposure is detrimental.  Then the list of books with a synopsis for each book, broken down by ages recommended and genre of the book follows.  That book has been my go-to book list along with sites such as Sonlight, Lamplighter, Beautiful Feet and the Newberry Awardsite.  As we read through stories about historical biographies or fiction or novels where the hero has to make a decision to do what is right, my children internalize and solidify their own set of values. 

We share common stories and these become part of our story.
We love reading together.  We do read separately, but some of our favorite memories are the books we have shared.  We read together after lunch and before bedtime as well as several other choice times in the week.  We read under the trees in the back yard or all sprawled out on couches in the living room.  We read in my bedroom – the boys snuggled together in my bed while I am in my oversized green chair.  It never ceases to amaze me how my boys will refer back to a part of a story long after we have set it aside – as though we all lived through that story together.  “Hey, Mom,” they say, “That reminds me of …”  Shared stories bind hearts together. 

I get to practice all the accents I never use in real life. 
Ok, this may totally not apply to you.  You may be one of those people who doesn’t even enjoy reading aloud.  But, for me personally, I just love playing around with accents – French, British, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Southern, New York, Canadian, The Godfather … you name it.  So, when we read stories, if they are set in other places, I give characters an accent and I go with it.  My boys love this part of my read-alouds {and I do too}.  Whether you make books come alive with accents or you just tear up at the end of every book from Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry to Charlotte’s Web {As my boys say, “We must be at the end of the book, Mom’s starting to cry.”}, there will be something of you that you bring into reading to your children.  They will take that something with them their whole lives and cherish it as a part of what made childhood special. When you read to your children, you aren't just giving them a story.  
You are giving them yourself.

So, turn off the TV, the IPod, the Xbox … not always and not forever, but regularly enough that you can pull out a good book and read.  Read together.  You are building character, etching memories and unlocking whole other worlds with your children as you do. 

Be Refreshed

Not so Small

Do you ever feel a bit small – like your life doesn’t amount to much and the day to day events in your life are more hum-drum than amazing?  Invisible measuring sticks reside in our hearts and we use them to say to ourselves, “Insignificant.” 

I have struggled with this feeling on and off in my life – coupled with the feeling that I want to do more, be more, make an impact, do something that matters.  Sometimes those feelings fuel me into great efforts which have led to some big things happening.  Sometimes they threaten to paralyze me as the longing taunts me and makes me weary before I have even set out to accomplish one thing. 

What is big?  When I was a little girl, I remember watching Sesame Street before it got all modern and trendy – you know, when the kids didn’t comb their hair and everyone wore bell bottoms and scarves in their hair because it was the 70’s.  Anyway, they used to have this song, “That’s about the size, that’s about the size, that’s about the size of it.  That’s about the size, where you put your eyes, that’s about the size of it.”  The song taught about perspective.  Things appear smaller from far away.  Get too close and they seem almost indistinguishable because of the proximity.  So it is with our perspective on our own significance and what really matters in life.

I often (who knows why) think of Nancy Reagan.  I remember her for something that most people may not.  She was a completely devoted wife.  In her life, she launched campaigns to help stop addiction and provide treatment options to those stuck in chemical dependence.  She did “big” things.  As her husband, President Reagan, began to succumb to the disease of Alzheimer’s he was less and less able to recognize her until he finally did not know her at all.  Despite this, Nancy remained faithfully by his side day in and day out, watching her beloved husband slip away.  She did a small thing.  
 Was it so small? 

Mother Theresa {another hero of mine} said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”  So it is.  Jesus said, “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  You are so valuable to the God of the Universes … and those little things you do – like listening to your husband when he comes home from work, sitting with your children while they struggle through an assignment, tying a shoelace, cleaning around the toilet, making a bed, calling a friend, saying a prayer for that request you got in the email …” – may not be so little after all.  In God’s economy whatever we do in Him, for Him and with Him is great.   

So take that internal measuring stick and toss it out.   
God doesn’t measure the way we do. 

Do small things with great love.  You matter big.  

I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery.  If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here.  Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher.  And, as always, I do love hearing from you.  Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you. 

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