“What is Advent?”

I asked a preschooler, “What is Advent?” He said, “Santa likes snow at the North Pole. It is really cold there. When he gets ready for Christmas he needs to ‘add vents’ to his sled so he can stay warm. It takes a few weeks to do all that vent adding, but when it is done, it is Christmas.”

What is Advent to you?

What is Advent to you?

Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. We prepare our hearts to receive hope, preparation, joy and love. It is often hard to prepare our hearts while so much commercialization happens around us. Things in stores can distract us. “To do” lists get longer and longer. There are so many good causes that are looking for resources and time. It can be quite an overwhelming time if we are not careful.

What we often need is a breath of fresh air in this busy season. Maybe we do need a new vent to blow on us and clear out the clutter in our lives, a vent that will provide us with warm, clean, unpolluted air. Imagine the summer when you sit on the beach and the warm winds blow at just the right speed and temperature. Imagine the calmness that you feel. Imagine the relaxing peace that a gentle breeze can bring.

Maybe, just maybe, we do need a new venting system each Advent season. We need a source to receive hope and preparation, joy and love. If we can just stay calm and let that Holy breath of fresh air wash over us, we may find the peace we are looking for. As for that Santa guy, maybe, just maybe he too also needs some new vents to blow fresh air on him as he prepares for Christmas. Maybe he is only able to do what he does because he has taken the time to add vents to his sled.

  •  What does Advent mean to you?
  • What areas in your life do you need to have a vent blown on you?
  • Do you have any issues you need to vent?
  • Will you take some time to be still and feel a warm breath wash over you?

“A human being is only breath and shadow.” Sophocles

“God is ever present. He’s in every breath, in every step. He’s here, always, always.”        Jill Scott

“I wanna be thankful”

We sang a song at preschool that said, “I wanna be thankful.” The music had a refrain that sang this over and over and over again. After the song was finished, I asked the group, ‘What do you wanna be?” One child shouted, “I wanna be GOD!”

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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Preschoolers can have high heights. They are unpredictable and do not stop when we think they should. Being thankful and grateful is something we want all preschoolers and adults to be. Gratefulness is the beginning of greatness.

If we believe that God is great, than we can also believe that being more godlike would be an ultimate goal. If we are more godlike, we are more thankful. Maybe being thankful is not our final destination. We need to go even further. Maybe thankfulness is a nice pause on our way to greatness.

  • What do you “wanna be”?
  • What would your world look like if you were thankful for everything?
  • What can you do to use your thankfulness to bring greater greatness to your life?

“I want to know all Gods thoughts; all the rest are just details.”

Albert Einstein

Video of my preschool friends giving thanks. (Click on the blue words)

If you would like to hear the “I wanna be thankful” song we were singing, it is here. I hope you wanna be something great today.

 

Will you blow away in the wind?

It was so windy this week, I asked a preschooler, “Do you think you will blow away with all this wind?” She looked at her little body, and said, ” I think I have too much inside of me to blow away.”

Blowing in the Wind

Blowing in the Wind

All people have things that ground us, things that keep us who we want to be. As I write this, I am on an airline flying to the Windy City from Las Vegas. Las Vegas is full of interesting people with thoughts, actions, clothes and words that are unique to my everyday life loving preschoolers.

Two men next to me on the plane have diamond studded watches, designer gift bags and electronic equipment worth more than the rental car I just returned. They were practicing rapping with each other while making up gestures with their tattoo filled arms and hands.

On the other side of me are young parents with an infant daughter. Their seats are filled with toys, a special blanket with an attached pacifier, a bottle and baby music with finger plays to entertain. The husband was returning from a business trip and did not want to miss time away from his young family. His face was proud as he shared with others the accomplishments his infant could do in her short seven months of life.

I’m not judging either side of this airplane, but I am definitely more comfortable with one side of the plane than the other. I cannot speak to which side is more grounded. Luckily choosing who is grounded or not will never be my job.

Speaking of grounded……the pilot just announced that we will need to stay on the ground a bit due to some excessive winds. Apparently the plane’s insides are not big enough to not let us blow away. I am thankful for pilots who keep us grounded when we need to be yet let us fly high when the time is right.

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  • What grounds you?
  • What elements are weighty enough inside of you to help you stay your course?
  • When you see others who have chosen different values, what can you do to remain grounded in your own values while accepting other’s choices?

My hope for all is that your insides will always be too much to ever blow you off course.

“You have to be good.”

I overheard a mother telling her child, “If you want to go trick or treating, you have to be good.” He looked at her and said, “If I am bad, it just means my costume is really good.”

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There are times that a preschooler can just make us pause and think. That is something we all need to do more often. As adults we often go through the motions of a day without really thinking if there are new ways or contemplating why we do what we do and what we believe in.

Being bad and being good are such broad concepts for young children. If you are a child, broccoli can be bad. Getting mud all over yourself outside can be good. Taking a nap in a cozy bed can be bad. Waking up before the sun rises so you can play loudly in your room can be good. Good and bad are not always black and white.

There are many adults who live in absolutes. They have strong feelings on good and bad. There are issues with gay people, people of different religions and races, and issues on what foods we should put in our bodies. As we think through all of these complex issues, let’s try to use our good choices in a world that can often be very bad.

  • When you think of something bad, what do you think of?
  • Have you had a time when what you thought was bad turned out to be good?
  • What can you do to turn any bad situation into something good?

Remember, finishing all of that trick or treat candy, can be good or bad depending on how you think……..how much do you have right now?

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“Are you celebrating the 4th of July?”

I asked a preschooler, “Are you celebrating the 4th of July?” He exclaimed, ” Of course I am! I am 4 years old and I like to have a party every month that has  a 4 in it!”

Do you celebrate with Fireworks?

Do you celebrate with Fireworks?

Independence Day is celebrated each year in the United States on July 4th to commemorate our breaking free from Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his wife Abigail wrote, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” It seems that is one part of our American history we have gotten good at remembering. Each year the United States is left with the decision of how to best celebrate our holiday.  The fourth of July link here will show some beautiful pictures from our country’s previous celebration. Our country is full of beautiful fireworks, parades and picnics.

The 4th of July only comes once a year. However, my preschool friend is right. There are more months with the number 4 in them. We can choose to celebrate more often if we desire. Fireworks and parades may not be practical each month. However, Thomas Jefferson did have another sentence to his wife before he shared his big party vision. He said, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

A solemn act of devotion to God Almighty is something we just may be able to pull off each month. It does not have to cost anything. It can be an individual choice what that looks like to each individual. If our country could remain grateful as we think of others, that could be a true celebration. It could be a celebration that lasts from this time forward forever more.

  •  How are you celebrating the 4th of July?
  • Who are you dependant on?
  • What acts of devotion could you do the other 4ths of the months?
  • For those who do not believe in the God Almighty that Thomas Jefferson spoke of, what ways could you still see a need for remaining grateful as you think of others from this time forward forever more?

Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependant on one another, every soul of us on earth.”  George Bernard Shaw.

The power of a preschooler can change your life…if you let it.

“Who do you think is the winner?”

I sat in a Bible lesson today for preschoolers. The story was about Elijah and the prophets and the strong competition they were having. The teacher asked, “Who do you think was the winner?”  Without a hesitation a child shouted, “The Blackhawks!!!”

A WIN!!!!!

A WIN!!!!!

Living in the Chicago area, the Blackhawks are much more popular than Elijah. The story of Elijah was being told in a Vacation Bible School setting, and hours upon hours had been put into decorations to make the scene look like Mount Everest and also Mount Sinai where Elijah heard from God. The first day as the preschoolers looked in awe at the mountain scenes, one boy looked at it all and said, “It’s very nice, but where are the Blackhawks?”

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Sometimes we get so engrossed in the current sport’s event, or the voices on the radio and the crimes we see on the news, or the politicians in our area that we are not able to fully focus on other topics that come our way. The “Elijah stories” of our lives get too hard to notice.

However, if we want to be able to embrace the “Elijah stories” in our lives, we need to step away from the loudness of the Blackhawks’ win. After the win in Chicago, fireworks went off, and people all over the area started tracking the location of the Stanley Cup. Wrigley Field and bars emptied, and the celebrations continued.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago will host a ”world class” celebration for the Blackhawks in the coming days to celebrate the team’s Stanley Cup win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Winning the third Stanley Cup in only six years is a big deal, and the Hawks are being considered a “dynasty.”

Now getting back to that story of Elijah, Elijah was scared of the big deals in his life, and he hid in a cleft in the side of a mountain. He heard a tumultuous earthquake, booming thunder and lightning in a windstorm and a raging fire. All three of these were impossible for Elijah to miss. However, the god he was searching for was not in any of these larger than life occurrences.  God was in a whisper.

Sometimes life gets noisy. Circumstances around us are like gongs. It is all we can concentrate on. However, if we can remain still, there are still whispers that are speaking to us. There are still ways for us to be loud by being quiet.

  • What is something in your life right now that is taking up a lot of attention?
  • In a perfect world, what dream would you like to have happening loudly and boldly in your life?
  • What is stopping you from resting in a quiet place and working on a way to help your dreams become true?
Stay quiet and just listen....

Stay quiet and just listen….

P.S. The first picture of the boys hugging was not a picture of boys excited about the Blackhawks winning. It shows two boys being told to hug one of their friends. These two boys spontaneously hugged each other and did not want to let go. In my opinion, two boys showing love is a huge win. They may not receive a Stanley Cup, but they have the ability to change the world.

Which one is your mommy?

I looked at pictures of mommies and asked a preschooler, “Which one is your mommy?” The child looked at me and said, “Duhhh, the beautiful one!”

11229309_10153800280564008_7357304791989273121_nAll mothers look different, but all mothers can have perfect beauty to a child. Mothers can often be hard on themselves. They feel guilty that they do not go to a gym and exercise enough. They worry they are not making their children eat the most healthy food. They worry that they themselves are not eating the way they should. They want their hair to cooperate more in weather. They want to look good in their clothes and not be seen in the shirt with the baby’s spit up on it. They want enough sleep to make it through a day. They want a clean house that can have company over at any time. They desire time to themselves yet feel guilty to schedule that into a day. They want to have intelligent conversation and look wise while still maintaining the ability to speak in words a two year old will understand. They want to have friends, but they struggle with the balance of family and friends and only 24 hours in a day. They want to be good with money and be able to be generous to the poor. They want to have children that are intelligent, disciplined and polite and fear when a child is rude it will be a reflection back on them.

Being a mother can be exhausting. It can seem like an impossible task to accomplish in a satisfactory manner. Mother’s eyes can be discouraged. However, when you look through the eyes of a preschooler, mothers are truly beautiful! They bring a smile. They start the lifelong process of what love is. They are important beyond measure.

If you are reading this, know you are beautiful. (Even if you have hair that sticks up, three fingers, blue hair and skin and no nose!)

  • What things did your mother struggle with that you understand more now as an adult?
  • In what ways was your mother beautiful?
  • Every female can be a mother to the world, even if you will never be a biological mother. What can you do to be beautiful to others? 
  • Will you consider letting some mother know she is beautiful this Mother’s Day and any other day of the year?

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Today is the National Day of Prayer

I shared with some preschoolers that today is a special holiday when anyone can talk to God. It is called the National Day of Prayer. A preschooler looked strangely at me and said, “Maybe grown-ups should know that every day is a day we can talk to God. We don’t need a holiday. We could use another Christmas, but we really don’t need a holiday to be told to pray.”

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As the leaders of our country all stand together and use prayer as a tool for betterment, it is interesting to look at the history of this day. According to Wikipedia, the National Day of Prayer shares common roots with the celebration of Thanksgiving; both were national proclamations establishing a day of prayer, but in the New England Colonies under British rule, traditional observances in late fall called for prayer and thanksgiving, while observances in the spring or summer called for prayer and fasting. The fall observance was established by President Abraham Lincoln as the official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. The spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1952 as the National Day of Prayer.

For over 60 years, we have been using the first Thursday of the month of May to offer prayer as a whole nation. This year, the theme of Day of Prayer will be “Lord, Hear Our Cry”. Prayers from any person in any religion or belief are encouraged by the Senate to turn to God and pray.

I have no idea how many people actually follow through with the Senate’s request. One day, one request, and no consequence that we can overtly see if we don’t follow through may be hard to track.  If one day is so hard to get a majority of people to gather around, I can only imagine how hard it would be to join together each day.

However, as my preschool friend shared, we really don’t need a holiday to pray in America. We are fortunate to live in a free country that allows us to pray each day whenever we can. Often we hear that you need to use things or you will lose them. This may be one of the times we follow an axiom.

  • If your family celebrates Thanksgiving each year, do you also celebrate the National Day of Prayer?
  • What could you do to make a day of prayer something meaningful to you?
  • What could be different if people would pray more than one day a year? 
  • Will you consider being like a preschooler who just cannot understand why one day of prayer  is enough? Will you let God hear our cry?

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“Time to show your knees”

It has been a long, cold winter at my preschool. On our first warmer day, one mother thought her son would be so excited now that he could finally put on a pair of shorts and show off his knees. He put on the shorts and said, “HEY! Where are the rest of my pants!”

Sometimes knees are happy even if they aren't spelled correctly.

Sometimes knees are happy even if they aren’t spelled correctly.

We get used to things a certain way. We get used to needing things we always have. Sometimes we mourn the loss of things we no longer need. However, we need to get good at embracing the shorts in our closet. New seasons mean new expectations. New seasons can mean shedding things from old seasons that we no longer find helpful.

Getting rid of things can be exciting. Shedding the extra foot of material on our legs can be freeing. What we need in the winter is different from what we need in the late spring and summer. Both items of clothing are essential for comfort but only when the circumstances around us meet our goals. It just may now be the time for your knees to see some sunlight.

  • When you move into a new season in your life, are you most likely to want to hold onto the past or jump into the future with its new expectations?
  • Can you think of a time when you held onto something you really did not need?
  • When we really love our pants (our activities and our abilities and comforts) from the past season, what things can we do to help keep them in the closet while embracing our new summer clothes (our new adventures)? 

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“Tell me about your Easter dinner”

I asked a preschooler, “Tell me about your Easter dinner.” He said, “My tummy was really, really empty, and then I ate a lot and was really, really full. My Grandpa said he ate enough so that he will never need to eat again, but I don’t know if that is true. What is true?”

Easter Dinner for a Preschooler

Easter Dinner for a Preschooler

Wow! Should we ever make a grandparent out to be a liar? What is the truth for a preschooler? The truth about eating is someone really should be eating again after a month, or there will be a big problem.

The preschooler was eating on Easter though, and Easter can be a holiday with special rules. The true Christian story about Easter can be told simply with an equation of only four words.

It’s empty = We’re full

An empty tomb is something that allows people to be filled to capacity so that they too may live forever and need nothing ever again. The grandfather may have just explained the entire theological concept of Easter by explaining he has been given something that will last him a lifetime and beyond. His needs are met.

When a preschooler asks you, ‘What is true?” I would suggest you choose your words very wisely. There is often more to truth than meets our eye or our stomach.

  • Think about a time you ate a lot and totally filled your stomach.
  • What feelings do you have when you eat a lot?
  • What is the truth of Easter for you?
  • Is your truth something you share with others as a dish to pass or do you keep it to yourself?

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”                1 Corinthians 15:14

 

“Why did Jesus Die?

A preschooler was asked, “Why did Jesus die?” He replied, “Because the bunny bit him!”

Bunnies can have big teeth

Bunnies can have big teeth

Preschoolers and Easter are a complicated situation. Easter is filled with bunnies and candy in the stores, yet the true story of Easter is so complex and filled with death, life from death, angels, forgiveness and the weight and sin of the world. Those concepts are complex for an adult let alone a three year old!

At my preschool we reenacted the story of Easter including the events of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the cross, the resurrection and how our current lives intersect with the story. Again, all are in-depth concepts that theologians interact with. However, preschoolers can amaze us at their depth of thinking.

Be ready to see their depth…….

While drinking the grape juice with our bread, a preschooler shared, “Hey, I need MORE juice here!” It is a good Christian theologian who says, “Yes, we do need more blood of Jesus in our lives here!”

Another preschooler took the little communion cup and said, “This is my medicine.” It is also a good Christian theologian who says, “Yes, Jesus can be the medicine I need.”

We shared that when Jesus was here, he told people to take the bread and drink and always remember Him. One preschooler refused to take either. She looked at me and said, “I remember Jesus everyday. I really don’t need to eat anything to remember Him.” Only the deepest spiritual lives remember their source of power at all times without any reminders. IMG_2571

When we passed out the bread, one preschooler shared, “I love honey on my bread, but if this is bread from Jesus, it probably is already really sweet.” Another thing a Christian theologian knows is that everything that does come from Christ is meant to be sweet in your life.

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Easter is complex, but it truly is a story that young preschoolers can interpret. A young three year old shared this with his mother today, “Once upon a time, the soldiers took Jesus and put a sharp crown on Jesus’ head and He died. They put him in a cave and they wrapped him up in a big blanket. A lady came and visited Jesus, she was a magic lady and she gave him muscles. The soldiers moved a big stone in front of the cave and then he was locked inside. But He was super strong and moved the Boulder and then he’s not dead. He is, he is alive! He is alive! The people LOVE Jesus. That’s it.”

The first thing I contemplated was the “magic lady” in his version. In talking with his mother, she wondered if the holy spirit resembles magic to a three year old. I have known plenty of adults who do not understand the holy spirit and the true “magical” power it holds. However, the final essence of this Easter story version has a powerful ending. “He is alive! The people LOVE Jesus. That’s it.” I truthfully have never spoken to a theologian who could offer the story of Easter in a more succinct sentence.

By the way, the preschooler who thought Jesus had been bitten by the rabbit, walked out of my school singing the song in the following link. I don’t know if a rabbit was there when Jesus died, but I do know he would have been surprised by an empty tomb.

Click here to see a message from some of my preschool friends.

  • What part of the Easter story is hardest for you to believe?
  • How would our world be different if ALL people would LOVE Jesus?
  • There are a lot of people who only think of a bunny at Easter, is there anything you would be able to do to change that? 
  • If you could have “magic lady” at your disposal, what would you ask for this Easter?

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“How many can I have?”

I was at a store while a preschooler stood looking at all the candy. It was a large amount to choose from for little eyes. She innocently asked, “How many can I have?” The mother was impatient and said, “Just pick one!” The little girl picked a box of gummy bears and said, “I will eat just one, but the other bears in the box sure are going to be lonely!”

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Could YOU just pick one?

 

Sometimes it is hard to be obedient. We want so much, but we have to be content with what we are offered. If we accept what is given to us, we open doors for more to follow. The preschooler with one gummy bear will be happily surprised as her mother allows her to eat more than one. However, we never really know what our limits will be until they are upon us. If we can remain happy with little, just imagine how much easier it will be to be happy when we are given much.

  • When have you had a time when one gift felt so good to receive?
  • Be honest, have you had a time when you were disappointed hoping you were going to receive more? Did you handle it the way you should have?
  • Think about a time when you or someone you know has received a gift bigger than what was expected.
  • Will you try to surprise someone this week with something they are not expecting?
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Who does God want you to love today?

I sat in a church with a group of preschoolers and asked them to be very still and ask God, “Who does God want you to love today?” We sat in silence as I thought about the profound answers I may hear. The first boy to eagerly raise his hand blurted, “God talked to me, and he said he wants me to love my TV and watch it all afternoon.”

If you can't name this girl, you may not know enough preschoolers.

If you can’t name this girl, you may not know enough preschoolers.

Wow, my ideas of God telling the preschoolers to love their family and friends and teachers and pets was derailed by the first child sharing he needs to love his television and watch it all afternoon. The percentages of children watching screen time is increasing in alarming rates. According to the Neilson Company, children are watching television 3.5 hours a day. 54% of children ages 4-6 would rather spend time watching television than spending time with their father.

Studies have shown that television viewing is associated with learning problems and language delays in preschoolers (Tanimura, 2007). Television viewing promotes attention problems (Christakis, 2004) and interferes with academic performance (Strasburger, 1986). More than 1,000 studies have shown an association between exposure to violent television programming and aggressive or violent behaviors in children (Strasburger, 2002), including early exposure as preschoolers and later antisocial behavior (Christakis, 2007). It is estimated that the average child views 12,000 acts of violence every year. Most network broadcasted shows for children contain 20 violent acts per hour.

With statistics like that, it no longer surprises me that television is on the minds of children. Movies like “Frozen” are very popular with my preschool friends. They talk about watching favorite things over and over while they also act out parts with great detail. The balance we all need is to help make the priorities of our hearts equal the priorities of our actions.

The average adult is worse than a child, we spend over 5 hours a day with a television which equates to a full 9 years of our lives trying to be entertained. If you start adding the screen time of going to the movies and looking up things on the internet, the numbers escalate.

We all have free will. (Any parent of a preschooler KNOWS that children will not always obey their parent.) We all can make choices. On this Valentine’s Day, let’s try to let our actions match what is really in our hearts. It is never too late to get out some glue and paper and make a Valentine for your loved ones. Also, remember that whoever you do love, you may want to spend some time with them.

My homemade Valentine given to me by a four year old.

My homemade Valentine given to me by a four year old.

  • On an average day, how much screen time do you have?
  • Will you bravely ask God who you should love today?
  • What are two things you could do today to better show how your heart aligns with your actions?

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“What are you doing on the chalkboard?”

I watched a preschooler draw a chalk drawing and then get out the eraser. I asked, “What are you doing on the chalkboard?” He said, “I am hiding my picture! Now it is only in my head!”

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When we erase things on the chalkboard, we think they are gone. We like seeing things disappear ready for a new creation. However, some things really do not just disappear even though we can’t see them.

Memories can be strong. They can hold things that no chalkboard will ever hold. Memories can bring back emotions, smells, textures and words that are brighter than any chalkboard could retrieve. We all need to try to live our lives so that even when the outward signs of our lives are erased, the inward memories remain positive things to hold onto.

  • Do you have a memory you would like to erase?
  • What is a memory you hope will never fade?
  • What things could you do to help use all of your memories to work together to create a collectively good picture?

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“Who won the Super Bowl?”

I asked a preschooler, “Who won the Super Bowl?” He said, my mommy did. I asked how that happened and he said, “My mommy made some dip for the party and my daddy said, ‘Now THAT is a winner!’ Then everyone else at the party said, ‘Yes, that is a winner.'”

Now THAT'S a winner!

Now THAT’S a winner!

If you watched the Big Game, you would have seen two very amazing plays at the end. One was by a rookie player named Malcolm Butler who basically ended the game that was preceded by an amazing juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse on his back. With something as big as a Super Bowl game, it is a big deal for a team to win and receive a ring. It is also a big deal to be named MVP. It is also a big deal to walk away with the winning ball.

We look at the winning team and the players, but there are really more wins in a day than one team. One of the players, Richard Sherman has a girlfriend named Ashley Moss due to deliver a baby in a week. While the game was playing, she was helping grow a future living, breathing person. Wow, that sounds like a win to me. While the game was playing, there were four game officials reffing their first Super Bowl game, and I am sure their families felt that was a win to have them on the field. A 30 second Super Bowl advertisement could cost 4.5 million dollars. There are plenty of ad executives that are hoping their ad was a winner for their company. The National Retail Federation’s Super Bowl Spending survey estimates that 184 million viewers will have spent a combined $14.3 billion – an average of $77.88 – on food, gameday gear, decorations and TVs. Maybe the economy is one of the winners for this day. Pizzerias across the country expect a 35% increase in sales for Super Bowl Sunday. They definitely look at this day as a winning day for their business.

I am also thinking like my preschool friend that there are many, many mothers who were winners the day of the Super Bowl. They had children in the games. They had children in the stands watching. They had delicious dip they created for the party. Mom’s may never be in the NFL, but many are certainly in the Now Frequently Loved category.

As we think about all the commercials of the Super Bowl, this one was not one of them, but I think it is a winner. It may not deal with football, but I do think it honors all the moms out there who make a delicious dip for their families and are true winners in their children’s eyes.

  • Who do you think is a winner in your life?
  • Do you think the winners in your life think of themselves as winners?
  • What could you do this week to help someone recognize their winning attributes?

 

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“What did I forget?”

I brought a preschooler to the bathroom, and patiently waited while he finished. I helped him wash his hands and, he said, “You forgot something!” I paused and could not think of anything else a preschooler usually does in the bathroom. I had to ask, “What did I forget?” He said, “You forgot to say P.U.! My mommy always says P.U. when I poop in the bathroom.”

What did I forget?

What did I forget?

Sometimes I forget how important  parents’ routines are in a child’s life. When parents consistently do things over and over, children pay attention. Things become routine and normal for a child. Each parent gets to set their own routines and phrases in their lives. If I had to make a guess, the parent of the child who I was talking to was not thinking they were making long-standing rules for bathroom etiquette as they say, “P.U.”. That is often what happens in parenting. We say things without realizing how well our children are listening.

We get so caught up in trying to get our children to listen to us so they will clean their rooms and eat their healthy dinner that we forget they are actually listening at other times. They are listening when we talk to strangers in the grocery store. They are listening when we whisper to our friends. They are listening when we have disagreements with our spouses. They are listening when we tell the other person on the phone that we are busy doing our work when we are really on our way to a movie.

We have heard that an elephant never forgets, but a preschooler can act like an elephant if the conditions are right. Hopefully more things are pleasant memories than ones filled with P.U..

  • What is something you remember your parents saying a lot?
  • Do you have a memory of your parents’ words sneaking out of your mouth at some point?
  • If you could be assured a child would always remember your words, what is one thing you would like to tell him? 

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“Does it have important words?”

I was at a preschool fair and got to see children get an Energizer Bunny encouraging them to be energized at our preschool. I heard one mother ask if he wanted her to read the words on the bunny. He said, “Mom, does it have important words? I want a bunny that I can share with the new puppy. Does it have words that say “Dogs LOVE to play with this”? Words like that are really important.”

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Everyone has different needs and sees different things as important. At a preschool fair, parents walk around and look at dozens of schools all trying to vie for their attention. Each school has a little different flavor, emphasis, cost and time provided. The choices can be overwhelming for parents. I heard a parent in the hallway share that he could pay more for his two year old’s education at one school than his own first year of college. Choosing a preschool can be a daunting task.

We can be given lists of what to look for in a good preschool. Things like class size, licensing standards, teacher qualifications, curriculum choices, risk management plans and discipline policies are all very important to look at and understand. However, we also have to always look at the schools from the child’s perspective and what he or she is truly wanting and needing to get out of his day.

While we are busy thinking about academic preparedness, our child can be thinking about his favorite new puppy and how to love him. Life’s needs are a bigger span than any of us can really realize. We all are energized through different things. While some of us love to read, others like do art projects, others like to build things and others like to find friends and pretend they are all in the kitchen baking together. Good schools will honor all of the things children love to do. By honoring the wiring of the child, they are in essence energizing them.

Children who are energized will be happier, healthier and easier to get along with. Children have a natural form of energy that when used in the right form can change the world they live in. Adults also have this same energy although we have often dismissed it. Parents walk around tired and dragging and often missing out on the zest for living that a preschooler has. They have more commitments that often leads to more confinements and makes it harder to remember that sometimes a new puppy needs to have fun with a new toy.

  • What things drain energy from you?
  • What are things that pour energy into you?
  • What are some ways we can be more like a preschooler and enjoy our energy with others? 
  • What are some important words that you need to hear or share with others?

“When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple.”
Paulo Coelho

P.S. The last blog post was about decluttering. Last week I received 21 stuffed Energizer Bunnies, and I will gladly say they have been kept from a landfill or a lonely basement and given new homes. Sometimes decluttering can bring energy to long forgotten things. Maybe you have something you can gift someone else today. If you can’t find “something”, than share some important words.

 

“What is decluttering?”

A  mother shared with her preschooler that she was going to a meeting about decluttering.  The child asked, “What is decluttering?” The mother explained she was going to learn about how to get rid of things she did not need anymore. The preschooler quickly went to the dad and said, “Dad, I need to stick with you because I think mom is going to a meeting to learn how to get rid of us!”

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At the decluttering meeting this week sponsored by Lifetree Cafe, we learned that clutter is anything we don’t love, don’t need or don’t use. Our minds were on physical items and how to clear new spaces for the new year. However, these same concepts can be applied to people. We want to tell children we will love them forever, and we will never leave them, but sometimes things do change. Divorces happen. Deaths occur. We move across the country and leave good friends or family.

Sometimes it is right to let people leave from our lives. Abuse and neglect are not things to tolerate in a healthy life. We need to be strong and look at every physical thing and every breathing person and evaluate where they belong in our lives and how much of our heart they will occupy. Children and adults thrive on being loved, and the biggest gift you can give someone is a large place in your heart far from the clutter of anything to distract you.

Clutter is distracting. It takes us away from what we really value. It takes up space so that other things cannot fit. Less stuff can mean less to organize, less to clean and less to store which can give you more room to breathe. Less just may be the way to more. The trick is to calculate what are the right things to declutter from your life.

  • What are three things you truly value?
  • What can you do to show your loved ones that they will not be a casualty of you decluttering your life?
  • What are some things you really do need to let go of so that your loved ones have more room in your life?

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What will you do this New Year?

I asked a preschooler, “What will you do this New Year?” He said, “I don’t think I am done getting old yet so I really should not get new.”

Hope you can piece together your new year to make it what you want.

Hoping you can piece together your new year to make it what you want….

2015 is a new opportunity for everyone. We make resolutions, we look for new beginnings and we hope our past failures will not follow us. Out with the old and in with the new is a common thought as we declutter not only our physical spaces but our internal souls. As we look at starting fresh and imagining who we want to be, it is not wrong to embrace the past and not rush into making changes where they don’t belong.

Some of us don’t need a lot of new in our lives. We like many aspects of our lives and don’t want to have a new microwave oven with so many buttons that we can’t remember which one to push. We don’t desire a computer that keeps asking us to update its operating system. However, the world moves fast. There is now smart clothing we can wear that will tell us which muscles we are using and how efficient our movements are. There are outlets that monitor our electricity usage and allows us to shut things off from across the country with a phone. We can even feed our dog with an iPhone app. If you are not good at throwing with accuracy, there has been a garbage can invented that will move to match the trajectory of what you throw at it. New inventions to solve problems are something we will always have.

The trick is to figure out what in our life is really a problem that needs a change and what is something that is old and working just fine. A new year does not need to be a time to do everything new. It can be a time to be grateful for the old. The balance between the two is what we all need to find.

  • What is something from your past that you don’t want ever to change?
  • What is something that you would like to change in this next year?
  • How can you find peace when what you don’t want to change actually does change and what you want to change just does not happen?

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”
Hal Borland

 

What does our school need for Christmas?

I asked a preschooler, “What does our school need for Christmas?” He replied, “I really want to ask Santa for a new faucet, but he really only has a toy shop. I think I will have to ask Mrs. Claus to go shopping.”

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On this last day before Christmas, there are many things we are getting ready for. We may be baking cookies, preparing food, assembling presents, wrapping presents, writing special Christmas cards, cleaning our homes and decorating that last area we forgot about. Many of us are wishing we had a Santa and a Mrs. Claus and a supply of elves to magically get all things done.

Maybe this is a Christmas where you can take time to not worry about every little thing. The big thing is the way you treat the people who will enter into your world. The Jesus that came for the first Christmas came into a stable with hay and no presents until he was a toddler. The king did not even have one gift on his birthday, no special foods prepared, no decorations on trees and houses, no playlists carefully structured, no cards made out and no gift receipts to keep track of. All that was present for that first Christmas was love in a human form. It was a love that was so great it could wash away all our sins with no faucet required.

  • What preparations did you do for this Christmas? 
  • Are the things you do all motivated with showing others love, or are some of them motivated by relieving guilt and not being judged?
  • Realizing that even Santa cannot do everything, what could you do to make this Christmas a time of bringing love in human form as your gift?

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” St. Augustine