To Bell or Not to Bell

One morning in January of 2016, I dropped a kettlebell when exercising with Teri. Over a few years we had been progressing nicely in our “bell” routines but something had changed. My right forearm had been progressively getting weaker. Okay, I know it was supposed to be getting stronger but something wasn’t right. I was quite disappointed with this and felt if I couldn’t swing one safely, it was time to quit.

The weakness in my forearm was affecting even small things like mousing, eating and brushing my teeth. I hoped that given rest over time, it would return to normal. No success—disappointing.

Unbeknown to be, Teri did some Internet sleuthing and suggested I watch a video she found on forearm stretching. Over a few short weeks of stretching, I’m almost back to normal. Was the video the answer? Partially. Was it Teri’s love and concern? Partially. What was it? Prayer. We had been praying for months.

Every family is going to face challenges with no obvious answers. Pray, then as God gives direction/light, investigate. We seek His face in all things. As His children, He will never abandon or forsake us. If we suffer, we know He has a purpose, and we learn through it whatever comes. All things, always, work together for good—always. Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Steve

Here’s the More Difficult One

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

We read in 2:9 that “the tree of life was in the midst,” likely center of the Garden. Was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil close to the tree of life, which was in the midst? I believe so, because of how easily Eve observed it when she was being tempted. Very likely Adam and Eve would see the forbidden tree on a regular basis. The fruit was, “… good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise…” (Genesis 3:6). It was very tempting indeed.

Did God put it there to tempt them for evil? Not according to James 1:13. Then why was the tree there? What benefit was it? Could it be it was for man to exercise his free will on a regular basis and choose good? The more “he” exercised his will in right choices, the stronger and more reliable in self-control “he” would have been and the better prepared for a life of self-discipline for following his God. That’s a lot to think about.

Steve

Here’s the First

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”(Genesis 2:15).

God is always good, always. God gave Adam His best, and He gave Adam purpose. Adam was not ever to be bored because he had his work cut out for him. If you want to see a sparkle in your children’s eyes and a spring in their step, give them something worthwhile to work toward. Get them used to the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.

Observe the youth and young adults of today. Would you characterize them as having purpose and good work ethics? God gave Adam purpose and a reason to work right away in a perfect environment. He was to work/serve (dress) and manage (keep) the garden. Without meaningful work, life is dull and boring, and children (and adults) will turn to the pursuit (and addiction) of entertainment and pleasure.

If you want to see a possible “result” of boredom, laziness, and lack of godly purpose, read and meditate on Ezekiel 16:49.

Second one next week…

Steve

What Were They?

What were two essentials that God gave Adam in the garden that every parent would do well to help his children with? Give it a week to think about. I’m not asking you to send me your ideas. Just think about it. Hint: I’m not referring to the obvious such as food, clothing, and a place to live.

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).

Listening: The Basis for Conversation

Recently I did standardized testing for my eight-year-old, homeschooled granddaughter. One section of the test was on listening skills. I read Abby a passage, and then she was to answer questions from it without me reading it to her again. She had to recall facts and make deductions from the information. As young as eight years old, the public educational system sees the value in being able to listen.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Here we see that listening comes before speaking and actually has urgency applied to it. Communication isn’t simply being able to talk, but also listening in order to reply based on understanding. Listening often conveys value to the person who is talking, and that is of paramount importance for a Christian.

If we want our children to be excellent communicators, then we will be developing their listening skills. At the most basic level, listening involves being able to repeat what was said. A more advanced listener will understand the exact words, and the heart communication behind those words.

How can we help children learn to listen? First, it is important to have them make eye contact with you or anyone who is talking to them. Many children we interact with don’t make eye contact in a conversation and that often carries into adulthood. Eye contact helps to secure the focus needed for attentive listening, and it conveys to the speaker that he is being heard. Keep bringing your child back to looking at you when you are talking to him.

We parents set the example for our children in listening attentively with eye contact. If we are looking at our phones, computers, books, or anywhere except the child’s eyes when he is talking to us, then we are teaching him that listening can be done half-heartedly. I have regularly heard someone texting or reading e-mail say, “I am listening,” only to have it obvious a few minutes later that the person does not have the communication that was being given. He might have heard words, but he wasn’t able to process or retain them.

To help develop listening skills, we can have the child repeat back to us in their own words what they understood. This step takes time and isn’t necessary in every conversation. It is particularly important, however, in the ones where the child is responsible for the information, such as when he is given a task to do or told not to do something. I remember from raising our children how frequently I felt I was clear in my communication to them only to find out later they either didn’t hear at all or misunderstood. That result occurred because I didn’t take time to have them repeat back to me what I had said.

We can also ask our children questions about what I have shared with them in a conversation. Depending on the questions, we cause them not only to recall what they have heard but also to process it by drawing conclusions. We might even get them to consider heart attitudes that are behind the actual words.

We want our children to grow up with the ability to listen to others. In our normal, everyday life we help them toward that by how we model listening, teaching them to make eye contact when listening, having them repeat what we have said or asking them questions about it. This doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult, but it will help if you make it a focus and priority.

Last month, I shared that our resource, Making Great Conversationalists">Making Great Conversationalists, would help in preparing your children to be effective communicators. By your response in ordering that book, we see again how needed it is. Please, if you haven’t already, order your copy. Teaching your children good communication and listening skills is vital to their success in life!