Tag Archives: Encouraging Children

Two Are Better Than One

I have never been interested in gardening, nor have I liked to garden. I tried a vegetable garden many years ago, but bugs and critters gained more benefit from it than our family did. I sometimes get physically sick when I get too hot, and gardening in Kansas involves heat. My back hurts frequently, and being bent over to garden can exasperate the pain. Therefore, I simply purchase our vegetables at the grocery store.

With that background, you need to know that I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who wants to garden. She has been learning about gardening. She started with flower gardening last summer, and this year expanded to vegetable gardening. Her dad has purchased reference books for her and invested in the necessary equipment: seeds, fertilizer, fencing to keep the dog out, mulch, stakes, gardening gloves, gardening tools, and more that I probably don’t even know about.

As the summer has progressed, Anna has been caring for her gardens. She shares with us her successes and concerns. One day, I realized that while I am not a gardener, I could help her keep up with both the vegetable and flower gardens. “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). I enlisted myself, Mary, age 9, and Jesse, age 11, for a half hour each morning to work with Anna. Together we tackled weeding, watering, and deadheading the flowers. The work went quite quickly, was manageable in half-hour increments in the morning before the worst of the heat set in, and gained us good fellowship time.

To be quite frank, after making the plan to garden every morning, I dreaded the thought of spending a half hour a day in the heat, bent over in the dirt with the bugs. That is a pretty good summation of my feelings toward gardening. However, I wanted to help and encourage Anna in developing her gardening skills and in the blessing her work is to our family. That desire overcame my dislike of the task. Do you know what happened in the process? I realized I could go for an early morning walk on a hot Kansas summer morning, come home, get down on my hands and knees, and pull weeds for half an hour, continuously dripping sweat, and survive! Not only did I survive, but I was happy.

I enjoyed the results of our work. The flowers began to look very nice as we eliminated the weeds in the mulched areas and took off the dead blooms. I liked spending time with Anna, Jesse, and Mary. I even developed an interest in Anna’s gardening. Together we pulled out her Home Depot comprehensive gardening book and read about how we were to deadhead her flowers. We learned why one would deadhead flowering plants and how to deadhead various types of flowers. The next day, we took our pruners and scissors outside to put into practice what we had learned. When my mom sent over her Birds and Blooms magazine for us to see, I sat down with Anna to look at the sample gardens, discuss the plants highlighted in them, and learn what we could about our gardening.

Every day as we worked together, Anna thanked Jesse, Mary, and me for our help. She has owned the gardening as her project and was grateful for others pitching in to assist her. We were blessed to be able to give her some additional encouragement for her investment of time in the family gardening. I think Jesse and Mary will be developing their gardening skills as they work with Anna as well.

I wonder if I might, through my summer gardening experience, encourage others to explore a child’s area of interest in a practical realm with that child. As a homeschool mom, I would much rather be my child’s teacher or learn with her than to send her to someone else for that part of her education. I didn’t know anything about gardening nor did I even like it, but I could find the resources to teach both Anna and me about gardening. I can give her time to study gardening, plus I can learn right alongside her. Anna’s gardening education and experience will be a benefit to her and our family both now and in the future. My investment of time and energy in this pursuit will be helpful to me as well.

A year and a half ago, the Lord began directing our family, through Steve, to begin to learn to play instruments like the guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. Neither Steve nor I are musicians, but we believed we could facilitate our children in their learning while we were learning alongside them. The outcome of this has been that every member of our family can now play at least one instrument and some can play several. We have begun to learn to sing harmony. We have been able to play and sing together as a family in nursing homes and at homeschool conferences. Our family ministry has been enhanced because of a simple decision to pursue an educational adventure together with our children. Isn’t that what we as homeschool families are all about? Here is a link to Steve’s Dad’s Corner on this topic from last year.

It is important to us that we build and develop our relationships with our children. We see this as a vital part of keeping our children’s hearts. Spending time with them in an area of their interest, learning and working together, is one perfect vehicle for doing this. We are turning our hearts to our children when we do this. “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Not only do we gain the benefits the particular interest affords, but we are making precious memories as well. All the time I spend with a child when we are together will be hours we are investing in communication and our relationship.

As homeschooling moms, we are afforded the perfect opportunity to help and encourage our children in their practical interests. Even if it is an area we dislike, we can choose to set those feelings aside while we plunge into the endeavor with the child. While it is likely we won’t be qualified to be a teacher for every interest, we can be a learner with our child. There are benefits to be gained from learning and working with our children – in our relationships with them, in their education, and in ours as well. May we be moms who will step out of our comfort zones to join our children as they pursue their education in practical areas of life.

A Word Fitly Spoken

Recently, Sarah was going through some paper keepsakes she had tucked into an envelope. She discovered three notes that I had written to her perhaps six to eight years ago. As she read them out loud to me, I realized what treasures they were, but at the same time my heart was stricken. Her next words were already in my mind. “Wow, it’s been a long time since you have written me a note like that.”

I rather quickly dismissed my guilty feelings with the thought that I don’t have time these days to write encouragement notes to the children. The Lord Jesus didn’t let my mind rest for long, though. Sunday morning when the sermon dealt with dying to self, the Lord began convicting me. He reminded me that I will take time to write an e-mail to a friend. If I have minutes enough for that, shouldn’t I have minutes enough for my children? Which is the higher priority: investing in my children, encouraging them spiritually, and drawing their hearts to me, or writing an e-mail?

As a result of these two situations, I have now begun writing my children notes of encouragement and gratitude. Writing a note to a child before writing an e-mail to a friend is my goal. I discovered that it only takes me five or ten minutes to write a love note to a child, whereas I can easily spend a half an hour writing a personal letter to a friend.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). As mothers who want our children to grow spiritually and who desire to keep our children’s hearts, I encourage us to see the value in writing notes to them. These notes do not have to be long or complicated to be beneficial. I want to share with you the three notes Sarah read to me that afternoon. After reading these real-life examples, I expect you will have many wonderful ideas for notes much better than these that you could write to your children. These notes weren’t written with the thought that anyone else would read them, but I have included them so that you can see they were very simple and written for different occasions. Yet, for many years now Sarah has kept them and read them from time to time. Their power and value has greatly surpassed the power and value they had when they were first written and read.

Sarah,

Thank you for the gift you gave your family tonight in our delicious dinner. It is a long labor of love—I am glad you enjoy it—but it is still an investment of your time. I see maturity in you when you tell me how you thought about your time last night and saw the benefits of investing in your little brothers and sisters.

Our dinner was a gift to me especially, too. Can you imagine how difficult it would have been for me to have dinner to prepare plus Anna’s three or four vomiting sessions? But instead I was able to be with her in her need, play with Mary, help you with your sewing, and help a tad in the kitchen.

I love you, my daughter and delight to see God working in your life. Love, Mom

Dearest Sarah,

It’s been a long time since I have shared one of my mints with you. You are a delightful daughter, and I am glad you are mine. Love you forever, Mom

Dear Sarah,

I want you to know despite some of the struggles we are having that I love you very much, and you are precious to me. I love to see your sensitivity to God’s Spirit and His working in your life. You are a tremendous physical help to Mom, and I am grateful for all you do to help. Learning to serve has eternal value—many things teenage girls do, do not. Ask the Lord for His desires for your time and life, and you will not be disappointed. Love, Mom

“The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21). The sweetness of our lips can be transferred to the written page. Our words to our children can be spiritually encouraging. In our notes, we have the ability to share with a child what we see the Lord doing in his life and how we are praying for that child. We can thank a child for a special kindness he has done. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Our words in our notes will be written reminders to our children of our love for them and our gratitude to the Lord for them. As we encourage them spiritually with pleasant words, this verse says it will be sweet to their soul and health to their bones.

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). In this verse, I read what I have discovered myself: that when I write my child a note, it not only encourages the child but it brings joy to my heart as well.

“The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat” (Proverbs 15:30). Written notes are an excellent way to give a child a good report. Knowing God’s thoughts about pride, we don’t want to foster that in our children. “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). I believe our encouragement notes are a vehicle of giving a child a good report without accommodating pride in his life. We can focus on the work the Lord is doing in the child’s life that has led to our words of praise for him. We will express gratitude for the child’s obedience to the Lord’s working and promptings in his life.

Spoken words vanish in a flash except for the memory of them. However, written words can be kept, read, and reread for days, months, and even years. I have notes that Steve has written to me through the years, along with ones the children have written plus ones from others. These words were all blessings and encouragements to me when I first read them. In addition, I have read them at various times through the years. Truly, they are treasures to me.

Since the Lord convicted me of the importance of note writing a few weeks ago, I have written six notes and look forward to writing many more. I left one note on the bathroom sink that the child uses, slipped one under the child’s bedroom door, and placed another one on the child’s bed. One note I cleverly placed in the child’s Bible at the spot we were currently reading for our family Bible time. Thankfully, I had folded the note and placed the child’s name on the outside, because I had not so cleverly put it in the wrong child’s Bible. Even figuring out where to leave the note has brought joy to my heart, but not nearly as much joy as seeing the eyes and smile of the child as he relates to me his discovery and reading of the note. It is a very small amount of time investment for a very huge return.

The notes I wrote many years ago, which I have shared as examples, were not written with any particular goal in mind. Now I have several goals for my notes. First, I want them to express my love for that child. I would like the child to feel a huge outpouring of love through my words. A second goal is to communicate positive spiritual growth that I am observing in the child’s life. My final goal is to share Scripture I am praying for the child. My notes may not always meet all three goals, and they certainly may have additional topics in them, but I have come to value these three goals in notes written to my children.

May I encourage us to take a few minutes of time from our busy days to bless our children by writing them encouraging notes. I always feel that small steps toward a goal are better than no steps as all. If I began now to write one note a week, it would only take five or ten minutes from each week. In the course of a year, I would have written fifty-two notes. This would mean each of my seven children who are still living at home would get seven love notes from Mom this coming year. Wow! It makes me sad to think about the recent years when I have chosen to let busyness crowd out my note writing. What am I willing to sacrifice of my personal time to bless my children by writing to them my thoughts, feelings, and spiritual encouragement? Will I put them ahead of other activities on which I spend my time? May we be mothers who choose to build our relationships with our children and to spur them on to love and good works through our written words to them.