Little Ones

toddler-1312853_1920Imagine what the world must look like, feel like, smell like, to an infant experiencing wind, sunshine, and the melodious chirping of birds for the first time. What must be going through the mind of a toddler the first time they taste ice cream? What drives them to push onto their tiny, fat feet, again and again, undaunted by the countless times they’ve fallen?

Every giggle, every growth spurt, and adorable toddle forward is a glimpse into the heart and mind of the Heavenly Father who created them. Today my guest, Ada Brownell, reminds us to look for the special and amazing in our little ones.

-Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.-Psalm 127-3, NLT

Children: Amazing Little People
by Ada Brownell

Busyness filled my days when our five children came into the world, and although I thought about how cute and wonderful each are, I didn’t grasp the whole picture about the wonder of a child.

My husband and I walk in the mall frequently. Lately I’m struck by the amazing little people everywhere. The mall has a play area and yesterday a little fellow, probably about 18 months old, climbed up and considered going down the slide head first.

kids-635473_640A sister, about age 3 or 4, went around him and showed him how to go down on his bottom. He watched, sat his back side on the slide and slid down, grinning. He figured it out himself by watching.

One of our grandchildren had baby lingo no one could understand, but when our son told, with a laugh, about some of the child’s ornery antics, the child grinned. He understood every word. That ended sharing the boy’s mischief, even if it was cute, when he was present.

What struck me recently is how wonderful God’s creation and design is, and it shows up most amazingly in children.

How they got here in the first place is more than our minds can fathom.

I’ve watched our grandchildren look their mommies and daddies over shortly after birth, and they’re not very old when they can recognize them across the room.

New brains are like a blank sheet of paper, although fantastic stored data governing our neurological systems and instincts operate even while we’re still in the womb. What God “programmed” into us commanded our arms, legs, fingers, toes to move even before birth. Instincts God installed in our DNA prompted us to suck, swallow, cry, and feel hunger, as well as caused the various inner parts of our body to function.

baby-20339_640Babies arrive with a brain download to literally cry for love, care, and being held, and they won’t thrive without these things.

When we were a few months of age, we learned to coordinate movements so we could reach for things because our muscles and brains developed that capacity. Nevertheless, we needed outside stimuli to use the potential from the brain. Children given no attention often don’t learn to sit, walk, or talk.

We learned language skills by imitating. If Mom kept saying “Mama” over and over to us, soon we worked our mouths and tongues around, using our vocal cords so we could come up with a fairly good imitation. Sometimes the child says “Dada” first, and “no” comes soon after.

If the parents speak Chinese, the child obviously learns Chinese instead of English, and children of Spanish-speaking parents communicate in Spanish or whatever language is spoken in the home.

All through childhood, children imitate what they see and hear. We imitate others all our lives. For instance, we imitate experts on everything from sports to dancing, to gardening, to playing or singing music, to doing tricks on a bicycle or skateboard. But imitation isn’t all there is. At some point we think for ourselves. Nevertheless, the decisions we make are based on input we receive around us.child-945422_640

As a parent I exposed our children to godly teaching, wonderful Christian people, and challenges of learning things that matter. Too bad I wasn’t a perfect parent, but none of us are. Yet God gives wisdom if we ask, and ask I did. I’m so thankful all of our five children love God with all their hearts and live for Him. But the other wonderful people who invested their time and energy in our children deserve much of the credit and to God the glory.

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The Peach Blossom Rancher, Sequel to The Lady Fugitive

 

John Lincoln Parks’ works to rebuild his deceased father’s peach and horse ranch, thrown into ruin by a wicked uncle, murdered in the last book.

Amazon Fugitive Cover

The prequel to The Peach Blossom Rancher

John yearns for a wife to help him make the ranch all it should be. He has his eye on his sister’s elegant matron of honor, Valerie MacDougal, a young widow. But Valerie, a law school graduate, returns to Boston to live with her parents since her little son was born. John and Valerie write, he’s kissed her a few times, but while in Boston Valerie and one of her father’s law partners try to get three patients wrongfully judged as insane, out of the Boston asylum and they spend a lot time together.

Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor who has been in love with John since they were in grade school? Edwina’s father is in a wheelchair and she’s taking care of their ranch. John tries to help and protect this neighbor who has a Peeping Tom whose bootprints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. But John and Edwina fuss at one another constantly. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

Tentative Release Date June 1, 2016

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ada brownell (1)When Ada Brownell sat down to write The Peach Blossom Rancher, the sequel to The Lady Fugitive, she drew from her experience growing up in Colorado’s Peach Country near Grand  Junction, picking peaches and working in a packing shed.

In addition, she uses some of what she learned about early 1900s misdiagnosis of insanity. Ada covered the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on her beat as a journalist for The Pueblo Chieftain.

Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six other books, and more than 350 stories and articles in Christian publications. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Find Ada on iTunes, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and her website.

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Let’s talk about this: We often get carried away by the day-to-day job of parenting and don’t take time to really think about God’s amazing creation of children. What aspect of your children amazes you? Do you have any favorite memories or stories? Share them in the comments below. I’d love to learn a bit about you and your kids!

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Faith Lived Out

Before I get too far, it has come to my attention that I forgot to post the link to Sweet Freedom’s free kindle version. Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN8WAY

For formatting and cost reasons, the kindle version is black and white. For those of you who want the full-color PDF version, let me know and I can send it to you via email. Those of you who’d prefer a print version can purchase it at cost plus shipping (as soon as it is available). Again, just let me know and I’ll get it to you.

When our daughter was young, Bible reading came easily. I simply added it to our nightly story time. Then the tween years hit, and suddenly it became a struggle. I wanted her to grab hold of her faith–to grow excited about the things of God, but she still seemed to need a great deal of prodding.

I got worried. I knew she was saved, so why wasn’t she hungry for God’s Word? What could I do to help her grow excited about spiritual matters?

I tried everything. Nagging, reminding … nagging. And more nagging.

Until one day, my husband warned me: “You need to chill out. You’re going to drive her away.”

Ouch! But he was right. I was pushing so hard–out of fear–that I turned what should have been a special time between her and her Savior into a have-to and a power struggle between an increasingly independent teen and her hovering, worrying, slightly overbearing mother. 🙂

So I pulled back and increased my prayers, asking God to help me make spiritual matters more natural.

I soon realized the best spiritual discussions flowed from our day–from what God was teaching me.

Deuteronomy 11:13-21 lays out the most effective ways parents can train their children to draw and stay close to God:

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

I imagine many of you are familiar with the latter part of this passage–the portion talking about training your children. But I began at verse 13 on purpose, because we can “teach” ourselves breathless, but if we’re not living our faith out, our words will be nothing more than noise, and annoying noise at that. But when our words are backed up by consistent action–wow, what a powerful example that sets.

It’s really not hard, although at first it might feel awkward, but like anything, the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

I like to use car rides to begin faith conversations. I figure this gives me a captive audience. 🙂

1. I begin with prayer, asking God to help me stay alert to natural opportunities to share what God’s doing in my life. I’ve found openly talking about a personal area in need of growth really helps open our daughter up. Never be afraid to share spiritual struggles with your children–areas where you come up short and where God is working to grow you. This helps remove the “I am parent-you are child, so listen” atmosphere, creating one that is instead more relaxed and loving.

2. Pray out loud. Prayers flit through my brain often, but for some reason, they rarely left my lips. Then one day I realized how many teaching moments I was missing out on simply because I kept my prayers silent. What if I began saying them out loud so my daughter could hear them–not just those family prayers over mealtimes or before bed, but the quick shout-out, one sentence prayers? And what if I verbalized gratitude for things I encountered throughout the day? Would that make it more natural for our daughter to do the same?

3. I began to help my daughter connect the spiritual dots throughout her day–to stay alert to “God-happenings.” A funny thing happened–the more we expressed gratitude for things God had done, the more we saw His hand throughout the day.

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LivingbyGracepic

 

Let’s talk about this. What are some ways you live out God’s commands in Deuteronomy 11? Any special childhood memories you can share, perhaps of a dear grandmother who often told you Bible stories near a crackling fire? Or maybe of a special note with a Bible verse included your mother used to slip into your school lunch? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by   Grace.