Mastering Holiday Stress: Secrets to Finding Peace

Mastering Holiday Stress: Secrets to Finding Peace

Welcome to Heart of the Matter Radio/Podcast. This week we have author and counselor Tina Yeager give us tips on Mastering Holiday stress.

Listen here

Cynthia:

The Christmas season is here again. And so many of us get so stressed at Christmas because we’re going to celebrate and we’re going to celebrate hard.  We make all these plans, and we suddenly realize that we really can’t do it all. And we get kind of irritable and stressed. And it becomes a difficult season for moms because usually moms are the ones that do so much of the work. So today I have with me Tina Yeager, and she’s a fantastic teacher and counselor, and she’s going to kind of give us some tips on having a peaceful Christmas for us while we try to do stuff for other people. So welcome, Tina,

Tina:

Cynthia, it’s always a joy to spend time with you and to share with your viewers and listeners.

Cynthia:

Yes. Give us some tips on how we can make Christmas peaceful.

Tina:

Well, we need to make sure that we’re focusing on the right things at Christmas, the meaning instead of the materialism that’s around us. Make sure that you’re putting people and faith as your top priorities this Christmas instead of all the pressure stuff. Things that seem to be important because everybody’s doing them and everybody’s pushing them from commercialism. Instead of making that your priority, make sure that every day begins with Jesus. How can I honor you today as the meaning of my Christmas season?

Cynthia:

Do you ever have overlapping parties? What do you do about that?

Tina:

Well, it’s okay to say no and to decline gracefully. And I think it’s important to say no and decline gracefully. You need to set ahead of time a schedule of what your capacity is and everyone’s capacity is different. Your health is something you need to consider your energy levels and your fatigue levels. Also think about your temperament. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How many kids you’re bringing and getting babysitting for, all of that is going to play into your capacity.  Mark out what you can do.

And then once those slots get filled, you have to say no. I’m sorry I’m overbooked for the holiday season, but I appreciate you. Sending them a thank you card for inviting. Let them know how much they mean to you is a great way to let them know gracefully.

 

Cynthia:

I feel like a party pooper when I do that sometimes.

Tina:

But if you do it well and you help that person feel loved with just a little extra handwritten note. Let them know how much you appreciate that, and that you want to still be invited the next time. That can help get rid of that feeling.

Cynthia:

Or maybe invite them to do something with you after the New Year starts.

Tina:

That might be another way. If you tell them instead, “I’m going to do a friends I love get-together on Valentine’s Day week and then maybe we can catch up then.”

Cynthia:

I like that because I’m already starting to feel that pressure even now and it’s early in the month. I mean, it is fun, but you only do so much without getting overwhelmed. What other tips do you have?

Tina:

Well, I think planning is helpful, and scheduling time to make that time to plan is important. I think that setting that and making sure you have room for margin.

Margin needs to be big enough to accommodate self-care and peace, your faith journey, and making sure that you have scheduled time for unexpected things. Those things happen whether you’ve scheduled time for them or not. If you don’t plan enough margin to cover that, then you’ll be behind the gun underneath and overwhelmed and too many things that you already had planned to do, and now you can’t catch up on them. And all those things happen.

So, emergencies and last-minute things will come up.

Make sure you have room in your schedule for those.

Cynthia:

And it seems like a lot of times when we get asked to a party, we’re asked to also bring a gift. I could do without the gift because I’d rather just be with the people. Is there any way to squirm out of that gracefully?

Tina:

Depends on the party, and it depends on the party host. You can ask, are your guests bringing you a gift? At this party? It’s okay to ask that question. And instead of bringing a gift that costs you money, you could bring something to all your parties that you make ahead of time in a batch, for example, I like to make for people that are work friends or neighbors or people that aren’t family members, but you need to give them a little something. I like to make Russian spice tea, and you could make a big batch of that and put it in little jars. And these can be upcycled jars that you had for jellies or jams. And you just put like a little sticker on the top and say, here’s how many tablespoons of this Russian spice tea mix there are, and put a little bow on it. Then you’re done with all of those hostess gifts that you have to bring.

Cynthia:

That’s a good idea. Something that you make is going to be more personable anyway and it’s less expensive.

Tina:

I mean, if you want to make a batch of cookies and put them in a cute little dollar store box, you can do that too.

Cynthia:

What other ideas do you have for reducing stress?

Tina:

Make sure that you are making personal gifts as well, instead of having to purchase all your gifts. Some of the most meaningful gifts are the ones that you make yourself. And it doesn’t always have to take hours and hours. If you’re not somebody who can knit a whole sweater, then maybe that’s not the kind of personal gift you want to do.

Last year I made Christmas ornaments for each of my family members, and it was part of their gift. It wasn’t their only gift, but each ornament was made in a shape. I bought them at Michael’s and these little wooden shapes, and I put words that I decoupaged that described that person’s best traits all over that outside of the ornament.

So, it was very personal and something they could keep forever.

Cynthia:

That is nice. What I’ve been doing this past year is knitting my washcloths for the kitchen so that I have a rag that I’ve done myself that I can wipe down the table with and stuff. And that might be a nice gift to give somebody.

Tina:

Yes, you could do that. You could create a little scripture verse and put it with it and wrap it nicely with a pretty ribbon. Ribbon can make anything look like it’s more elegant, even if it’s inexpensive. And you can get ribbons at the dollar store.

Cynthia:

Great. So, do we tend to cut back on sleep in the holidays? Because I know parties go late. That’s one thing that causes me a lot of stress.

Tina:

When we don’t sleep, we get less productive. It seems like that lack of sleep is making us get more done. But you’re working slower. You’re not being as efficient, so you get less done when you don’t sleep. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can cut back on sleep. The other thing that happens when you don’t sleep is that you get sick and this is cold and flu season, so you don’t want to be sleep-deprived going into all these holiday gatherings either. You will be able to do more, see more people, and be a bigger blessing if you get the rest that you need.

Cynthia:

And so, for those of us who are tempted to stay up when there’s a party that we do go to, say goodbye early while you’re still wide awake.

Tina:

Yes, that’s a good idea. Or just tell them ahead of time, I need to go home and get some rest. I got an early day tomorrow, but I wanted to see you. So, I will bow out at 09:00 p.m. And I love you guys, but I want to make sure I am healthy enough to love everybody else, too.

Cynthia:

And see you left a good taste in their mouth when you said it that way.

Tina:

Exactly. People who love you will be understanding of what your needs are, not just theirs.

Cynthia:

Yeah, that’s good. But you also have a class about this, right?

Tina:

I do. I have a course called Your Stress-Less and Joy-Blessed Holiday Season. And just for your listeners right now, I have a bonus coupon, a couple of bonus coupons.

One is all caps, FRIDAY23 for 2023. So, Friday 23 and you can get 25% off of the retail price of that class. So that brings it down from $49 to 36.75. And then five people, whoever the first five people are that sign up with another coupon could get even less, can get even more off for their course. They can put in the coupon code actnow if there are any of those left.

Tina:

And they will get that course instead for $27. But that’s only for five people. So whoever the first five are that sign up for that will get that coupon.

Cynthia:

Tell me more about what they get.

Tina:

I’ve got planners for meals. I’ve got travel planners. I’ve got all kinds of comprehensive information in there.

Cynthia:

Travel planners. Wow, that sounds great. So that’s worth it if you’re thinking about what your month is going to look like.

Tina:

Yeah. What is your health worth? Right. Your health and your well-being and your mindset. What’s that worth to you?

Cynthia: What is the link to your class?

Tina:

Click here

Welcoming December 2023 With Prayer and Encouragement

Welcoming December 2023 With Prayer and Encouragement

Dear Father, we praise you for this special time to remember the greatest gift ever given: Your Son. How impossible to honor and thank You enough for Your unselfish love and steadfast grace. As we celebrate this month, please help us keep our focus on Jesus rather than the chaos in this dark world. Sustain us as we spend time with friends and family, and may our lives reflect the great love You demonstrated to us.

CLICK HERE for your monthly encouragement so you can download the December 2023 Calendar Challenge.

Getting To Know the Real Him.

Getting To Know the Real Him.

Just prior to President Eisenhower’s second inauguration, photographers wanted to snap a photograph of the President and Vice President with their young children. President Eisenhower posed with his grandchildren, Ann and David. Vice President Richard Nixon posed with his daughters, Julie and Tricia. However, eight-year-old Julie Nixon had suffered a black eye in a sledding accident. Eisenhower suggested she look to her right to hide the black eye, which forced her gaze right at David Eisenhower. Eight-year-old David stared back at her injury with widened eyes as the photographers snapped the photo. That was one of the few times the two children met.

Years later, Julie and David attended different colleges in the same town. Mamie Eisenhower was a romantic, and she believed the two would make a lovely couple. She suggested David look up Julie and get acquainted. Due to his grandmother’s insistence, David finally contacted Julie and enjoyed being with her. A romance blossomed between them.

Julie’s dormitory had a proctor, who monitored incoming guests.

On one occasion, David visited Julie, but he had to sign in with the proctor. He stopped at the front desk and said, “I’m David Eisenhower, and I want to see Julie Nixon.” The proctor replied, “I’m Harry Truman.”

David, who looked a bit scruffy, had to convince the proctor who he was.

We always recognize the names of famous people like presidents, judges, and movie stars. And it’s common for people to ‘name drop’ when they want to feel important. However, we have the incredible opportunity to know God, our creator. His fame outstrips anyone and everyone, and he can know each of us individually. As we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s rejoice that Jesus reconciled us to our Heavenly Father. What a privilege to get to know HIM!

“but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” -Jeremiah 9:24 ESV

Sarah Joseph Hale’s Fight to Make Thanksgiving a National Holiday

Sarah Joseph Hale’s Fight to Make Thanksgiving a National Holiday

In today’s Thanksgiving episode, we delve into the history behind this beloved holiday. Join Cynthia as she explores the origins of Thanksgiving, the remarkable story of Sarah Joseph Hale, and how she played a pivotal role in making it a national holiday.

Listen here

Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. For many years, various parts of the country celebrated Thanksgiving while others didn’t.

George Washington Issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789 as did John Adams and James Madison. Thomas Jefferson, however, believed such that a violation of church and state.

Sarah Josepha Hale believed Thanksgiving should be a national holiday

Sarah was born in New Hampshire in 1788 and married David Hale in 1813. However, her husband died in 1822, and she had work to support her family. She chose to write, and her most famous work is Mary Had a Little Lamb. Her writing caught the attention of a lady’s magazine and they invited her to serve as editor.

Louis A Godey hired Sarah as editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1837.

The magazine became the most influential and widely read magazine at the time. Sarah didn’t agree with feminists of the day but she steered the magazine away from politics and social issues. Instead, she encouraged women’s education while hiring original writers.

Her family had celebrated Thanksgiving every year as she grew up, and she saw the value in being thankful. Sarah often wrote articles encouraging a national day of Thanksgiving.

At the time, slavery split the nation. Sarah believed a national day of Thanksgiving could unite the shattered nation. She frequently wrote Lincoln and requested him to establish a regular holiday.

When the Union won the battle of Fort Donelson and Shiloh in 1862, Lincoln wrote a Thanksgiving proclamation. After the battle of Gettysburg, her wrote another one. Sarah appealed to him again for a national holiday, and he asked his staff to draft the appropriate documents. He set the Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November.

Cynthia is offering a gift to her listeners this year. Click here.

 

 

Prepare for the Holidays and Nurture Relationships

Prepare for the Holidays and Nurture Relationships

Cynthia and author Janet K. Johnson discuss ways to prepare for the holidays and nurture relationships

Listen here

Cynthia:

The holidays are upon us. And when I say that I include Christmas as well as Thanksgiving.

I’m doing a special focus this year, and it’s going to be called Make a Memory. Instead of getting all upset and being uptight, I want us to focus on our family and our relationships and doing things that we’ll remember years from now. When we get to the end of our life, we’re, we’re not going to say, gee, I wish I had bought that. We’re going to be thinking about what we did with our family and our friends. Today I have with me Janet Johnson, who is an author, and she’s going to give me some of her thoughts about how we can make this Christmas special and Thanksgiving special. Welcome, Janet.

Janet:

It’s so good to be here.

Cynthia:

Give me some thoughts on how you prepare for the holidays.

Janet:

Well, that all depends on how busy I am, and it depends and the season in my life. And I think that goes for everybody. As you all know, I’ve had some difficult times. I’ve had some struggles and some significant deaths in my family. And so, the holidays have not always been a time of joy.  I’m always celebrating the birth of Jesus, which is the real reason for Christmas. But for Thanksgiving, when there’s an empty chair, sometimes it’s very difficult. But there are ways around that I have discovered.

And one of the ways, for instance, and I’m just going to kind of share perhaps ways to honor those that are not present with us now, whether that would be through just that they’re not there because of distance or for a military member being away or for someone who has passed. One of the things to do is to have a basket when people come in and have them write a fun memory about the person that you’re talking about. And then it does not have to be a funny story or a fun memory. And then you pull one of the things and that person tells the funny story. Well, everybody around the table is going to be laughing and going, oh, I remember when. And different things like that. And that brings a really special time. And if you do that each year, you continue to have that person with you, and it is great fun anyway.

It’s just great memories. One of the things that our family did after my mom passed the first year. I didn’t realize how significant this was until afterward. our son called and said, “Do you have Grandma’s recipe for the cranberry casserole?”

I said, “Yes, I do.”

And so, he said, “We want to make that recipe.”

Well, guess what? Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, that cranberry casserole is on our table wherever we are celebrating.  I think we develop traditions, and so it’s important to be able to keep those traditions, and they just bring joy into whatever the celebration happens to be. I want to kind of think about Christmas time, because that’s a difficult time, especially, too, for people who have lost loved ones. And one of the things that someone suggested to me, was gathering all of the ornaments through the years that have been given to Grandma on a special tree. And every year that tree gets brought out.

And Grandma’s a part of the celebration that is there. And the kids loved it because their ornament that they had given to Grandma was right there. And it’s a happy memory. It’s not a sad memory. It’s a happy memory. And that’s the thing that we want to do, is always to remember the happy times. I think it’s important to be able to allow the children to, for instance, make a mobile for Thanksgiving or for Christmas.

For instance, they could have a heart as the big heart, and then five or six little hearts. They draw a picture on the heart of a special memory they have from Thanksgiving. It’s probably going to be a tradition, like that cranberry casserole. And then they can put little ones about people that are special or whatever. And then you can hang it up in their room, or you can hang it in the dining room or wherever they want to hang it, as just a reminder of all the different special times that they’ve celebrated over Thanksgiving. Of course, it would depend on the age of the child. Of course, the most important thing for us as moms and people who are trying to nurture children is time. We get so busy with everything else, and it’s more important to just sit down and play some Legos than it is to have a perfectly decorated house. And I think sometimes we forget that because we want everything to be perfect.

But perfection comes when we hear a child just tell somebody else, my mom sat and played Legos with me yesterday, or whatever it happens to be, or colored or things like that. So it’s just really important.

Cynthia:

That is an important message that I think we need to say more of is that time spent with our kids is probably more important than any decorations we might have or special gifts because the time is molding them in a way that nothing else can. So that is such an important thing to say don’t get your schedule so crowded that you don’t have time to spend with your children.

I really appreciate that emphasis on the person missing, because my father passed away the week of Thanksgiving, and so we buried him the day before Thanksgiving. He had military, so we had to be buried in a military cemetery.  They wanted him out of the way, but they didn’t want to wait till after Thanksgiving. It kind of forced us to do things quickly. And that year was so uncomfortable because it was such a sudden change, and it was a lot. My parents had always been with us at Christmas time, and he was my last parent. His death put a dent in our Christmas that year. Continually making the things that my mother made, or at least one or two dishes and bringing the stories about them in has included them, and it kind of helped us to heal. Plus, it gives a heritage to the kids.

Janet:

And I think that’s really. I didn’t realize that cranberry casserole was so important, but as I thought back on it, that was something mom always prepared. When we went to visit her, she had that cranberry casserole. And I think traditions are important. The year after our son was killed, I didn’t feel like doing much. I got up that morning, Christmas morning, and I put some cereal and stuff on the table. My daughter said, “Mom, where’s the Christmas quiche?”

And I said, “I didn’t make it.”

“Why not? It’s a tradition.”

I didn’t know it was a tradition. Guess what? Every Christmas we have that quiche. Right. But I think we can get so involved in our feelings that we forget the feelings of our children and what’s important to them. So, one of the things that we can do as moms is ask them what’s important to them about whatever holiday it is, whether it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving or a birthday or whatever. Ask them, “What would you like to do this year?”

Allow them to have part of the decision-making and be a part of that whole conversation, rather than us as parents saying, well, we don’t need to do this. We don’t need to do that kind of thing. For instance, if they’re older, like a teen, or 6th, 7th, 8th grader, whatever. If Grandpa died, he always put the star on the tree.

“Who’s going to do that?”

So, in expressing it to one of the older children, “I would like you to do this if you think it’s okay.”

Always give them the choice to honor Grandpa by doing this, and they see it as an honor to their grandpa. He becomes the one who puts the star on the tree. It’s all about allowing them to be included in all the decisions that are being made.

Cynthia:

I think that’s sweet. Do you have anything else to add before we close?

Janet:

No, I just think that our children are so important to us, and we just want them to thrive well. Death is going to come. Hard times are going to come. struggles are going to come. But for them to know they are secure in our love and the love of the Lord. That gives them a solid foundation for whatever’s going to come against them.

As a gift to my listeners, I’m giving some of my childhood memories of Christmas and a cake recipe my mother baked. You can find that here.

Nurturing Gratitude: Practical Tips for Fostering Thankful Kids

Nurturing Gratitude: Practical Tips for Fostering Thankful Kids

In this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jill Rigby Gardner about raising respectful children in a disrespectful world. We discussed the importance of cultivating gratitude in children, the impact of the self-esteem movement on kids’ behavior, and practical tips for instilling a grateful attitude. From redefining treats to teaching manners, we learned how to shift the focus from self-centeredness to valuing and respecting others. Join us as we explore ways to nurture grateful hearts and foster a culture of respect in our children.

Listen here

Cynthia:

Well, we’re here, right before Thanksgiving and the big question is always how can we make our kids more thankful? But in actuality, we need to have our kids be polite year-round. And just being thankful all year round, that’s always a good thing. My guest today is Jill Rigby Gardner, and she has written a book called Raising Respect, Children in a Disrespectful World. We’re going to talk a little bit about why kids are so disrespectful and how we can help them get there, but also how we can help them be thankful. So welcome, Jill.

Jill:

Hi. Cynthia. Glad to be here with you.

 

Cynthia:

So, Jill, why are kids so disrespectful these days? What’s the big deal?

Jill:

I’ll give you a couple of answers. The major answer I’ll give you is that in the late 60s, and early 70s, we bought into the ridiculous notion of self-esteem, and I call it the Great Lie. And it’s no different than the sin of pride in the Garden of Eden. But we understood that was bad, right? Go back to 16 or 17 hundreds. And there was a lot of discussion about vain, glory, vanity of self. We still understood bad. Then we come along to the early 70’s it’s all reframed and it’s now called self-esteem.

 

But it is no different. It is all the same, the esteeming of self. And we all fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And this time we decided it was a very good thing. We decided it was an essential part of our existence. It has not been a surprise to me, although it’s been heartbreaking to watch since I started meaner to the heart 25 years ago. In the last 25 years, what’s happened in our society and as we have become more and more disrespectful, and I take it all back, most of the issues we’re having today, I’m going to take it back to that evolution of self-esteem. Finally.

It was called something that we all fell for and decided it was a good thing. And the clearest definition of self-esteem is esteeming of self, which we should have understood is the same thing and not good. But we didn’t. And so, what’s happened is rather than esteeming others, children esteem themselves. And all this talk today about love yourself, love yourself, love yourself and the world will love you. If we just thought about that for a half minute, we would recognize the truth is the more deeply we fall in love with ourselves, the harder it is for us to love others. Right? Because we get lost in ourselves. And of course, out of all of that comes this disrespectfulness.

Because if you’re lost in yourself and if your goal in life is the esteeming of yourself and it’s all about me, there’s not going to be any level of respect left in our society. And that’s what’s happened.

Cynthia:

Yeah. And we love ourselves. Even for people who are depressed, we love ourselves. That’s our problem is that we’re not thinking about the other person. It’s very hard to do. But you have an entire chapter in here in your book on being grateful and so on. So, I just want you to share a little bit about how you can change that mindset to other-centered and be grateful for what we do have.

Jill:

Absolutely. It begins with helping children to get outside themselves. I’ll give you just a silly little example. One way to start this is if you’ve been going to the grocery or on your shopping trips and your child has become accustomed to a treat. Okay, number one, you know, you’ve crossed the line when they have become accustomed and now it has become an expectation, it is now no longer a treat, right? So, if your child is looking for what they’re going to get, right? Of course, there’s no gratitude because there’s an expectation. And so, you’ve kind of programmed them to expect something, a treat. So, it’s no longer a treat because that’s an unexpected pleasure, is a treat.

You created the problem. So how do you undo that? And this is one of the first steps toward leading children toward a heart of gratitude. So, the next time you go to the store, you say, “No, not today.” And you’re going to have to be willing to deal with whatever your child is going to give you. But you’re the parent. You have the God-given authority to stand in your place of authority. There’s no need to get upset. There’s no need to raise your voice.

And the more your children get upset, the more you can be calm because you’re standing in your place of authority. And you know, what you’re doing is what’s best for your child. So dependent on how long it’s going to take to undo it depends on how long you’ve been doing it. So, I’m not going to promise the first time, repeatedly, every time you go, no, not today. No, not today. No, not today. If you stand in it and remain calm, you will break that cycle and they’ll stop asking because you’ve removed that expectation. Now, here’s the cool thing about this.

So, the day comes when you go in and you’ve been on two or three trips and nothing has been asked for, nothing’s been said, and today you’re going to say, “All right, honey, why don’t you get a treat today, and get a second treat to give away.”

Well, your child, you’re going to blow your child’s mind in the first place. Now you’ve confused them because you’ve been telling them no. But guess what? Now they receive the treat as a treat out of your love for them for no other reason but just because. Right? But what they do is they get one treat, they get a second one for someone else, and they turn, and they give it away. If you’re not comfortable doing that right at that moment, wait till you get back in your neighborhood, back around people. You know, there’s so many stories I’ve gotten from people who’ve done this right there in the moment. And what happens to your child’s heart is this. They immediately feel and experience for themselves how much better it feels to give something away than it feels to get it.

And I’ve had so many parents, Cynthia, say, they started doing this, and then I’ll get an email and say, “jill, what do I do now? Every time we go to the store now, they want to buy something to give it away. How do I break that?”

And say, “Why do you want to break that? What a beautiful thing.”

So, if you want to kind of break the greediness that kind of crept into your child’s heart, that’s the best way to break it. And that’s also the first step toward cultivating gratitude. Right. Because now you’ve removed the expectation. And what they get now, they’re appreciative for it, and they’re not going to turn around and ask the next time they go to the store. No, and don’t do it twice in a row.

You have to do it periodically, and then it becomes a treat and it’s appreciated. So that’s one way, to me, that’s kind of the first step toward helping children cultivate gratitude.

Cynthia:

Well, here I am getting ready to go out of town and visit my granddaughter, and I was thinking about, I need to take something, and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t. I don’t know. That’s a thought. I never thought of that before.

Jill:

You know, that’s so hard with grandparents. I have seven grandchildren. It is so incredibly hard. If every time you go to visit, you bring something, then the day does come when they are looking forward to what they’re going to get more than they’re looking forward to seeing you. It’s a hard habit to break. But one way you can do it again. You can bring something for your grandchild and then something to share. I love doing that concept most anytime. Giving them something to share rather than just something for them, but something that they can turn around and share with someone else. Another thought I had for you about kind of cultivating gratitude is a service, of course, and that’s to help your child, to serve others, and to help those who are less fortunate. And the old thing about Thanksgiving is such a great time.

I know some families who, on Thanksgiving afternoon, one of the activities they do is that they clean out their closets. The children go and clean out their closets and gather things that they take, and they donate sometime next week. And you take your children with you, of course, and don’t throw it in the back of the car and go do it. You need to take your children with you and donate things that are toys that they’re no longer playing with and not things that are in bad condition. That’s not the point at all, but to share things that they’ve enjoyed and that have meant something to them. And that’s a fun thing to do on Thanksgiving afternoon. And like I said, I know some families have made that kind of a ritual. We need to be thankful for what we’ve already been given.

Cynthia:

I love that concept. That is so beautiful. You want to teach your kids that when you do something for them, they need to thank you and be appreciative. So, do you have any tips on doing that?

Jill:

Let’s kind of broaden that a little bit, maybe to the courtesies kind of in a broader sense, because it does speak to a heart of gratitude. The whole idea of being courteous to others, that in and of itself is a heart of gratitude being put into action and into words. I’m a big proponent, I know, obviously, I’m from the south, but I’m still a very big proponent of everyone getting on our bandwagon of, yes, sir and no sir and yes ma’am and no, ma’am. And the reason for that, two reasons for that. When you’re thinking of the adult-child relationship, and again, trying to cultivate gratitude, the reason for yes sir and no, sir and yes women, no ma’am is simply because it sets the stage for a child to understand that there are adults and there are children and they are not on the same plane, and that there is to be respect. And it is simply showing respect. And it’s the first, simplest way that a parent can instill respect in a child. For authority is yes or no, sir, and yes ma’am, no ma’am.

It just befuddles me that so many people just don’t care for that. They just don’t agree with it. I hear it all the time when I travel and speak, and I always try to come back to help make the point. But it’s such a simple, very direct way to instill an attitude of respect because you don’t have to say yes, sir and no, sir to your peers, but you must say yes, sir and no, sir, yes, ma’am, no ma’am to adults. And it sets in place that first understanding of what respect means. Right. Particularly respect for authority. And out of that, of course, then follows the please.

I like to teach it in sign language to young children. I love to teach those five courtesies in sign language. Kids love it. And it kind of becomes something that exists between you and your child when they can say, thank you and they can say, you’re welcome, and they can say, please and I’m sorry, excuse me. And kids, of course, love to learn that.

And it’s just kind of a fun way of instilling those courtesies and reminding them that thank you and you’re welcome. I even love going through Chick fila because you’re always going to hear, “It’s my pleasure.”

Cynthia:

Well, really, what you’re talking about is going all the way back to respecting the individual by saying, I was thrilled to do that for you. You can even be respectful of your peers, even though you wouldn’t be calling them sir and ma’am. That’s kind of the basis of what manners is all about.

Jill:

Yes, it is. Our definition for manners is that manners is an attitude of the heart. That’s self-giving, not self-serving. It’s not memorizing the set of rules. That’s etiquette. Manners is a kind of an umbrella. Manners is the attitude behind the action. If we’re trying to instill gratitude in the heart of the child, then we must understand that the content of our child’s heart, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, is what determines what they think, what they say, and what they do.

And so, we have to work in their hearts, not an expectation of Behavior. So much out here and a correction of Behavior. If there is Ingratitude out here, if you’re seeing selfishness in your child, then there’s a heart issue. It’s not the Behavior. That behavior is just simply a reflection of what’s going on in the Heart. So, you’ve got to get behind that behavior. We often like to say that respect in the Heart will Formulate Respect in the Mind, which comes out in the Actions. So, a Respectful Attitude toward things, which is where you want to work, is on the Attitude.

That’s where you can really see a change in a transformation. Not so much correction of the behavior, but correction of the Attitude behind the behavior.

Cynthia:

I think you hit on something when you talked about the difference in manners and etiquette, because I’ve always thought of etiquette as, oh, goodness gracious, there’s a list of rules, but manners is being. Yes, yes, the difference is big.

Jill:

So much so, Cynthia, it’s, you know, it truly is. I’ll tell you a sweet story that just happened in my neighborhood. I live in a cul de sac, and I have one neighbor on the right, and I have three neighbors in the circle. This happened just, like, three days ago. A little Ziploc bag was left in our Mailbox, and it had a note on it that had mom embossed on the top. And Walt, in a child’s Handwriting, W-A-L-T. It wasn’t a sentiment, but inside of it, it was a dollar bill and change, and it added up to $2.02. And so, my husband checked the Mail, and he said, oh, Walt must have stuck this in our Mailbox by mistake.

So he walked over to my neighbor, to return it. And Walt just turned three, and it was put in our mailbox intentionally, because Walt, in his precious little, tender heart and his very keen ears, he’s been tuned in to all the talk about the high cost of groceries and all the high cost at the pharmacy and especially the cost of gasoline, is out of control. And he told his mom that he wanted to give his neighbors some of his birthday money to help them buy gas for their cars.

Cynthia:

So sweet.

Jill:

Three years old. Three years old. Is that just the most precious thing?

Cynthia:

Precious, that is.

Jill:

Truly. Other synonyms. I mean, there is a full explanation of what it looks like, right? He saw a need. He recognized he could meet the need, and he. Very unselfishly, he was very grateful, right, for what he had received, and he wanted to share what he had received to help others.

Cynthia:

That’s just great. Well, is there anything else you can add before we close?

 

Jill:

I’ll close where we started. We started talking about self-esteem. What we try to do through all our programs and our books and everything that we do is help children learn how to esteem others. Right? How to put the needs of others ahead of their wants, how to, just, like little Walt, look for the needs of others and be the one to meet that need in someone else. And what happens is that it’s so beautiful.

 

Approaching the Topic of Death with Kids

Approaching the Topic of Death with Kids

Welcome back to the Cynthia L Simmons podcast! In today’s episode, we have a very timely and important conversation with guest Janet Johnson about a topic that can often be challenging to discuss: death. Janet wrote the children’s book Fly High: Understanding Grief with God’s Help.  As we all know, death is an inevitable part of life, but how do we talk about it with our children without scaring them?

Listen here:

Cynthia:

Death is an inevitable part of life. So how should we talk about it with our children? I grew up in a church that talked about death all the time. And from the time I was four, when I first started going to the service with my parents, I heard horrific deathbed stories from the pulpit. So, most of my childhood I was terrified of death and wouldn’t even go into the funeral home.

I did make a profession of faith early, so I don’t want to attack anyone who does that necessarily because I know that we want our kids to come to Christ. But I don’t think that somehow that was appropriate for a young child, especially a sensitive child. So, is there a way that we can talk about death with our children that addresses what it is without scaring them to death? And today I have with me Janet Johnson and she has co-authored a book for children on death.

Janet:

Well, I’m so glad to be a part of this and to just share some wonderful ideas about how to share with children.

Cynthia:

You need to consider the age of the child. So, what would you do if you had a young child? How would you explain death?

 

Janet:

Well, I think it’s very important to understand that a lot of younger children just don’t have the vocabulary to express how they’re feeling. It comes out in different ways. And that’s where the age levels kind of come in with the understanding. Because like with younger children, how they see things and visualize the world is very concrete. So, if you try to use words like went to sleep or things like that, they understand exactly what has happened. But I think it’s important to know that children can see death as a natural part of life. One of the best ways I think to do that is through nature. In the fall, leaves turn different colors, they become beautiful. Then they become brown and dry and fall off the trees and go into the ground.

 

That’s a wonderful example of something that was living and something that died in its time. It’s a part of nature, it’s a part of life. Using that, or if they’ve had a pet that has died talking about their pet. I think it’s important not to scare the child, but to be very precise on how you talk to the child. And I think that a lot of that does depend on the age of the child. For instance, when they’re under two years old, they don’t have any concept of death. They just know that something is different, especially if it’s a parent, a grandparent, or a sibling. They can sense the tension, and the emotions. They pick up on that and may start crying more easily or become withdrawn and feel very insecure.

Of course, there you just hug, you love, you reassure them that someone is always going to be there for them, knowing that they don’t have a clue what’s going on. And then when they’re in the ages of two to five still in that toddler stage, what you do is you try to very gently come to them and say, grandma died today, I have some bad news or some sad news. Grandma died today. Sometimes the child will show some interest in death, depending if they’re closer to five rather than two. Let the child, if possible, say goodbye. Sometimes we don’t want that to happen. I can remember my parents taking me to my grandmother’s funeral and they just gently walked me by the casket, and I saw her there. Of course, I had lots of questions.

I can’t remember how old I was. Probably five or six.

And we did sit down and talk a little bit later about that.  Just like as we as adults need those closures and so do the children, the children in that age group are going to continue to say, where is so and so? Because they expect them to come back. They don’t have that permanence, that idea that this is forever. They may go around looking for them, especially if they’re two or three, like they’re around the corner or something like that. And again, we just reassure them that Grandma, Grandpa, or whoever it is, is not going to come back. We have to be real with them and not use words that could confuse them. And then they could have disrupted sleep.

Lots of times kids will start having nightmares and they may have changes in appetites, they may have less interest in play. There are all kinds of things, but they can become especially anxious about separation. So, it’s important there again, it’s all about the reassurance that somebody is there for them, that somebody will always be there to love them and hold them and help them in whatever they’re doing. So it’s important, I think, your question, how do you teach children about death without scaring them? It’s gentle but truthful according to their understanding, at whatever age level they may be.

Cynthia:

I appreciate saying that, not telling them the person went to sleep because that was another thing that was used when I was a kid. And that made me wonder if I was going to do that when I fell asleep. So that was frightening. When you say that they need to say goodbye, what do you mean by that? Do you mean that they need to see the body?

Janet:

Well, I think that all depends on the traditions of the family. Sometimes, people are just having celebrations of life, and there may be a picture of the person. In that case, I think it’s perfectly okay for a child to go because they’re remembering the good things about the person.

And I think we must be sensitive to the child. Like you said, you were a sensitive child. And so that is a decision that the parents are going to have to make based on the age of the child and whether the child they think the child is going to be able to handle it.

I think it’s okay to say, tell them ahead of time, that your grandma’s going to be in a casket. They’re not going to know what a casket is. It’s like a big box, okay. Or however they want to describe it. And that she’s not going to be able to smile at them. She’s not going to be able to do anything and ask them if they want to go. Because children need to have the ability to not be forced to do something that they don’t want to do. If they don’t want to do it.

 

I think it’s perfectly appropriate for them to draw a picture if they’re young or write a little note or whatever. And the parent can tell them, I’m going to put this with Grandma. That way they can say goodbye, or they can just tell their wonderful memories. But that way they will always know that some part of them went with Grandma or whomever.

Cynthia:

 I had a friend whose husband died suddenly after he was on a military mission, and she never saw the body. I don’t know why, but she said that she had dreams that he came back or that he wasn’t dead because she never saw the body. And so, she believes that children need to see the body because of that. But again, you have sensitive children and that’s difficult for them.

Janet:

That same thing happened to me with my brother. My brother was murdered, and we lived quite a ways away. I had small children at the time, and I could not get back to identify the body. And so, for a long time, I thought just like this other person, I thought maybe he went into Secret Service or something. And I kept looking for his truck. He had a very distinctive truck. And so, I think that closure is necessary, however we choose to do it. And again, that has to be a family decision.

Cynthia:

How much do you say about heaven and that sort of thing? Because you might have a relative that’s not a believer and you believe the person may have gone to hell. So how much do you talk about?

Janet:

Again, I think that that’s up to the family. Hopefully, they know our faith.

Cynthia:

That what we would hope for.

Janet:

Yes. And I think it’s fair, especially for a child to say, we believe God loves us so much, and God helped to create your grandmother, and God wants to welcome your grandmother to be with him. And we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but we hope you always give that hope to the child. Okay. Later, as they become older, they may know that their grandmother wasn’t a believer or whatever, but we never know what happens at that very last second at death. And so, while we believe, I mean, look at the thief on the cross. It was a last-minute decision. And so, I think we have to give God that opportunity to say that to that person.

But we give hope, especially to a child. You never want to say to a child, your grandmother, your mom or your dad because they were a bad person, they’re not going to go to heaven.

Cynthia:

Yeah, that would be yeah. Difficult. I remember I visited Spurgeon’s Church in England years ago when I was researching Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The pastor was preaching, and he said death is a really big thing. I’m glad someone said that. Because it is a big deal for someone to die and for you to lose a relative, a family member, or a friend. But as believers, we have hope in Christ, and hopefully, we can give that to our children. If that person is trusting in Christ, then they’re with him and they’re in a much better place.

Janet:

Yes. And that’s an opportunity to also witness that we believe in Jesus Christ as our savior, and I hope you will, too. Open that door for the child to be able to ask those questions about Jesus. I think one of the ways that I’ve kind of described death for the believer, we graduate from kindergarten. We graduate from elementary school and junior high and senior high and college if we go to college. Well, death is graduation. It’s our final diploma. That’s another way to describe death for a believer. Well for anybody, because death is The final graduation. Let them know that it’s part of life. I’s just one of those seasons that we go through. Death is not to be feared, but it is to be honored. It is a big thing.

Cynthia:

Last week I just got through doing an interview with Steve Miller who wrote on near-death experiences and people that have come back from cardiac arrest. And many of those stories are incredibly beautiful. They saw light and they believed, they knew they were loved, and they felt comfort. I just have this strong feeling based on that, that the other side is much more beautiful than this. And that’s a whole different topic, but it’s an appropriate topic, I think, to say we do have hope. You think about the story of Stephen. When he died, he saw right into heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And what he saw was so beautiful that he was willing to forgive those who were stoning him.

So, I do think that is a valid thing for us to look at.

Janet:

Yes. And I think if we have special experiences ourselves with death, to be able to describe to a child, probably third grade or above or whatever, but when my mom died, she could not do anything for herself. She was bedridden.

I walked into the room and suddenly, she put her arms out toward me. And I didn’t get it at the moment that this woman who could not do anything put her arms out.  I walked over, and I took her hand, and she laid down. I helped her to get situated again. And then just a few minutes later, she sat up in bed, and she put her arms out in front of her and looked into the heavens. And that happened three times within a very short period. And I realized she was seeing something in the heavens. She was being welcomed because she just laid down and died. There was such a peaceful look on her face. I mean, there is no doubt in my mind that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Cynthia:

And the same is true of my grandfather. He was a sweet believer who used to say, “Lord help us to live the way we wished we did when we stand before you.”

And when he passed away, a huge smile crossed his face. And so, I think he did see into heaven. Yes.

 

Janet:

And I think it’s great to tell kids about those experiences. It lets them know there is more, and that it’s nothing to be feared.

Cynthia:

No, it isn’t. It’s a big deal because you’re graduating.

 

 

Welcoming November 2023 With Thanksgiving

Welcoming November 2023 With Thanksgiving

“Dear Holy Father, we pause before this busy holiday season to praise you. Thank you for creating us in your image and giving us an eternal soul. We are overwhelmed with the beauty and intricacy of the world around us. How wise and gracious you are! Thank you for the sun which makes photosynthesis possible. Thank you for water which sustains life. Thank you for the birth of your perfect Son. Fill us with humility this month and keep our hearts pure before you. In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.”

CLICK HERE for your monthly encouragement so you can download the November 2023 Calendar Challenge.

Need to Worry?

Need to Worry?

Julia Dent Grant married Ulysses S. Grant and they maintained a warm relationship throughout their lives. She visited him in the field as often as she could. Unfortunately, Julia had strabismus, which meant her eyes didn’t line up evenly. A doctor offered to correct the problem when she was young, but she didn’t want to have an operation. As a result of her eye difficulty, she preferred to pose for pictures in profile.

As her husband rose to prominence during the Civil War, she worried her appearance would detract from his reputation. She wrote to Ulysses and asked if she should have surgery. He replied that he fell in love with her eyes and wanted her to leave them alone.
What a touching story of love.

On the other hand, I’m thankful for God’s love. He cared for me even when I had turned against him and my righteousness was like filthy rags. However, he didn’t leave me in that condition. Jesus gave me life through his substitutionary death, and as I grow in him, I am becoming like him. I can praise God for that love every day.

Follow
Get every new blog/podcast post delivered to your inbox
Join our list of followers
Powered By WPFruits.com