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Living in Fear

Living in Fear

Joey and Carla Link

April 1, 2020

The coronavirus has changed everyone’s life. It has made us look at everyone we come into contact with, wondering if they are infected or not. While urban cities are being hit harder than rural areas, that does not erase the global influence or impact of this event on everyone’s heart, mind and spirit no matter where you live. 
One of the worst things a parent can do is to pass the fears of what they hear on to their kids. We often do this in simple ways when we show our fear of heights, or of a mouse who has taken up residence in my kitchen, or things we can’t change like thunderstorms.
Fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief  that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain.” Simply put, it’s what we believe about something that can cause our fears.
Fear of something or someone, whether the end result is good or bad drives our beliefs which drives our actions.
We heard once that F.E.A.R. is False EvidencAppearing Real.
While this virus is real and is affecting us in monumental ways, the Bible says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). 
I (Joey) had an opportunity to practice this recently. Six weeks ago, I went to our local hospital’s Emergency Room due to pressure in my chest. Things started moving very quickly when the nurse saw my blood pressure was 211.  They admitted me and I spent the night waiting for tests. The next morning we learned that I had 3 clogged arteries around my heart, 2 of which were double blocked. I needed emergency open heart quadruple bypass surgery. There is no history of heart problems in my family and I work out regularly. This was a surprise for all of us!
I remember praying when I had chest pains, and saying, “Lord, If this is it, I am ready to go to heaven with you“. I was immediately flooded with an overwhelming sense of peace. Are you ready? If something happened to you, are you confident heaven awaits you? If so, what is there to worry about? If not, you have a lot to worry about. If you need someone to talk to about this, please email us. We would love to talk to you!
Our daughter Amy was a fearful child. Most children with the Sanguine temperament are because of their overactive imaginations. She feared the lightening that could come through her window in a storm. We have impressive thunderstorms here in the Midwest! When she was 3-5 years old, she would come running to our room with her blanket and would lay down in-between us and we would pray with her. When the storm was over, and they rarely lasted long, she would thank us for loving her and back to bed she would go.
You see, God gave us the way to deal with worry when He says not to be anxious about anything. We are to pray.
Whether or not her fear was justified in our minds, it was a reality to her. We worked with her, comforting her and letting her know we were right there just as Jesus is right there with her all the time. She ended up growing out of it years later, as that is what comes with maturity.
In the same way, as we grow in our faith in God, we don’t need to fear a virus or anything else that comes our way because, as a friend said to me before I went into surgery, “God’s got this!” Which was a great reminder for me that no matter what happens to me, God is in control and Satan can do nothing to us that is not approved by God.
If we, as Christians, are unable to display the peace that is attained through placing our faith and hope in our God, why should we expect the world to want to get to know Him?
As Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Faith in God conquers all our fears. From soldiers in a fox hole, to the coronavirus, to a little girl afraid of thunderstorms, God is in control and we need to trust and rest in the fact that He will not let anything bad happen to us that is not for our own good.
“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

Homeschooling Basics

Homeschooling Basics

By Carla Link

      March 25, 2020

 

Our daughter Briana was chronically ill growing up. Each year she ended up in the hospital. To see if that could beavoided, when she was in 4th grade her doctors decided to pull her out of school trying to avoid colds and flu bugs. So like many of you right now, I learned to homeschool on demand.

Thankfully a friend of ours who was a teacher came to my rescue and helped me get through that year. Since she did stay out of the hospital, we became a homeschooling family when homeschool was just starting to catch parent’s attention.

There are a few non-negotiables for schooling at home just like there are for schooling in any format.

  1. Put a routine on paper that you and your family can stick to.
  • Have non-negotiable times to get up in the morning. Have a rule that your kids have to be dressed and beds made before they come down for breakfast. Give them 30 minutes after breakfast to get their teeth brushed and finish morning chores.
  • Rachelle, our teacher friend suggested I stick to time periods for each subject like they have in school. (If your school doesn’t provide curriculum there are great things available on the internet like Scholastic Adventures you can use for free.)
  • In each day’s time period for each subject, write down what you want your kids to accomplish each day. If you do this weekly it will save you a lot of time.
  • We started with Bible Time/Quiet Times, then moved to their hardest subjects
  • Give them adequate time for each subject. Stick with the amount of time each period has in school.
  • For younger ones, you don’t have to do every subject every day. Where we live they only required Math, Reading, and English every day through 5th
  • I got Science and History books from the library for them to read and did science and art projects during “Project Time” in the afternoon. Have them write a book report on every chapter.
  • If they take piano lessons or play another instrument work practice time into their school day. I know many teachers who are giving lessons online.
  • Do a video exercise program for kids for P.E. Your kids will need to get their restless energy out in a constructive way.
  • Have a Study Hall for the last hour of school. I graded my girls’ daily work during this time so they could make corrections and they could finish any subject they didn’t get done earlier in the day.
  • They do not get free time until they have completed their school work for the day.
  1. Plan a routine for your toddlers and preschoolers. Your school-age kids don’t need the distraction of little ones interrupting them while they are trying to concentrate on school. To help you out with this we are giving away Two of the Mom’s Notes presentations “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Pt.1 and Pt. 2” on MP3 and PDF! Giveaway ends 4/3/20. We know this is a difficult time for everyone and want to encourage you in this uncertain time. 

 

  1. Plan a routine for you.
  • What time do you need to get up in the morning and get your day started?
  • When can you get a load of laundry in the washer?
  • Make your crock or instant pot your new best friend. I loved getting dinner in the crock while my kids ate breakfast and did their morning chores. It gave me such peace of mind to know that dinner was cooking away.

 

  1. Plan into the routine your kids’ free time. What is free about time that is planned? I don’t know about you, but kids who are left to do what they want tend to fight and argue with each other and get into trouble. Having time planned for them to be together with your oversight and time for them to be alone keeps peace in your day. You will find lots more information on this in the Mom’s Notes presentation we are giving away.
  • Your older kids can plan their own free time, but have them write it on paper so they don’t get lazy and stay on their phones.

 

Here is a sample day for a 7 yr. old 2nd grader:

 

7:00 am: Get up, dress, put pj’s away and make bed

7:45 am: Breakfast, morning chores

8:00 am: Bible Time, Quiet Time Devotions for older kids

8:20 am: School starts/Mom gets little ones settled

9:00 am: Math

9:50 am: Break

10:00 am: English

10:30 am: Break

10:45 am: Reading

11:15 am: Finish any work they did not complete above or you could ask each older kid to play with one of their younger siblings while you make lunch

11:45 am: Lunch, lunch clean-up, complete any unfinished morning chores

12:30 pm: Project Time – art

1:30 pm: Free Time – play with Legos

2:30 pm: Play Chutes and Ladders with 5 and 3 yr. old siblings

3:00 pm: Science – watch Cincinnati Zoo’s program online

4:00 pm: Free Time – chooses own activity

4:30 pm: Video Time with siblings

5:00 pm: Sets Table for Dinner & Dinner

6:00 pm: Time with Dad

7:00 pm: Get ready for bed

7:30 pm: Bed, story and prayer time with Mom or Dad

 

Teaching and Training

Teaching and Training

By Joey & Carla Link
March 18, 2020
I (Carla) just gave my 8 year old grandson a piano lesson via Facetime. I had to stop him several times as I was trying to explain a new concept to him, teaching him about musical “ties”. Teaching is “imparting knowledge”. This means teachers know more than the one they are sharing this new knowledge with.
Did my grandson take this new concept I was teaching him and run with it? No, he didn’t, and I had him go over it again and again during our lesson time. Why didn’t he get it? He had information but his brain didn’t have a way of remembering it yet. That’s where training comes in. Training is “learning new skills”. To learn new skills takes practice. You have to do it over and over again, making adjustments when you don’t do it right until you get it down.
Is my grandson excited about this new concept I was teaching him today? No, he wasn’t. He didn’t remember it when I would go back to it because it wasn’t important to him. Like most children, he doesn’t want to learn how to play the piano; he just wants to have fun playing it.
As his piano teacher, it is my job to make sure he learns what he doesn’t want to. That’s where practice comes in. I am requiring him to practice songs with this new concept in it every day this week. By going over it again and again his brain will absorb the way to do it correctly. If I give him at least one song with a tie in the score every week for the next 4 weeks, that will reinforce the concept of “ties” to him. What if a month goes by before I give him another song with a tie in it? Will he remember to play it correctly? Probably not, because I didn’t reinforce that teaching with consistent practice.
If you know how to play the piano can you teach it? Not necessarily. Teaching requires wisdom, which is using “knowledge, experience and good judgement.” I am a good teacher because I know how to read music and play it (knowledge), I have been teaching piano for over 30 years (experience) and I know when a student is and is not ready for a new challenge (good judgement). If you are a new teacher you most likely have knowledge and good judgement. A mentor can help you gain the experience you don’t have.
Let’s apply this to parenting. When your primary form of parenting is to stop your kids when they are doing something inappropriately by yelling at them or talking to them in a firm, abrupt tone of voice, what are you teaching them?
  • Are you giving them new knowledge or reviewing what they already know?
  • Are you showing them how to put this knowledge into practice?
  • Have you consistently reinforced this knowledge with adjustments (correction) or praise?
When my mom was frustrated with my sisters and I, she would say, “How many times have I told you…” If this is your mindset our response is “too many times.” You just keep giving them the same information over and over again, but you haven’t consistently required them to show you they know how to use it.
Every parent is a teacher, for in everything you do or don’t do with your kids, you are teaching them something. Let’s look at what teacher’s do.
  • They share new information.
  • They review information already shared.
  • They require their students to practice using the new or reviewed information.
  • They make adjustments to the way the student is using the information, then they require them to practice using it again.
  • They correct their students when they don’t use the information the right way.
  • They praise the student when he/she uses the information correctly.
Whether you are teaching your child a new skill like making his bed or a character trait like being kind when he doesn’t feel like it, following these steps will ensure your child has the opportunity to get it right.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

Why Teens Need A Routine

Why Teens Need A Routine

By Joey & Carla Link

March 11, 2020
After reading last week’s blog on routine written primarily for young children, a friend, a mother of 4 primarily college age kids had this to say, “Everyone needs routine! Even when the young adults are home, everything runs more peacefullywhen we all have some level of routine – meals at predictable times, reasonable bedtimes, planned activities/physical activities, and so forth.
I (Carla) told her I couldn’t agree more and was planning on writing about this in today’s blog. This is our story. Our daughter Briana missed too many days of school each year because of simple colds or other bugs she came home with.  Often these illnesses landed her in the hospital due to chronic respiratory issues. When she was in 4th grade, her doctor asked us to pull her out of school and homeschool her. Homeschooling was a fledging school option at that time, and where we live they encouraged homeschoolers to have a certified teacher to oversee your homeschooling.  I was all for this as I felt totally unprepared for this task.
Our teacher strongly encouraged us to keep on the same daily schedule as the school was on and helped me set up weekly lesson plans accordingly. Our days ended sooner than the school’s as we didn’t have recesses or some of their other activities, so with the teacher’s advice the last period of our school day was study hall.
Briana made it through the school year with no hospitalizations, so the next year we pulled her sister home with her and homeschooling became our way of life. I did lesson plans by the quarter, with the girls’ assisting me when they were in middle school. By the time they entered high school, they were doing their own lesson plans with my oversight.
When Briana went away to college, she was teased by the other girls in her dorm because she scheduled a study hall time every day in the library from the time classes started to the end of each semester. She’d always had a study hall at home and saw the value in it, so she decided to keep it in her routine at college.
While we were homeschooling, we started to travel more with the parenting ministry Growing Families Int’l and our kids traveled with us. I had each of them work on a routine they would follow in the car. They had to agree on the times they would do things collectively and individually. When we were home whether it was school season or summer break, they would write out their schedules each week and post them so all could see where they would be at any time. We don’t know how a family works in harmony without routine.
So, how would you work on getting your family of older kids on a routine? They are probably already on one. The key is to get each person’s routine to blend with all the others.
  1. For kids 11 and up, show them how to work on scheduling a routine that includes all things (including free time) they will have from the time they wake in the morning until the time they go to bed. There is a lot less tension in the morning when all your older kids know what times their siblings will be in the bathroom and for how long
  2. Let your pre-teens and teens try out the routine they come up with. They will stick to it if it is their own idea. If it doesn’t work, then sit down with them the next week or mid-week and figure out how to fix the problem areas. If more than one sibling is involved and they can’t come to agreement on areas their routines overlap, sit them down and act as their arbitrator.
  3. If there is a chronic offender among the siblings, you need to take him/her aside and deal with it. One of our daughters was always late getting out of the bathroom in the morning so the other was always running late. This was not her sister’s problem to deal with, it was ours.
  4. Always have “non-negotiable” events blocked out on the family monthly calendar. One of ours was church. They all worked, but not on Sunday morning. Friday nights were family nights, another “not to be missed” activity and so on.
Being on a routine throughout their life will help them manage their time when they are on their own.

Why Routine?

Why Routine?

By Joey & Carla Link

March 4, 2020
Some moms never see the need for a routine. Others, who use the eat, wake, sleep cycle with their babies tend to let routinego when their children become toddlers and as a result, things soon get out of control. We encourage you to keep a routine part of your children’s day. Why?

Do your children get along with each other? Do you feel like you have been hit by a truck by the end of each day? Do you feel trapped being home with your kids? Are you getting meals planned and prepared on time or do you find yourself ordering out more and more? Do you tell your children you will get to it later only to deal with unhappy kids when “later” never comes? Is there never time to indulge yourself?

There are great benefits to having a routine. Routines give kids predictability which gives them stability and security. Elaine St. James, author of the book Simplify Your Life with Kids has this to say,

“Kids who live without structure and routine can develop behavior problems. Frequent tantrums, whining, a disregard for rules, inappropriate or aggressive behavior, constant demands, and an inability to share are some of the signs that your child needs more structure.”

Frequent tantrums, whining, lack of obedience, demanding. Are any of these frequent residents in your home? Bottom line – Children feel secure when they know what to expect.

Parents who are more laid back don’t like to be held to a routine. I was like that. When I was challenged to try it for one month, I could not believe the difference in our home and kids. I learned there is freedom within the routine and kids seem to get that more than their parents do. The family’s day moves to a more relaxed pace because you are not constantly breaking up squabbles, trying to find ways to entertain bored, whiny kids.

The following are some suggestions for putting a routine in place in your home.

1. Keep Bedtime Consistent
* Look at your schedule each week.
* Write in what time you think your kids can get to bed each night.
* If you are going to be out at night with the kids more than 2 nights a week, on the nights you are home put them to bed ½ hour early.
* Kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night

2. Keep Naps Consistent
* Young children will not nap well in a car seat or stroller. Don’t get into the habit of being away from home during their naptime.
* Kids are somewhat different in their sleep needs but a rule of thumb says all kids 3 yrs. and under should nap or at least rest in bed every day.
* If you have several late nights in a given week, schedule a 1 hour rest time for all children on the days you are home.

3. Keep Meals at a Consistent Time
* When you get your kids sleep, eat and wake times on a consistent rhythm, your children’s body will work in harmony with it.
* We have an epidemic of overweight kids in America. This is due in a large part to kids who eat all day in the name of snacking. Kids do not need to snack all day long. It is better for them to fill up on water in-between meals than food.
* Another reason kids are overweight is because they live on a diet of fast food. Feed your kids nutritious meals at home. If you don’t know how to cook, learn to. There is plenty of information online to assist you with this.

4. Plan Your Children’s Day in ½ Hour Segments
* Make a list of all the things all the children can do together.
* Make a list of activities each child likes to do on their own.
Break up their time together. If they have ½ hour to play together, the next ½ hour have them play separately. Sometimes you choose what they do during a segment and sometimes you allow them to choose. We added a sample routine below.

Once you have the routine planned, you can make changes on any given day when the need arises.

SAMPLE ROUTINE

Michael (9 years) Briana (6 years) Amy (3 years)
7:00 am: Get up, dress and do morning chores
8:00 am: Breakfast and cleanup
(If they are done early, they can pick a book to look at – have a basket of books available)
9:00 am: Bible time around kitchen table.
9:30 am: Play alone in bedrooms; Amy on blanket in my bedroom (The girls share a room so they need to be separated)
10:00 am: Play together outside w/ my supervision
11:00 am: Everyone has household chores. Amy plays with puzzles at kitchen table when she finishes the job I give her.
11:30 am: Children have book time in assigned places and I make lunch
12:00 pm: Lunch and clean-up
12:45 pm: Naps and Rest Time
1:30 pm: Free play time
2:30 pm: Water and a piece of fruit for everyone.
3:00 pm: Play a game/activity together outside or inside
3:30 pm: Everyone plays alone inside. I pick an activity for each child.
4:00 pm: Partner different children up to play together Michael & Bri, Amy alone. I pick the activity.
4:30 pm: Switch kids around to play together, Bri & Amy, Michael alone.
5:00 pm: All children read or look at books, do puzzles or have computer time. Dad comes home and has time with Amy on T/TH, Briana on M/W and together on Friday.
5:30 pm: Children help set table (a different child each week) while I finish supper preparations. The other children watch a DVD.
6:00 pm: Dinner and cleanup
7:00 pm: Amy and Bri get baths, Michael has time with Dad
7:30 pm: Amy to bed, Dad/I read a short story and prays with her
8:00 pm: Bri to bed with story and prayer
8:30 pm: Michael to bed with a short talking time and prayer with Dad

A timer is your best friend. Set the timer or have the kids set one for when they move on to the next activity.
Questions? 
You will find more information on putting your family’s day on a workable routine in the Mom’s Notes presentations:
“Structuring Your Child’s Day, Pt. 1”