Friday, July 25, 2008

Back from Camp

OK, only if I am in heaven next year will I miss JH Camp at Wenatchee!

I read my previous post and it sounded "iffy," but God willing I will return next was that awesome.

Small, short, hyper people worshipping and making breakthroughs in their walk with the Lord.

My favorite style of worship - the kind with warm wind whipping around you as a reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

Baptisms (34 this year!) in the Wenatchee River - kids psyched to leave their old life buried and to raise to walk a new life! Their excitement for that always revitalizes me and brings me back to basics - aaaaah thank you Lord for that new life!

Anyhow, I had my perfect job this year at camp - Baptism Coordinator and Floating Counselor. LOVED IT! Had significant conversations with at least a dozen people sprinkled throughout the weekend, which is my favorite style of ministry. Got to laugh at the antics, hang with the students, and still make emergency runs to Starbucks. :) Amazing week.

My heart is changing, which is so awesome. I remember months before our youth missions trip to Mexico I spoke with Betty (a saint in our congregation). She was saying that in her prayers she was asking God to say YES to her going - she wanted it that badly. I was more in the frame of mind of "Lord, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from my lips!" It was such a paradigm shift to think of someone begging God for permission to go...I figured He'd say yes to any such, I couldn't really fathom that craving to go. But now I have that same feeling, not only for Wenatchee but also for Mexico! Seriously - who would've thunk it? That new creation that the baptizers celebrated is also the one I continuously celebrate in my walk with Him!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, July 18, 2008

Retraction and Reflection

I've already retracted an blog - my 3rd on parenting.

No, you can't see it anymore - I deleted it and will rewrite it. No sooner did I write about the payoffs of being a stay-at-home mom then I went to pick up Ben from basketball camp. Of all the hundreds of kids there, one was chosen to read his homage to his mom aloud to the camp - a beautifully written, humble and honoring his WORKING MOM. LOL! I found it very like God to say - "Alison, please check your holier-than-thou attitude about being a stay at home mom. I will bless those I will bless, and am sovereign over these matters." Sooo - I will rewrite the blog and strive for it to be peppered with grace (which I shot for in the beginning! promise! I just have to heed that red flag that I think I saw God waving over this mother and her boy).

Anyhow, what a week. Kids home from camp.....lots of laundry and listening! Then 2 mothers' funerals - their daughters being friends with my unexpected, one anticipated but dreaded. Now I am off to Junior High camp in the morning - most probably my last Wenatchee.

So - I've retracted so now let me reflect. The mothers dying has given new energy to me about my own purpose. It's help me not be so LAME about stupid issues (wearing a bathing suit in front of teenagers) and to yearn for the heart of what camp is all about - connecting students with Christ. Also - to enjoy the life that Christ has intended for us - that camp feeling of freedom and joy and closeness to Him - good to get that shot in the arm! It definitely outweighs the tents and gross-out bathrooms by a mile. I am what I am - NOT A CAMPER! :) But I love students and I love Christ - putting the two together is the best in satisfaction.

A year from now? I might visit Wenatchee and still savor the baptisms, the worship in the wind, and the crazy laughter from smaller people. But for now I will not GUARANTEE that it will happen - look at Emily's mom and Kami's mom - aaaarrrgh - I will savor today and what the Lord has laid out for is well with my soul!

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
(Prov. 16:9)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Parenting: Using the Fussing Corner

Every parent has their pet peeve about children - their own, and others' children.

My particular pet peeve is whining. What bugs me about it is the underlying attitude of most whining - it is unthankful, it is rebellious, it selfish, and it is petty. Yes, of course a child who is sick or overtired is whining because they don't have the maturity to nobly cope with hardship! I am talking about all other types of whining in this case.

One observation I've made about whining is that it does not improve with age if it is not disciplined away. I have seen school-aged children whine about what's on their dinner plate, junior highers whine about "needing" a cell phone, high schoolers whining about their "unfair teachers"....I'm sure even some adults still whine! So I don't think it behooves a parent to ignore or distract their toddler/preschooler when they are whining - I don't think it's something a human outgrows. I think parents need to deal with it straight on.

Little tidbit from the Acone home: we used the Fussing Corner as a place that was okay for the kid to whine and tantrum in....the point was that it was out of sight from ME (thus keeping my blood pressure low plus not reinforcing them in this state). It was located in the hallway by the front door - out in plain sight (therefore safe) and easy to get to for little legs. Away from toys. Away from fun. Away from sympathetic grandparent glances. :)

When the child began to whine or tantrum in any way, I would give the neutralized tone of voice "how about you go to the fussing corner until you are done, and then you can come out and we'll talk about it" (or "play" or "finish dinner"). After awhile, the child began to turn their attitude around as they simply walked toward the corner - they were able to stop the tear flow, or adjust the tone of voice....they knew that spending time in the corner with their bad attitude wasn't really going to get them the payoff they desired (attention, the toy they were fighting over, certainly it wasn't going to get them their way!). Basically, spending time in the corner was considered a waste of energy and my kids were smart enough to learn how to cope with negative feelings before it got the better of them.

After they were done fussing and had come out of the corner, of course there was always my positive and warm greeting, and there was something GOOD to participate in. This doesn't mean they were rewarded for coming out with a good attitude - that would be classified as bribery - but I do believe that being a good citizen (getting along, being cheerful, sharing with others) has rewards of its own....people are happy to see you, you can be a part of group activities, you can eat a good meal, play with your toys, and enjoy the harmony of friendly relationships. Being in the corner with tears and a mad heart is a bummer. Being stuck in the corner with a drag IS a drag!

I think I can attribute my daughters' pleasant teenaged attitudes to the use of the Fussing Corner. The principle of "adjust the negative attitude" is fairly engrained by now, and we've avoided the "typical" emotional rollercoaster that preteen and teen girls have earned a reputation for riding. No, they aren't emotionally stunted...but they do laugh an enormous amount more than they ever cry, and they are cheery and agreeable and long-suffering...even when sick or during long travels or doing hard labor or being inconvenienced. I think the basic premise of whining not paying off has virtually eliminated that from their character.

God has been so good to me to help me deal with the issue of whining, since it has always been my pet peeve. By eliminating that monster from our home, we have been left with an atmosphere of peace which is where Jon and I function best. Probably all of us do! I hope if you are having issues with whining or fussing that you will try a Fussing Corner for a month and enjoy the results. My bet is that you'll keep it once you give it a trial run.

For the despondent, every day brings trouble;

for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Pr. 15:15)

Parenting Advice: First Step Toward Doom?

I consider myself not superstitious. I don't knock on wood, I avoid horoscopes, and think pretty much anyone consulting a stargazer is going to hell in a handbasket. :)

But one thing that has challenged me as an older, "been down the road" type of woman is the subject of advice giving. I am all for authors and speakers and mentors to share their wisdom with those who are further behind in the journey! In fact, I do think that is biblical and wise and practical....three of my favorite things. But when I presume to give advice I shudder at crossing the line between humility and pride....where angels fear to tread, if you glance through the Bible at what God thinks of proud people! He opposes them! He lowers them! Two things that strike fear into my heart.

Well, a few people have commented to me before that they think I should write a book on parenting. :) Somehow I feel like the minute I pen a paragraph on parenting, my children will up and rebel as a way for God to keep my ego in check. It has never been worth that kind of gamble for me - I've been happy to just continue the course I'm on, and enjoy the results.....but....then someone else will ask for parenting wisdom and I think - if I share some and maintain humility, then it's the best of both worlds, right? I am in God's Will both in attitude and in practice.The challenge is to offer advice and maintain a humble spirit so that God doesn't have to take out the pruning shears.

So gulp - here goes the first of a few posts on parenting. Consider it free material - feel free to debate me on it if you disagree - or feel free to ignore it. My disclaimer at the outset is that I am confident the Lord has co-parented with me and has filled my no way do I claim to have reached the finish line in parenting yet! But with God's help I have enjoyed each stage of my children's lives (with the exception of a challenging first year with Abby) and they continue to bless Jon and I, as well as those around them. (for those who don't know them personally, Abby is 17, Katie is 15.5 and Ben is 13.5). This continual blessing is what I desire others to have in their home, as we have.

Most of the people who ask me for parenting tips are those with babies and toddlers and school-aged kids, so that's where I'll start.

Stay tuned.