Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other--above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as I have received." --Albert Einstein

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ten Fast, Easy Ways to Show Love to Your Child

Sometimes we make life too hard, convincing ourselves that we don't have time to do the things we want or need to in order to have a loving family environment. We are limited only by our own minds. Showing love to our children and grandchildren--and teaching them how to love through example--can be so simple. It just takes some creative thinking. Here are five simple ways to show love to your children or grandchildren.

1) Attend your child's sports events, plays, musical recitals, concerts. You may miss a few for work, or you may be pleasantly surprised when you ask your boss for an hour off to attend these important events. Either way, just seeing your smiling face in the crowd will be enough to fill your child's heart with love.

2) Read to your child. Let your child choose the book. Keep plenty of books in your house, too. They take up very little space, far less space than toys. Read to your child before bed, but don't limit yourself to bedtime. If your child seems bored or is spending too much time in front of the television, push the button, turn it off, and ask your child to fetch his or her favorite book. Again, you don't have to spend hours on this task. If it's a long book, read a chapter. If it's a short book, take a deep breath, relax, stop thinking about work and bills and the conflict of the day and focus on that special cuddly moment with your child.

3) Sing to your child. My granddaughter used to love the Happy Birthday song when she was two, so I sang it to her all the time. Even though she knew it wasn't her birthday, she loved the attention, the repetition of her name, and the joy that comes from filling a house with the sound of singing.

4) Listen to your child. When your child is speaking, do not continue stirring, writing, watching television. Do not say, "Wait a minute! This is the good part in the movie!" Pause the movie, hold the spoon still, put down your pen, turn and face your child and listen. Do not prod your child, finish his or her words, or tell your child to "hurry up." Give your full attention to what your child is trying to say.

5) Hide a love note under your child's pillow and don't tell him or her it is there. It doesn't matter if your child finds the note that night or two days later, it will still fill your child's heart with love.

6) Create a secret signal that means "I love you," a signal that only you and your child know and understand. If you have more than one child, create a different signal for each child, and use the signal often, as often as you can. Tug on your ear, scratch your head, scratch your nose, be silly, but show your love as often as possible. This one is particularly fun because it only takes a few seconds to show your love, less time than it takes to speak the words.

7) Play a game with your child. Board games are great fun and there are so many designed for little children. If you don't have a lot of money, ask your friends if they have old board games their children have outgrown, or check the local thrift store. Board games take a little more time, but your time will be focused on your child, and time and attention are great ways to say "I love you" without words.

8) Tell your child how wonderful you think he or she is, say it often, and say it for no apparent reason. Make it a random act of love. When your child is walking out the door for school, coming in from play, getting ready for bed, speak the words and make it clear. "I think you are wonderful." They are wonderful, loving words to hear.

9) Praise your child in public. This doesn't have to be excessive. Don't embarrass your child or make your child feel silly, but do compliment your child in front of friends and family so they feel special, recognized, loved and appreciated. Did your child do well in school? Play in a particularly hard game of sports? Clean his or her room without being told? Tell someone about it, and make sure your child is close enough to hear your praise.

10) Dance with your child. If a song comes on the radio or television, grab your child's hand, get up and dance! You don't have to look great, you can be silly, have fun, jump around the room, hold hands, or imitate each other, and for just a few minutes, as long as the song lasts, show your child your love by sharing a special moment of fun.

These are just a few easy suggestions. No one knows your child like you do. Use these suggestions to create your own quick and easy expressions of love. Fill their hearts and lives with love and create a tradition that will be carried on for years to come. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: 
that word is love." 

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 

while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

--Lao Tzu

Ten Ways to Show Love to Children

There is no such thing as "too much" when it comes to telling children how much they are loved, and there are plenty of ways to both show and tell children you love them. This list is intended to spark ideas for readers who can take these ideas and make individualized "I love you" messages for their children, building special moments and lasting memories. Think of this list as suggestions and build on these ideas to create your own "I love you" list. Remember to follow each idea with a hug! 

1)  This first idea has a few variations, but they all involve singing. Don't groan and roll your eyes. You don't need to be a rock star. Children love the sound of their parents' voices. They love to sing, and to listen to their parents sing to them. My daughter-in-law, Dani, has a special song she sings to my grandson. It is "You are my Sunshine," the same song I sang to my son when he was a baby, but Dani sings it in a special way just for Keller. It is Keller's song, and when he hears her singing "YOU are my sunshine, MY only sunshine," his face lights up with joy. Sing a song so it sounds as if it belongs only to your child. 

Sing a popular song to your child, but substitute your child's name for some of the words. "I love my Timothy, my baby Timothy. He is my Timothy both night and day." Substituting your child's name in a song may also help very young children learn their names through repetition. 
Singing can also be an educational tool. Try making up your own song. You don't have to be a professional, or expect to compose a masterpiece, but you should make it clear that you are speaking from the heart. Use a familiar tune, but add your own words. For instance, using the music from "You are my Sunshine," you could teach your child about the parts of the body by singing, "I love Eli's hair, and his big blue eyes, his happy smile and his cute nose. I love his ten toes, and his ten fingers, I love his belly where his food goes." As you sing the song, have your child point to the parts of his body.

2) Kiss the palm of your child's hand and tell her this is a kiss of love. Fold her fingers down and tell her it is a very special kiss and she should keep it safe and close for when she feels she needs extra love.

3) Draw a heart on a small piece of paper. Explain to your child that the heart is a symbol of your love, that it is a picture that means "I love you." Slide the heart inside his pillow case and tell him it will help him have nice dreams about how much he is loved.

4) Take photographs of your pets, spouse, and other family members. On the back of each picture write the name of the person. For instance, you might say, "Daddy loves you." Or, "Doggy loves you." Mail each photograph individually, at different times, to your child and allow her to open the envelope herself and find the picture, then read the words on the back to her.

5) When you tuck your child into bed, list all of the good things she did that day and follow each item on your list with, "Thank you so much, Layla! I love you!" Do not say a word about any problems or mistakes. Before your child falls to sleep, make certain that all of your last words are loving words. 

6) Buy a heart-shaped cookie cutter and use it to cut your child's sandwiches, then when you serve the heart- shaped lunch, remind your child that the heart is your way of saying "I love you." 

7) Tell your child the story of his or her birth. You may be surprised by how many details you remember, such as the song that was playing as you drove to the hospital, or the color of the shirt you wore. The first words Dad or Mom said when he or she first looked upon the baby, or the expression on Grandma's face when she held him in her arms. Make sure you include older siblings in the story, too. Remember that the emphasis is on love, so make certain you remind your child of all the love that was in the room. It's all in the wording. You can say, "We wrapped you in a blanket with love. We placed you in your car seat and strapped you in because we love you and want you to be safe, always." 

8) Write the words "We love you" on a card and explain what each word says. Tape the card to your child's bedroom door and every night before bed read the card out loud with your child followed by hugs for every member of the family. Creating the sign can also be a joint craft project by adding decorative sparkles together or coloring the sign with crayons.

9) Create an "I love you" scavenger hunt. Draw hearts on ten pieces of paper. Make a list of things you have given your child or items that are special to your child, such as a special teddy bear or blanket. Make sure they are easily within reach and tape a heart to each item. For each item, think up very simple clues that you can give to help your child guess the location of each item, such as, "you will find this where you lay down at night to sleep," then have her search for the item and bring it back to you. If there are older siblings, involve them in the game by having them help explain the clues to the younger child. Make sure you play the same game with each of the older children later! 
When all of the items are collected, remove the hearts and tell your child the hearts show how many times today that you thought about how much you love her, then help her place the hearts in her dresser to remind her every morning when she gets dressed that you think about her all day long. The list can be shortened to five for younger children with short attention spans.

10) Just before dinner, write a note that says "I love you" and teach each word to your child, then place the note beside his plate and tell him it is a reminder of your love. You can also write the child's name on the note to help him learn how to read his name. Keep a pad of paper and a pen in the kitchen. Whenever you prepare a meal for your child, write "I love you" on a piece of paper and place the paper beneath his drinking cup or beside his plate so he sees it every time he sits down to eat. Ask if he remembers what it says, then say it together and give him a hug.   

There must be hundreds of ways to make a child feel unique, and loved. Try buying a journal and writing your ideas down along with a description of the special moment when you first shared your "I love you" idea with your child. You can review the journal through the years, and it will make a wonderful gift when your child is older with children of his or her own. 

Favorite Love Quotes from the Bible

When I read The Bible it seems as if I am always looking for meaning, for a way to connect the verse or story to my own life. I particularly enjoy stories and verses on love. The quotes below are some of my favorites.

Quoted from the New International Version of The Bible, these verses could leave you feeling dreamy about your current relationship or perhaps rethinking your approach, wondering if you could do more to make your relationships with family members stronger, more loving. They are often spoken in weddings, or printed in anniversary announcements, birth announcements, and even love letters. They also make nice reading when you're feeling lonely or sad.

 1 Corinthians 13:4-13  

The following quote is a favorite for weddings. It reads like poetry, and speaks to the heart in ways that few poets can because of its candid veracity when defining the complicated emotion of love. This complete selection is often used for celebrations, but it is also quoted at times in sections, generally using either verses 4-7 or 11-13.

"(4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily-angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part, (10) but when completenes comes, what is in part disappears. (11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (12) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." --1 Corinthians 13:4-13

 1 John 4:16-19    

This next quote is important for what it says about love and fear, two emotions that often seem to battle for our hearts. This is an explanation as to why love should win, because "there is no fear in love," and when we guide our actions by feelings of love, we are closer to God. 
"(16) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (17) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on that day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. (18) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (19) We love because He first loved us." --1 John 4:16-19

 Ruth 1:16-17  

The following is from the Book of Ruth, a flawless story about loyalty and love told in 85 short verses. When Ruth made a promise, she did so with all of her heart and soul. When it comes to relationships and committment, we can all learn from Ruth. These poetic words may appear to be speaking of the relationship between a man and a woman, but Ruth is speaking to her mother-in-law. Ruth's husband has died, and his brother and father have died, as well, leaving Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, Orpah, her sister-in-law, and Ruth to fend for themselves. They also lived in Moab, which was plagued with drought. Their situation was a desperate one. Naomi heard that conditions were better in Israel and suggested that the three women should travel there and try to make a better life for themselves in Bethlehem, the place of her birth. 

Travel was not easy for these three women who had little more than the clothes on their backs and Naomi felt guilt and remorse for asking her daughter-in-laws to join her on this journey. She told them to return to Moab to their families. The two women sobbed, begging her to change her mind, but Naomi had nothing to offer these two young women. She was aging and could no longer have sons. She had no money or land. Orpah and Ruth sobbed, begging her to change her mind, but Naomi was determined that she was making the right decision. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and returned to Moab. 

Ruth, however, refused. She had grown to love her mother-in-law as her own mother. She was committed to her as family. Naomi was of a different religion. Ruth's family were pagans. They lived a very different life, but when Ruth agreed to marry Naomi's son, in her mind, she made a committment to join his family, to live as his family lived and love each and every member of his family as her own. Ruth also kissed Naomi, but instead of turning to leave, she made the following speech, committing herself in love, both to her mother-in-law and to the God of Israel. From that moment on, their souls, and their futures, were bound together forever. It is a beautiful statement of family love and devotion. 
"(16) But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (17) Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever severely, if even death separates you and me." --Ruth 1:16-17

Matthew 5:43-48
The following verses are words of advice quoted from Jesus as he explains the importance of loving everyone, even those who may cause us harm. In time, we all learn that hatred causes more harm to ourselves than it does to those we hate. In this section, Jesus is trying to explain that love can transform you, change you into a better person as you strive for perfection. No, we will never be perfect, we will never be God, but the harder we try to treat others with love and respect, to treat God's world, creations, people with the same love that He would show them, the closer we come to perfection. 

"You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." -Matthew 5:43-48

 John 3:16

This last section speaks of the love God has for His people, and His willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate this love. It is said that there is no pain greater than the loss of a child. According to The Bible, God sent his own son, Jesus, to earth and allowed his son to be sacrificed so that the sins of His people, His children on earth, could be forgiven. Jesus, innocent of the crimes he was accused of committing, willingly agreed to sacrifice his life for the good of all others, including his enemies. It was the ultimate act of love. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." --John 3:16 

There are so many verses on love in The Bible that we often have many favorites. Please feel free to discuss your favorites in the comments section below, or discuss your feelings on the verses I have quoted above.