Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Examine Yourselves, A Follow Up

 Recently, I wrote about a youth group teaching on 2 Corinthians 13:5 which reads "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!".  You can read that post here. These are some follow up thoughts to that post and that teaching.

Examination can be a very scary thing.  Most of us can remember waking up in a cold sweat the night before an important exam convinced that we have overslept and missed it.  But as I spent some time reflecting on this verse I felt the Lord reminding me that examination is not for my condemnation but it is for my restoration.

Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  O how I need to remember this verse when I feel convicted of my sin.  The Holy Spirit convicts me so that I may repent and find forgiveness.  So that I may have a restored relationship with Christ.  He does not convict me to condemn me.  Because of God's gift of grace in Christ I have already passed from the condemnation that my sin deserves into new life with him!

In the end, what have we to fear?!  God is gracious and patient.  We can trust him to finish the work he has started in each of us!  Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  And so, I will go on examining myself...even when it hurts...confident that God's grace is enough for me and that his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby Signs

 A friend of mine recently asked if I could put together some tips from our personal experience teaching our kids sign language as infants.  This is for her!

Baby sign language is a fairly new trend in the parenting world.  Using signs with your baby is a great way to help him or her begin communicating with you while its still too difficult for him or her to verbally put sounds and words together.  There are a variety of online resources and studies that you can peruse.  Start with a google search and go from there!

We started using signs with our twin boys when they were somewhere between 6adn 9 months old.  We modeled the sign for "more" during meal times until they began to see a connection with our hands, our words, and the actions we took directly following.  We also modeled the sign for "all done" to signal the end of meal time.  When they began to imitate our signs, we encouraged them with all kinds of yeahs, clapping, and other such positive affirmations.  At first, their signs were sloppy and didn't look too much like our own but with our help they began to improve.  After learning "more" and "all done," we taught the twins to say "please" and "thank you."  As their signing improved and as they began to mature verbally we continued using signs while speaking.  Once they were able to talk it was important to us  to be sure that signs were paired with words so that the boys didn't become to dependent on the signs themselves and remembered to use their words.

With our next baby, we started signing a little earlier.  Again, we chose to teach her "more" and "all done" first.  As soon as she had "more" down, we added "please" and "thank you."  Other early signs that we chose for her were "diaper" and "milk."  She has done great with them all!  She is more verbal (as were her brothers) than most of her peers.  I do not believe she would be as verbally advanced had we not used sign language early on.

So here are some of our practical tips:
  • Choose simple signs to introduce consistently
  • Don't introduce more than 3 signs at a time
  • Remember to give lots of positive encouragement even if signs seem sloppy at first but don't be afraid to help your baby learn how to sign correctly as he or she progresses.
  • If you have older children, teach them to sign too and encourage them to use signs with the baby also.
  • We love baby sign language books by Annie Kubler, they make signing fun for the whole family!
Its also important to remember that if you are from a bilingual home or if you are teaching your child more than one language, it may take longer for your child to catch on with the sign language.  Your baby just has a lot to process.  But don't give up!  Consistent use of signs should help you as you teach your child to communicate!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prom 2012

Its that special time of year again and I wanted to take a chance to remind all of my prom going friends to be cautious and careful with their choices.  I recently read a post from an AIM World Racer that I believe is a relevant read for all young people.  Please take the time to read her story before hearing some of my thoughts on the oh-so-popular topic of sex before marriage or the oh-so-even-more-popular topic of how far is too far.

Stephanie shares from her personal experience of telling thousands of students in Uganda about her regret over not waiting until marriage to have sex.  In 2004, I had a similar opportunity to share with students in Botswana, who also struggle to understand how AIDS is transmitted and how to express love for one another without having sex.  At that time, I was already dating Sean (he actually proposed to me at the airport as I returned from this trip) and I had the blessing of using my personal experience of being in love with him and not needing to have sex with him to show it.  I remember standing in front of class room full of students saying, "I have a boyfriend at home in the US and I love him very much but I don't have to sex with him to show it."  The students were astounded, just as I am sure that Doreen was to hear this same message from Stephanie.

But here is the really important thing that I want to say to you all.  Please read carefully.  You don't have to have sex before marriage to learn some of the same painful lessons about sex, your body, your value etc that Stephanie mentions in her blog post.  I may have made it to my wedding day with my virginity intact but there are plenty of mistakes that I made that left me (and consequently, my spouse) with the same kinds of wounds.

The Lord is faithful to heal.  And he makes good on all his promises, including the one Stephanie mentioned about working everything together for good (see Romans 8:28).  If you're already bearing wounds and scars, please allow the Lord to heal you before inflicting any further damage.  If you're struggling to hold on to your virginity by throwing everything else to the wind, please hear me when I tell you that there is a better way.  If you feel like the only who isn't having sex or isn't messing around, don't let other people make this important decision for you by pressuring you because of their foolishness, sometimes it good to be the only one ;)

1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."