Favorite Tweets for November

You can follow me: @espinosajoey
  1. A Culturally-Engaged weekend for us in . It was about friends, candy, and, ultimately, the .
  2. Fried chicken from Clara's (#AllendaleSC) = Food of the gods
  3. Mural at Pink Garden, . Just about done in only 2 hours of work. http://twitpic.com/7butcv 
  4. Heading to a men's breakfast with Vision Ministries in . Thankful for the fellowship from this church.
  5. I made my son laugh so hard and continuously at dinner that he fell out of his chair twice, and he snorted.
  6. Physical activity impacts overall quality of sleep: / Or, "Why we should play football on Thanksgiving."
  7. "It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him." Oswald Chambers 
  8. Enjoying my Kenyan Javahouse coffee, courtesy of . "I will bless those who bless Joey." (Or something like that)

Which is your favorite?

    4 Effective Consequences for Disciplining a Young Child

    Making disciples of children (I agree with this article that "making disciples" is a better term than "parenting") looks different depending on the stage of life. For the purpose of this post, we'll consider a child that is under age 5 or 6, i.e., the stage in which he must learn to submit to authority.

    When their children are this young, parents often overemphasize "leadership development" in their training. The truth is, a child cannot learn to lead unless he first learns to follow.

    Parents must be proactive in teaching their children to willingly submit to authority (more on this in a future post). But, when a child fails to follow God's command (such as Ephesians 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."), there needs to be consequences.

    Remember that the purpose of consequences and discipline is not to bring about punitive punishment, but the goal is life change. Having said that, here are 4 practical consequences for training your young child to submit to authority: warnings, loss of privileges, time-outs, and spankings.

    Be careful about warnings – how you think about them, and how you use them. A warning like, “You had better start cleaning up before I count to 3 . . .” actually trains the child to ignore your first command. Avoid those types of warnings.

    Additionally, avoid making empty threats. I’ve made this mistake before. When my daughter was about 3, we were all at a social function. It was time to leave, and I had told her two or three times to come to our vehicle. Finally, I half-jokingly said, “Hannah, if you don’t come now, we’re going to leave you.” Joanna (rightly) called me out and reminded me not to do that. You need to say what you mean and mean what you say.

    However, a warning can take the form of pulling your child aside and saying, “Your behavior is not right. You are being rude [or selfish, rude, destructive, etc]. You need to rethink the path that you are on, and make some better choices.”

    Loss of Privileges
    The amount of freedom and privileges a child (or an adult, for that matter) should have should increase with his proven responsibility. This principle is known as “parenting inside the funnel” and can be explained by the parenting video in this post.

    When your child fails to be responsible with the freedoms that she has, her privileges should be reduced. As discussed in Teaching Stewardship, you need to lead your child to the level of responsibility (and freedom) that she is mature enough to handle.

    You can read more about this concept in a previous post about us taking away our kids' Legos.

    When your child is exhibiting foolish behaviors and attitudes, it is wise to pull him out of the situation for a moment. Giving him a time-out gives you the quietness you need to speak to his heart and head, and allows him to feel the discomfort of isolation. Additionally, what your child may need is a few minutes to “cool his jets.”

    The duration of a time-out should vary based on the age of a child, and according to her temperament. Be sure to include an intentional heart level conversation at some point during the time-out, to ensure that the child understands the reason for and purpose of her being isolated.

     The topic of spankings will definitely bring out strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum. The purpose of this post is not to give a full discourse on this issue. But I will say that we have used spankings as a disciplinary tool, and I disagree strongly with those who say that spanking is always wrong.

    Here’s what we need to remember: Rebellion must not be taken lightly. We need to remember that training our children is not about us, and about our own position of power. This is about a God-ordained responsibility, that parents are to lead their children. So, when your child defies your command, he is not just rebelling against you, but against God.

    This is that serious. Do not shrug-off the seriousness of a child’s rebellion and foolishness against God. Your job as a parent is:
    • To help expose that rebellion,
    • To help the child realize his sin and rebellion against God
    • To lead your child towards the Cross, to help him trust in the grace and sufficiency of Jesus.

    Without going into the details of the methodology of a spanking, I know that nothing gets my child’s attention like a spanking. The point of a spanking is not to vent my frustration, and it’s not a punitive action. The point of any method of discipline (such as a spanking) is to use a physical reality (pain or discomfort) in order to expose a spiritual problem (sin). A spanking is usually the most effective way to help a young child understand the seriousness of his sin.

    Do you have anything to add to these types of consequences? Let us know in the comments.

    Related Links:

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. Hope your day is filled with joy. For most of us, it will include one or more of these F's"
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Food
    • Football
    We're glad to be back in Greenville with family and friends. Looking forward to worshiping with Grace Church on Sunday.

    And for the record, tomorrow is Joanna's birthday. 29 and holding!!

    Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
    For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
    (Psalm 100:4-5)

    Science and Family

    Having written about Nature vs Nurture: Women & STEM, and getting some feedback from friends and other readers, I have continued to be intrigued about this topic of women working in the field of science.

    And I'm not the only one. Here's a list of articles that give more insight into this topic:
    • Women's Quest for Romance Conflicts with Scientific Pursuits.  A woman's pursuit of romantic goals may be due to environmental cues, innate design, or personal choice. But in any case, the more she she wants to be romantically desirable, the less likely she is to show an interest in math.
    • Many Top U.S. Scientists Wish They Had More Children.  Interestingly, while more top female scientists wanted to have more children, the life satisfaction of the male scientists was more significantly affected.
    • Women Aren't Becoming Engineers Because of Confidence Issues.  According to this study, it's not that women don't become (or leave) engineering because of wanting to start a family. It's more related to the confidence they feel. While we can't pinpoint where that lack of confidence comes from (nature vs nurture plays a role, I'm sure), one thing that may help is bringing practicing engineers into college classrooms to share their experiences.
    • Nature and Nurture Work Together to Shape the Brain.  Now here's a theory I can get behind. Who we are (and who we become) is more than our DNA, and it's more than our environment. "Our genes and environment work together to influence brain development throughout a lifetime."

    When it comes to decisions about life, career, and family, there so many factors involved. But ultimately, it's about choices. And once those choices are made, you never get to rewind the clock. You pray, seek counsel, and make the best decision you can.

    This was the case with me. In 1999, as I was getting my Master's degree in chemistry, I turned down an opportunity to pursue my PhD. I thought that was the best choice, and felt at peace about it.

    But that I made the right choice was confirmed one Saturday morning in the spring 2004. I suddenly hit me that if I had gone for my PhD, I would just around then (at the earliest) be finishing my degree. While Joanna and I would probably still have gotten married, I knew that my life would have looked significantly different.

    I looked at my life at that point, with my wife of 4.5 years and my two great kids, and I knew that I made the right choice.

    Related Links:
    image courtesy of LindsayT via flickr

    Losing Privileges Can Hit You Like a Ton of Bricks

    We had to do it. As much as we love watching our children create with Lego bricks, we took them away a few weeks ago. Our kids were crushed. If you saw their reactions, you'd have thought that we were going to make them march in the Cooterfest parade completely naked. Yes, it was that traumatic.

    Packed Away
    They hadn't been very responsible with their Lego collection, leaving pieces all of the living room floor (and coffee table, and flower pots, and . . .). In fact, they weren't taking care of other toys as well, from American Girl dolls to trains, from stuffed animals to action figures. They weren't being good stewards of things that ultimately didn't belong to them, since the truth is that nothing actually belongs to them.

    Even more, they were being selfish with Legos. They repeatedly failed to share, and saying things like, "Those are my people." Basically, they were treasuring these Legos over their siblings. As loving parents, we could not let them continue to do this. We are trying to teach them to love people over possessions.

    (And you know it's bad when they start manipulating Biblical principles to get what they want. Sender, particularly, likes to grab toys from his siblings while yelling, "It's not yours. It's God's!" I have to remind him that that principle is supposed to remind him to share with others, not to be selfish.)

    As I wrote in Teaching Stewardship: Practical Application, we felt it was best to take away their Legos for a time. This act of discipline was not for punitive purposes, but for the goal of change. And not just a change of behavior, but to reach their hearts. If their hearts are broken, sorrowful, and repentant, their attitudes and actions will follow (Luke 6:45).

    We explained that we'd remove these toys for an unspecified period of time, until we felt that they could be responsible and generous stewards. We need to make sure that their privileges match up with their level of responsibility.

    How's it going? Well, a week later we let them play with the Legos again, but they quickly went back to their selfish ways. Back to the storage bins went the Legos. We'll try again soon and keep talking with them about "considering others as first" (Philippians 2:3).

    Or, we'll just hold this bin of toys and re-gift it to them on Christmas.

    Have you ever had to take away privileges or possessions from your children? How did it go?

    Related Link:

    Things to Think About and Do for Thanksgiving

    Here are some links and resources, as you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.
    1. Seven Things to Do With Your Family This Thanksgiving.  Agreat list from Vision Forum.
    2. The 1st Thanksgiving.  Making a time-line with your kids. I'm not into crafts and activities very much, but you may be.
    3. Desiring God Teaching.  A list of past sermons by John Piper.
    4. Family Matters.  Principles and practical ideas to help Thanksgiving be a time of thankfulness, not stress.
    5. Overview of Some Books for Thanksgiving. You could buy them in time for next week, or maybe find them in your local library.

    Do you know of any other suggestions or resources?

     image courtesy of monmart via sxc.hu

    A Zoo Buddy

    Last Saturday, our family went on a trip to Riverbanks Zoo with 32 others from Allendale -- 27 children and 5 adults. The event was sponsored by Radius Church in Lexington, SC (I've known the student pastor since he was in middle school).

    This pastor and four others drove down, leaving their homes at 6:30 AM, in order to ride on the school bus with the Allendale kids. While additional members from the church met us at the zoo, the bus ride gave them an additional opportunity to connect with the children and leaders.

    It was Hannah and Sender's first time on a school bus, and Elijah's second, as he and I rode to a game with the football team a few weeks ago. Sender had his own personal "Buddy," a middle schooler from the after school program. They crashed out on the trip home.

    For many kids, it was their first time to a zoo, and we were also treated to a box lunch from Chick-fil-A. Oh, the joys of civilization!

    Here are some links where you can see other pictures and thoughts from this day:
    • Zoo Guests. From the Radius Outreach blog. The commenter Sheila Leath is the principal from Allendale Elementary School.
    • Radius Students. The same zoo pictures as above, but I was impressed with all that these group of students are doing to engage their culture.
    • More pictures (on my Facebook page). Disclaimer: Some of these were taken with my camera by one of our Allendale kids.

    Thanks again to the leaders and volunteers from Radius Church for making this trip happen!

    And just for some more of Sender's thinking, he said his favorite animal was the "koala with the rag on his bottom." Upon further question, we figured out that he mean the (red-bottomed) baboon.

    My Son Called Me Out

    For all that I love about my job, there are some challenging aspects which have caused us to adjust our family's routine. In particular, our evening schedule is different than it was a year ago.

    When I had a "regular" job, we had a normal schedule of: get home from work, dinner, play, bathe kids, put kids to bed -- with it all concluding by 8 or 8:30 PM.

    However, since I do not get home until 7:30 or later, we typically rush through dinner and bath times, and even playing one short game with our kids means a bedtime of 9PM. Not only are they worn out by then, but so are Joanna and I.

    I can't say enough about My Excellent Wife, how she pours herself out all day. She home schools in the morning, serves in the after school program every afternoon, to maintaining the home, gives rides to kids and volunteers, keeps in touch with friends, and more. She is full-speed all day.

    But me, I've been realizing how much of a slacker I've been. After dinner, I am more apt to relax, or go through paperwork, or (more typically) check my email or Facebook "one more time." You know, I'm that important that someone might need me ASAP.

    The truth is, the people that need me the most are not the ones I talk to over Facebook and email. They're the ones in my own living room.

    I'm constantly amazed how I push aside my own family during the final hours of the day. Sometimes I go into my world of self out of an escape from the days troubles. Sometimes it's out of pride or misplaced priorities. But usually, it's just laziness.

    My 4-year-old son helped me see this recently, as I was putting him to bed. He had a little bit of a cough for a few days, and just before I was about to leave his room, he said,
    "Daddy, will you pray for my cough?"
    I overlooked the most important thing to him at the moment. No, not just feeling better, but knowing that his Daddy cares. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I prayed with and for him at bedtime. The same with my other kids.

    I'm usually in such a rush to get them in bed, so I can get some "me-time." But is the 10 extra minutes of "me-time" worth them thinking I don't care? Is it worth not investing in them physically, emotionally, and spiritually?

    Of course not.

    I'm thankful for the grace of God, that He is going to work in my kids' lives, despite myself. I'm thankful that He used my young son to call me out, to remind me that I need to be leading and loving my family.

    Related Links:

    Sender's Thanksgiving

    Our 4-year-old (5 next month!) loves to pray before meals. Here's the latest of what Sender has been thanking God for. Don't you love a 4-year-old's sweet and sincere prayers?
    • Peace and sleep
    • Jesus dying on the cross
    • Helping me lose two teeth
    • Mommy and Daddy helping kids with homework at the Club
    • Our family being in Allendale

    And has been doing great sitting still in the pews during our worship services at church. (It's far different than what he was used to at Grace Church's Children's Ministry.) He likes to copy words from the screen, hymnals, Bibles, etc onto the church bulletin. And when I preached at a small church in Allendale the other week, he sat right next to me until I went on stage. Somehow, it felt really comforting.

    But before you think he's all super-spiritual, here's another conversation that he and I had recently:
    Me: "Sender, do you want a hamburger or hot dog for lunch?"
    Sender: "I want a hot dog. . .  A wiener. . .  A long one. . . .  I want a long wiener."
    Joanna can only shake her head.

    Related Links:

    KidMin Articles and Radio Show

    When I laid out my New Plan for the Blog, I mentioned that I would start contributing to KidMin1124, a site for leaders who volunteer their time in children's ministry. As an author, I hope to share from my experiences as a children's pastor. As a reader, I have learned some great perspectives and ideas from the other contributors.

    Here is a list of articles that I have contributed to this point, and I hope to write about two each month:
    1. Are All Volunteers the Same?  
    2. Volunteer Coaches: What, Who, Why, How  
    3. Do You Have a Titanic Ministry? 

    Additionally, I had the privilege of taking part in a radio show hosted by the leaders of this website. The topic was Child Discipleship, a topic that has been on the forefront of our minds in Allendale, as we are trying to hone in on our ultimate purpose.

    You can listen to the hour-long program here, or on the KidMin1124 site. (I had some technical difficulties early on -- the joys of Allendale infrastructure!)

    Some key points:
    • Discipleship is possible (and is necessary) in children's ministry, though the practical applications may differ from discipleship of teens and adults.
    • Discipleship includes a combination of Biblical Teaching, Caring Relationships, and Good Deeds.
    • Discipleship of children is accomplished best when a group of people is working together, coming alongside the parents. The parents are the primary agents of discipleship, and we must help give them credibility in the eyes of their children, especially as they get older.
    • Churches need to make sure that we are partnering with and equipping parents, instead of focusing solely on what happens inside the church walls.
    • We need to create a top-down culture of discipleship, from Staff to Coaches to Volunteers to Children.

    Related Link:

      Bible Islands

      My children love playing video games. No surprise there, since most kids do. We have a Wii, but they also like playing a variety of games online.

      Of course, not all games are equally appropriate, and even games within the same website can vary in the maturity of their content.

      Recently my kids tried out this new online game site, Bible Islands. In collaboration with organizations such as Thomas Nelson Publishing and Answers in Genesis, the developers of this site have created a kid-friendly game that combines Bible-learning, cognitive skills, and adventure.

      The targeted age-range is 4 to 8. There is a fee to play (with discounts for longer-term subscriptions), but you can get test the waters with a free trial. Click here to get started with your account!

      Once you try it, let me know what you think, and if you have any questions.

      Boys to Men

      Would you trust this guy?
      The other day, I asked my son Elijah, "What makes a boy a man?"

      He answered: "Responsibility."

      Love it. Has he been listening to the teachings from Men's Roundtable? According to the teaching from this material, a real man is one who:
      • Rejects Passivity
      • Accepts Responsibility
      • Leads Courageously
      • Expects God's Reward

      Related Links:

      Two Videos for Practical Applicaiton

      • Concepts:  Two of my favorite parenting principles is to think about stages, and to parent inside the funnel.
      • Application:  Register for the Future Women event.
      • Read More:  Future Women

      Fastzkie Support

      Favorite Tweets for October

      You can follow me on Twitter: @EspinosaJoey

      1. . Haiku submitted. What do you think? http://scwordsmith.com/2011/09/26/its-fair-haiku-season/
      2. My Amazon wish-list is growing faster than my budget, and my allotted reading time.
      3. 5 Things Better Than an Obedient Child. / Great post for .
      4. . I will be fasting today, in between meals.
      5. Marvin Love & @jdkeever are opposing captains in kickball. This might be the end of relationship btwn @gracechurchsc & Vision Ministries
      6. "Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally." Oswald Chambers
      7. Hannah & I are at the school's Student Council induction ceremony. Almost half of the council are kids fr the Club. http://twitpic.com/7368lm
      8. My daughter, at the state fair: "You can get deep fried ANYTHING here!"