Thursday, September 24, 2009


“Logic will get you from point A to point B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ---- Albert Einstein.

I am a firm believer that children learn and grow more in every area of their lives through the use of their imaginations than by any other form. Anyone who has been around small children has most likely been exposed to imaginary role play or ‘pretending’. Although some role play may seem to be gender-specific, most of the time it is not so in children’s minds. Almost every child at some point in their development has prepared a pretend food, meal or drink and served it to a participant in their play acting. Whether the item is completely imaginary, invisible to the human eye, or not, is irrelevant to the child. They serve it to their playmate as if it were real, and fully expect the item to be taken and consumed in their presence.
Some children are more expressive in their imaginative actions than others. For example, when Gabriel was three years old he would pretend he was everything from a fire truck (not the driver, but the actual truck) to animals, such as dogs and cats. He would make the sounds of the truck as he went through the house, and even announced that he would like to be a fire truck when he ‘grew up’. Even though he is now seven, he still asks if he can be my pet dog, and if I comply he will insist on being ‘named’ and will only respond from that point forward as if he were really a dog. If I forget and call him Gabriel, or ask something of him that a dog could not answer or perform, he simply barks, or lets his tongue hang out as he pants and cocks his head. At that moment in time he ‘is’ a dog in his own mind.

Boys and girls in their early years pretend to take on many different roles, from parenting and other family-oriented roles to acting the part of many career positions. They fully engage in these activities as if they were real. When playing outside they can create their own cities, countries, or sometimes even other worlds. As far as they are concerned, there is no limit to the world that exists through their imaginations. Nothing is thought to be impossible.

Of course, knowledge is important – from facts that can be memorized to the concepts found within mathematics, science and technology, or even the grammatical constructs of the English language. However, knowledge is but a tool – and without imagination is void of producing anything of real value. It is obvious that technology is now growing at an exponential rate; but without imagination – the ability to see beyond what is in the present form of reality – this knowledge would never take on a visibly new form.

What the paint brush is to the artist, knowledge is to the imaginative soul. A mind may be full of facts and concepts, the ‘tools’, but without an ‘idea’ formed visibly within the conscious awareness of thought, it can never be applied to the canvas of life. As grandparents, or another 'significant other’, in children’s lives, we have the opportunity to help develop and continue to nurture a child’s imagination throughout their entire life. The schools, and parents, may be able to encourage some creativity, but with all the other responsibilities in teaching and training that belong to them they don’t have the time or resources to devote a great amount of time to the development of imagination.

Perhaps that is yet another reason why going to ‘Grandma’s House’ is such an attraction to children of all ages. It is there they can ‘be themselves’ to create, experiment, and explore their world without the regular responsibilities and confines of a more structured environment. Both are necessary, of course; but, what an awesome privilege it is indeed to be able to engage in one of the most exiting, adventurous and fun elements of our children’s lives. I trust you will look for and find as many ways as possible to encourage the use of imagination as you spend time with the children or grandchildren who are in your life. And, I hope I can persuade you to share a few comments regarding some of the imaginative activities in which you and your children or grandchildren have been involved…………and perhaps stretch your own imagination even further!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life's Mirror

One of my granddaughter’s, Haley, and I, share a favorite author, Frank Peretti. He writes supernatural thrillers, and has great insight into the ‘unseen forces’ at work in our world. Recently, she finished a book he co-authored with Ted Dekker, called “House”, which she left with me to read. It didn’t take me very long, because as with all his books, once you get into the meat of it you can hardly put it down until you get to the end!

In case anyone would like to read it, I don’t want to say too much about the story line and ruin the suspense, and all the mind-bending twists throughout the tale, for you. But, I do want to share something that came to mind tonight as I was on my nightly walk with my Yorkie, Kaysi. In the book, the main theme centers on the characters facing the evil within them. As I was reflecting on what I had read, I realized that much of the life we see and experience around our ‘self’ is merely a reflection of what is already within us – sometimes deep within us, so deep it is beyond our conscious thought.

I don’t know about you, but when my surroundings are neat and orderly, I feel more balanced and undisturbed. I used to think that I made things that way so that I would feel more orderly and in control on the inside. But, I realize now that it is the opposite that is true --- that when I am in control, calm, confident, ‘collected’, on the inside, my surroundings take on the same character – being neat and tidy. If I begin to feel chaotic on the inside, however, suddenly it seems my entire house is upside down and everything is out of place!

Even our relationships ‘mirror’ to us what is truly going on inside of us. When we are at peace with ourselves, our relationships are smooth and we feel very connected with others. But, when we are at odds with our own ‘self’ – perhaps not living in congruence with a core belief in some way or another – or we feel angry or depressed --- our relationships with others become stormy, too. And, being the human creatures that we are – we will unknowingly and even unwittingly begin to find ways to fill the voids within us in an attempt to soothe our soul, more often than not in ways that are neither healthy nor truly effective. Unless, of course, we make a conscious effort to find the true cause underlying our stormy emotions.

Stop for a minute and take a personal ‘inventory’ of your surroundings……….. what might they be trying to tell you? Just as we use a mirror to view our physical appearance in order to make whatever adjustments we believe are necessary to what we see --- even so, we can use our physical environment and the events in our lives like a mirror of what is going on inside of us. And, in the same way we change our physical appearance to portray our best ‘self’ – we can ‘make adjustments’ on the inside to become the person we really would like to be, too. We can be sure that as we do this, things around us will eventually change. Sometimes it’s as simple as correcting our attitude – other times it may take some real deep soul-searching and a willingness to see what may be hiding there. Regardless to whether we use the information we gather from ‘life’s mirror’ to our advantage or not, the universe will continue to reflect our true inner image to us.

If we truly want to be a positive influence on our grandchildren, and their peers, we must first start by setting a good example in every area of our lives – including our own personal growth. How can we help our grandchildren learn to view their life’s circumstances as their own ‘mirrors’ of life – if we are reluctant to do so ourselves? However, as we begin to use our circumstances, surroundings and even events, as useful information to help us make adjustments in our thinking, we will find opportunities to help our grandchildren do the same.

Don’t like what you see? . Einstein said, “You can’t solve problems with the same mind that created them.” So, decide what it is you do want, and then do whatever it takes to change your current attitude and reprogram your thinking in a way that will help you create what it is you truly desire.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grandma Stories - The Dragon

No grandmother’s pages would be complete without some true stories…………those which happen spontaneously when you are around little children. I will share such tales from time to time in my posts. Today’s story is about “The Dragon”.

When our granddaughter, Stephanie, was about four years old we had a big, white, Chevy Astro Van. Whenever her “Papa” was at the wheel he would use the phrase “Whoa, Dragon!” whenever he would have to come to a stop more quickly than he anticipated. One evening we were on our way home in the van, with a few of our younger children and Stephanie in the back seat – everyone chatting and laughing along the way. Papa looked up just in time to notice the light had turned red shortly before we reached an intersection. As always, he yelled out “Whoa, Dragon!” as he quickly applied the brakes.

As the van was gliding to a halt, Stephanie cried out, “I hear it! I hear it, Papa!” Catching us all off guard, we questioned her as she continued to proclaim to us -- in no uncertain terms – that she had indeed “heard it”. Since she remained adamant, we kept asking her, “What, Stephanie? What did you hear?” Quite pleased, she finally announced, “The dragon – I heard the dragon!” It suddenly dawned on the rest of us that she had heard the squeal of the brakes as we had come to our abrupt halt at the red light. It was obvious to her at least, that the “Dragon” had obeyed her Papa’s command.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time - Living in the Moment

Do you remember taking a bath as a child? If you do, I am sure you have many tub-time memories; however, there is a specific bath tub experience I would like you to think about. Remember what happened when bath time was over, and the plug had to be pulled? You probably waited until all the water was gone before climbing out of that tub – and in doing so witnessed the swirling of the water until it became its own little whirlpool, like a small tornado sucking the water down into the drain. And, in watching, you were probably either terrified, or fascinated, by this bath time event.

An interesting observation is that when the plug is first pulled the water doesn’t appear to be disappearing very fast at all. In fact, there still seems to be some time left to play. But, once it passes the half-way mark, that swirling little tornado of a whirlpool seems to be sucking the water out of the tub faster and faster……. hence the terror some children experience when they feel they, too, might somehow get sucked down that ominous hole! However, there are those who, instead, stand still and watch with fascination until every drop of water is gone.

Time is like that draining water in the bath tub. The water fills up around us as we grow into adulthood, and then BAM! the plug is pulled and the drain begins its work. At first, we don’t even notice it. But, about half-way through life we can’t help but perceive that time begins to swirl all around us, elusive, within yet without our grasp. We can become terrified, which sends us spinning in circles along with the whirlpool and headed quickly for the drain. We can fight it and get lost in the battle. Or, we can become fascinated by this seeming turn of events as time appears to be going faster and faster, and watch with observation every swirl as is passes by. We can even become ‘one’ with the swirl and experience its every movement.

This is what it means to ‘live in the moment’. We become ‘one’ with the events that are occurring at just that moment, as they happen. Instead of trying to fight, run or hide from the passing of time, we embrace it. We experience every minute, drinking it like a refreshing glass of cold water – smelling its unique fragrance – tasting the goodness of the gift of life – touching the lives of those who encounter it with us – and hearing the melody that only that instant can bring! When we do this, we are truly alive; more alive than we ever were in our youth. So alive we can connect with our grandchildren, and even with others, in a way that is almost unexplainable to them.

Living in the moment is so much more than just remembering to ‘stop and smell the roses’. It’s a constant choice to savor every ounce of life, whether it appears to be good or bad in our present state of awareness. As we experience life in this way, we become like a dry sponge dipped into a huge pool of revitalizing water, filling up every particle until we are completely saturated with its invigorating nature. “Ahhhhhh, to be full of life!”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Planting Good Thought-Seeds

Planting Good Thought-Seeds

Thoughts……do they really matter? It’s been said that everything man creates begins with a thought. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that we are what we think in our heart. It’s also been said “Where the mind goes, the man follows” -- Joyce Meyer. Or, “Where focus goes, energy flows”. And, often we’re asked to “think about it” before giving someone an answer or making a decision. Even Einstein recognized the power of the mind when he said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So, then, how important are our thoughts, really? And, what could they possibly have to do with being a grandma?

Turning fifty was a life-changing year for me, not only in turning my health around, but also in changing my mind – more specifically, my thought-life. Oh, the wisdom of hindsight and realizing how true those principles were that I really never grasped during the know-it-all days of my youth. The more years I live, the more I realize how little I really know!! However, I also keep growing and continue to learn the deeper truths pertaining to life; those which are eternal and effective, regardless to whether we are conscious of their existence, or not.

Have you ever planted a garden, or watched someone who has? Seeds go into the fertile soil, then are watered and soak up the sunshine as they mature into the plants they were designed to be. Plant tomato seeds and you get tomatoes, plant cucumber seeds and they yield cucumbers, plant corn and what should you expect? You would obviously expect a harvest of corn. Thoughts work the same way; and who better to plant good ‘thought seeds’ than Grandma?

If Mom or Dad tells their children something profound, it seems it is almost an unwritten code that at least during some point in their lives they will question it. But, let Grandma offer the same advice, and it takes on a whole new meaning. Grandma makes life fun and exciting, remember? Surely, what she says should at least be given a second thought, and perhaps even seriously taken to heart. She’s seen as the one who has only the children’s best interests in mind, making life fun and adventurous!

What are some good ‘thought-seeds’ grandmas can plant in the rich soil of her grandchildren’s minds? I believe the first and most important ‘thought-seed’ is that they possess the ability to choose their thoughts, in each and every moment, no matter what is going on around them. For example: one of my granddaughters was having an extremely hard time being placed in ‘Time Out” during times she truly believed she had done nothing wrong. After discussing other factors, such as her parents’ expectations and what they believed was acceptable behavior, or not, I turned the focus to what was going on inside of ‘her’ during her time in “Time Out”.

I explained to her that she could focus on her anger, and why she believed she didn’t belong there – or, that she could use that time instead to think of what she would be doing once she was no longer sitting there. I also suggested she could think even further ahead, and dream about some of the things she would like to do later in her life – things in which she could be involved during her years in school, career ideas and choices as an adult, places she might like to live or travel…….even ways she might like to give into others’ lives.

Over the next few months, not only did her attitude change about being in “Time Out’, she actually spent less time there and more time doing some things she really enjoyed, such as reading. We also worked together to create a ‘media’ vision board (called “Mind Movies”), which she now watches every day. She has become more focused, and tends to make decisions that will lead her toward reaching her goals (and she is only 14!)

Of course, I didn’t just plant that ‘thought-seed’ and leave it to itself. After the initial ‘planting’ of that seed, we talked about the new things she would think about during her “Time Out” sessions. And, we created her vision board together. This ‘watering’ of the ‘thought-seeds’ is also important, in order to help grow and develop these precious seeds.

And, as with other ways Grandma influences her grandchildren, the effect of her influence works its way upward to their parents……….. perhaps the meaning of the words “and a little child shall lead them.” :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Leading By Example

Leading by Example

Three years ago, just before my fiftieth birthday, I realized that if I didn’t make some quality lifestyle changes I would become one of those fat people sitting in a rocking chair watching my grandchildren run and play instead of being able to experience life along side of them. I had taken an office job and had gained another 20 pounds, pushing me just into the boundaries of obesity. With little energy and having to often stop and catch my breath, I could barely keep up with my grandchildren, especially while playing outside. I knew that if I continued on this path, the choices of activities we could enjoy together would diminish quickly. It was then I made up my mind to do whatever it took to regain my health and vitality.

A famous Chinese Proverb says “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”. In my case along came Cinch®an inch-loss system that is not just another diet or weight loss program, but it comes with products designed to make you lose the fat and keep the muscle, allowing you to maintain an optimum metabolism. It also comes with software, called “Cinch Coach®”, which works as your own personal trainer and dietician. As soon as I started the program I was exercising daily, eating healthy meals and eating healthy snacks.

WOW! After five months of doing everything my “Cinch Coach®” told me to do, I went from a size fourteen to a size FOUR!! I hadn’t been that small in almost twenty years!! I was able to stop taking blood pressure medicine, which I had been using almost six years, my blood sugar was back to normal levels, and most importantly (to me) I was able to run and play with my grandchildren again, and even better than I had been able to before I had gained the extra weight! Grandma could now play softball again – and even though I am not the best one up to bat, my grandchildren LOVE it that I am out on the field with them instead of along the sidelines!

Regaining my own health and strength was rewarding in itself; but, here comes the power of being Grandma. As the grandchildren continued to come over to “Grandma’s House”, during the time I was making dramatic lifestyle changes and eating habits, they watched – and then they imitated what they saw. (Isn’t that what kids do best – watch what we do – and then copy it?) Interestingly, they began to eat things like salad, brown rice, or even broccoli, with me. (If Grandma does it, it’s got to be good, right?) And, with childhood obesity on the rise today, it’s important that children learn healthy eating habits as early as possible!

But, the influence didn’t stop with them. Over the next couple of years, my children also began to make healthy lifestyle changes. They cut things like soda pop and salt out of their diets, and added more fruits and vegetables. Instead of fried or fast foods, they grilled or baked their meats and ate more poultry rather than red meats. Healthy eating became a new way of life for them. And, they even implemented exercise into their daily routines, with some doing more activities, such as bike riding, together as a family.

Can Grandma make a difference? You bet she can!! Taking charge of her health through a healthy weight loss program may only be one way to do so. But, it certainly is an important and life-changing way! “Choose life that you and your descendants may live” Deut. 30:19. Perhaps at least a small part of the wisdom contained in that verse is the concept that our children and grandchildren really do learn what we live, rather than what we say or tell them to do. Therefore, when we make healthy lifestyle choices we are laying a good foundation for the health of our future generations! Whether you’re a grandma, mother, sister or aunt – if there is anyone in your life that looks up to you – make a decision to take charge of your health, and the life you change, or even save, may be more than just your own!!!