Saturday, April 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Pancakes

A couple of weeks ago, I felt that it was time to shake things up a bit for breakfast.  I wanted to make some pancakes, but not just any pancakes.  I needed to make something new!  I looked in the pantry and my eyes stopped at the Peanut Butter.  YES, Peanut Butter Pancakes!

So, I took out the box of Aunt Jemima Original Dry mix (the Wheat would work as well) and followed the instructions on the box.  Then added in:
  • 1/3 cup Natural Jif Peanut Butter (or your favorite peanut butter)
  • 2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
    ** you may need to add more liquid (I had to splash some milk in)
Here are some variations and add-ins that we came up with:
  • Peanut Butter chips - Double Peanut Butter explosion
  • Chocolate chips - Reese's
  • Banana w/ bacon - Elvis. 
  • Top with your favorite Jelly/Jam - PB&J
Give them a shot! Be Creative!  My Kids LOVED them, and they loved creating their own version with the Add-Ins!  Having fun in the kitchen as a family is a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

If you come up with a new variation, let me know!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What's your Philosophy of Parenting?

I was recently asked this question: "What is your philosophy of Parenting?" Honestly, I had to take a minute to review how my wife and I actually parent our children to discover the purpose behind our practice. Parenting intentionally has been our goal from the beginning, but being able to articulate a philosophy behind our practice was something that required some thought.

First let me start with the ideal. I believe that parenting works best when both dad and mom work together in unity, and when the marriage is vital, intact and growing. As parents truly step into their God given roles based on Deut. 6:5-7, they model a Biblical relationship with each other with oneness in their influence, teaching and discipline of the children in the home. Parents are to grow their children to maturity in every area of life – physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and broken marriages and families are an increasing reality. The first step to being a better parent is to work on your marriage.

That being said, I have had many opportunities to interact with single parents. Most are well aware and often remark that single parenting is hard and they often feel they are at a disadvantage. If you are a single parent, remember that you are loved deeply by God. He cares about you and He extends His grace to you and your children when you commit your role as a parent to Him.

Whether parenting with a spouse or alone, all of us need God’s grace to cover our inadequacies. Parenting is never about perfection. It is a balancing act between discipline and grace. It is about trial and error and developing real, meaningful relationships with our kids. It is about modeling for our kids a real relationship with our Heavenly Father – forgiving and being forgiven, being human and real, yet pursuing holiness. All of us need to tap in daily to God’s perfect wisdom and strength as we navigate this path to raising whole, healthy, well-balanced Christ-loving disciples. But there are also a few ideals or strategies that will help us achieve this goal. Here are some that define our parenting philosophy:

  • Children are a gift from the Lord, but they are ultimately His – not ours. We have been entrusted with them for a time, and we are to invest ourselves in their development with intention and purpose. 
  • Our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father is critical – and comes first in our lives. This pursuit of holiness and deeper relationship continually feeds our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to each other as we seek to make the best decisions and lead our family well. 
  • Our marriage is the center of our family, with the children as supporting characters. Our children do not run or control the family (i.e. they eat what the family is served; they do what is best for the family according to the standards that we as parents have set, they attend the church where we serve God and His people, etc.) We make a strong effort to not allow them to dictate to us or manipulate us to get their own way. 
  • We have high expectations of behavior for our children (developmentally appropriate) while at the same time; we encourage and create opportunities for them to just be creative, expressive kids who love life in a big way.   
  • We intentionally address heart issues with our kids as opposed to simply reacting to behaviors. We are students of each of our kids as individuals and realize that staying “in tune” with their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental development takes work and focus. 
One of our favorite things as parents is seeing our kids reveal the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Both Josie and Benji have received the gift of Salvation God has offered to them through Jesus Christ. And it gives my wife and me much joy to see evidence of their growth as believers. Look for the spiritual fruit in your kids’ lives and then celebrate it as a family.

I feel like it is important for parents to be connected with strong Biblical parenting authorities. Below is a short list for your benefit:
So what is your Parenting Philosophy?

Guarding Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley from Michael Smalley on Vimeo.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Have you ever been in a situation when your kids have used your own words against you?

Recently, my wife and I were engaged in a fairly serious conversation over coffee during one of my days off.  My youngest son emerged from the basement and sat by me at the kitchen table.  He began to play his DS (Lego Star Wars, I believe) while we were talking.  At some point in our conversation, I said, “… I just don’t think I can do it anymore … I think I’m done…”  My son, without looking up, spoke right on cue: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”  His words halted our conversation.  I’m pretty sure he had no idea the context of what we were discussing, but we heard him loud and clear: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”

I’m not sure when it started.  Probably while we were wrestling, pillow fighting or maybe when we were playing Star Wars where Darth Vader and/or Darth Maul (my boys) wanted me (a Jedi Master, of course) to surrender to the Dark Side, but I began to impress those very words into my children’s lives: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”   As a Father, I want my children to be bold yet full of grace, strong yet teachable, confident yet humble, and to always fight for what is right and for those who cannot fight for themselves.   When life gets tough (and it does), I want them to remember that giving up or giving in is not an option.  We work hard through the struggle and the pain because rightly focused determination will only make us strong, well balanced individuals that reflect the likeness of Christ.  After all, He never gave up! He never surrendered! —He fully accomplished His purpose of obedience to the death so that we may have life—He finished well. 

As a parent, I have the awesome privilege of speaking virtue into our kid’s lives.  On that rare occasion when they voice those virtues back at me, I want to listen intently and take truth to heart.  I honestly didn’t expect to listen to my own words from the voice of my four-year-old son, but I’m glad I did. 

Perhaps you need to do as I did.  I opened my Bible to read:
  • Psalm 139:1-24.  God reminds me that He created me, He sees me, and He leads me along the path of everlasting when I allow Him to do so. 
  • Philippians 3:13-15.  Paul reminds me that I must strain forward and press on to accomplish God’s call on my life.
  • Galatians 6:8-10.  I will reap what I sow!  Lord, help me to be a parent that sows the good seeds of the Spirit into the hearts of my children.   It is in that truth, I have the strength to “Never Give Up and Never Surrender!”
Take a few moments to pray through these Scripture passages, and find strength and encouragement in the reality that even when the going gets tough, you can rise up to “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”