Thursday, October 20, 2016

Standing Out

He walks into the room, this unassuming thirteen year old, with unsure gate, wondering what they will say.  Not knowing what they'll think, he slowly walks across the room and plugs it in.  The machine that he labors over with such precision holds the key as he presses play. As the sounds waft around the room, the recording engineers glance at each other with approval and surprise that this small stature boy could create such quality.

This, was our experience this past week as I had the pleasure of taking my thirteen year old to a recording studio to ask for direction.  Our son started to write music when he was 12 (possibly 11). With about a year of piano lessons under his belt, he found a music writing program called LMMS and was hooked.  He has been writing music since then and has over 35 songs.  Knowing that I cannot help in the area of music composition, I knew I needed to seek out advice.  The studio engineers said that he is very gifted and paired him up with a Master's student at a local university. He is now on the path to getting even better.

I am not writing this to brag on my son, but to encourage you.  Your child has a gift.  A wonderful gift that God gave them,  They have a gifting that needs to be found.

We found that both of our boys really developed their deep interests around the age 11/12.  Our oldest started researching bungee cord servers/port forwarding/ and programming around that age and ended up getting hired at 14 and 15 to write Java based programs/games for a large Minecraft server owner.  He also wrote a small plug-in that has been downloaded over 10,000 times.

How did we get there?  Tons of sweat?  Well, not really.

We did ,of course, take an interest in what they are doing, because I believe that is crucial.  When my kids try to tell me what they are teaching themselves, I hang on their every word, even if it doesn't really interest me (or at least attempt to look like I am- programming......ugh).

We blocked out special time for this.  On school days, there are no video games.  But, the kids can use the computer for any type of learning when they are done with their school work.  This is particularly hard on my 10 year old, but do you know what he did the other day because he was bored and all his friends got to play video games?  He wrote a story.

Teach where they need to be taught.  I have in the past and continue to teach our music boy piano lessons on a bi-weekly basis.  And, when our son expressed interest in programming, my hubby taught him and his friends a class in Java programming for 10-12 weeks.

As a family, we did not tend to do tons of activities and we started them later.  Currently, our eldest has 1 activity (soon it will be two), the second child has two, the third child has one, and the fourth child has two.

The biggest factor of all, I believe,  is to connect them with the resources they need.  Get them aligned with the people that can help them and guide them.  This does not have to cost a ton.  The grad student that my son will be working with does not charge much- he's a grad student.  The Java class was the cost of a book and a Dad willing to spend time with a bunch of boys to teach them.

Don't waste your time on trying to make your kid a jack-of- all trades.  We did try a lot of sports when my kids were 10 and 11, just to try it out.  They didn't really like most of them, so we knew that, that was not the direction in which we should go.  It is good to expose kids to those experiences, but once you've established that it is something they're not interested in, move on.  It's ok.  

Be encouraged, pour into your child, pray for your child and use those computer screens for good things.  Teens get such a bad rap.  They are often seen as lazy and unproductive.  But, that doesn't have to be the case.  Turn them from being consumers to producers.  You can find their gifts, you just have to turn their focus a bit to do it.


Monday, February 2, 2015

AMAZING GF, DF Blueberry Muffins

My picky, picky eldest son said, "these are the best blueberry muffins in the world- and they're moist!"  And, I am so excited because I threw this recipe together myself!  He was talking about a GF and DF muffin, can you believe it?

Tantalizing GF & DF Blueberry Muffins

makes: 24-30 regular sized muffins

1 1/8 cu. sugar
2 1/2 cu. coconut flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1/2 cu. canola oil (although I bet coconut oil would be even better)
3 cups almond milk
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 425
Mix all ingredients together.......Blueberries get mixed in last and don't overdo the mixing after they're added.  If you mix it too much after they're added, you muffins will be completely blue. :-)
Place the batter in cupcake liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them as they bake- tops may brown.  If so, you could adjust temps and times!  ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As You Go
            Rarely does a person realize the gift that they are to those around them until it’s too late.  They trudge through life doing what they have to, to make ends meet.  Hoping all the while, that they are making a difference somewhere, they continue to move forward collecting regrets along the way.
            It is likely that we all know at least one person fitting this description.  The one that comes to my mind is my Father-In-Law, Grandpa Craig.  He was stubborn and graceful, tough and soft.  There were days when I wanted to scream my head off at him and days when I wanted to give him a huge hug.  Life around grandpa was an adventure, to say the least. 
            Unfortunately, he died just 1 week ago.  It was sudden and completely without warning.  He was mowing and his heart just gave out.
            We received the horrific phone call and could not believe what we heard.   Grandpa was gone.  Immediately, we knew we needed to be by mom’s side.  The nine to ten hour trip seemed to drag on forever.  We just wanted to be sure she was ok.  When we arrived, we were relieved to see that she was surrounded by loved ones. 
            Grandpa Craig’s viewing was a shock for all of us.  Three hundred people patiently waited to pay their respect.  Shaking each and every hand, mom stood and listened intently to the stories people had to share.  Grandpa helped to mow the lawns of widows.  He also coached track, volunteered to do military funerals, lead the boy scouts, took communion to shut-ins, and so much more.  With each person, the list grew while eight little grandkids gained a better understanding of who their grandpa really was. 
            Those of us, who felt guilty for being upset with him at times, watched it all happen with condemned amazement.  He truly touched a vast array of lives. 
            The funeral, the next day, was a beautiful testament to a strong man who raised two spectacular men. Grandpa was a man who served God, family, and others.  These characteristics are also found in them.  However flawed it might have been at times, Grandpa pointed others to God and glorified Him for it.  He brought God glory with both his life and his death.
            During the next couple days, we spent time looking through paperwork.  Contained in a stack of random things, I saw a paper he wrote simply entitled, “ESSAY”. The essay had not been completed, yet it gave insight into the mind of a man who struggles in the same way we all do.
            In the essay, Grandpa contemplated what could have been.  He loved watching Judge shows as a kid, and thought that he would’ve been happier if he could have been a lawyer.  He claimed that if he could change the past, everything would be better.
            This composition did not speak to me because I believe everyone should try to change their pasts.  It spoke volumes because it showed that even a man of 62, with wisdom and years of knowledge, contemplates these things.  Little did he know how much God was using him, right where he was!
            I believe Dad envisioned himself as unsuccessful because of a lay-off he endured.  Yet even that, was a gift from above.  The lay-off enabled him to have time for the widows, the broken hearted, and those who needed a hand.

            So, as you take inventory of the life you have led, let it not be an inventory of the money in your accounts and the position in your company.  But rather let it be an inventory of the lives you have touched, the joy you have spread, and the love you have given.  Give away that which you have been given, as Grandpa did, giving God the glory as you go.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Article Published by Mops Website....

Take Time for Ribbons this Christmas!

December 18, 2010 at 3:34pm

Yesterday Z got off the bus with tear filled eyes. Our seven year old, who never cries, had been struggling with something major. I asked him what was wrong. He said that his lollipop was broken to bits. Knowing that there must be more to the story, I probed deeper. "What else is wrong honey?" Z replied, "When the principal handed out lolipops to the whole class, my lolipop was the only one without a ribbon." "Oh honey,"I said. "Aren't you glad that you spared another child from being the one without the ribbon?" Realizing that this did absolutely nothing for his pain, and that I was not seeing how much this hurt him, I asked if there was anything else. He replied that the day before, when the teacher was handing out treats, another child distracted her and she completely forgot to give him one. Yet, he said nothing.
My son's pain was completely real to him.

In that moment I felt like God cleared a path for me to minister to my child. Usually when my children get off the bus, we have choas. At 4 pm in the afternoon I have a baby and a very grumpy and demanding four year old waking up from nap. At 4:10 I have two elementary aged sons getting off the bus wanting to tell me everything at the same time, foraging to find snacks, and trying to do homework amidst everything else. Needless to say, I do not usually get a chance to spend time with any of them at 4:15.

B had no homework and went downstairs to play, C woke up happy and followed B, and A kept sleeping.

Z, my sweet son needed ribbons. I asked him if I could put some ribbons on his lollipop. "Sure mommy!" "OH, but could we make another lolipop out of pipecleaners and then put ribbons all over that? Becuase I want to give it to my stuffed dog, Nanook." "Of course sweetie, I replied" So, we spent ten minutes together fussing over pipecleaners and ribbons. He wrapped his arms around me so tightly, my child who never cries, and whispered, "thank you mommy." And because I had time to feel his pain he seemed at peace.

I don't know what prompted me to write out this story. I just feel like God wants me to. Maybe we all need to make time for ribbons in our life, to stop, and take a moment to feel our child's pain as it were our own.

I am sending this out to friends who, like me, have young children in their lives. We all have our good days and bad days with our kids. This was just a moment in time that happened to be good. Be encouraged and enjoy this wild ride called parenting!

Denise Craig

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Off the Deep End

This whole Zero tolerance thing has been taken WAY too far.  C (7 years old) was freaking out on Friday morning as the bus pulled up. He was  truly panicked.  He said two little girls were trying to kill him on the bus.  Obviously, my common sense told me that a Kindergarten and Second grade girl were not trying to kill him.

Because this all happened as the bus was coming, I didn't want to shove him on there without knowing what was going on.  Therefore,  I drove him to school and we talked about what was transpiring. He replied that the girls were growling at him and scratching him- I later found out that they're pretending to be wolves.  This has been happening for some time though.

As I waved the bus along, earlier that morning, the bus driver expressed concern for Caleb.  He informed me that he would not be driving the bus in the afternoon. This is a long weekend (no school till Tuesday) so I wanted to let him know now so that he can have a few days to figure out the situation.  I called the bus garage to leave a message for the bus driver to call me so that he could know how C is doing and to let him know what the problem was.

The receptionist was happy to take down my number.  She was going to give my number to the bus driver to call me back.  But then she said, "hold just a minute please."  When she got back on the phone, she commented that she can not give any of the drivers a personal message and that she needs to know what is happening on the bus.  I told her with reservation...because I wanted to speak to the bus driver first.  Maybe the girls hadn't been spoken to about this situation.

She informed me that what the girls were doing is considered bullying and that they need to look through all the videotapes to catch them doing it.  The "videotape girl" will then call the school and let the parents know.

Am I crazy, or has this public school gone off the deep end? I love C and don't want him to get hurt but, there are several steps to consider before labeling this as bullying and sending the task off to the videotape girl.  If I were the parent of the girls, I would want a chance to speak to my kids before it went to the videotape girl and the school.  But, sadly, these parents don't have that choice.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Singing Praise to God


I am very thankful for the love of music that God has given me.  Singing is one of the things that I have put on the back burner because of my four wonderful children.  This morning I was blessed to be able to sing "The Lord's Prayer" in church.  I am so accustomed to singing contemporary music at our church that it was a welcome change to sing in the Operatic style that I was trained to do.  Thank you God for your Grace!!!! He took the nervousness away and let His glory shine through.  Here it is:

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Unlikely Messenger

He plodded along with his head down, gazing at the path he takes a thousand times a day.  A man doing his work diligently, with purpose.  Hundreds of people see him but take no notice.  Without a glance to see who's listening, he speaks in a unwavering voice, "Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  He continues on to collect the grocery carts in the Wegman's parking lot.
I don't remember ever seeing this man before, but today, he got my attention.  To many he's just a face in the crowd, but to me, he is an inspiration.  Without fear, he said what so many are afraid to share.  I do not know why it is so hard for me to share my Faith.  Fear of rejection is probably the main reason.  But, this man was not afraid.
When I was in the car, just prior to hearing this, I heard a story about churches that hold a special "bring a friend to church day."  They were quoting statistics that only a small percentage of Christian share their faith. Now I know I am not alone.
So here I sit, blogging about everything under the sun, concerning kids yet fail to give you the one thing that matters, the one thing that can literally save your life.

Jesus, He loves you.  He made you.  Every little detail about you, He did that.

Life sometimes stinks....sometimes it really stinks! Those stinky things, those things that Satan is doing for evil, God is weaving together for your good.  I know it doesn't all make sense, but it's true.

We stink, we make bad choices all the time.  God is perfect- He can't co-exist with stinky things, so He sent Jesus (who is perfect) to die.  To die in our place.  That should've been us....but it wasn't.  He did it for us because HE loves us.  We just need to confess that "darn it we stink- we are flawed, we sin", we can't do this thing called life on our own.  And ask God to help us and seek His will for our lives.  So that we can change the way we live our lives and LIVE for Him.  Which allows us to be in Heaven with HIM someday.

Please forgive me for being a wimp and scared to share with you the things that truly, really matter.  And thank you God, for giving me the courage.  May we all be bold like the Wegman's employee.  If you have any questions about what I said above, feel free to comment or find a local church to help you out.  We have no idea when our lives will end (I just lost a sweet friend- age 52 last week).  Where will you go? Do you know?