nancy williams

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Archive for August, 2009

10 Tips to Help Students Succeed

Now that I’m a grandmother-in-waiting, I seem to be tuning in even more to the children around me. Considering their needs and wants, their dreams and fears, their challenges and opportunities as they once again step into the role of student – whether as a first time pre-schooler, a young adult on the college campus, or somewhere in between. It’s both exciting and challenging as they find their way around their school campus, rekindle relationships and make new ones, open their minds to learning and discover more about themselves and the world in which they live.

Hopefully their parents or caregivers have taken care of their supplies and clothing, the immunizations required and the transportation needed to send them on their way toward a great year. But what about their emotional and spiritual needs? Are they equipped for the ways in which life will stretch them in these areas? The tools they need to be successful in these aspects of their lives aren’t ordered on-line or purchased at the local store. Children receive them only when the people who love them give their time and focus, their wisdom and emotional energy, their patience and love. These are priceless gifts children of every age need each day; and they are looking to us – their parents and grandparents, their teachers and church workers, their neighbors and adult friends – to help them discover how to incorporate them into their lives. While we know the value of these principles, the busyness of life often distracts us from giving them due attention, so take a moment and consider this reminder.

1. Positive self-image. Children need to hear they are special, that they are loved and valued for who they are, not just for what they accomplish. They may need help at times to see the positive attributes they possess as they discover their value in God’s eyes.

2. Courage. Children face tough challenges, in and out of the classroom. They must learn how to tackle difficulties; and they need to hear our acknowledgment when they do.

3. Confidence. When they hear, ”You can do it!” they’ll more likely begin to say, “I can do it!”

4. Resiliency. Children will fall down. We all do. However, they don’t have to stay down if they learn how to bounce back. We must teach them how to pick themselves up, assess what happened, make necessary corrections, then draw on their courage and hope from within to move forward.

5. Respect, kindness, friendliness, patience, forgiveness. These are important building blocks of relationships – friend with friend, student with teacher, parent with child. As we give them these gifts ourselves, we model what we are teaching them to offer others.

6. Self-control. Children must learn how to manage their own behavior appropriately, not an easy task in a society where we often hear the message, “You can have whatever you want and do whatever you want to do.”

7. Sense of humor. They must learn there’s a time to be serious and a time to laugh. Teach them how to manage their humor in a healthy way, as they look in the mirror and as they connect with others.

8. Graciousness to accept victory; strength to accept defeat. They will experience both.

9. Awareness of God’s constant presence with them. Our children can draw a sense of comfort and confidence in knowing God is with them and has promised to help them manage life’s challenges as they draw close to Him, seek His guidance and make choices that will honor Him.

10. Our love and encouragement, along with our prayers for them. Our children need to know that when life knocks them down, we will be there for them, just as we will when they celebrate success. They also need to know we will lift them up in prayer to the Lord each day.

Our students are living in a world of both opportunities and uncertainties. Proverbs 22:6 (in the Bible) tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go.” So, let’s help them, from pre-school through college, to ‘dress for success’ – from the inside out. The opportunity is now. The responsibility is ours. The future is theirs.

I’m Getting a New Name

I’m taking on a new name and have several suggestions to consider. Grandmom. Grannie. MomMom. Nana. Mimi. Grammie. That’s right: I just learned I’m expecting my first grandchild! Can you tell I’m overflowing with joy? I’ve had many exciting times in my life. This ranks up there among the best. I have my son and daughter-in-law to thank for the honor and I just can’t wait until the birth of this most special gift from God, due to arrive next spring.

I hear stories and watch my friends and sisters-in-law enjoy time with their grandchildren. I see their eyes light up as they talk about holding their newborn grandbabies and spending special times with their little ones. Laughing. Imagining. Watching movies. Picking flowers. Singing. Coloring. Having tea parties. Playing games. Snuggling up together and reading stories. I remember sharing many of those things with my sons as they grew up, but my friends tell me it’s different when you share them with a grandchild. I can’t wait to find out for myself.

The new parents are already busy preparing for such a big step in their lives. With God’s guidance, they’re going to be amazing parents. I couldn’t pick a better pair to raise my new grandbaby. They even sent me a copy of the first ultrasound of our newest family member, and I’m on the list for weekly updates about this little one’s growth and development. Amazing.

Now it’s time for me to prepare for this new role I’m eagerly embracing. I’ve found some quotes that capture various aspects of grandparenting. Those of you who already have this honor will relate to them, perhaps. For those of you who don’t fit this category, please bear with me as I share some grandparent commentaries I’ve found on my journey of discovery.

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” – Rudolph Giuliani.

God has taught me some powerful lessons about life, about Him and about relationships. Now I’ll ask Him to help me pass along what I’ve learned. Say, do you have any good cookie recipes to pass along to me?

“Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.” – Author unknown.

I’m asking the Lord to fill my heart with His love to share with this grandbaby. Love that will last a lifetime.

“Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.” – Mary H. Waldrip.

Along that same line, “My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, ‘Gramma, do you know how you and God are alike?’ I mentally polished my halo while I asked, “No, how are we alike?” ‘You’re both old,’ he replied.” – Author unknown.

OK, so I’m not exactly excited about this aging process, but I’m determined to make it be the best years of my life – halo or not.

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” – Alex Haley.

When I see the twinkle in the eyes of my grandmother friends, I can’t wait for that sparkle in my own. I know it will be a challenging time, but I also want it to be a magical time for both my grandchild and for me.

“It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace.” – Christopher Morley.

God’s grace in my life is an amazing gift. He has been there to pick me up when I fall, to wipe the tears from my eyes, to fill my heart with joy, to teach me about life and about how to share it with others, to love me unconditionally and to grant me blessing upon blessing. Now I’m asking my Heavenly Father to prepare my mind and heart and to teach me how to share those gifts of love, grace, patience, compassion, forgiveness, and real joy with this new little one He’s bringing into my life.

Oh, by the way, I’m thinking Gram has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?

Getting Away without Going Away

Back-to-school sales are reminding us that we are quickly moving through the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” Some of you are recouping from vacations away. Hiking in the mountains. Cruising to the Caribbean. Camping at your favorite recreational park. Enjoying the sand and surf at the beach. Catching “the big one” at the lake. Relaxing at a spa. I do hope you found a refreshing, rejuvenating time for your mind, body and soul. Yet, many of you find yourselves gazing out the window, imagining time away to enjoy a much-needed respite from everyday life. The problem? You don’t feel you can take time off or commit the extra money to get away.

So, for those of you whose mind would like to be on vacation while your body must be at work, let me offer a few ideas from a “Hope for the Heart” newsletter (LifeMatters@hopefortheheart.org). They are shared with permission, hoping you’ll find something to ‘take you away’ without actually taking you far away.

1. Go on a mini-vacation. If you can’t get off for a long break, enjoy a few smaller breaks instead. On an evening when you would normally go home and collapse on the sofa, go to the driving range or to a summer concert in the park. Get a one-hour spa treatment, massage or facial. Force yourself to relax and retreat by doing something other than watching TV. (I’ll also suggest visiting some of the great theaters, nature parks and museums nearby.)

2. Transform your routine. A few minor breaks from your normal routine can make a major impact on the way you feel about your job. Take a different route to work. Treat yourself to lunch at a new restaurant. Add unusual plants or fragrant flowers to enhance your office decor. Liven things up with cheerful art or sleek new desk supplies.

3. Try a taste of the tropics. If you can’t get to the beach, bring a little bit of the beach to your workplace. Find a miniature palm tree for your desk or an ocean-theme screen saver for your computer. Trade your normal cup of coffee for some passion fruit iced tea. Make a salad with mangoes, papayas, and pineapple for lunch. Add a CD with steel drums or calypso music to your listen-at-work library.

4. Escape from the “wired” world. Take a day or two to totally unhook from your laptop, cell phone, TV, BlackBerry, and e-mail. Make yourself available for a true emergency; otherwise, disengage from all things technological. Spend a day at the lake, by the pool, or in the country, where you can get back in tune with nature and with the One who created it.

5. Change you master list. If your days contain a surplus of work and a scarcity of fun, take some time to reprioritize your “off work” activities. Make a list with two different columns. On one side, list the things you really love to do when you are not working. On the other side, list the tasks you especially dread doing on an evening or weekend. Then, make a plan to swap at least two things you loathe for two things you love. Can you hire a cleaning service to help so you can attend a musical with a friend? Can you pay a teen to mow your lawn so you can go fishing with a buddy? If you take a good look at your list, you might find that you have greater flexibility than you think when it comes to replacing the ‘un-fun’ with the ‘fun’ tasks.

Life today seems to hold many challenges and uncertainties for us and too often we find ourselves waiting for a better time, more money, or more extravagant ways to relax and enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, some people put that pleasure on hold as they wait and then find themselves left with regret over missed opportunities. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but we do know God has given us today to enjoy as best we can. So my friends, look around