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Quiet Time Beginners Guide

Our mentors and volunteers help I Matter Too children reach various goals and accomplish incredible milestones every quarter.  The ultimate goal, though, is that each child know and grow in a relationship with Christ Jesus.  To accomplish this we must share the gospel boldly, and equip our children with the tools needed to continue that growth on their own.  This requires us to teach them the fundamentals, the most foundational of which is a quiet time.

What IS a Quiet Time?

Quiet times are as vastly different as the people who have them.  Help your child find the best way(s) to spend time with Jesus, alone.  There’s no perfect formula.  If they love music, recommend listening to, singing along, or playing worship songs on an instrument.  Many Christian’s feel closest to God when they are worshiping through music.  Encourage them to spend time reading scripture in the bibles we provide them.  Highlighting verses that jump out at them and writing the date next to them is a great way to begin personalizing their bible.

Prayer.  We know that each child at I Matter Too is in the middle of a difficult time so prayer is crucial.  The word says in Philippians 4 to pray about everything.  Let’s not take for granted that your child may not have grown up praying.  Pray aloud with them when you’re together so that they begin to understand they can simply have a conversation with God.  As they grow use to it, begin asking them to pray at the start or end of your time together so they grow more comfortable.  Additional ideas are to have a prayer or scripture journal and to try to memorize one verse a week.

How to Begin

Start with 10 minutes per day.  The idea is to build the spiritual discipline of giving the Lord time every single day. Begin simply.  People often quit before they’ve established a habit because they try to jump from 0 to 60.  If you’ve never had a quiet time, don’t try to start with 2 hours of bible reading.  Ten minutes is a great starting point, especially for children and the time will build as they mature.

Additional Resources

Whether your child quickly latches onto quiet times or convincing them takes a concerted effort, be creative!  We always want our children to be in the word but perhaps adding a devotional book that helps them understand scripture would make it more real to them.  If your child is young, a bible scripture coloring book might be a great way place to begin.  Perhaps the child you mentor can’t read yet, that’s ok too.  Teaching them worship songs and how to pray builds a solid foundation and you can read to them when you’re together.

If you’re a volunteer or a visitor here and you’re not having regular quiet time with Jesus yourself, these suggestions also apply to you.  It’s easy to get busy with other tasks and not carve out this daily time.  It has to be a top priority to get done with regularity.  Commit to spending the first part of your day with Jesus, being a role model to your I Matter Too child, your family, and your sphere of influence.

 

‘I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word’ – Psalm 119:16

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Socializing Builds Self Esteem

The school year is upon us!  I Matter Too has been busy this summer preparing for our launch in Georgia.  Today we wrap up our summer  series working through our three main focuses with the final focus: Social Self Esteem.  In July we discussed emotional self esteem in Live Loved: Addressing Emotional Self Esteem and academics/education in Self Education: How to Continue to Grow Over the Summer.  Our three main focuses build on each other.  Today as we talk about socializing to build self esteem we’ll discuss ways to help your child feel connected socially. When our children are emotionally healthy and succeeding academically they will be more comfortable with peers and adults.

Socializing: Identify Weak Areas

Is your child struggling socially?  Are they uncomfortable around other children or having difficulty communicating with teachers?  As you meet with your child and set quarterly goals it’s important to analyze their are social weaknesses.  What social situations give them anxiety? As you work together to identify those areas of weakness get their input. What would help them overcome anxiety and succeed socially?

Know as you address any social anxiety that there is a spiritual component.  Phillipians 4:6-7 instructs us to be anxious about nothing but in everything through prayer and supplication, submit our requests to God.  Use this as a teaching opportunity. Pray with your child about their friendships, their relationship with their teachers, and with their parent, guardian, or foster parent.  If they are struggling to make friends or to find the right friends, encourage them to ask God for that provision.

Socializing: Build the Environment

Encourage your child to socialize at school.  With frequent changes in their home environment, often school will be the constant.  A Christian club is a great place for them to seek out Christ-centered friendships.  An academic club will allow them to socialize in an environment centered around a gift of talent.  This already provides better self-esteem and eases socialization.  If your child displays an aptitude for Chess, creative writing, or graphic arts this club will develop that skill while spending time with peers.  Sports teams are a great way engage socially at school.  Sports build camaraderie and encourage healthy physical activity.  When your child chooses a way to engage, you can make the effort to support them at a game, recital, talent show, or club competition.

Every social environment provides the opportunity for our children to represent Christ.  As they engage socially it’s important that we teach them the value of being Christ-like.  Make sure that you talk through the importance of good sportsmanship, encouraging others, respecting authority, and sharing their faith with others boldly.

Socializing: Achieve Measurable Success

As you make a social goal for this quarter with your child, chose one you can measure.  If the goal is to share their faith with one friend at school, be sure to celebrate that accomplishment when they achieve it.  If the goal is to improve their relationship with a teacher, talk about what would make them feel they have accomplished that.  You want to ensure they choose a goal with action steps and measurable results.  Each quarter as we set new goals we want to continue to nurture healthy social self esteem and developing socially with intention.

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Live Loved: Addressing Emotional Self Esteem

Live Loved: Don’t Beg for Scraps

As a writer I find much of my inspiration from the words of others.  This summer I’ve been reading ‘Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely’ by Lysa TerKeurst.  These words from her book pierced me as I read them: ‘Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love‘.  How perfectly they fit as we continue our summer spotlight on our three main areas of focus this posts being: emotional self esteem.

This is what we want for our I Matter Too children.  We want them to live knowing they are loved by God.  When we help them find that abundant love we address as a result their self esteem.  Self esteem is such a huge part of our identities and we know from 1 Peter 2:9 that we are: ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession’.  This is the answer to living loved and never begging for scraps.

(Un)Stable Identity

All of us have experienced the sting of rejection. When we find our identity in the approval, opinions, or actions of others these rejections profoundly affects our self esteem.  In her book Lysa TerKeurst says this: ‘the exhausting manipulation and control it takes to protect an identity based on circumstances will crush our hearts and hide the best of who we are behind a wall of insecurity’.

Protecting their identities as our children deal with abuse, neglect, and instability when removed from their homes will effect their self esteem.  We can’t allow that to be their only story, their only identity.  If we do they will grow exhausted of trying to protect their identity and fighting insecurity.  The answer to a stable identity can only come for our children and ourselves in this: who Christ says we are and how he loves us.

‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! And that is what we are’ – 1 John 3:1

Self Esteem: In Christ Alone

Let us encourage you to share with your I Matter Too children and if you have them your own children the rejections that you’ve faced and the lies that rejection has fed you as a result.  Use this as a tool to open up the line of communication so that you can share what and who God says they are.  Unfortunately, we can’t undo the hurts in our own lives or those of our children.  We can’t always prevent more hurt or disappointment either.  What we can do is speak life and truth into our children as well as ourselves.  No matter that people tell them Christ tells them: they are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), they are loved (John 3:16), they are known (Psalm 139:13), and they are included (1 Corinthians 12:27).

We are wired to desire love and acceptance. Each of our children at I Matter Too have experienced rejection, hurt, abuse, and loneliness.  As we work to help them build emotional self esteem we must know that the only place we can find steady, perfect love is in Christ.  If we build our identity on the words and actions of other people we will experience a lifetime of insecurity.  We must know who God says we are and we must live in the abundance of His love to be fulfilled. This summer focus on encouraging your I Matter Too child to know, understand, and embrace who and what God says they are.

Self Education: How to Continue to Grow Over the Summer

Summer should be a time of rest and relaxation.  With the break from school for our kids and a season of vacations for many of our staff and volunteers with their own families, we wanted the blog to follow suit.  So for the month of July, let’s take some time to revisit our three main areas of focus: emotional self esteem, emotional social self, and academics/education!  It seems that education might take a break for the summer, right?  Wrong!  Let’s focus on how we can encourage each other and our kids towards self education during this ‘break’.

Self Education: The Value of Literacy

The most available avenue to self education in the summer is reading.  With libraries full of available books for free and the internet as an incredible resource for free reading material as well: every child can read this summer.  You may ask, why encourage them to read when they’re out of school?  According to Reading is Fundamental: 65% of fourth graders are already behind their grade level in reading skills contributing to 8,000 students PER DAY dropping out of high school in America.  They also provided this startling statistic: 43% of adults are functionally illiterate in the US.  We want our kids to succeed academically and have the best chance a full life, right?  They need to have reading skills.

Make Reading Fun

Reading doesn’t have to feel like a task or chore.  Find ways to encourage your kid by making reading fun.  Have a 2 person book club.  Read the same book they do and have them put sticky notes in parts of the book that jump out at them so you can discuss the following week.  You could even make your book club more like a party.  Eat the kind of food they do in the book.  Does the book involve a park? Go to a park to talk about it.  Find ways to make the book come to life.  Also, with guidance, of course, let them choose books that interest them.  Libraries are a great resource but it can also be fun to visit a Little Free Library. The Little Free Library (locations near you can be found on their website) allows you to take a book, and leave one you’ve finished for someone else.  As a bonus: they are adorable – most having been put together and painted by families in your area.

More Resources for Self Education

Having a hard time getting your kid to read? Some kids are auditory learners. Perhaps an audiobook would be a great place to start for them.  Listening will still help them expand their vocabulary, hear good sentence structure, and embrace creativity!  The Hoopla app (free on the app store) will grant you 12 free audiobooks per month if you have a Hillsborough County Library card!  They have a great selection of children’s literature available.

Each of our IMT kids received a bible when they were matched with mentors – make sure that you’re encouraging them to spend time in the word on their own as well reading it with them during your time together.  While book club and audiobooks are fun ways to continue to stretch and push them educationally: so is being in scripture.

Have them set goals.  Do they want to read 3 books this summer? Great, be there to help them achieve.  Think of a way, together, that you will celebrate their success.  These rewards can be as simple as agreeing to take them to get another book when they finish to an outing they’ve been wanting to do as a finale to summer!

10th Annual Making Miracles Event

Last Friday we gathered to celebrate an incredible ten years. Ten years in which we have provided mentors to orphans and foster kids.  Ten years of sharing Christ, seeing lives changed, and giving out bibles.  Ten years made possible by the generosity of sponsors and the gift of volunteers time.  This event was a night to celebrate and a challenge as we prepare to expand and grow.

We gathered at The Hip Room on Franklin Street for food, fellowship, entertainment, and an incredible silent auction.  One family even went home with a new member: Pickles the puppy.   This event was a tribute to all of the people who have made this organization successful for ten years and a challenge to help us grow, expand, and further our reach for the next ten and beyond.

With so many wonderful stories and lives to celebrate we are also overwhelmed by the amount of kids still in need.  On our tables were over 100 hearts.  55 represented kids in the Tampa area waiting to be matched with mentors, 25 represented kids in Georgia we hope to match this summer, and the rest represent kids already being mentored who need continued support. The need for both the volunteer mentors and provision for the training, bibles, and materials is still great.  We also  shared our excitement and vision to launch I Matter Too in Douglasville, GA (part of the greater Atlanta area) later this summer.  Between Tampa and the greater Atlanta area there are over 10,000 orphaned and abused children who need our mentors and we’re determined to help them all.

If you weren’t able to make the event – you were missed.  It’s not too late, however,  to sponsor a child, donate to help us fund Georgia’s launch, or become a volunteer!  During the event we were able to gain the sponsorship needed for several of the Tampa and Douglasville kids whose names filled our table arrangements but we have more to match. The event may be over for this year but the work is just beginning!  With God’s provision I Matter Too will provide mentors to each child currently waiting and continue to grow with the increasing need for mentors as our cities foster and orphan populations continue to grow.

Beginning to serve Georgia is an exciting next step.  We can’t wait to see how God will change lives for the kids (and volunteers) in Georgia.  Even as we celebrate the expansion into new territory we know that I Matter Too isn’t just needed in Florida and Georgia. We continue to pray and work towards growth and an expanded reach.

Thank you to all who attended our event.  Thank you to our sponsors, mentors, volunteers, and staff.  Thank you to all who continue to support the vision and mission of I Matter Too.  It has been an incredible 10 years because of each of you.

Time Management: Increasing Efficiency

Ever wish you had more time?  We each have the same amount of hours (168, to be exact) in our weeks but not all hours are spent equally.  Most, while wishing we spent more time working out, with our families, on friendships, or preparing for our volunteer roles would confess the occasional hour wasted on TV or social media.  Time management is a term thrown around offices but how do we manage our time to keep our lives full but avoid feeling ‘busy’? Last week we promised we’d tackle time management in more detail so we can all avoid burning out.

Every January I read one book on time management and determine new ways I will manage time for my best year yet.  Among my favorites are books by Laura Vanderkam, an author and writer for Forbes and Fast Company.  Here are a few recommendations I’ve tried and found true from my reading of her books.

Track Your Hours

On her website Laura provides a sheet for tracking your day in 15-30 minute increments.  She suggests doing this for a week to ‘check up’ on how your hours reflect your priorities.  The first time I tried this exercise I was disturbed by time I couldn’t account for.  Is writing ‘mindlessly cruising the internet’ really worth filling a 15 minute window with?  The trick is to be as honest as possible.  After the second day I noticed that I was spending 15 minutes watching my coffee drip when I could set the pot the night before.  Even simple solutions like this gave me back time previously wasted.  If you’ve ever looked through your bank statement and added up your spending by category then you already know how revealing these types of exercises can be.  If not, you’re in for a treat.

Time Management Requires Planning Ahead

Hopefully you’ve been following our blog over the past few weeks and will remember that we offered Morning Pages as an option for helping plan your days.  Not ready to commit to daily planning through journaling? Start with using one hour on Sunday evenings to decide how you will spend your week.  Want to make sure you get in 3 workouts? Schedule the time.  Need a date night with your spouse?  Get it on the calendar.  Need to make time to plan how you will spend your time with your I Matter Too child?  Schedule in planning time.  Also, make a list of the top 3 items that must be accomplished this week and tackle those in the mornings when you’re freshest, if possible.  Having a plan will limit the time you spend trying to remember what needs done or deciding what to do next.

Maximize Bonus Time

Perhaps my favorite tip I’ve found through my yearly study of time management is to have a list of items you’ll do when you find bonus time.  While we can plan to the minute the time we know we’ll have, sometimes we have unexpected time!  A dinner cancelled, a friend running late, a meeting that gets moved. Keep a list of items you’ll use this unexpected gift of time on!  If you’ve been meaning to work on your quarterly goals for IMT or finish a book – make sure you keep those with you to work on during these lulls.

Often when we have 10 minutes waiting for someone running late to a meeting, we use them checking e-mail.  Resist this habit and use the time for something important. Text a fellow volunteer, come up with ideas of where you will take your child, even read our latest blogposts with info to help you succeed not just in your role here but beyond.

‘Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established’ – Proverbs 16:3, ESV

Additional Reading and Resources

Want to learn more? Here are some great resources to help you continue to use your time wisely.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Organizing Your Day: Time Management Techniques That Will Work For You

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

Present Over Perfect (this ones for my over planners, who want to make sure they’re not missing what the Lord ultimately has for them by being too scheduled!)

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Volunteer Burnout: 5 Ways to Avoid this Common Pitfall

It takes a servant’s heart to be a volunteer and we love that about those who commit to I Matter Too as mentors, team leaders, fundraisers, recruiters, and on our events teams.  We also know that balancing life and your commitment serving can be tiring if boundaries aren’t in place to protect you from volunteer burnout.

Here are 5 tips for avoiding volunteer burnout and staying in your role long-term:

Avoid Volunteer Burnout by Scheduling Regular Check-ups

According to this article by Nonprofit Hub you need to get ahead of burnout by having regular checkups.  This is crucial for all volunteers and leaders. We ask our team leaders to meet one-on-one with three of their mentors each month, for example.  This ensures that every one of our mentors is getting individual time with their leader regularly.  This is your chance to talk to your leader about stressors and worries you’re having!  Also: ask for help.  If you’re encountering a struggle with your child or even with the guardian, parent, or foster parent of your child – ask for advice.  Your team leader is a resource for you to help you avoid frustration.

Team leaders we have a  new place for you!  Starting in July we will be having a monthly meeting for our team leaders on Monday nights while your new mentors are getting trained in orientation.  This will provide a place for you to ask other team leaders for help or advice in dealing with the leaders on your team.

Our bi-monthly call is also a great resource for every volunteer and team member.  We leave time at the end of every call for questions and the floor is open to you.  Take advance of this time and resource.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Quiet Time

Matthew 11:28-30 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’

Ultimately as believers we know that our rest is best found in Christ. If you sense that you’re headed towards burning out be sure you’re spending time with your Savior, daily.  One of my favorite verses during a season I experienced overcoming burnout came from Psalm 61:2-2  ‘From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe’. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  This can only be done through time with Lord.  

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Accountability

Accountability is a popular word amongst Christians but even the business world appreciates the benefits of accountability in avoiding burnout.  Lifehack listed this as a way to avoid burnout citing that you sometimes need others to hold you to your commitment to rest, balance, or manage your time more efficiently.  This is a great way for you to support other leaders on your team.  Regularly ask each other if they are spending time in word and if they are carving out time to rest.  We suggest that you find a team member to be accountable too because spouses and family members are too close to the situation to give accurate feedback.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Efficiency

One way to avoid volunteer burnout is to manage your time efficiently.  Next week, we will address this in detail.  The experts agree though, how you manage your time directly impacts how much you can accomplish without feeling stressed, exhausted, or completely wiped out.  If you feel yourself burning out, sit and consider where you’re ‘wasting’ time and what could be done by someone else or not done at all.  Often times when we truly consider the tasks we place on ourselves we realize that some do not need done and more still could be done by someone else.  Take a long, honest look at your plate and don’t be afraid to involve a team member!  We can usually advise others better than we can ourselves.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Rest

We can all pinpoint times in our lives (or perhaps while parenting) when exhaustion gets the best of us.  In order to avoid burnout, make sure that you are getting rest.  The most basic form of this being sleep.  Don’t buy into the lie that sleeping less will help you accomplish more.  You need sleep and rested people can accomplish more in less time.  Also, unplug and disengage.  Take a walk without your phone.  Spend a morning by the the pool.  Commute without a podcast, radio, or phone call.  If we’re going to teach our children about their emotional self – we need to care for ours, as well!

At I Matter Too we love our volunteers.  We are blessed with an incredible group of people that serve in each role. Valuing our volunteers we also want to help them avoid burning out so they can serve God, their families, and I Matter Too with passion for many years to come.  We couldn’t serve the orphaned and abused children of Florida & Georgia without you so we need you fresh and healthy.

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Journaling Benefits for Kids to Expand Emotional Intelligence

Journaling Benefits

The journaling benefits we’ve discovered may come as a surprise to you. According to one article by the Huffington Post it can stretch your IQ, increase your emotional intelligence, and even strengthen self-discipline. One journaling benefit we at I Matter Too will also add to this list is organizing goals for accomplishment. Journaling is a great way for you to track (and celebrate) progress in your relationship with your I Matter Too child as well as a great practice to share with them.

Previously thought of singularly as a ‘dear diary’ activity cataloging your day, journaling has expanded to take on many shapes and sizes. Find the right option for you and for your child (which you may find are two different styles):

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Engaging Kids Through Meaningful Conversation

Starting and maintaining conversations with our kids can be tough. None of us as mentors want to receive one-word answers or ‘I don’t knows’ while engaging kids in conversation. This can be especially challenging while getting to know your mentee and they’re growing comfortable with you.

How do we draw our kids into meaningful conversation and keep them engaged? As it turns out, parents everywhere are asking this exact question.  The May issue of Real Simple magazine offered up ‘5 Ways to Make Conversation with Kids’. I read through it with I Matter Too kids in mind and found that many of the ideas applied equally to our roles as mentors.

Here are the ideas they listed in the article but with my adapted explanation for how to use these suggestions with I Matter Too.

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Love Changes Everything

COMING SOON