Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 18: A Welcome Mat ... Living Waters



Welcome  to Day 18 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart longs to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

The Welcome Mat

Growing up there was this commercial about Kool Aid and the upshot was that there was a mom in every neighborhood who was called “the Kool Aid Mom.”  She was the one who served “Kool” snacks and all the kids flocked to her home for the welcome (and treats) they got there. 

So many of us want to be the Kool Aid mom.  We long for our children to want to be at home and to invite their friends to our house to play.  I have friends who have built an entire playhouse (800 sq ft) in their back yard, complete with air conditioning, a concrete foundation, window boxes, a spiral staircase and a doorbell on the dutch door.  “Kids will want to come play here,” my friend told me.  Seriously, I wanted to play there – or at least take a personal retreat there for a weekend!


We have to be careful as we extend hospitality to our children’s friends.  We need to remain authentic (for one thing kids see right through all pretense).  We also need to be sure that we are inviting children into our home and our kids’ lives who are the ones with whom we want them to become closer.  With my children I’ve developed a 5:1 rule.  Five times with children who have good moral character to every one time with those who are more rough around the edges.  I know kids will be kids, but some families don’t prioritize moral values and don’t expect their children to limit exposure to screens, use pleasant words or treat others kindly.  As a result, if my boys are around those kids too long or too often, I start to see residue on their hearts.  God says, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.”  There’s no age limit on that one. 

Beyond helping influence their pool of choices for friendships at an early age, we also need to consider the importance friends play in our children’s lives.  My older son is more of a one to one person.  He enjoys activities spent intimately with a close friend way more than he enjoys being in a group.  He holds his own in a group when he needs to and enjoys himself, but given his druthers he’d pick a quiet board game or a bike ride with just one special friend.   My second son is Mr. Social.  He has never met a stranger and enjoys people so much.  He sees the best in others and loves drawing people together and including them in what he enjoys.  His personal motto could be, “the more the merrier.”  Knowing your children and their social preferences helps you facilitate how you structure social opportunities for them.

Most of all, once your children have chosen friends who mean something to them, I fully encourage you to make friends with their friends.  I don’t mean you have to be chummy with them, but it helps if you aren’t aloof and unavailable.  I remember being a child and going to various friends’ homes.  The moms who stopped what they were doing and sat with us, even played a board game or sat in the yard with us, were the ones I loved most.  Those were the homes I wanted to return to and hang out at. With my boys, I get to know their friends by asking questions and listening when they talk.  I make jokes with them and then I do bake something or serve a snack of some sort.  Boys like food. 

But one thing I know is that I could fail to feed their stomach and sit and listen with interest, and they would still keep coming back because we all long to matter to someone.  I watch my sons when I am relating to one of their friends.  They have a little glint in their eye.  They love the fact that they get to share their friend with me and share me with their friend.  These days of motherhood are breezing by.  Their friends become naturally more important as they age.   Befriending their friends allows me to continue to be appropriately connected to their world as it expands. 
You don’t have to serve up the Kool Aid.  All you have to serve up is old-fashioned hospitality and your caring presence. 

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Be Refreshed

Living Waters

Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
Thirsty.  You know what it feels like to need water and have none around.  The other day we were visiting a friend at the coast for a few days.  I had bought lunch for all of us to eat at a park near her home.  We opened the water bottle I bought to share with my sons and the whole thing was ice.  There was a small amount of water and then nothing.  We had been at the park a while so we were thirsty.  Suddenly our preoccupation became cracking the ice, melting the ice, shaking the ice – to make water so that we might not thirst.      

Sometimes my mothering soul feels just that thirsty.  I long for the refreshment of Jesus and His touch.  I long to be filled and thirst no more.  What I do instead is sometimes harden up what I have by staying busy or saying “yes” to too many things or letting the most important priorities take a back seat rather than being sure I sit still and connect with him.  On those days I long for the living water Jesus offers us. 

Jesus met a woman in Samaria at Jacob’s well.  He asked her for a drink.  She asked Him, “why are you asking me, a Samaritan?” to which He tells her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘give me a drink’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”  He goes on to describe the water … “whoever drinks of the water I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” 

Never thirst.  A well internal springing eternal.  This is the gift of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus to us who believe.  We can have this living water – life in Him running deep and wide inside our hearts and souls.  It is a promise to us that we only need to believe and we will receive this inner life.  


I know it can feel abstract and seem we need to run away somewhere cloistered to receive this gift and experience what Jesus calls us to in these statements of His.  Yet God is more practical than that.  He knows that we must raise our children, fulfill obligations, connect in our community, support our husbands.  He knows the demands which are of high value and yet draw and quarter us and threaten to leave us very, very thirsty.  He comes to you today, inviting you as He did the woman – telling you to come and drink and be filled. 

What does that filling look like for you in this day?  Is it sitting still in a quiet place?  Is it turning off the internet and turning on soothing music or just taking a walk?  Is it taking a nap?  Is it calling a friend who will really listen without trying to change you?  Is it painting or drawing or writing? 

There is the promise of His Spirit alive in us as we turn to Him, make space for Him and find places to open to His touch.  How will you hold out your cup to Him in this day?  Come, find living water. 

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I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery.  If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here.  Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher.  And, as always, I do love hearing from you.  Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 17: Love Him ... A Quiet Space



Welcome  to Day 17 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart longs to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

Love Him

So many parenting pointers have to do with what we do with our children, how we speak to them, how we respond to their behavior and how we shape their character.  This pointer is a bit different.  It has to do with the backbone of our home.  Remember years ago – before you ever had children?  It may seem like an entire lifetime ago, but this whole adventure started with you and your husband – falling in love with one another. 

It was because of this love affair that you pledged your heart and life to this man and in turn you had children together.  Provided you are one of the 50% of Americans who have remained married, you are still living with the father of your children.  But, maybe you don’t feel the fire the way you used to.  That is so normal.  If you have ever been camping, you buy a bundle of wood from the camp host.  You gather some kindling from around the campsite and you set it in the fire pit.  You set a few logs on and the fire gets going.  This how it is when we are dating.  After a bit you add a few more logs and the blaze is stronger than ever.  This is like the early years of marriage.   


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 16: Saying I'm Sorry ... Sharing the Load



Welcome  to Day 16 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart longs to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him. 
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Today’s Parenting Pointer

Saying “I’m Sorry”

I’m not sure if it was her generation or if it was a personal thing or just the fact that she grew up with her own world of hurt, but my mother was not really good at saying, “I’m sorry.”  The first memory I have of any real attempt at an apology was well into my adulthood when she said, “I’m sorry for all the things I did that hurt you growing up.”  It was a teaspoon of water on a raging fire, but you know what, I’ll take it.  She was sorry and under that apology I could feel the depth of hurt she must still carry in order to be unable to say something more concrete. 

I do love my mother, so I am sharing this downfall only to let you know the history of apology skills in my family.  This is pioneer territory for me as a mom.  I’m not building on years of generational modeling.  I’m striking new soil here. 

Somehow God is the Great Gap-Filler.  Before I had children, I was given a gift of hanging around people who regularly talked about looking at our own side of the street and taking responsibility when we mess up and hurt others.  It was through this culture of self-reflection that I was rewired to be more appropriately apologetic and to even make amends when it was possible.  I thank God for that foundation because as a mom I’ve had plenty of opportunities to say, “I’m sorry.”  Daily. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 15: A Little R & R ... An Easy Yoke



Welcome  to Day 15 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart longs to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

A Little R & R

Part of what I’ve taken from all this study about rest and the need to allow downtime is that I need to teach my children to have space in their days as well.  My boys are past the age where they naturally nap.  What we do instead is have a mid-day break we call, “Quiet Room Time.”  For the first fifteen minutes we lay still on our beds – that way if anyone needs to nap, they just might sleep.  After that they can play quietly in their rooms or read on their beds for the remaining half hour.  This 45 minute pause gives us a time to refresh for the second half of our day. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 14: A Healthy Balance ... He Cares for You


Welcome  to Day 14 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

A Healthy Balance

Running on Empty - It’s the theme of our modern society.  We take on soccer for one child, ballet for another and little league for the other and then we have church, AWANA, Small Group and Bible Study (all good, but activities and commitments nonetheless).  Then we volunteer for ministry opportunities, go to the gym, and take on leadership roles in one or more of the kids’ activities.  We end up with barely a meal eaten together as a family in the hub-bub of all the “goodness” we have taken into our lives in the name of enrichment. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13: Mom, Look! ... Pruning


Welcome  to Day 13 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

“Mom, Look!”

Every child shouts it from the playset, from their craft area, from the ball field: “Mom, Look!”  They long for us show our delight in them.  Each achievement gives us an opportunity to cheer them on. 

If you had a cheerleader mom, you know how she helped give you confidence and built in you a sense that you had something to offer out of your unique self.  On the other hand, if you had a mom who was less than attentive or encouraging, you know how that lack travels with you through life.  God, being the Great Redeemer, will send others who fill those shoes in due season, but the original void somehow remains – even if only as a shadow. 


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12: A Bit of Fresh Air ... Abide



Welcome  to Day 12 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  

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Today’s Parenting Pointer

A Bit of Fresh Air

I’m sitting inside writing this parenting pointer and that is a bit ironic since I am going to encourage us all to go outdoors with our children.  I could date myself and say, “Back in my day …” and then tell you how we ran out the door at the crack of dawn and returned home for lunch, went back out, came in for supper and finally were in for the night when the street lamps came on. True story.  No wonder the need for parenting books has skyrocketed in this generation – our children are with us so much more of the time we actually have to figure out what we are going to do with them! 

Seriously, though, some of my fondest memories of childhood were the unstructured hours spent outdoors with my family or friends.  My family were hikers and birdwatchers and before you think that was amazing, just know that I had many bored moments on some trail waiting for my parents to spot a rare bird while I stuffed my hat with poison ivy for entertainment (another true story).  Despite the down moments (which probably served to teach me a great deal about patience and not being the center of the world and how to have fun with very little material around me – except the poison ivy, of course) my childhood time spent outdoors fed something innate in me.  

Children are made to be outdoors. 
 
This really is the park where I played growing up