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.   



But, as the night wears on, the fire dulls to a glow and though it still burns, it isn’t full of high flames as it was.  What you might not notice is that under that glow there is more heat than ever at the center of the fire. 

Early dating years and married life can have a lot of passion.  That passion is somewhat superficial.  You have yet to weather storms of life together.  You don’t know each other as well as you will.   Let some time pass between you and the passion can seem to mellow, but what takes its place is an inner heat that burns brighter because it has endured much and knows the other well.  


Regardless of the season of marriage, we can’t just expect things to go on without effort.  Drift happens.  We have to make the effort to connect.  Strong marriages are ones where we make time to talk, we cooperate on projects, we share our hearts, we forgive hurts and we do what it takes to keep things spicy. 

You may be thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with parenting?”  Everything.  Our marriage is the foundation which led to even having children and it is the heart of the family.  Children draw strength and security from the goodness of their parent’s marriage.  So love that husband of yours.  Show him grace – he needs it.  When you are hitting hard times, share your frustrations about your marriage with friends who are in favor of your marriage, not women who want to complain and tear down their homes with their words.  Compliment your husband.  Take interest in what interests him. 

I’m not saying you fake any of this, but I am saying it may take some practice to get good at really loving him over the long haul.  Take time to date him – even if that means late night, in-home dates after the kids go to sleep.  Tend your marriage and you are tending the heart of your home. 

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Be Refreshed

A Quiet Space

Don’t you sometimes look around longing for just a moment of quiet to yourself?  It can feel a bit like a mirage – something we hope for, but right when it seems we will achieve it, we realize it was an illusion after all.  No one on earth is going to ensure that you get the quiet you need.  You have to carve out the time, guard it and actually take it when the opportunity comes.

Over the years of my motherhood I have had seasons where it was near impossible to get time alone.  Between midnight wakings of one child and the daytime needs of another and all my other commitments in life, it just wasn’t something that came regularly enough.  I’ve had to learn how to grab private moments.  I’ve had to train my family to respect those moments as well. 

Some days I just get snacks.  I go to my room into my big green oversized chair.  I sit quietly, sometimes with a devotional, my Bible or hymnal, sometimes empty handed.  The point is that I do have to make the time.  My children invariably want to start some daredevil activity in the living room or, though they usually get along very well, they begin a war of the wills just as I hunker down with the Lord.  I’ve learned how to set them up for success so that I can get a snack of quiet time with the Lord.  We need it – even if it is just for 10 - 15 minutes several times a day. 

Beyond the snacks, I need to take longer times alone with the Lord to really refresh, to unearth deeper places in my heart and to give Him access into places I often otherwise avoid.  You heard me.  I avoid Him and I avoid His touch.  Not the cozy touch which brings me comfort, what I avoid is the touch which calls up deep pain or reminds me of some place where I need to submit or grow.  I’ll clean the whole garage to avoid sitting still for this spiritual visit to the dentist’s chair.  Yet, I have learned that going to these extended times alone with God is what pushes me forward in my walk with Him and draws out more of who I want to be as a person.  Jesus often withdrew to quiet places and prayed.  Desolation – alone with no distractions – He communed with the Father.  


We need this quiet space in order to face the deeper things in our hearts and to allow the intimacy we truly crave.  When we meet God in these places we come away renewed, refreshed and known. 

Can you carve out some “snack” times today?  Just put 10-15 minute breaks in when you know your children will be occupied.  Try sitting empty-handed and allowing the Lord to meet you as you are.   It may be initially uncomfortable, but as you sit, you will meet Him in fresh ways.  Then, if you are willing, carve out bigger chunks of time to spend with the Lord.  Bring your journal or take a walk or find a quiet space that feeds your soul and be present with your Creator – the Lover of your soul.  Allow Him to hear your heart as you cease striving and know that He is God.  Practice the way of Jesus by regularly withdrawing to quiet places to pray. 
 
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.

Photos of Fires from Wiki Commons

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11: Not Another Project ... Surely Goodness will Follow Us



Welcome  to Day 11 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

Not Another Project

No one could possibly have prepared you for what you would feel when you became a mother and this little tiny child completely took your breath away.  Each child expands your capacity to love even more.  It is nearly overwhelming to think how much love we can feel. 

As my children grew I was in awe of them and of God’s gift to me – the gift of motherhood.  Simultaneously I felt other feelings.  I felt inadequate.  I felt fearful.  It wasn’t the kind of fear you feel when you had to walk home from your friend’s home in 10th grade after watching a scary movie and you were just sure someone was following you.  This parental fear is much less poignant, but way more gripping.  Having had a rough adolescence and having made many poor choices which ended in situations I would regret for years to come, I feared that my precious little son would end up in circumstances like I did.  I wanted to do everything in my power to keep him from falling into a lifestyle full of sin and regrets.