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.
Today’s Parenting Pointer
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.
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