Doing It Differently

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It’s been a while since I’ve connected with you. I apologize for my absence. For the past year, I’ve been pursuing some professional goals: working as a magazine editor, publishing a book; Genuinely Georgetown (http://www.genuinelygeorgetown.com/), both requiring speaking engagements and book signings, working on a book for moms, and finally, seeing a child off to college.

But all the while, I’ve been thinking of you and my calling to encourage you. I’m glad to be back with a post for the first day of 2014. I’d like to start by encouraging you to try new things.

5 Ways To Do It Differently

Sometimes as moms, we get stuck in a rut; doing the same dishes, driving the same route to work, getting up and going to bed at the same time. Why not try something new because variety keeps life interesting. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Spread out a blanket and have dinner outdoors.
  2. Get up before the kids and have coffee or a walk with a friend before the busy day begins.
  3. Ask your kids to memorize the way to school and have them be your GPS as you drive.
  4. Have a no-cook night. Invite your friends with children over for potluck dinner. You provide the dinnerware and a movie, they provide the food.
  5. Read a magazine you’ve never read before: try outdoors and fishing or crochet and paper crafts—something you wouldn’t normally read. You may find new subjects to peak your interest.

Think of other ways you can climb out of the pit and add spark to your life! Happy New Year!

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Short Sheeted at Face Value

One of my favorite places to shop is the local thrift store. I find great bargains and my purchases help support those in need. One day in the boutique section of the store where they sell higher end items, I found a brand new, brightly colored sheet and pillowcase. The striped fabric was dyed in vibrant shades of fuchsia, gold, orange and purple. The set was very pretty but I didn’t really need it nor did it match anything in my house. However, the price tag caught my eye. They had marked it as $12 but the original purchase price said MSR 499.00. What a deal! Even though I didn’t need it, how could I pass up such a valuable purchase?

When I got the linen home, I looked at the tag again. I saw the letters “Rs.” in front of the amount. I hadn’t noticed those letters in the store because my eyes were stuck on 499.00. I looked up “Rs.” on the internet and found that it stood for Indian Rupees. The US equivalent: eight dollars! I had paid more for the sheet set than it cost when it was new.

I bought the linen because I thought it had great value based upon the price tag. It had face value. As a mom in search of parenting wisdom, I have also been enticed by parenting philosophies because they were popular or were espoused by someone who had a row of initials behind their name.  They had face value. Sometimes this “wisdom” comes in packages whose contents we don’t really need and aren’t as valuable as they appeared on the surface.

Perhaps you too are looking for wisdom to be the best mom you can be. While wisdom can come from many sources, true and unchanging wisdom comes from God through His word.  And it doesn’t cost anything but time and a teachable spirit.

What is some of the most useful parenting advice you’ve been given, whether it was from the Bible, your mother or anyone else?

Crying, Cringing, Sweating

My daughter was gripped with fear when she was learning to swim. Even though the lesson was only a half hour, I spent half of that time trying to pry her four-year-old fingers from the guardrail. Every week, it was the same thing: un-prying, coaxing, crying, sweating. . And no matter what bribe I offered, she refused to get into the pool. All the other kids were in the pool splashing and having fun.  I was so embarrassed in front of the other mothers. They glared at me as my child whipped me in a game of wills every week. I felt defeated.

I think every mom feels defeated at some point in her life. Have you felt that way—as if your repeated attempts to teach your child are met with crying, clenching and sweat? Take heart. My daughter is now in high school and is an adept swimmer. Yes, it took many tries, but finally, she waded into the pool on her own and can now teach others to swim.

How has perseverance paid off in your role as a mother?

Scripture: Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Photo courtesy Microsoft Images

Children’s Sense of Worth

In what ways can we challenge our children to think about the gifts and talents God has planted within them?

My wise friend Veta recently said that, “As parents, we need to teach our children to search for their own sense of worth through the eyes of Jesus. The more they know who Jesus is, the more they will understand their value.”

You mean my child’s sense of self-worth isn’t totally my responsibility?

We want our kids to feel secure so we provide the normal things such as love, comfort and as much as we can, a sense of normalcy. We even applaud them for their accomplishments. But what else can we do to empower them to find their real sense of worth in  God?

So here’s the challenge: The next time your child asks if they are special, how will you steer them to learn their value in Christ?

 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . Psalm 139:13-14

Photo courtesy Microsoft Free Images

Pleasing Wanted

A young woman named Pleasing gave birth to a child she named Wanted. Pleasing’s goal in life was to make sure Wanted was always happy. Pleasing’s childhood was fraught with sadness and she wanted a different life for her child.

She fed Wanted only the foods that made him happy. She let him pull the dog’s tail and bite the neighbor kid because it brought Wanted joy. As Wanted grew older, Pleasing made sure to attend to his every need so that he would remain happy. She did all the household chores and protested when his teachers admonished him for not turning in his homework. Schoolwork made Wanted feel stifled and kept him from what really made him happy: sleeping in late and playing video games. When Wanted became an adult, Pleasing made sure he had the money he needed for dates and gasoline for his car. She continued to clean his room, cooked his meals and did his laundry. These things made Wanted happy.

In middle age, Pleasing had gone bankrupt and was weary after all the years of making Wanted happy. She couldn’t figure out why other mothers in the neighborhood had the energy to do fun things and why their children seemed self-sufficient. They had all started careers and families of their own. Wanted, on the other hand, was still living at home, had become overweight, unhealthy, dependant on others and had no friends. Pleasing couldn’t figure out why Wanted felt so empty and depressed.

Hadn’t she done everything to make him happy? Pleasing wondered.

My sweet mother, this is a fictional story of course.  Nevertheless, through it, I pause to think about my role as parent. Perhaps you can relate on some level with Pleasing. She wanted to save her child from the unhappiness she innocently experienced as a child. Perhaps you too want your children to experience a happiness you never knew. While there is nothing wrong with being happy, can I persuade you to think about wholeness over happiness? What you needed as a child and what your children need is a wholeness that comes with proper perspective. What makes a child whole are love and nurture, but also teaching and discipline. That means our children will not always be happy. They will not like us sometimes. But that’s just fine because what we want them to have is something better: the joy and confidence that comes with a personal character that is in alignment with God’s design.

Scriptures: The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice. Proverbs 23: 24-25

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Proverbs 29:15

Prayer: Lord, please help me to raise my children in the way you have lovingly directed. Please help me to teach and discipline them and not grow weary. Help me to see the big picture of their lives and not give in to their unhealthy wants today.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia

Imperfectly Different

Image courtesy Microsoft Images

I remember when I was in the fourth grade our teacher had us draw mountains. Most of my classmates colored their mountains brown. A few colored theirs purple. I wanted my mountains to look different from anyone else’s so I peeked at their drawings and chose colors they hadn’t used. My turquoise mountains were pretty but looked nothing like the real thing.
When you became a mother, dear one, you vowed to do things differently than the adults in your childhood. Maybe your dad was never home for dinner or went missing for days. Maybe you left for school in the morning with no breakfast and no prospects for lunch. So as an adult running your own home, you threaten your husband if he’s not home by 6:00 pm and you pack a lunch box for your child big enough to feed the entire fifth grade class.
While deciding not to repeat dysfunction from our childhoods, we can go so overboard that our homes take on a Stepford Wives feel rather than an authentic one with natural imperfections. Striving so hard to do things differently can take on obsessive tones that drive the family nuts. Certainly improve upon the past dear one. This is an admirable goal. But leave room for spontaneity and the sweet surprises that result. Your children won’t be damaged if dad arrives home after dinner or if little Ashley eats lunch in the cafeteria. Relax.
Scripture: To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Psalm 119:96