I’ve been ‘single-parenting’ it for almost two months now as my amazing husband has been gone day and night, working his day job and then heading nearly an hour away to help his family renovate an old home. It’s for a single mom who needs a place to move with her son because she’s losing her home to foreclosure, so there’s a time pressure involved. My husband is a skilled builder, so the renovation has fallen mainly to him, and with the narrow time frame he has to work with, the pressure has been pretty intense.
Nearly every day after work he heads straight to the reno house and works late into the night, often just staying there and sleeping so he can get up and go straight to work again. Between all of his extra driving and the times the children and I have driven over just so we can see him for a few minutes and get a tour of the work he’s doing, our gas budget has nearly doubled. That’s just not sustainable for a one-income family, so we’ve had to stop going to see him.
What that’s meant for me is a hubby who’s absent most of the time (read: no breaks for mama!) and who, when he does come home, is stressed and tired and tapped-out. Now, by ‘breaks for mama’ I don’t mean time away from my children. I don’t want or need to leave my little ones. But normally along with all of the sacrifices, compromises, and hard work that goes into keeping a long-term marriage healthy, there is companionship, caring, support, and a sharing of responsibilities.
In our family, mama having a break means daddy is the one who listens, at least for a little while, to the endless stories about snails that our little mud-magnet is into sharing at the moment. It means daddy takes a turn at the helm in helping our SPD girl cope when she gets overwhelmed. It means daddy takes our currently teething, clingy, diaper-rashed, sad little milk monkey out in the evenings to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to the moon (she’s a bit confused, but it’s adorable) so mama can take a shower alone. And, of course, all of that’s in addition to him running to the store, helping out around the house, fixing what’s broken, grilling dinner occasionally, etc.
But for the last two months all of the myriad details that go into running our home…homeschooling, juggling teenagers’ schedules, shepherding a high-spirited kindergartener, keeping up with a toddler, handling the bills, doing the banking and shopping and cleaning, coping with a broken dryer, and on and on and on…have all fallen entirely to me. Add to that some pretty hefty life-stressors we’re dealing with at the moment outside of our marriage and home…
And I’m tired.
And my hubby is tired.
And we’ve unconsciously fallen into the ‘my needs vs. your needs’ vicious cycle. You know the one:
First volley: “This is what I did all day.” (Translation: I need you to acknowledge me.)
“Well, this is what I did all day.” (Translation: I need you to acknowledge me.)
Second volley: “These are the reasons I did what I did all day.”
(Translation: I need you to understand me.)
“Well, these are the reasons I did what I did all day.”
(Translation: I need you to understand me.)
Third volley: “This is why what I did was harder than what you did.”
(Translation: I really need you to hear me.)
“Well, this is why what I did was harder than what you did.”
(Translation: I really need you to hear me.)
Fourth volley: “You didn’t do this.” (Translation: I’ll make you hear me.)
“Well, you didn’t do this.” (Translation: I’ll make you hear me.)
Unmet needs result in an ever-escalating cycle of attempts to get those needs met. And, as long as those two little letters ‘vs’ stand between ‘my needs’ being met and ‘your needs’ being met, the cycle will continue. Someone has to break the cycle, and the solution is always the same: Sacrifice.
Someone has to step up and stand down. Someone has to let go of their own needs and focus on meeting the other’s needs, not in an attempt to manipulate that person to meet their own needs, but with an honest generosity of spirit, a choosing to lay down self, a living expression of love.
And ‘someone’ will. Our marriage wouldn’t have lasted for twenty-five years and counting, otherwise! But I wanted to share some of the dynamics of breaking the ‘need standoff’ in a relationship while they’re fresh in my mind.
There are endless contributing factors to who stands down and when, from the differences in love languages, to past hurts and experiences, to upbringing, to the circumstances of the conflict itself. And standing down can take many different forms. It may mean moving on without receiving the apology you believe you deserve. It may mean letting go of the need to explain your position. It may take the form of an apology from you or a verbal indication that you are choosing to let go of the conflict. Or it may take the form of a favorite meal, flowers, a back rub, a gift, or some other loving act.
Sometimes the one who chooses (note: an active choice, not a reactive/self-protective response as in an abusive/controlling relationship) to stand down in a relationship is the same person most, if not all, of the time. This is often the result of a peacemaking personality. If you feel you are ‘always’ the one to stand down, consider these two things:
1.) Are you really the one to always stand down or is that just a perception you need to work through?
2.) Do you have a peacemaking personality? In other words, do you tend to be the calming factor in most of your relationships?
If you do, in fact, have a peacemaking personality, be aware that it is a rare gift that comes with great responsibility. Someone once asked me why they always had to be the one to “put out the fires” in their relationship. Knowing this person to be a peacemaker in all of their relationships, I said, “Because God gave you the hose.”
While it can certainly be frustrating to be in that position, instead of letting it cause resentment to take hold, imagine how difficult life can be for those who don’t have that inner calm, and try to focus on the strengths they do have rather than fixating on the gifts they don’t have. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on people’s strengths (as well as being aware of our own weaknesses!) helps us to give them grace for their weaknesses.
*Take note, when it comes to parent/child relationships, the parent must always take the role of peacemaker, regardless of personality or gifts. Children not only don’t have an adult’s capacity for self-control, but they also don’t bear the responsibility for maintaining the relationship.
And so, in our home, with both parents tapped-out, tired, and out-of-sorts, we’ve found ourselves in that place of competing to get our needs met. Our children have, of course, joined in the ‘needs games,’ little reflectors that they are. It’s made for a less-than-joyful interval in what we typically refer to as the joyful chaos of our lives.
Then, last night as my miserably teething little milk monkey woke me up for the zillionth time with her crying and whimpering and tossing and turning and climbing from one side of me to the other and nursing and nursing and nursing and nursing until I thought I might explode, she suddenly stopped mid-climb, mid-cry, and pressed her ear against my heart. And then, with her tiny body draped across my belly and her head cradled between my breasts, she sighed and relaxed, a little Mona Lisa smile curving her sweet mouth as she finally succumbed to a peaceful sleep.
And in that moment, that tiny, mysterious, contented smile called me to surrender. To surrender to heart-meltingly sweet moments. To embrace again the extraordinary loveliness of ordinary life. To marvel at the littleness of the issues that set us apart and the bigness of the love that holds us together.
Love is a choice, not a feeling. Feelings shift, flowing now hot, now cold. They lead nowhere, and instead are misleading with their mercurial, capricious nature.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13
I choose love.
Joe glared at the rows of tuna cans in front of him, willing the wailing child in the cart at the end of the aisle to just SHUT UP ALREADY! Seriously, where were the kid’s parents anyway? He snatched a couple of cans and dropped them in his cart with a clatter, then pushed his cart down the aisle toward the noisy troublemaker, intent on giving the negligent parents a pointed stare as he passed.
As Joe drew up alongside the child who was now kicking and flailing her arms in addition to that awful caterwauling, he noticed a man with the same towheaded curls as the child standing close by her side. Surely, he thought, that’s got to be the father. Why doesn’t he DO something?
Joe watched in anger and disbelief as the father gently stroked the little girl’s arm and whispered soothingly. What?!? The kid was throwing a fit in public, and all her father was going to do was comfort her? Joe gritted his teeth and tried to escape the irritating pair, casting a disapproving glance at the duo as he sailed by.
A few aisles over, the crying was muted, and Joe sighed in relief. He continued his shopping in peace for a while, grabbing his bottled water and some frozen mackerel, but then found himself confronted by the pair again three aisles later when he landed in the snack department at the precise time the child almost knocked over a stack of Oreos with her flailing.
Joe shook his head in disgust when the father merely cradled her into a loose hug and scooted his cart further away from the cookies. Joe stomped by, barely missing a Fig Newton display in his haste to get away from the fit-throwing child and weak-willed father.
Pitching fits in public, he grumbled, rattling his cart noisily toward the checkout lanes. People don’t know how to control children anymore, he muttered under his breath as he stood in line.
He stiffened as he heard a deep voice he recognized coming from the next checkout lane. He couldn’t see over the tall displays separating the lanes, but he’d recognize that father’s voice anywhere!
“Daddy’s got you, Nina,” the deep voice was saying. “Just lay your head on my shoulder, and we’ll be home soon.”
“Wan’ mama,” whined a little voice tiredly.
A soft sigh reached Joe’s ears, then a choked voice, “Mama lives in Heaven now, baby girl. But Daddy’s got you. Daddy’s got you.”
Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…(James 1:19)
Communication vs. Miscommunication
Image via ImageWorld.com
An aged beauty tips her face up, and her elderly companion leans down out of life-long habit to catch her soft voice. His old eyes see past the ever-deepening lines to the vision of youth he married decades earlier. His hands reach out to steady her fragile, but oh-so-familiar frame, and she smiles the same smile he’s woken up to and kissed goodnight his entire adult life. Theirs is an old love, subtle with wear, ripe with age, its rich beauty lost to those without the palate to plumb its boundless depths or the senses to delight in its warm bouquet. They are a living love story, two hearts time-stitched into one, beautiful old souls stepping in tandem toward eternity.
Truly, love does have many seasons and faces, each revealing its own power, its own purpose…
Young love shouts from the rooftops and expresses itself in passionate displays. Its flames are brilliant, stoked with newness and fueled with idealism, but at times it burns itself out with its own heat or through lack of care and tending.
Old love whispers quietly, “I’m here. No matter what, I’m always here.” It is a silent glance, a hand clasp, a timeless commitment.
Young love, blind to the rich time-tested tapestry, deaf to the wealth of meaning in quiet companionship, lost to the supple oneness of hearts in accord, often looks at old love and calls it dead.
Old love sometimes looks at young love and smiles with fond remembrance, but ofttimes shakes its head and declares it foolish.
Each has a place in the world, a purpose, a time, and a season.
And then there are the other faces of love…
The exhausted young mother tenderly cradling a brand new life in the early morning hours. The middle-aged man getting up at four o’clock in the morning for another backbreaking day of work to support his family. The teacher spending her meager pay to make sure her students have pencils. The pastor visiting a convicted felon just to play a game of cards. The teenager stopping to help a stranger push their stalled car to the side of the road…
Each speaks love in a different language, but the message is the same…love is alive.
There is another Love, a living, breathing, timeless, endless, lavish, inconceivable, unconditional, sacrificial, unlikely Love. His Name is Love because He is Love. He and I have an old love, a stalwart and enduring love, a time-tested, unraveled and rewoven, wounded and healed, shattered and renewed love.
In the beginning, when I was newly in love with my Love, His passion fueled mine and I was consumed. I flared white-hot and brandished His Name like a sword, intent on conquering the world all on my own and presenting it as a treasure to my Love. I scorned the quiet love of my elders as a burned-out relic, not fit for my King.
Then time passed and life happened. My Love clung to me fiercely through the storms, even as my own grasp weakened and slipped. My Love held me close in the dark and never let go even when I kicked and flailed and railed at Him because I couldn’t see Him through my tears.
And my young love grew into an old love, deep and rich and still. Our old love is a stunning tapestry of life and loss, triumph and tragedy, joy and heartache, woven from the tattered and torn remnants of our young love.
Now, in place of conquering the world, I let Him love the world through me. Instead of proselytizing, evangelizing, and sermonizing for my King, I let His love permeate all I do like the subtle fragrance of rain as it washes clean the earth. Rather than feverishly working to present My Love a treasure, I bask in His presence knowing I am His treasure.
And our beautiful old souls step lightly toward eternity…
To Everything…Turn, Turn, Turn
There is a season…Turn, Turn, Turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To Everything…Turn, Turn, Turn
There is a season…Turn, Turn, Turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
To Everything…Turn, Turn, Turn
There is a season…Turn, Turn, Turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
There is a season…Turn, Turn, Turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late
You entered your teen years with a bang a few years ago, and the explosions have been shattering our home ever since. I’ve begged, threatened, and bribed; cried, shouted, and bargained; but I just can’t find a way to reach you anymore. You constantly say I don’t listen to you, but how can I when you won’t talk to me? You say I don’t understand you, but how can I when you push me away? You say we aren’t a family, but then spend every day with earphones in your ears, blocking us out. You ask me why I hate you, then roll your eyes when I tell you I love you. How did it come to this? We used to be such a happy family. Please, let me be there for you during this huge transition in your life. Let’s really try to communicate with each other. I’m just lost here, honey, and I need you to reach out and help me reconnect with you. I love you.
Happy family? Are you kidding me? No, I guess not. You never did get it. Okay, you asked, so I’ll tell you. You were always happy because you were always in control. Want to know why I don’t talk to you now? Because you never listened when I was little. When I was scared in my room at night and called you, you either ignored me or threatened to spank me if I didn’t go to sleep. I’d lay there, crying so hard I’d almost throw up, terrified of the sounds and shadows in my room, but even more terrified of you. So, sorry, but I don’t buy that you’re ‘there for me’ when it’s only ever been at your own convenience. When you were mad at something I’d done and I tried to explain myself, you’d call it backtalk and smack me in the mouth. So forgive me if I don’t really believe you when you say you want to ‘communicate’ with me now. When I’d try to show you a dance I’d made up or tell you about how someone had pushed me on the playground, you couldn’t even be bothered to look away from your stupid computer while I was talking, so if I’m wrapped up in my electronics, I learned that little trick from you, father dear. Oh, and ‘reconnect’? Really? That implies that we were once connected. But when I was a little girl and invited you into my world and asked you to play with me, you were always too busy. So if you don’t understand me, sorry, but that invitation expired years ago. Want to know why I think you hate me? Because your actions told me so. Your ‘love’ is just words.
Parents, you’re building your relationship with your teens while they’re still toddlers. Listen always. Respond gently, quickly, empathetically. Laugh and smile and hug and play. Give them your undivided attention. When they invite you into their world, it’s a huge deal to them, and how you respond will set the tone for your future relationship. Accept and enjoy! This season of their lives is as short as they are, but its impact will last a lifetime.
I’m not big on making New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because statistically they are almost certain to fail. While failure is a normal and even healthy part of life, setting myself up for failure seems illogical to me. Instead, I prefer to start each new year by evaluating my long-term goals and where I am in relation to those goals, and then plan the reasonable steps forward in the new year toward accomplishing those goals.
Or at least, that’s what I used to do.
Then came loss. One miscarriage after another, each knocking the wind out of me, shaking my faith, draining a bit of life with all its zest and hope and glory from me. One, two, three…nine miscarriages, the last with triplets, three babies lost at once. I was crushed. But I survived, bruised and bloody and scarred, yes, but not broken.
And then came my Sammy. His twin was lost at nine weeks, but Sammy lived on, waving and bouncing around at every ultrasound as if to say, “I’m here, mama! I’m still here!” What a tough little guy.
A tough little guy with a death sentence. A random mutation, incompatible with life. But he did live. With my body playing a most willing hostess, my little invited guest grew and thrived, kicking and rolling and LIVING. I enjoyed every moment of his life, treasured every movement, stored up every memory. It was all I would ever have of him, so I drank deeply of the days and saved my tears for the nights when all was still and the knowledge of death pressed too hard to ignore.
And then one day my Sammy unexpectedly slipped into and out of the world, still and silent and beautiful, bearing the imprint of his siblings on his tiny features.
And I was broken.
And I have remained broken. Someone in a similar situation asked me how I ever got over losing my son. My answer, “I didn’t.” There is no getting over the loss of a child. There is moving on. There is healing. And there is living. But I am forever changed. A part of me will always be broken while I live on the underside of Heaven and my son awaits me topside. That is a fact of life and loss. I have moved on. And I have healed.
But living is another matter altogether. Living, really living, is embracing life in all its fullness, laughing and loving, twirling in dizzying abandon in the rain with my little girls and playing a sorry game of basketball with my boys while they alternately chuckle at my crazy aim and earnestly try to help a lost cause. Living is cuddling on the sofa with my hubby watching midnight movies while he snores in my ear. Living is feeling and hoping and stretching and experiencing. It is breathing in all the joy and breathing through all the hurts. It is planning for the future, the unknown, brilliant with possibility and studded with thorns.
Living is not hiding. It is not stale and distant and cold. Living doesn’t cower under covers or behind locked doors…or in front of computer screens.
I thought I was done, that I’d handled losing Sammy to the best of my ability and moved on and healed and started living again. But as I stopped to take stock of 2011 before moving onto 2012, I was brought up short. The incredibly sharp rear-view-window vision of hindsight revealed a startling fact to me. I had moved on, and I had healed, but I was functioning, not living.
I do love, and I do laugh, but hope, that most basic of human needs, is transparently thin and unutterably fragile in a heart afraid to live like mine. The future, that great unknown, brims with more pain than possibility when viewed through a veil of tears. Fear reigns, and life suffers under its dictatorship. Life abundant has become life restrained.
And planning for the future is too breathtakingly daring to even consider.
Until now. I have felt the pull back into life this year…in the tiny hands of my one-year-old miracle baby tugging me to follow toddling steps into adventures untold…in the never-give-up attention-seeking of my five-year-old dirt magnet…in the budding womanhood of my daydreamer-artist twelve-year-old…in the endearing, emerging solidness of a man of character in my seventeen-year-old…and in so many more ways that I can no longer hide from the message, “It is time.”
And so, though my first response was to cringe and retreat when I read the One Word 365 post about a one word focus for the coming year, a seed was planted that quickly sprouted into a word, my word, my theme for the year 2012. I won’t be making resolutions, and I won’t be going back to my former pedantic planning just yet. I’m still too fragile for that. But I will take a step forward. I will let God show me the fullness of meaning He intends for this word, the impact He plans for it to make in me, the transformation and liberation and newness that can come from embracing one single word.
For 2012, my word is…LIVE.
Proud little-boy smile on a man’s face
Grease-smeared, skinned-knuckle hands display
An object immeasurable in its mediocrity
Changed tire, fixed washer, working toilet
It matters not the object
The gift is in the giver
And love makes it extraordinary
My hubster is at it again, giving me one of his extraordinary gifts (in addition to the tires, washer, and toilet, lol!).
Watch this site to see this…
Become a hybrid between this…
He’s at this stage right now…
Mechanics are in place and working, and the basic structure is done. Now he’s working on the platform to support the seats for our two littlest ones. I’ll update with pictures of his progress. What a man!
Hubby hard at work
Hubs is building the seats as I write this! He’s made everything removable so we can pop it in the back of our 15 passenger van and head for the trails without having to mess with a trailer. So resourceful!
Almost finished! We’ve been taking it on the trails for a few weeks now as my hubby tweaks the mechanics, and now he’s working on the enclosed topper (to keep the sun off of little heads and the bugs at bay, lol!).
Me with my two youngest
Multi-tasking mama…babywearing and breastfeeding while bike riding! And that’s my talented hubster in the background.
I am thankful for An Attitude of Gratitude!
To be thankful is to see~
The sweetness of a little helper’s heart instead of just the extra work in being ‘helped’
The gift of shelter instead of just a house in need of cleaning
The provision of food to eat instead of just a pile of dishes to wash
The worthiness of a child’s play instead of just a waste of time
The miracle of breastfeeding instead of just a display of skin
The happiness of the little ‘king of the mountain’ instead of just the pile of laundry to be refolded
The love language of a man instead of just a fixed toilet
The blessing of an income instead of just a job
The joy of serving others instead of just the burden of other’s needs
The goodness of family instead of just the annoyance of different personalities
The image of God in others instead of just their human flaws
[Reprinted from Gentle Parenting: A Christian Perspective due to be released in 2014; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
Throughout the Old Testament, He spoke through prophets, dreams, angels, and even a bush! He revealed His character in His commandments and in the Names He called Himself and in His interactions with that lovely, stubborn, chosen nation, Israel.
And, finally, in the New Testament, He just stuck His feet right in the dirt and somehow stuffed His infinite Being into the skin of a human.
GOD. With. Us!
Why in Heaven’s Name would He do that? Well, that’s been the subject of dusty tomes and esoteric debates for centuries, but in truth the answer is very simple: God is a Father, a Daddy who wants to connect with and build a relationship with His children.
In the Old Testament God revealed Himself as a Father who is Creator, Provider, and Protector. He showed Himself to be an involved Father, interested in every detail of His children’s lives, from what they ate to how and where and when they worshiped Him. And He revealed His purity, His incomprehensible Holiness that kept His beloved children hopelessly separated from Him and helpless to change that fact. All the rules for cleansing, all the rituals, and all the formulas, only served to highlight the pitiful fallen state of God’s beloved children.
And that ritualistic, external, temporal cleansing? It became internal and eternal.
Stones once thrown in righteous judgment were laid down in humble mercy. Punishment was replaced with grace as Righteousness Himself stood between sinful man and his dire fate.
And so we have Jesus, God Himself with us in the flesh, God’s heart in a very literal sense laid bare for all the world to see, the perfect Parent to model ourselves after.
We have the Father…not a father, but THE Father…to look to for guidance on how to parent our children.
So, let’s get practical. What does God’s parenting look like, and how can we model ourselves after Him?
Well, Jesus raised twelve children, so let’s take a look at how He did it!
Twelve of God’s children, all with different personalities, backgrounds, and talents, became Jesus’ disciples. The word disciple is the root word in discipline, so to discipline our children means to disciple them.
What characteristics defined Jesus’ discipleship? In other words, how did He treat His disciples? Was He harsh? Did He yell? Did He punish them? Clearly, He had the authority to. But since He came to take our punishment, it really wouldn’t make sense for Him to start meting it out, would it?
Was He distant, unresponsive to their needs? Did He make demands, insist on instant obedience, and toss around kingly commands?
No, no, no, and no! Jesus treated His disciples gently, tenderly. He listened. He responded to their needs, answered their questions, spoke their language. Jesus encouraged and guided and taught His disciples.
He drew them close to Himself, lived with them, ate with them, traveled with them. Jesus didn’t just say He loved His disciples. He didn’t simply feel love for His disciples. Jesus lived love for His disciples. And He lived that love daily, mercifully, sacrificially.
So, what are the characteristics that defined Jesus’ discipleship?
Gentle. Tender. Responsive. Available.
Listening. Encouraging. Teaching. Guiding.
God, Himself, intimately and empathetically connecting with His children.
That is perfect parenting.
I, however, am NOT a perfect parent. In the time it’s taken me to write this so far, I’ve failed at pretty much every single one of those perfect parenting qualities. I only say that to point out that we aren’t shooting for perfection here.
If perfection were possible, the Cross wouldn’t have been necessary.
I have failed and will fail again as a parent. But even my failures have great value because they lead me back to the Cross, time and time again.
My failures remind me to turn to my perfect Parent, God, and trust Him with my children. And my failures offer me the opportunity to be transparent with my children, to ask for forgiveness, to show them it’s okay to be human and make mistakes.
In short, my imperfections are perfect for demonstrating God’s unconditional love. I call this particular parenting ‘technique,’ for want of better wording, “If you mess up, ‘fess up!”
So, what are some ways we can reflect Christ-like qualities in our never-perfect-but-best-effort parenting?
1.) Build your relationship. Everything, absolutely everything in raising children, is dependent upon a secure parent/child relationship, and the foundation is trust. We talk all the time in Christian circles about needing to trust God more. Why? What’s so important about trust? Trust is the secure knowledge that we will be cared for, that the person we are dependant on is who they say they are and will do what they say they will do. Without trust, there is no relationship. You build trust in your children starting from day one by responding faithfully and quickly to their needs, day or night, even if their ‘need’ is simply reassurance that you’re there.
2.) Be there in the moment. This isn’t about quality time or quantity time. This is about actually being with your children when you’re with them. I’m talking about muting the television and making sustained eye contact all the way through the story of how they had the piece of string first and how it was taken by a sibling when they only set it down for a minute and…well, you get the picture. Jesus showed He cared by listening and responding to what was important and relevant to His children.
3.) Encourage, don’t discourage. Jesus built up His disciples, giving positive directions, allowing time and opportunity for them to try, helping when they needed it, and forgiving them when they failed. Never, not once, did He lash out at His disciples in anger. He taught them gently and encouragingly, often in stories that related to their daily lives, and He was always available to discuss or clarify or answer questions.
4.) Practice what you preach. This is foundational, right along with trust. If you don’t live out how you want your children to turn out, you can be pretty much guaranteed they’ll go an entirely different way! Listen to your children if you want them to learn to listen. Respect your children if you want them to learn respect. Model compassion, kindness, honesty, forgiveness, and a grateful spirit if you want your children to grow into adults with those character traits. Jesus lived out every one of those qualities for His children!
5.) Don’t make excuses. If you fail (and you will) apologize! Nothing penetrates hurt more deeply and with more healing power than an honest, open apology.
6.) Give grace. The unconditional love of God is beyond human comprehension. Even ‘veteran’ Christians resort to trying to earn God’s grace when they’ve already been given it freely. We all fall into that trap, time and again, because we just can’t wrap our little human brains around something as awesomely simple as unconditional love. We think it MUST be more complicated, and we end up complicating it by trying to pay for something that is free! So help your children while they’re looking to you, their earthly parent, for an example of how their Heavenly Parent operates. Give them grace. Guide them gently. Forgive them when they fall, and get down on their level to help them back up again.
7.) Enjoy your blessings. Your children are a reward, a blessing, a gift straight from the heart of your Father to you, His precious child. He wants you to feel what He feels, to experience Him through your children. He wants you to delight in your children so you’ll understand how He delights in you. He wants you to feel the depth of concern He feels when you stray into danger, the heights of joy He feels when you run trustingly into His arms, the pangs of compassion He feels when you are hurting or scared. Take the time to enjoy your children, and you will find yourself closer to the heart of your Father than you can possibly imagine!
I am thankful for my big, happy family!
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven”~ George Bernard Shaw
I’m thankful for unique learners!
My SPD/SLD/ADD (Sensory Processing Disorder, Specific Learning Disability-Dyslexia, Visual and Auditory Processing Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, etc) sweetie, aka Renaissance Girl, has raised the bar on my homeschooling skills more times than I can count. Her beautiful mind sees the world through a unique lens similar to those of historical icons such as Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. While academics have been a huge challenge for her, the artistic and musical gifts she’s been given are incredible, and her gentle, sensitive soul is a rare and precious treasure. Many years of therapy have yielded the ability to read, and she’s like a butterfly newly emerged from her cocoon. Jane Eyre, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, all have sent her beautiful mind soaring to different times and places, and all have become intimate, lifelong friends with my sweet girl. I am so blessed to be entrusted with such a unique child to guide and grow and love!
One of my girl’s drawings!
Einstein recognized his unique lens and often commented about it and about how organized education systems didn’t accommodate individuality and creativity. Here is a look into this ‘unique learner’s’ mind in his own words:
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Albert Einstein
A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. (One of my favorite Einstein quotes, lol!)
Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.
Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
God always takes the simplest way.
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.
I used to go away for weeks in a state of confusion.
I want to know all Gods thoughts; all the rest are just details.
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.
Information is not knowledge.
Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
The only real valuable thing is intuition.
The only source of knowledge is experience.
The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.
The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.
The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.
There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.
When the solution is simple, God is answering.
Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Love is a better teacher than duty.
Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
Never lose a holy curiosity.
~I am thankful for this man~
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.
Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”
With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
I gave in, and admitted that God was God.
What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
The optimist says, the cup is half full. The pessimist says, the cup is half empty. The child of God says; My cup runneth over.
~~~Today I am grateful for~~~
Little girls who still believe in knights on white horses and princess castles…
Bravery (What now, SPD?!?!)…
A man so in love with his family that this is just a ‘some day’ wish, and he’s okay with that…
And moms who sew!
When it comes down to it, gratitude is all about attitude!
I can moan about being overwhelmed with life, or I can be overwhelmed with joy by life’s blessings.
I can complain about all the extra work that comes with a new school year, or I can happily embrace a new beginning.
I can waste time longing for my youth, or I can gasp at the youthful beauty of my most precious gifts.
I can wish for riches, or I can revel in richness.
I can worry about the future, or I can trust Who holds the future.
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
This is a site where you can go to share your story and read others’ stories. There are linked pages where you can join communities of women who have been where you are and can offer support and a listening ear.
Here’s my very last ~A September to Remember~ guest post! I’ll be sharing a wrap-up soon of all the wonderful ‘vintage finds’ shared by these awesome writers. So enjoy this last, but so very not least, post from a very raw and honest Zoie @ TouchstoneZ. (Loss mentioned)
~~~~Unraveling What I’ve Knit Together~~~
I have early memories of feeling wrong within myself. I may have been four years old the first time I can recall believing I was bad. I know I didn’t have the words to identify the feelings, but I had them. I have never felt that I had the right to be alive. My entire life, I have had this little doubt that crept into every experience and tainted it just enough to keep me from holding it fully to my heart-the belief that I was broken somewhere inside.
I found this poem I wrote fifteen years ago:
Since Puck is Taken
If I show you my poetry
You will see inside of me
Core of polluting coal
50 pack lung-seeming soul
Rotten bulb flowering
So I will never show
And you will never know
And it dawned on me why the circular thinking of PPD was so appealing to me. It felt like a comfy wool sweater that was well-worn and familiar. I could slip it on like a protection from the elements of my life that felt raw and chafing. I had worn this sweater before. The only time I can recall taking it off was after the birth of my first child. I felt so empowered that nothing could make me un-love myself.
Then I got pregnant for the second time. And that pregnancy ended in a stillbirth. And I pulled my old sweater on without even noticing. I didn’t take it off for the birth of my second son. I zipped it up and added a hood when I got PPD for the first time. Then, the PPD was a bit better and I took off the hood. I mourned the lost time from the PPD haze but wasn’t ready to take it off yet. It wasn’t until after the birth of my third son and PPD returned that I had had enough. I didn’t want to lose more time to this.
I decided that this time, instead of periodically trying to rip off the sweater and throw it away (because that always ended up with me digging frantically in my mental garbage bins to put it back on) I would caress the sweater. Enjoy its fine knit and excellent fit. I made this sweater. I placed each stitch of wool in myself. It is lovingly crafted to protect me and I honor it for what I have made. I honor myself that at least some small part of me has always been able to see the true me and wrap it up in warmth and protection.
For the first time, perhaps in my life, I feel ready to address a lifetime of depression. I can notice it because of the skills I have been working on: sitting with uncomfortable feelings and holding them. Just holding them.
Grief over the loss of my daughter. Grief over the loss of all the parts of myself I never allowed. Grief over the childhood, teenhood, and adulthood that was black with this belief.
Grief over how things are not the way I want them to be. Grief over the loss of time and closeness with my children and my husband. Grief over not living my life the way I wanted and for not being as loving with myself and others as I want to be.
I’ve been allowing grief to arise. I’ve been putting my arms around my heart to hold me together because I’m afraid I’ll fly apart if I even look at these feelings. I’ve been noticing them, crying over them, and watching them come and go as I need them to.
And Anger. There’s a lot of anger underneath the grief, and I’m terrified of anger. I don’t know what to do with it. So, I don’t do anything with it. I sit with it. I can always put my sweater back on if it gets too scary. It’s folded up in my lap for whenever I need to hide.
Don’t forget to head over to check out Zoie @ TouchstoneZ!
Today’s though-provoking ‘vintage post’ is from Jessica Bowman, author of
To read more awesome insights from Jessica, you can find her over at Bohemian Bowmans!
Well, the New Year is around the corner, in case you weren’t aware. And now that the Christmas sugar buzz is wearing off, I suppose most people, like me, are starting to reflect on 2010 and peer curiously towards 2011.
There are some a lot of circumstances in our life that I have no control over. This post is about the other things.
The things I can do.
First of all, I’m not a resolution making person.
I never make New Year’s resolutions. I think the “success” rate of them is abysmal, and I don’t want to be disappointed in myself later for not meeting some silly and entirely too specific goal. Instead, I just enter every new year with the obvious plans of growing wiser that year, becoming a better parent, wife, friend, and follower of Jesus.
This year, I can feel myself funneling my regeneratory New Years powers in a certain direction.
No, it’s not a weight goal. Though it probably should be.
I’m not wanting to climb a mountain.
Or learn to make jewelry.
Or visit Disneyworld.
It’s a Family Mission Statement whittled down to one. single. word.
I’ve been thinking a lot about respect the last couple of months. In regards to parenting. In regards to learning.
I began to learn about respect in marriage a few years ago when I read a book about it. I had never thought very much about respect before then. I had never realized the importance of it. The magnitude of it.
But, for some reason, though that book did shift my respect paradigm in relation to my husband, it didn’t leave that little box that I put it in. It never occurred to me that the concept could spill over into seemingly unrelated areas of life, like education.
But in the last quarter of 2010 I began to think a lot more deeply about education. About learning. About parenting.
And the theme I kept coming back to is Respect.
I’ve realized anew this year, that in practice, I don’t respect my children very much. I hold my authority over their head and play my “because I said so” card too often.
I often times feel like I am living out Colossians 3:21.
“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.”
I’ve been crushing the spirits of my children.
With my impatience. With my harshness. With my disrespect.
So with tears and the simple, unrefined prayer of “help” repeated untold times as I lay in bed at night, I began to grasp a hold of the practice of respect in our day to day.
I’ve increasingly stopped talking to them as if they are children, but instead as if they are grown ups. Or, more accurately, as if they are people.
As if they are people created by God with talents and purpose that I have no right to squash with my annoyance.
So much of what children do that exasperate us are not “sins” at all. They are just people with very little experience at life who need to be led by example.
Examples in authority are powerful.
It is ever so hard to step outside of the parenting you were parented with.
Or the marital skills that were modeled for you.
And it is ever so illogical to think that if we are harsh and impatient with our children, they will learn to be respectful and loving of their siblings and friends and future families.
So, I’ve been learning to respect my children. To treat them as people. To listen. To explain things they don’t know yet, as if they were another grown up, instead of as if they are inconveniences and ever disdainful children.
And, lo and behold, the more I’ve treated them with respect, the more they have respected me. And each other.
The more patient I’ve been with them, the more patience they’ve shown each other. The calmer I’ve been with them, the calmer they’ve been with each other. The more attention I’ve shown them, the more attention they’ve shown each other.
I realize this isn’t a complicated concept. And is the second greatest commandment at it’s base.
Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
But sometimes that can feel truly hard to practice and own.
So, that is my purposeful word for my family this year.
And it is already changing us.
Don’t forget to check Jessica out over at Bohemian Bowmans, and take a look at her ebook!
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”~Bob Marley