Posts Tagged With: children

Because Parenting Is Hard

Being a parent is hard.

It is fun. It is thrilling. It is rewarding. But it is hard, heartbreakingly hard.

Both my boys started back to school just a few weeks ago. My oldest son began 8th grade and my youngest son began Kindergarten.

And my Mommy heart was breaking. My hands wanted to wrap around both of them for dear life and not let go.

And so I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

It was still hard.

My youngest son came home his first day and absolutely loved it. He could hardly wait to go back the next day!

But as the days pass, his excitement has dwindled. At times he feels lonely. He knew nobody going in and most of the other kids already had friends.

Every day when he comes home I ask him who he played with at recess. So far he has responded that nobody wanted to play with him.

I fight back tears.

I want to run to school and ask – no, beg – those kids to please not be so mean. Pease don’t be exclusive.

He is such a nice boy. Why on earth don’t they want to play with him?

Parenting is just plain hard.

At the same time, my older son announced to me that he has decided to run for student council president.

“Do you need help making your poster?” I ask.

No, he’s already done that.

As the time nears for the candidates to give speeches and the students to vote, he warns me that he doesn’t have much of a chance:

“So-and-so is running and he is much more popular than I am.”

“So-and-so is running and she is the only girl. All the girls will vote for her.”

Again, my heart breaks because I know how much he wants it and I can’t get it for him. There is absolutely nothing I can do.

He would be excellent at it, I know.

I ask if he needs help with his speech. I ask if he needs help with his campaign. But he informs me that he’s got it.

I cringe.

Not because I don’t believe him. I believe that he thinks he’s got it, but I’ve also seen him comb his hair in the morning. And he tells me that he’s got it when it’s sticking straight up right on top.

“It doesn’t matter anyhow. Nobody’s going to vote for me” he says.

And I want to cry.

I look at him and all I can see is my sweet toddler with blonde hair and chubby cheeks holding on to his blankie. I don’t care if he’s nearly a foot taller than I am. He’s still my baby and I hurt because he’s hurting.

He, too, feels alone.

I want to hold him on my lap and love on him.

I want to pick out a band-aid to cover the hole in his heart.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

If only parenting weren’t so stinkin’ hard!

But here’s the problem, folks…  God is still in control. As much as I love my kids, He loves them more.

It’s true that I want to hold them, care for them, and never let anything bad happen to them. What parent doesn’t?

But my children are people too.

God is just as much in control of their life as he is in mine. To think that I am in control of any of this is just plain pride on my part.

Sometimes I need reminders to peel my death-clinching-grip off of them and to place them safely in God’s hands.

All I can do is to point them to Christ.

And what if I was always able to fix things for them? Well, they would never know their need for Him. They would never have a desire or hunger for His Word. For His saving grace. They would never get to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding or the great depth of His love. They would never know Him.

And if I, as their parents, never showed them their need for Christ, if I never pointed them to Him, reminded them of His sovereignty, then I would have failed as a parent.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

And I work on trusting Him with my children and rest in knowing they are securely in His hands. He is there all the time. I am not. I cannot.

And I find peace and comfort in that.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior” – 2 Samuel 22:2-3

And, in case you’re wondering, my son did get voted in as president. But I was reminded to trust Him again when a teacher sent me a text saying, “Your son just gave an awesome speech!”

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Enjoy Today

 

I have noticed in the past several months that my son’s voice is changing. I guess it is to be expected. He is thirteen years old after all. But it’s still a change.

And he’s not the only one. Anytime I’m around any of his friends I can hear it in them too. We have a neighbor boy who is on the same football and basketball team as my son. His mother and I are taking turns giving rides. When it’s my turn, I purposefully ask this boy a lot of questions. Just so I can listen to his changing voice.

Things are physically changing in these boys. They are growing up.

And I like it here.

Sure, there are times I long for the days when my son would curl up on my lap while I read a truck load of books to him. Or we would see what we could create out of play dough. Or play in the sandbox together. Or snuggle until we both fell to sleep. There are times I miss the sweet, precious, tender times with my toddler and preschooler.

But on the other hand, I look forward to his high school years. I look forward to watching him play football and basketball. I look forward to the contest and projects. It’s exciting to think of all the opportunities that will be available to him. Oh, those will be great days too!

But great days are happening right now.

Today.

It’s true that my son’s childish voice that he had a year ago is gone. The voice he has now is not that of a teenager and definitely not that of a man, but it’s somewhere in the middle.

And it’s nice here.

I like picking him up from practice and him telling me about funny things that happened during school and practice. I enjoy packing a lunch for him every day, sneaking in a surprise once in a while, and hearing his excitement about it.

Because time goes so fast.

I’ll blink my eyes and he’ll be in high school. I will no longer be picking him up from his practices or school because he’ll be driving. I’ll no longer be packing him lunches because that’s just not cool in high school.

And then I’ll blink my eyes again and he’ll be in college. He will have developed the voice of a man. He’ll pack up his room and move away from home for the first time. He’ll make new friends. Opportunities will be opened to him that he didn’t even know existed. He may even meet his spouse.

Thinking about these times, either forwards or backwards, can exciting or despairing.

Remembering the times I shared with my son as a preschooler can be despairing when I think of a time that is gone that can no longer be revisited. Or it can be exciting to think of all the fun times we had together.

Looking forward, into high school and college, I can be despaired that he will no longer need me as much. To think that he is growing up and in a few short years, will no longer be living at home could easily cause me to despair. But it is also exciting for all the reason I listed above and more.

But time goes on ticking. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

Time doesn’t stop.

It is very easy to grieve for the loss of yesterday or so anxiously anticipate tomorrow that we often forget to enjoy today.

Psalms 118:24 tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is a gift too.

I like to listen to my son and his friends talk so I can hear their changing voices. In a few months none of their voices will sound like it does right now. Today. It will be gone and never able to be recovered again.

So I’m going to soak it up. Enjoy it. Listen to it all I can. Because even though this is a short phase, it is a time created by God and given to me. And I will rejoice and be glad in it!

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Worship Where You Are

 

Have you ever noticed that we, in general, are list makers? We get very caught up in them. And for good reason. We get busy with family, our jobs, making supper, church, getting the laundry done, that if we don’t write it down we will probably forget it.

Usually, at the beginning of my day, I will come up with two things that I really want to accomplish by the end of the day. And more often than not, they are still not done when I am putting my kids to bed for the night.

Life is just so busy!

Taking my son to playgroup in the morning. Catching a quick bite at some fast food restaurant.  Get some groceries. Buy some new socks for my husband and shoes for my son. Pick up a wedding gift. Drive home safely and unload groceries. Fix a quick supper before taking my older son to basketball practice. Then soccer practice. And on to his baseball game. Arrive home in time to drop in bed, exhausted.

And in the midst of all the chaos and busyness is God.

Sometimes we have this illusion that we must have a “quiet time” with God. And certainly that is needed. But that is not the only time that we have fellowship with Him. Our fellowship with the Lord is not codependent upon our environment.

To have quietness, peacefulness, and solitude is a good thing. Silence can be a great help to keep us from distraction when praying. God often uses quietness to speak to us through His Word. And time alone with Him is truly a gift. But so is the time when you feel that you’re the Ringmaster of a Three Ring Circus. So is the time when you find your toddler playing in the toilet. So is the time when you have locked your keys in the car after a trip to the grocery store and your children are overly tired.

God is sovereign in EVERYTHING!

Not just when we are worshipping on Sunday morning. Not just when we are singing praises or in a Bible Study. Or in our quiet time. But in every moment of every day.

Nothing, no nothing, happens without the Lord ordaining it. He is worthy of our trust and our praise in every moment of every day. No matter how difficult the moment or day may be.

It is often during these difficult moments that I am reminded how sovereign the Lord truly is. My son needs my help to complete a puzzle as I am trying to brown some hamburger for supper. Of course I want to help him, but I also don’t want our supper to burn either. And then I am humbled that God saw fit to ordain this moment. It is times like these when I am made aware of my sins. Of my own selfishness. Of my lack of love and trust in the Lord.

The truth is that we can have fellowship and worship right where we are. Even is the midst of the circus. Sure, it’s nice and lovely when it is solemn and serene, but that is not the only time when God is working for His glory.

A “quiet time” should not be just another thing on our to-do list that we don’t get done. We must hear the call to worship through our day. Use these opportunities to see evidence of God’s grace. Don’t forget that God is with you, ALWAYS. I know days can be long. I know the lists might not get done. I know it is difficult. But fix your eyes on Christ. Respond to His call with worship.

“The sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

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Why A Mother MUST Be A Servant

 

It’s 5:45pm and my husband steps out of his office, shutting off the light and closing the door behind him. A visual sign to us that he’s done with work for the day.

Our boys immediately notice. They drop what they’re doing and run to him. I hear shouts from our boys, “Yay, yay, Daddy’s done with work. He can play now!”

He smiles, gives them each a hug, and then says “I need to talk with Mommy for a minute. But after I get done we can play a board game, baseball, football, go for a walk, or you can help me in the garden. While I talk with Mommy, you boys decide what you want to do.”

When he walks into the kitchen I can tell by the look on his face it had not been a good day at work. I ask him what is wrong. He just looks at me, then walks over and pulls me close to him, wrapping his arms around me. He hugs me tightly. But this is not a normal hug. It is long. Abnormally long. So I ask him again, “Is everything okay?”

It is. It has just been a long day. A stressful day. A day that he could not wait to shut down his computer. He was looking forward to being off work. He was looking forward to spending time with his family. He wants to be right here with us. Right now. And so I hug him back and hold on until he lets go.

I thank the Lord that my husband wants to be with us. That he excitedly anticipates being done with work so that he can spend time with his wife and children.

Why is this important?

Ever heard the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Me too. And while I’m not crazy about this saying, there is a lot of truth to it. The mom seems to be the barometer of the family. Whether I like it or not, I do set the mood in my home.

There is no compliment that I like to hear more than for my husband to tell me that our home is peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, there is always a great deal of noise. We do have children. And our house is very rarely tidy. But neither of those things have anything to do with peace.

What he is telling me is that he enjoys being home. It is not tense. He feels at ease. He can relax. I am not making things difficult for him.

This is important because I want my husband to want to spend time with the children and me. I want him to look forward to the work day being done. I want to see him smile when he walks out his office door. I want him to feel like he is able to relax when he’s home. I want him to know that he is loved and treasured by his wife and children.

This is not always easy.

I have bad days too. Stressful days. Days when nothing goes right. And this particular day was one of them. Grape juice got spilled on our white carpet. My son threw a fit because I would not let him light a candle. He threw another fit because I asked him to not ride his tricycle through my flower garden. Our neighbor’s dog pulled several pieces of clothing off our clothes line and chewed holes in them. My son threw another fit because I told him he could not throw rocks at our car. I forgot about brownies in the oven and burned them. And the list could go on and on but I won’t bore you with details from my life. Because that’s not the point.

Here is the point: A mother is a servant and must have a servant heart. She must be willing to put her own needs, wants, desires aside for the sake of her family.

Is it my son’s fault that some dogs chewed holes through my laundry? No, of course not. So why would I take it out on him? It may be his fault that he threw so many fits, but it’s my job to discipline lovingly. He is just a child. It is my job to train him. Not to yell at him, tell him he’s bad, or act hateful to him the rest of the day. If I did, how would that affect him? How would it affect our relationship? What kind of mood would that set for our home? Would I be modeling Christ to him?

If as soon as my husband walked out of his office I pounced on him with a list of chores I wanted him to get done, do you think he would look forward to coming out of his office? Probably not. Even though he may be done with work for the day, he may be tempted to stay in his office and read or play a computer game or do anything to keep from hearing my list of demands.

Of course there are times I want to ask him to please get the new seal put on the garage door, to cut the dead limbs out of the trees, or to take the garbage out. But would that be showing him how thankful I am that he is done for the day too? Would that be showing him that I value his time with our family? Or would that make him feel unappreciated and taken for granted?

So every day when he gets off work I try to meet him with a smile. And I listen to him and assess his needs. On this particular day, he needed me to hold him (one of my favorite jobs). Some days he needs me to get supper going right away. Some days he needs me to play catcher while he pitches the ball to our son. And some days he just needs me to smile and say “Hello”.

But every day he needs a joyful wife. One that will set a peaceful tone to our home. A wife that will make him and our boys feel loved, valued, and cherished. He needs a servant wife. And he needs one every single day.

 

For better instruction on how to be a servant to your family, please refer to Proverbs 31:10-31.

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What Is The Best Gift To Give Your Child?

 

Five years ago I ate lunch at school with my then-seven year old son. All the boys sitting around us were talking about games they play on their Wii, short cuts, how to do this or how to do that. And my son and I sat and listened. Because we did not have a Wii.

It’s not that we couldn’t afford one, it’s just that I am not thrilled with the idea of video games. I have known too many kids who have become couch potatoes. Bound and determined that that was not going to happen to my son, we were not going to have any gaming system. Ever.

But as I sat listening, my heart broke for him. Socially, he was an outcast. He had no idea what all those kids were talking about because he had never played those games. He hadn’t even asked for a Wii because he knew how strongly I felt about them. And that broke my heart too.

That year for Christmas he and my husband received a Wii. And I was a hero. For a little while.  And life was great.

But a couple years later, a Wii was no longer cool. It was a PS3. And then the Xbox Kinect. And then something else. And then something else. And I just cannot keep up.

I cannot give him everything.

So what is a parent to do?

I have thought about this over and over and over again. Trends change. Desires change. What is cool today will not be cool tomorrow. What my son likes today he will no longer be interested in tomorrow. And I do not have an unlimited supply of funds.

So what is the best gift I can give him? What gift can I give him that will not become stale? Well, there is one thing I want my son to receive from his father and me, to know who Christ is. To understand the love poured out for him on the cross. To know his Creator. To understand the gift that money cannot buy.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about anyhow? One day my son, just like the rest of us, will perish. Two minutes after he dies, do you really think he will care one bit if he had a PS3 or not?

Suppose my husband and I were millionaires. Our children would want for nothing. We would be able to provide for them the best education at the most elite school. They would wear only the finest clothes and enjoy the finest dining known to man. We would go on very luxurious vacations all over the world. When our children turned sixteen, they would get to pick out their own car. Any one that they wanted. But if we did not share the gospel with them we would have neglected to give them the most vital gift to possibly receive. We would have failed as parents.

The Scriptures speak of this very thing. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36)

I grew up fairly poor, especially the first ten years of my life. I know there were things that my parents wanted to give us children that they just couldn’t afford. It had to have broken their heart. But that’s okay. Now, I really don’t care that I never received a Barbie Doll Dream House. My parents gave me something much more valuable: they introduced me to Christ. They talked about Him. We read Scripture together. We sang praises together. We worshipped together. They showed us how to live a Christian life. That is a gift that I will have through eternity. And the seed was planted by my parents.

I’m thankful that my parents did not just give me physical gifts. Gifts that can be stolen. Gifts that can rot. Gifts that mice will chew through. Gifts that will pass away.

My parents were not/are not perfect. They have made mistakes. If you know them, ask them. They will be the first to tell you that they fall way short. Yet, I cannot remember a time that I did not know who Christ was. As parents, I believe they did a marvelous job.

My parents are 100% stellar!

So I’m not going to worry about giving my son every single thing that he wants. True, I want to provide the best life possible to him. But the best life possible is not measured with dollar bills. It cannot be measured at all. And it’s not up to me anyhow. It’s up to the Lord. But there are a few things I can do to help…  Spend time in prayer for them. Plead with the Lord to do a work in their heart. Demonstrate grace, love, faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, and correction when necessary. Model Christ, always!

 

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When It All Seems Too Much

 

After logging out of my email account Saturday morning, I visit MSN’s homepage to catch up on the news. One article in particular catches my eye. It’s another article about advancements being made by Russia into Ukraine. Oh Ukraine, how my heart aches for you! I spent some time in Ukraine when I was in college and have a deep love for the nation itself and the people.

According to the UN, more than 1500 people have died in the conflict since mid-April. Another 5000 have been severely wounded. And an additional 300,000 have been forced from their homes this year.

I want to put my head in my hands and cry.

I feel for these people who have already been through so much. Some of them I know or once knew. Several of them are fellow Christians, striving to honor Christ through the mess. All of them are humans. All are a life that was created in God’s image.

I back away from the computer, close my eyes, and petition the Lord on their behalf.

 

Sunday evening comes and I check facebook to see what is going on in the lives of my friends. One of my dear Christian sisters posted a link to a CNN interview with Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American leader. I decide to watch it.

Basically what I learned is that ISIS is causing genocide of Christians in Iraq. The atrocities are almost incomprehensible. Mothers are being raped and killed. Fathers are being hung. Children are being beheaded. Beheaded! And what is more sickening is that ISIS is proudly displaying these children’s heads in a park in Mosul. (There is also a link with pictures from this park. It is very graphic. I DO NOT recommend you look at it). A Christian holocaust is taking place. Right now. Today. In Iraq.

I feel sick in my stomach.

These people have committed no crime. They are being killed simply because they are Christians. They are our brothers and sisters. And ISIS is doing this openly and seems to be getting away with it.

I fall to my knees with grief to lay before the Lord.

 

Monday evening, after the children are in bed, I sit down to watch the news with my husband. The first bit of news comes on and we learn that Robin Williams has passed away. From an apparent suicide. How can this be? He’s one of my favorite actors/ comedians. He is famous for making people laugh!  And now he’s gone. And by his own hands?

I hit my limit. This is too much!

I want to cry. Sob.

I want to go to bed, pull my covers over my head and never take them off again.

I feel like throwing up.

I want to throw my computer, ipad, television, cell phone, radio, and any other thing that will tell me bad news out the window.

But none of that will help.

This makes me stop and think, what will help? What can I do?

There are times like these when I feel like hiding, when I don’t feel like getting up, when the world doesn’t seem like it’s worth getting up for. And in these times, I must remember those two special children tucked safely in their beds and the strong man sitting next to me.

I am sorry that the whole world does not know His amazing grace, unfathomable love, and unsearchable riches. I am sorry that they do not know of a peace that can pass all understanding or hope that can drive out any fear.

So what can I do?

On the days when I am sure the world would be better off without me, like I have nothing to offer, I must still get up. I must still put one foot in front of the other. Because I have two children and a husband who depend on me. How can I serve them, anyone else, or even Christ if I hide in my bed? How can I share with them the hope that I find when life seems like it’s too much? Knowing that God is in control, not Russia, Hamas, ISIS, or anyone else has a huge amount of comfort. His will be done.

So help me, Dear Jesus, to be your hands and feet. Give me more compassion for the world around me. Make me more alert to needs of others and the desire to put those needs ahead of my own. Give me encouraging words to build up your kingdom.

Let it begin here.

With the little people pulling on my sleeve.

Let me unselfishly invest in them time, love, compassion and sincerity. Allow me to model for them how to be a Godly example to the world. Make my prayer life obvious to them so they see the necessity for it too. Lord, give me opportunities to speak your words, unashamed, before the world. And let me do it in front of them. Remind me of examples from Scripture to share with them when the occasion arises.

Dear Sovereign Lord, make them into men who will share the gospel with the world. Use them to demonstrate your unwaning love. Let them tell of you grace, sovereignty, might, and patience. Give them your peace. Grant them joy that can only come from you. Use them to advance your kingdom.

And use me to prepare them.

 

“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern,” 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Bible)

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Families of Different Shapes and Sizes

 

My husband and I have been blessed with two sons. One of them is twelve and the other just turned four. They are nearly nine years apart. That is quite a difference. We know that and they know that too. But in the Lord’s sovereign will, that is how He saw fit to do it.

Two days after our youngest son was born we had to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart. I walk in, carrying my baby in his carseat, with my older son walking beside me. A friendly lady came over to see the new baby and commented, “What a sweet baby! What does big brother think?”

My son stood a little taller when he heard the “big brother” comment. How many years he had prayed to get to be a big brother!

“I am VERY excited,” he said.

The lady looked at me, “And how many others do you have” she asked.

“Only these two boys,” I told her.

Her face fell a little, “Well, even with different daddies they can still be good friends,” she said before walking off.

I was shocked!

But what was worse is that my then-eight-year-old son heard this comment too. And I could tell by the look on his face that he was hurt even more than I was. He was no longer standing tall and his shoulders were now drooping. The thought that someone might think that his baby brother was not completely his was like a dagger to his heart. “Why does she think that we have different dads,” he asked.

I wish I could say that this is the only time someone has made this assumption, but it isn’t. Nearly every time we’re in public, someone will make this assumption about my family. At times people will compliment my husband on his “acceptance” of both of my boys. That’s a hard one to swallow too.

There are two things I want you to know:

1. My children hear these comments too. I should not have to explain to a two year old child why someone thinks that he and his brother do not share the same parents. It just isn’t appropriate.

2. I understand why you make this assumption. I, myself, have two brothers that do not have the same father as me. But they are no less my brothers. Just because we do not share one hundred percent of the same DNA, they are just as much a part of me as my other brother and sisters. The love is no different.

Still, I want you to know that a marriage can last longer than nine years. It is possible for the same couple to have two children with several years between them. Likewise, it is possible for two children to share the same parents even if there is a gap in years.

I consider it an honor and blessing to get to raise these two boys. I regard it as the thrill of my life. And even if they did have separate fathers, they would be no less special or joyous. All children are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). That, alone, gives worth and value to their lives.

It is discouraging to hear these comments. I am a young mother, striving to love and care for my husband and children. Sometimes I need encouragement. Sometimes I need training (Titus 2:4). If you are a more seasoned mother than me, you could provide both of these to me –whether or not I have children from the same father.

The truth is that families come in many different shapes and sizes. There are many families adopting children from overseas. Although these families may look a little different than a traditional family, these mothers and fathers need encouragement too. Remember that they have waited a long time on paperwork to go through. They did not get the pleasure of birthing their child. In most cases, they did not even get to hold their child as a baby. Yet they are still striving to care for and nurture their families. It is undoubtedly discouraging at times. These parents need love. They need support. They need prayers.

We all do.

So here’s an idea…  Let’s try to encourage families. When you see a family, even one that looks a little unique, try saying, “Wow, what a beautiful family you have.” Or, “You are so blessed to get the privilege of raising these children.” I can guarantee that you will bless the parents greatly. And probably the children too!

 

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5)

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Rules For Dating My Son

 

Have you noticed that girls seem to be chasing boys these days? Just this evening a girl asked my twelve year old son to be her boyfriend. Hello, he’s twelve years old! No twelve year old needs a boyfriend or girlfriend. But I do realize that some of these girls may make a fine wife for my son in some twenty or thirty years. So to help these girls out, I have compiled a list of rules for dating my son.

  1. My son does not have his own cell phone. Feel free to call him on mine. I should warn you that a customer service representative will be listening.
  2. You may talk with him at church. Bring your Bible.
  3. Do not touch my son. Do not even pick lint off his shirt. He can do that himself. You may only touch him if you are standing on the edge of a cliff, have lost your balance, are about to fall off, and he is the only person around. But I would prefer you to grab a tree instead.
  4. He cannot borrow my car for your date. He is only twelve. He has a bike. If you have a wagon and can attach it to his bike then you can ride in that.
  5. Here is a list of all the places approved for your date:
  6. I realize that it is popular to wear “Rihanna” styled clothing. My husband and I want to be open minded and fair about this. So you are free to show up in such clothing. Just please know that I may use a hot glue gun to properly affix it to your body. I may also attach more fabric to you.
  7. His uncle is the principal at school. If you pass him a note, his uncle will read it – for grammatical purposes of course.

Please know that my husband and I have been praying for this boy since before God gave him breath. We pray that if the Lord wills him to marry, that it is a Godly woman. So please chase Jesus first. Search His Word for direction in your life. Study it to learn how to be a Godly wife and what type of man to look for. Pray that the Lord brings a Godly man into your life. Seek out Godly women to watch, study from, and to be discipled by.

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What About Joseph?

 

I have been reading through the gospels recently and noticed something I’ve failed to see before. Isn’t it strange that Jesus would be put on trial, beaten until he no longer looks human, and crucified and there is no record of Joseph, His earthly father, being present? The Scriptures speak of Mary being there (John 19:25-27) but never Joseph. This strikes me as very odd. What parent would not be there to defend, protect, care for, and grieve for their child? But after a search in the Scriptures, the last time I can find Joseph’s presence mentioned is when Jesus is twelve years old. Their family makes a trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. On the way back His parents realize that Jesus is not with them, they were traveling as a group with several families, and make the trek back to Jerusalem for Him. When they find Him, He is teaching in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). After this incident, Joseph is never mentioned again.  Does this seem strange to anyone else? All the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, speak of Mary being active throughout the Jesus’ adult life, but none speak of Joseph past this point.

We know that Joseph was a righteous man because…

  1. God chose him to be Jesus’ earthly father.
  2. When he found out Mary was pregnant he could have divorced her and he had planned to do so. But when the Lord told him not to, he obeyed (Matt 1:18-25).

We also know that Joseph was a protector because…

  1. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him of Herod’s plan to kill baby Jesus, immediately their small family fled to Egypt (Matt 2:13-15). They stayed in Egypt until after Herod died (Matt 2:19-21).
  2. When they were on their way back from Egypt, Joseph found out that Herod’s son had taken his father’s place. Joseph took his family to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, instead (Matt 2:22-23).

With all that said, I don’t believe that one could draw the conclusion that Joseph was a poor father or had possibly abandoned them. It appears that he was a wonderful and devoted father.

All this leads me to one conclusion…  Sometime after Jesus was twelve years old, but before He began His ministry, Joseph passed away. This means that for at least part of His life Jesus was raised in a single parent household. This also means He probably had many more responsibilities, including caring for His younger brothers and sisters.

If you have been raised for at least part of your life in a single parent home, as I was, this should be of great comfort to you. He truly understands the loneliness. He understands the tear you feel inside of you. He understands the desire for the other parent. All the times you want to see them, touch them, hear their voice, receive their instruction, but you can’t. He understands that kind of hurt and pain.

While Jesus Himself never had children, He did have younger brothers and sisters that He most definitely helped care for. And by the time Joseph would have passed, Jesus would have been old enough to have some fatherly instincts kick in. Imagine the huge responsibility He must have felt for them. He must have helped wipe tears away (remember they had lost their father too) and comfort them in the night. He probably helped clean up a few scraped knees and elbows and took care of them when they were sick. Maybe even walked them to school and home again. We know that Joseph was a carpenter, he taught Jesus, and Jesus probably taught his brothers what Joseph had taught Him. I do believe that Jesus understands what it is like to be a parent. I believe He understands that deep love, sense of protection, and self sacrifice that a parent has for their child.

If you have experienced a loss, Jesus experienced a deep loss too. We know that Jesus mourned because the Scriptures record Him weeping at the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). But undoubtedly the loss of a father would be more severe than the loss of a friend, especially at a younger and tenderer age. Although it is true that Jesus must have had much more of a realization that either you or I ever will about where His loved one was or the unity that they would experience again, He still must have grieved. He had to have mourned. He must have had many sleepless nights. He must have hurt very much and not just for Himself, but for His mother, brothers, and sisters as well.

If you are a single parent, take heart, this is of great encouragement! He understands the daily struggles and challenges that you go through. He watched his own mother go through them too. Do you ever worry if your child is going to be okay with only one parent in the home? The greatest man of all times lived part of His life with only one parent. There is no better example of a man than Him. He is what we all want our children to imitate. Can we even begin to list all His great qualities? How about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22), just to name a few!

To me, this has changed part of my view of Christ. Somehow, he seems even more human, more realistic. And isn’t this just like the Father? If Jesus is our intercessor, He needs to understand all our needs and all our trials. This is why it is so important that Christ came as a man. So He understands our need for nourishment, our limitations with energy and the need for rest, and the daily trials we go through. We go through losses. We feel extreme pressure.  We struggle and face challenge daily. With removing Joseph from Jesus’ life, He was made more aware of more struggles that we face. He knew what it was like to lose someone you love very much. He knew what it was like to have parental love and to miss it too. He knew, from watching his own mother, what it was like to raise children as a single parent. Wow! I am never ceased to be amazed at the thoroughness of our Lord.

 

Categories: encouragement, Lord's sovereign will, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Don’t Judge My Parenting

 

 

When my oldest son was just a couple months old we found out he had an abnormality with his skull. Thankfully, it was completely correctable. But to be corrected, we had to be very diligent with exercises. We also had to make sure his head tilted a certain way when he slept. The only way to do this was to have him sleep with us.

I kept him in the crook of my arm as all three of us, my husband, our baby, and I shared a bed together. No, it was not very comfortable for me to sleep with my arm straight out, have a ten pound weight resting on it, and not to be able to move it but there was no other choice. I cannot just sit and watch him sleep all the time and readjust his head every time he moved. If he slept on my arm and moved in the night, his movement would wake me so that I could make the adjustment right then and there. And I could get some sleep too!

However, this opened the door to co-sleeping (which can be safely done, by the way). To be completely honest I wanted him to sleep with us from the time he was born. I just enjoyed the closeness that it provided.

Once he began sleeping with us, the trend continued. I heard from family, friends, people I went to church with and even pediatricians, “It sets a bad precedent. They’ll never sleep well.  It doesn’t set boundaries. It will spoil them.”

Yet, this was one of our favorite times of the day. I did not want to give it up and neither did my husband or son. We enjoyed beginning and ending our day together as a family. So I had to wonder, is cuddling with your children until they fall asleep such a bad thing?

We had listened to all the advice others had to give us and thought there must be something to it. We got our son’s bed all ready to go and got him in it. But it was miserable. None of us were happy. Our son cried for us. We missed him. So after a few nights we decided to bring him back in with us. And it was lovely!

The reason I’m telling you this is because I do not believe there is one perfect parenting solution on any subject. Go to a book store and check out the parenting books. There are thousands of them written on every situation you possibly think of. Still, I don’t know that there is one parenting book out there that is perfect for every family in every circumstance.

I’m not saying that all parenting books are bad. Quite the contrary. I think there is a lot of wisdom that has been recorded by those who have gone before us. Those can be a wonderful tool. However, I am very leery of advice that gives an “If… then…” statement.

According to those we had talked with, we would all sleep better and be much happier in the long run if our son slept in his own bed. We did not find this to be true. Why? Most of the people who gave us that advice were going off of their own experiences. And there is nothing wrong with that. But my family is not like theirs. God created us each as individuals. We are each unique. I am a different mother, my husband is a different father, and our son is a different child. He is now twelve years old and I STILL do not see anything wrong with the fact that he slept with us when he was small. And guess what? He even falls asleep on his own, in his own bed, and sleeps well.

While I certainly enjoyed co-sleeping and feel that there were many positives to it (which I am not going to write about right now), no way would I recommend this for everyone. My own mother could never sleep well if her children were in bed with her. Does that make her a bad mother? Of course not! It just means that she is a different person or different type of mother than me. So if I write a blog or book stating that this is the best way to sleep and if you just sleep like this then you’ll have the perfect relationship with your child, how would that make a mother like her feel? She may try it. Night after night she goes to bed with husband and children yet cannot sleep. She feels crowded. She feels like she is suffocating. She is more tired during the day. She now has less patience. She misses the intimacy with her husband. And for what? Because she felt like if she didn’t do it like this then she would be a bad mom?

I have some friends who homeschool and could write a book on how wonderful it is. I have other friends who private school and believe it is the best option. And still, I have other friends who public school and could go on and on about how great it is.

One mother may have home birthed and felt so positive about it that she feels like it is the best option. But another woman may not want to. She may feel more secure in a hospital where doctors and nurses will be close at hand for the next couple of days.

And we could go on and on with this list. But is one option really better than another? Well, yes. One may be the right choice for one family while alternative may be the better option a different family. So why do we judge others and make them feel bad if they don’t do something just like us? We each want the best for our families and make choices that we feel are the best fit for them.

This is my point: God is so creative that no two people are just alike. You can drive yourself crazy researching what parenting style you want to practice for this or that and weighing out the projected outcomes of each. But I don’t know that you really need to do that. The best option is to simply pray for wisdom from the Lord (1 Cor 2:13, James 1:5). Consider what is it that you want to do and what is the best fit for your family? Ultimately, it is YOUR decision how YOU want to parent. But after you decide, it may be wise to receive council from others or perhaps a book on how to proceed.  But please do not let others decide what is best for you!

However, I do feel that I should extend a warning here. Even though you have your heart set on parenting a certain way, it may not work for you or your family. I have talked with many different mothers who desperately wanted to nurse their children. But for whatever reason, they were not producing enough milk and their babies were suffering. Sometimes supplementing with formula was necessary and sometimes a complete switch was required. And with these changes, the mother often feels like she has failed as a mother.  Maybe this came from pressure/judgment from other mothers. But often we put this pressure on ourselves. We get our hearts set on “I really want to do this!” And when it doesn’t work out, we’re crushed. But to keep nursing when your baby is hungry may not be a wise choice for your family.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am all for you making the decision for yourself of how you want to parent. But please remain flexible enough that if for some reason it isn’t working out that you are willing to try something else. Whatever choice you make, it is important to make the best decision for your family. It is not up to your sister, mother-in-law, pediatrician, or anyone else. While they may be able to offer good advice, nobody knows your family dynamics like you. You are the expert here!

Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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