Saturday, May 7, 2016

7 Things Kids Need to See Their Mom Doing

I often add pins with interesting headlines to my Pinterest boards with the intention of coming back to read them later.

On Friday evening, I decided to go through some of the pins on my Parenting board to determine if they were "keepers," or if it was time to "clean house."  I saw a pin entitled, "7 Things Kids Need to See Their Mom Doing."  I had this sudden burst of inspiration that I should come up with my own list of 7 things my girls should see me doing before consulting the article to see the writer's opinions.

Here is my personal list:

 7 Things My Kids Need to See Their Mom Doing:
1.  PRAYING:  I want to be an example of prayer for my girls.  I want them to see me turning to God for my daily strength.  I want to model for them how I turn to God when I am sick, sad, hurt, thankful, joyful, or irritable--how I feel comfortable taking every emotion to God.  By showing them my faith in God to stay with me and comfort me in all times and during all emotional up- and down-turns, I want to provide a model for them for their own lives.  I want them to know that I feel closer to God by turning to Him, by talking to Him, and by trusting in Him.

2.  THANKING:  I want my girls to see that I recognize my blessings.  I want to model for them how I recognize all the good things in my life.  And I especially want them to know how thankful I am that God has made us a family!

3.  LEARNING:  I don't have too many pithy sayings that I hope my kids will quote as they grow up, but there is one that I say whenever I can:  "It's a good day when you can learn something new."  I value a teachable spirit above just about anything else, I think, and I love to continue learning new things every day of my life.  I want them to see me learning all the time, so that they will feel comfortable "not knowing," and then inspired to learn all that they can each day of their lives.

4. LOVING: I want my girls to see me loving them and their daddy throughout their lives.  I want them to observe affection, so they know that they deserve the same in their own relationships when they are older.  (Though even at age 7, Bayla already says things like, "Eww, Mommy and Daddy KISSED!" as though the little peck on the lips she's observed is the grossest thing she's ever seen.)

5.  APPRECIATING:  I want to present a positive attitude about myself and my abilities to my girls.  I don't want to raise them thinking that they need to be self-deprecating or self-degrading in order to "come off" as humble.  I want them to recognize their God-given gifts, and envision how they can use them for God's glory, so they need to see me doing the same.

6.  PURSUING:  I want my girls to see me pursuing my interests, my hobbies, and the things that bring me joy.  There are things that have to be done in life--jobs, requirements, duties.  But I never want my girls to lose sight of the hours in the day they can preserve to pursue what is important to them, what uses their unique and individual gifts, what sets them on fire.  They might not learn that as easily if they don't see their mom making time for it!

7. ENCOURAGING: No matter how anyone else in the world treats my girls, I want them to know that I am their #1 fan.  I always felt this affirmation from my own mom, and it made such a difference in my confidence for facing the challenges of life.  I want to gift my girls with that same sense of encouragement.  They are beloved children of God, and they are my own beloved children--the absolute treasures of my life--and I never want them to forget their absolute and eternal value.

So, of course, then, I went to the article that I pinned to see the author's "take" on the 7 Things Kids Need to See Their Mom Doing.

Now, you can check out the article I pinned to see how that author's ideas compared to mine!

Happy Mothers' Day!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Perfectly Imperfect

I wrote the following article for my church's weekly e-newsletter, MPC This Week.  I will be following it up with some related posts here on the blog.
Perfectly Imperfect

When I was a teenager, I decided to try going to Youth Group at a local church. 

In my mind, I think that I expected to find a “better sort” of teenager there.  After all, they went to church and loved God, didn’t they?  So, it followed that they wouldn’t have cliques or make people feel excluded.  They wouldn’t cuss or make bad choices.  They would be the kind of kids I wanted to be—perfect kids—and they would help me get there myself.  Right?

As you might imagine, they did not, in fact, turn out to be perfect kids.  They had cliques and made people feel excluded.  They cussed and made bad choices.  They turned out to be actual real teenagers—real people.  So I stopped going to Youth Group.

I was too young and immature to understand the bumper sticker wisdom that states, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I missed out on all the ways I could have been blessed by those perfectly imperfect young people.  I may have lost faith in that small community of Christians back in high school, but I never lost faith in my relationship with God.  He worked in my heart to help me understand that my hope is not found in perfect and exemplary behavior—not my own, or anyone else’s.  Rather my hope is in the Lord. 

“But now Lord what do I look for?  My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

Again and again, in the small groups I belong to, the subject of vulnerability has been raised.  We want to feel free to be vulnerable around our church family members, to reveal our true selves with the veneer of “having it all together” cast aside.  But we aren’t sure that we have found a safe place to reveal ourselves with full honesty, to acknowledge truthfully that we aren’t a “better sort” of person, but rather broken people held together by Christ’s amazing grace.

I turned my back on those teenagers so many years ago because they didn’t meet my unrealistic expectations.  Many of us probably hope that we are too kind, generous, and spiritually mature to make the same kind of mistake I made at age 14.  We like to think that others can be vulnerable around us—honest and open with their true selves—but are we sure we can provide that safe place?  Satan well knows how quickly we fall prey to tendencies to judge, gossip, and condemn.  Can we handle the vulnerabilities of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Our Elders? Our pastors? The worshiper in the pew ahead of us?

“I abuse prescription drugs.”

“I was unfaithful to my wife, and she has filed for divorce.”

“My children are totally out of control, and I don’t know what to do.”

“I am sick, and so very afraid to die.”

“I am an alcoholic.”

“My daughter doesn’t trust me around the new baby.”

“Sometimes I don’t believe there is a God.”

“I’m so lonely.”

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: to save me and to save you (1 Timothy 1:15). His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  In all of our imperfection, God adopted us into His family as His children (Ephesians 1:5). 

Christ is our example of loving, of serving, of providing a safe place for sinners, just as we ourselves as sinners desire a safe place.  We are called to accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7). 

This week I am going to invite the Holy Spirit to continue His work in my heart so I can  recognize that my hope is in the Lord, that my brothers and sisters in Christ deserve better than my unrealistic expectations, and that I can lead the way in creating the safe place that we “perfectly imperfect” followers of Christ are craving.   Will you join me?
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