Shedding Some Light On a Convenience Culture

image

(This is a little sign I have hanging in my kitchen to remind me each day of the truth of which it speaks.)

We as a culture want what is convenient—quick, easy, efficient, comfortable, as little work as possible. We highly value convenience.

But should we?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for modern conveniences like washing machines and water heaters! And I mean that wholeheartedly because I’ve lived without both at various times in my life!
The problem lies where this desire for convenience permeates our parenting… and because parenting is area where we cannot rush or even control the process, the tension of living with what is “inconvenient” surfaces and our cravings for convenience stare us in the face.

When we place such high value on convenience that it undermines our relationships with our children and our parenting, things get very skewed….

Follow me to Mom Heart to read the rest?

name

On Patience and Compassion

“The word compassion comes from (com-passion = compassion, to suffer, to suffer with, to suffer with other persons); that’s where the word patience comes from (patience = patior, “to suffer”). To be patient is to experience the pain of your life. And when you experience it with somebody else, you can be compassionate.”

                        From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation

In the Bible, patience is sometimes translated as long-suffering, defined as the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering or when provoked.

Patience is a quality of God and a fruit of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, we come to know a God who is very patient—slow to anger (and rightful judgment) because of the compassion and love He has for the people of Israel. Jesus embodied these qualities, as He was willing to suffer with and for all the world—to the point of death on a cross.

As I was recently reflecting on these things, I was struck by the relationship between patience and compassion—they work together and are intertwined. Patience isn’t simply refraining from yelling or waiting with contentment—it is others-focused, relational, an act of compassion. It is a coming alongside.

Will you join me at Mom Heart to read the rest?

When Hovering Over Your Children Is a Good Thing

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” {Genesis 1:1-2}

Hovering… the Hebrew word—rachaph, means to move gently, cherish, brood (warm, protect, cover); it is a word that denotes love.

The Hebrew phrase for formless, empty void could be translated as a desolate, desert waste.

Most of us have read the creation account—in which God spoke and it was so. Yet, here in Genesis 1:2 we are shown how a desolate desert waste was transformed into the beautiful masterpiece of creation that God made: it was quite the labor of love. It happened through the hovering—that is— through loving, cherishing, moving gently, and warming. It was cultivated and that cultivation produced a masterpiece. He is God and He could have chosen to only speak this transformation into existence, yet He felt it necessary to rachaph over the empty void… maybe to show us the way?

 We mothers have been given little lives to steward and mold.  We have been given a great responsibility to carry out His work— by allowing His Spirit to work through us as we gently cherish, love, cultivate and provide protection and warmth for our children—His creation.

I want to rachaph over my children so that their souls would grow to become the beautiful masterpieces that God created them to be. Before I knew Christ I was desolate, empty and void, and I do not ever {at all!} want that for them.

The scriptures teach us that all are born into sin—and I fail many times as a mother yet my desire is to be an imitator of God—to be as Christ to them—to rachaph over them just as He has over me. At times I do lose my patience; I am not always gentle or loving, yet I have in me His Spirit who gently, lovingly shows me the way and enables me to follow it.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

As we fail forward in mothering our children, let us remember to invite, acknowledge, and spend time with the Spirit—that we may be enabled to do His work—the rachaph work, over our children, so that their souls are not left unattended, empty and void.

I’m not saying we should try to be or take the place of the Holy Spirit to our children and I’m not saying we need to watch over their every move, ready to correct every last thing they do. On the contrary.  As we offer them love and grace— as we imitate Him, we point them to who God is. We need the Spirit’s help, and He wants to teach us His ways— to help us respond gently instead of harshly, to cherish them instead of treating them as if they are an inconvenience, to create a home atmosphere of warmth, acceptance, and protection instead of one of yelling, shame or fear, to cover over their sin and immaturity instead of exposing them or making them feel belittled for their mistakes, to move gently instead of always hurrying and rushing about, to be intentional instead of negligent… to point them to God instead of leaving them empty.

 

A morning prayer…

I love any chance to learn and grow, especially if that learning makes me a better momma. Two weeks ago I had the incredible privilege of attending Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit (our church was a host site). For those of you who’ve never heard of the Summit, it’s an annual event in which thousands of leaders all over the world gather to be inspired, encouraged, and to see how God is working in the hearts and minds of church leaders and others in significant positions of leadership. This year some 70,000 people in the U.S. alone attended the Summit – and I laughed, cried and was challenged along with them.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a GLS, I implore you to do so. We are all leaders in some capacity and, especially as mommas, we have the opportunity and responsibility to be intentional in the ways that we impact those that we lead, namely our precious babes. They are the future leaders of the Church and of the world.

At the end of this year’s Summit, Bill Hybels, head pastor at Willow Creek, shared this prayer and encouraged us all to pray it every morning.

I love how this uniquely applies to those of us raising little ones. If we are willing to commit all of ourselves to the work of Christ – to build his church and to bring hope to the world – and to the role that we have been assigned, not only will our children receive our very best, but we will be blessed as we full-heartedly love and serve the One who truly deserves it. May you be encouraged and inspired to intentionally and lovingly lead those in your care, just as God tenderly loves and leads you.

Xo
Shannon

 

We are linking up here today:

Spoiled with Encouragement?

Can you over encourage a child?

Can you give him too much praise?

Have you ever heard the statement that if you give a kid too much positive affirmation then they will become dependent on it, or that you can spoil a baby with too much love?

I am not a psychologist and do not claim to be.  I have no PHD, and have not spent countless hours pouring through literature on the psyche of a child.  I am simply a mom.  A mom with limited experience, but who watches her children’s signals and pays attention to the promptings in her spirit.  I am a mom who prays for and seeks parenting wisdom daily.  I don’t claim to know much on the subjects of children and parenting except for that which life has taught me.  With that disclaimer in-tact, I would like to share with you some of my own humble thoughts on the topic of encouraging our children.

One of my favorite mom’s on the planet is Michelle Duggar, who you may know from the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting.  I have heard Michelle say on her show and in her books (forgive me for paraphrasing) that for every negative comment that they receive, a child needs ten positive comments to build them back up.  Isn’t it incredible that one negative commment could have such a strong affect on a person that they would need ten positives just to bring them back up to par?

I am a mom of a toddler. Which means that every other minute it seems that I am correcting that toddler for one thing or another.

“No No Ella.”

“Don’t touch that Ella.”

“Listen to Mommy Ella.”

Part of raising happy and healthy children is to give them boundaries.  This is a good thing, they need this!  But when we are so busy correcting, training and setting boundaries for these little ones, do we ever stop to think about how much of our interaction with them is dominated by  “no, no…and…stop that?”

My daughter is getting negative (but necessary) enforcement what seems at times like every other minute?  I probably say NO thirty times a day, and don’t think twice about it.  Taking that into consideration with the ten to one ratio, I don’t think too much affirmation is going to be an issue.  Children can be spoiled by lack of boundaries and correction – absolutely, but by speaking too many positive things into their lives?  I don’t believe it.

I make it a point to encourage my children every chance that I get, every second I can!  I am not afraid to lay it on thick!  Know why? Because if what Michelle says is true, then I had better get to work bringing those positives about in their little lives!  There are seasons when I feel like and I am correcting my toddler constantly – there is no way that I could ever keep a tally system of every positive and negative word that I spout her way!  So, knowing that the negatives are inevitable,  I take advantage of every single tiny opportunity that I get in the day to reinforce the positives.  If I lather my children with positive expressions of love and encouragement, then I can hope that this and the enforcement of loving boundaries and correction will work in harmony as I attempt to raise children who are emotionally healthy, happy and well-balanced people.

Proverbs talks often of the “quarrelsome wife” but what about being the quarrelsome mother?  If I am not balancing my motherly duty of reproof and training with positive affirmation, then in my child’s eyes, I could very easily become nothing more than a nag.  If my child’s most common interactions with me are based on  “no, no, stop that, you need to…”  then I believe it will slowly eat away at the natural relationship of trust that exists between a mother and her children, because it is not balanced with words of nurture and affection.  I think it is possible for this to bring damage to their identity as well.

Call me silly, mushy, or “spoiling my children with affection”  but I want my kids to know without a doubt that they are special, loved and believed in. I want them to trust in the fact that  I am someone who wants the best for them; whether I am making corrections or praising them in their character/behavior.

I want them to have the confidence to face their dreams and have the gumption to say,  “Look out world, I  am flawed, but I am a child of God who is loved beyond life itself!”  and are ready to bring that love with all the fire and passion that God can put inside of them to do it with.  I want to raise children who believe they are capable of being world changers!

I am a very sensitive, person.  A positive comment can be life changing for me, but a careless criticism can haunt me with hurt for a long time.  Sometimes I need to hear the same positive comment over and over before I actually start to believe it.  Why should it be any different with a child?

I exhort you mommies, to nurture the precious souls that have been entrusted to you, by being their greatest champions.  Don’t just flatter them at  lip-service but really look for opportunities to genuinely compliment your kids.  Notice improvements they have made in something they are working at and speak up about it.  Share with them about positive attributes that you see in their characters, or the thing you noticed them do that was kind, or thoughtful.  Praise them if there is something that you see them excelling at or believe they are gifted in.  Choose your criticism carefully, and use it constructively.

There is a big world out there that is waiting to pounce on our children’s shortcomings, and an enemy of their souls who is prowling for opportunities to lie to them about who they really are.  If we, the people who know them best are assuring them of the truth about themselves consistently and constantly, then I believe that they will be better equipped to deal with the world’s sometimes cruel realities and stand firm in the truth of their identities when the temptation to believe otherwise comes to whisper in their ears.  I want to wring every last delicious drop that I can out of out of the incredible privilege of recklessly loving my children – so I am going to give this ten to one thing the best shot I can!  Who’s with me?

Weekend Musings…

If you have a bit of time to spare this weekend, these are worth watching. In the first video, Tim Keller talks about Doing Justice.

The biblical definition of righteousness, of righteous people, is those who are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community, and the wicked are those who put their own economic, social and personal needs ahead of the community.

This second video, from Children Desiring God , is called Wife, Mother, Disciple-Maker .

Our influence on our children will be flawed. We will fail many times… But the redeeming news is that we are called to be authentic examples, not perfect examples. A person who is an authentic example asks forgiveness when he has wronged another… when you are impatient (with your children) or lash out in anger or frustration (against them), are you quick to admit your failing? … By God’s grace, we can be authentic examples.

The Secret to Ministering to Your Family: For Busy Wives and Moms

I read this passage by Henri Nouwen recently and was so impacted by its relevance to life as a wife and mom, so I wanted to share. (By the way, if you have never read Henri Nouwen, put his books on your “to read” list. They are fantastic.)

“That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was. In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.” And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils. (Mark 1:32-39)

In the midst of a busy schedule of activities— healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town, and preaching from synagogue to synagogue— we find these quiet words: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” The more I read this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn. In the center of breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quiet stillness. In the heart of much involvement there are words of withdrawl. In the midst of action there is contemplation. And after much togetherness there is solitude. In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own. It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father, that ministry is born. In solitary prayer Jesus comes to understand his identity and mission.” (From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation.)

I know of no one more busy than moms. This reflection of Jesus’ activities sounds very much like the life of every wife and mom I know: a busy schedule of activities, tending to the suffering- mending the constant bumps and bruises, addressing the sin that goes on in our homes, responding to the immature and impatient ones in our care… and so it goes, hour by hour, day after day. Jesus knew the secret to not burning out— he knew the secret to be able to sustain this life of constant ministry and outpouring: he spent time regularly with the Father, where he gained perspective, refreshment and the strength to minister daily— to minister loving and patient words, full of instruction and grace.

If you have been “out of practice” of spending regular time with the Father, try to find a way! He will bring refreshment and sustain you for this journey that can be so wearisome. When my oldest was two and I had a newborn, the only way I could get in that time was to let her watch a little video every morning. These days, I stay up late to find time for quiet. It can be so hard to make it happen with little ones, jobs, sicknesses, and the busy lives that we live and sometimes the only options to make it happen— getting up early, videos to entertain the babes, or staying up too late, are not ideal. But the alternative is so much harder! In order to live this life we need Him, the One who is the source of all life. So… find a way with me today?

 

We are linking up at the Better Mom today.

Blog Launch Day 2 Give Away: Sally Clarkson Book

I am so excited about the Day 2 Giveaway! We are offering one reader a Sally Clarkson book of their choice. This one is for you mamas out there! Sally’s books have been the most influential teachings on motherhood that both Alli and I (Anne) have read. I really resonate with her journey as a mom- from having a divided heart to learning to embrace the portion- the cup- that the Lord has given her in the gift of her children. I was able to attend her Mom Heart Conference this past January in Denver and the two themes I kept hearing were: 1. As moms we are constantly giving and pouring ourselves out -so as much as we expend, we need to be in the Word, spending time with God, and doing things that are life-giving to us so that we have a reservoir from which to give. 2. We need to surround ourselves with like minded women because motherhood is a hard job and it is so easy to get discouraged. Sally always says something along the lines of: “A women alone in her ideals is a target for the enemy but together with like-minded women she will stand strong.” I love Sally’s heart for motherhood- she talks a lot about spending time with our kids and being available to them. She encourages us mamas to cultivate their hearts and minds with beautiful things- whether it is through great stories and books, spending time in nature, preparing home-made food, playing lovely music, or flowers and candles on the table at dinnertime.  We are shaping our children and giving them a certain lens by which they view God- and all of life! … I know what you are thinking. Does that mean I cook home-made meals every night? No. Is my house beautifully in order most of the time? No, in fact not even close. It seems that there is always something that has to give- whether it is the laundry, dinner, or whatever. I am learning to let go of some of those “urgent” things to make room for the most important- which is spending time with God and building relationships with my husband and kids. I think the point is- whatever your circumstances and resources (even if you’re just having cereal for dinner!) there are simple and creative ways (light a candle or leave an encouraging note for each of them at their spot at the table) to show your family that they are important and to cultivate love and beauty in your home. Sally gives lots of practical ideas and examples in her books, which is why I am excited that we are giving one away.

Here is Sally’s Amazon page where you can see all of her books- and pick yours if you win! My favorites are The Mission of Motherhood and The Ministry of Motherhood. The Anthro Mugs give aways ends tonight at midnight and I will announce the winner tomorrow. I hope you win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

m4s0n501