The “Definition” of Parenting

What does being a parent really mean? Why is being a parent so hard?

We’ve heard it a million times. Our children are not born with an instruction manual. Only they are. The bible. If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, hang in here with me. I will mostly be referencing the dictionary believe it or not. Common definitions of words you use everyday.Ready, this is going to be a doozy (definition: something outstanding or unique of it’s kind).

Definitions to be included are:

  • Discipline
  • Disciple
  • Guide
  • Practice
  • Training
  • Punishment

I’ll start with discipline. Discipline is one of the many hats a parent wears daily. One of those things we don’t really know how to do, but we are constantly doing. There are Facebook arguments, news stories, articles and many coffee chats about how to discipline your child and how -so and so- isn’t doing it right. Right?

dis·ci·pline
noun
1.
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience

So, how do we “train” or “correct” our kids? What “rules” do they need to follow? What is the correct form of “punishment?”

I can’t directly answer that for you. I can’t tell you if your child is allowed to have a Snickers bar for breakfast or if they are allowed to sit on the counter and eat in the living room. We get SO frustrated because we don’t know how to pick the “rules” that will mold a child into a responsible, productive member of society. Then when we finally feel good about our rules, we struggle with how to stay consistent with them! That’s way too much to put on a human who makes mistakes! Are you guys with me? *stress*

Let’s look at a word that is hidden, but not very well…..in the word DISCPILine. Yes I typed it funky like that on purpose. DISCIPLE is in the word DISCIPLINE! Wowza! The things we miss…..

dis·ci·ple
noun
a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

We all think of  Jesus’ 12 disciples.

What did they do?

They followed Jesus, they made mistakes, they lacked faith and they even denied Jesus. Sound a little bit like us? Sound a little bit like our children?

As parents we are to be disciples and we are to guide our mini disciples. We are constantly learning from Jesus through our mistakes and our children are constantly learning from us through their mistakes (and ours, unfortunately). But our ultimate goal everyday should be to follow Jesus first and apply his lessons to our parenting. We should be raising these children to have minds of their own, not to follow rules even if they don’t understand them. One day they may not have us as a physical guide but they will remember the lessons we taught them. If they only remember one lesson, I hope it is that God is our guide and he sent Jesus to not only forgive our sins but to guide us in our daily living. He physically walked this Earth and he was a daily representation of how we should act and react.

guide
noun
1.
a person who advises or shows the way to others.
“this lady is going to act as our guide for the rest of the tour”
synonyms: escort, attendant, tour guide, docent, cicerone;

Notice that a guide is someone who advises or shows the way (leaving the student open to CHOOSE), not forces the way. Just saying.

Side Note: If we ever question what the right thing is…..we can look in the Word and find our answer. Always.

If you have never opened the bible (or even if you have but got overwhelmed), I encourage you to start with the 10 commandments:

ten-commandments-kids-wall-quote-4

         http://www.enchantingquotes.com/tencoki1.html

Now- how should our kids be “punished” if they do not obey?

Punishment
1
: the act of punishing
2
a : suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution
b : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
3
: severe, rough, or disastrous treatment

THIS IS WHERE IT GETS STICKY. This is where moms stop becoming friends because they don’t agree on how to punish their children. This is where news stories start because a mom did or didn’t punish their children correctly. Oh boy.

Ok, this is just from personal opinion. Take it or leave it. But I find that this world can be punishment enough sometimes. (I am NOT saying never punish your children!!) We live in a harsh world and it has a way of reminding us of that often.

This is my take on it. I consider a home to be a safe landing. I believe it should be a place to come to when we are feeling emotion of any kind. If we are sad, we can come home. If we are happy, we can come home. If we are feeling lost, we can come home. If we want our home to truly be this place for our children, we need to serve as their GUIDE instead of the DICTATOR. The world will punish them enough. If they steal, they will be punished in one way or another. If they commit adultery, this world will find a way to punish them. Have we all not experienced trials? Have a lot of them been a result of our misguided actions? If not, were we hurt by someone who was misguided? Did that person’s parent try their best to guide them according to the bible and commandments?

prac·tice

1.
the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
“the principles and practice of teaching”
synonyms: application, exercise, use, operation, implementation, execution More
2.
repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
“it must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent”
synonyms: training, rehearsal, repetition, preparation; More
verb
1.
perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency

No matter which definition you look at they all carry the same message: the repeated application of an idea with the goal of improving or maintaining our proficiency. Parenting takes practice. Heck, being a human takes practice. It will til our last day. We need to make peace with that and accept the fact that we are always practicing at life and at parenting.

train·ing

the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.

synonyms: instruction, teaching, coaching, tuition, tutoring, guidance, schooling, education, orientation

I love that synonyms like coaching, tutoring and guidance are listed! I can’t recall many times that a math tutor showed up and started barking orders at the student! Tutors usually sit next to the student and guide them in figuring out math problems. This is often done in a library – quietly. It is much more effective to whisper a lesson than to yell it over and over again. Ever notice how kids don’t want to pay attention to you until you are sitting down quietly, ready to relax?! It is hard to avoid stress when dealing with children on a daily basis…..be kind to yourself as well. Remember the previous definition was PRACTICE! This takes practice.

That being said, sometimes we do have to “guide” our children with a little more force than we would like to.

Correction and Protection (link here)

A shepherd carries a rod and a staff, which he uses in different ways for different reasons. The rod is just a big, long stick with a little knob or bud at the top of it. A staff has more of a hook at the end of it.
The shepherd will practice endlessly so that he’ll be able to accurately chuck that rod at a predator or even at an unruly sheep to keep it in line. Sometimes an animal will wander off too far from the others. The staff is used to hook a wayward sheep and lead it back into the fold. At other times, it’s used as an examining tool to check the animals for parasites or other ailments.

The Holy Spirit sometimes has to use a rod of correction on us, doesn’t He? And it’s good to know that whenever we lose our way, He will use His staff to lovingly and gently guide us back onto the right path. -Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

 

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I Hope My Kids Get Hurt

For those of you reading because you thought, “WHAT kind of mom could possibly WANT her children to get HURT?” Welcome and thank you for joining in on the conversation. 🙂

I promise I don’t abuse my kids or support dictator type parenting styles. I am not some sick mom who doesn’t worry about my kids and what they will come across in this harsh world. In fact, I think I am a good mom for wanting my kids to get hurt. Let me explain.

Through my own struggles, I have come to a season in my own life where I am learning to use those struggles as strengths. And how fitting that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, because I am actually very thankful for my trials. Let me rephrase that. I am very thankful for a loving God who has pulled me up out of those trials and blessed me tremendously with people that are willing to be broken with me.

The abusive relationships (both physically and mentally), the unfaithful partners, the back stabbing friends, the loneliness, the divorce, the tragic events, the hurt, the alcohol, the money spending addiction, the postpartum depression, the anxiety attacks, the constant moving, the blended families, the loss, the untrustworthy doctors…..all of it. I’m thankful for all of it.

Ok, now maybe you may trust that I don’t abuse my kids but are thinking I must be a special kind of crazy to be THANKFUL for all of this hurt!

Guys, how on EARTH would I be able to describe to unbelievers how amazing my God is without relating to them in their deepest hurt, looking into their teary eyes and telling them that I serve a loving and forgiving God? A God who shows grace and forgives us even when we don’t feel like we deserve it. A God who is always with us even when we think we are completely alone in this world. A God who loves us no matter how badly we have screwed up. A God who brings good out of EVERYTHING.

Do I WANT to watch my kids cry or panic or feel lost? Absolutely not!! But I desperately want them to feel the deepest kind of love I have ever felt in my entire life and that love comes from God. The One who sees us through EVERY hurt. I am only human as a mother, and I can’t be everywhere. I can, however, bring my children to the lap of a God who CAN. The greatest gift I could ever give to them is the gift of salvation and the feeling of knowing that someone who loves them is with them EVERY second of EVERY day.

file-nov-23-11-00-39-am

I used to consider myself a person of controlled emotion. I never showed emotion in front of anyone and was seen as the girl who could handle anything and have a stable reaction. I RARELY got angry or acted out. Although, that may have seemed ideal growing up, I know better now. Humans were not created to be strong. They were created with emotions; each one serving a purpose. We are not capable of holding it all in. We will explode.

Feeling emotions is very healthy! I just love seeing people express emotions. Hugging, crying, smiling, laughing. I am still working on showing these but I sure am learning the value in sharing these with those I love. Even when I’m hurt, I pray that my children never have to wonder how I’m feeling, how I feel towards them, how I feel about strangers or how I feel towards God. ❤

God’s Grace and Direction in a Time of Great Sadness

There are thousands of “my ex did me wrong” stories out there, but this one is different. This one ends with God’s grace and direction. Please join me in my first attempt at telling this story in text.

I’ll skip over our relationship and why it didn’t work out. I’ll even spare you the details of the aftermath, disagreements and court battles. This story begins in July of 2014, when our daughter was halfway through her 4th year of life. Her precious and fragile 4th year. She was on an overnight visit with her dad and his girlfriend over the summer and everything seemed to be going fine. I am a mother and always have anxieties while my children are out of my care, but things seemed to be going OK.

Until……

I woke up early one morning to NINE missed calls from the local POLICE! Thoughts immediately started racing through my head. I was wondering if my sister and her husband were OK. Was it my mom or dad? Please tell me no one got in a car accident! For some reason, I just trusted that my daughter was OK with her dad because if she wasn’t, her dad would have called me!

I can’t even tell you what the voicemail from the Police said except, “we have made sure your daughter is taken care of and you can call us back to come pick her up.” WHAT?!?!? OMG omg omg. It took several phone calls, a bunch of panic and some adrenaline driven actions to figure out where she was and how to get to her.

Of course, at the Cops attempt to keep me calm, they gave me a pretty watered down version of the story and assured me everything was OK. They told me that her dad had attempted to hang himself (before being cut down by his girlfriend that just happened to show up at the right time) and that he was recovering at the local hospital.They assured me that my daughter was asleep for the whole thing. She was in the care of his girlfriend at their house.

You guys, I can’t even explain the following weeks very well because it all turned into a blur of sleepless nights, nightmares (for both her and I), tons of phone calls, counseling sessions, lots of investigating on my part and a large number of prayers. As time went on, I learned through my poor little girl’s counseling sessions that she had seen the whole thing. I also learned that there was domestic violence involved, lots of alcohol and physical force from the cops that was needed to resolve this case. All the while, I was being told that she was asleep and didn’t see a thing.

For a mother to learn that her precious 4 year old daughter not only witnessed such a horrific event, but potentially could have been left alone out in the middle of the country with no one to care for her and no idea how to get a hold of anyone (had her dad succeeded in his attempt) just totally dropped me to my knees. I think you can imagine the feelings I was having about myself as a mother. Guilt and helplessness being among the top contenders!

Fast forward through short supervised visitations with her dad, his time away recovering in a hospital and plenty of court sessions and phone calls……we came down to the day that would change everything. After a 9 month battle in court, I pulled up to the courthouse parking lot preparing myself to walk in and have a judge tell me what would be happening moving forward. I had no control over the situation. I was at a place of no feeling. No tears, no anger, no arguments, no nothing. I felt like I was floating in space, no connection to anyone or anything. Just there…..floating. I was terrified when the judge gave us his ruling. Her dad had earned back every other weekend visitation including overnights!!!!

Needless to say, the next year or so was a very rough road. It was full of potty accidents, emotional roller coasters, night terrors and a very unknown dark time for me. I continued to pray, because I knew God was the ONLY ONE who could pull us out of this. Can I also tell you that her grandpa (her dad’s dad) passed away just 5 short months after the suicide attempt, throwing her dad into an even deeper spiral and adding to my daughter’s sadness and confusion.

Where is the grace and direction in this story? It appeared out of nowhere, just like God loves to do. It was May, 2 years later……things had been going fairly decent with her visits and we had finally made some progress on her emotional healing. However, this harsh and relentless world wasn’t done with us yet. My husband was laid off at his 10 year career and we were about to lose everything. GOD didn’t stop there either! He gave us a phone call that would change everything! Family in North Carolina wanted us to move near them so they could help us out! They had a job, house, everything. (I need to write a post about that blessing of a move too!) We would be moving from Colorado all the way to North Carolina.

Problem is: how will my daughter see her dad? How will he react? Will he approve of the move? Will we be able to get through court before we have to move? Everything was back to the place of the unknown! Me floating in space again. I made the very hard call to her father and to my surprise he approved of the move. WOW. Of course, we didn’t agree on visitation or any of the details and if we wanted the judge to decide it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before we reached a decision, meaning my daughter and I would have to stay back while the rest of our family moved on.

God spoke to me and instructed me to show grace as he has shown us and to have a sit down lunch with her dad with a plan to work things out. This was a long shot. We hadn’t agreed on anything other than the fact that we both loved our daughter up until that point. Do you want to know how that lunch ended? We came up with a full agreement, signed papers and he even bought my lunch! Now if that isn’t God, I don’t know what is. In that moment I learned that when we are in our times of most uncertainty, we need only turn to God and react how He would. God is a God of forgiveness, grace, second chances, love, kindness, selfless acts and transparency. He is a God who heals broken hearts and reacts out of love, NO MATTER the situation!!

As of today, her dad has plans to travel across the country in January and attend a father-daughter dance for her girl scouts. When I tell this story to people or they were there in the thick of it, they don’t understand my actions. They don’t understand my trust or forgiveness or how much I “allow” him to see our daughter. Truth of the matter is: she is not my daughter, she is God’s child. I have been given the honor of caring for her on this Earth and I will try with everything I have to care for her like God would.

 

 

Feedback Friday: Extrovert or Introvert?

I really want to hear more from and learn from you guys! So now I want to dedicate Fridays to “Feedback Friday” where I will be bringing a question or topic for you guys to comment on 🙂
Let’s start with : Do you consider yourself to be an extrovert or introvert? What challenges do you come across, being this personality type?
I am an introvert! I find that, although, I do like to go to gatherings and be around people from time to time- it takes a lot of time to recover from such things! This may seem silly, but it takes me a week or so of having lots of quiet time in order to get my energy back after attending an event with lots of people (or any people at all 😜).
Tell me about you now!
(You can find a fun quiz to do here! http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1311)

When the number of years you’ve lived and the number of houses you’ve lived in are the same.

I’ll start with my high school writing assignments. You know the very memorable ones you keep in scrapbooks? The ones that ask you to collect memories, traditions, family trees etc and compile them into one big beautiful portfolio of your life up until that point? Those ones.

Some of the assignments were easy for me and I loved them! Especially the ones about personality, hobbies or dreams. I have always had an interest in what makes people different, and still love it! The assignments I had trouble with, however, were the ones about memories. The ones where you had to pick your favorite family tradition or describe the home you grew up in. I struggled with these because, like the title suggests, I didn’t feel like I had that.

Now- this isn’t pity party time where I tell you about how awful my upbringing was. I had many wonderful things about my childhood, including but not limited to the times my sister and I would jump and play on big round hay bails til the sun went down, or the walks we would take with my grandma down back country roads to collect pop cans. I also have memories of going with my dad to work for 3 weeks on “the big truck” all across the country, eating at the buffets and taking pictures of all the beautiful places we visited. I’ll never forget how good my mom was at stuffing stockings! In fact, there aren’t many big presents I even remember but I remember almost every stocking I ever opened!

The part I felt I missed out on, was growing up in one house where all of these wonderful memories took place under one roof with the same close family members and close friends. I was envious of the fact that many of my friends got to experience both parents under the same roof (my parents separated when I was in 7th grade). I would watch as a friend from school would move and just be totally taken over with emotions of missing their house, neighbors, school and friends. I didn’t understand it. Moving came easy to me. It was like it was just another thing you do along with eating, drinking and going to school everyday. I became so used to moving, that I put up a wall towards people and they became acquaintances to me instead of close friends. I was simply preparing for the next move.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I came to see how this effected me. Because for the first time, I experienced an outpouring of sincerely uncontrollable happy emotions towards another person. I felt what it was like to be so close to someone that you would do anything for them. What hurt my kids, hurt me. What made them happy, made me tear up out of happiness for them.On the other hand, I saw what my mom saw when she looked at us kids. I experienced the feeling of not knowing the best way to raise them. I felt what it was like to have to make tough decisions even if my kids didn’t understand it. I had to go through tough circumstances that I hoped my young kids would never remember. I felt the feeling of comparing myself to other moms and wondering if I was doing a good enough job. For the first time, I understood my mom.

It was during our cross country move from Colorado to North Carolina this past summer, with my (mostly) happy little family of 5, that I saw my craving for a “home” burst wide open into a tangible dream! It took heartache, lots of it, to get to this point of making such a large move but I couldn’t be more thankful. The most ironic part of the whole thing is that because of this move, my husband and I are far away from anything we have ever known and away from 90% of our family. I have learned many, many things about myself during this journey (and it’s just beginning!)

Things I have learned:

Watching my husband get to spend time with his dad (his parents divorced when he was around Kindergarten age), is top 5 most amazing and humbling things I think I have ever experienced! My heart just explodes with happiness each time I get to see their relationship blossom again after 20 years!

Although, moving all of the time was hard, it also allowed me to experience many different places and types of people. I consider myself a very open person because of this. I don’t see skin color, political views, sexual preferences or circumstances when I see people. I see the person for who they are- a broken person doing their best- just like the rest of us!

Being alone and away from family is extremely hard but teaches you so much about yourself! It has also taught me that being apart does not make you distant, it makes you closer! I am far closer to my friends from CO and to my mother specifically since our move, than I ever was when I had them living down the street.

Making a choice to put your own spouse and kids in front of your sibllings, parents and extended family is a choice to break generational patterns. It is when you start over in a new place and are left with no choice but to be close to the people under your own roof, that you start to see the value in those relationships!

The past has no control over you when you choose to leave it behind and focus on the present. Maybe there were too many memories there? Maybe it was feeling like I was stuck in an ever revolving door of circumstances presenting themselves over and over again just with different faces on them. Maybe it was being too close to grudges I’ve held a large portion of my life. Whatever the reason, getting away from my past and starting over one last time was enough to ignite a flame inside of me that won’t easily be distinguished!

Finally, I learned that God is the author of our stories and whatever plans we think we have for our lives are no match for the plan God has already set aside for us. Just when we start to feel absolutely hopeless, he shows up and makes good out of it. He gives us hope!

 

 

What Freedom Really Looks Like

Following a weekend of celebrating the brave Veterans of our country, it only seems fitting to really reflect on the idea of FREEDOM.

I had a question to ask myself this morning and it was this: If we live in a FREE country and we serve a FREE God, why do we feel so UN-free? Imprisoned, hopeless, inferior, guilty, shameful, suffocated, and overwhelmed were some common themes that seemed to come to mind when I think of a lot of Americans these days.

After talking with God on my morning walk, he left me with this……Every negative feeling we feel can be traced back to one of our needs not being met.

I narrowed it down to 5 needs we must have met to be as successful as we can be here on Earth:

  • Survival (water, food, shelter etc)
  • Faith (something greater than us, quiet time)
  • Love/Relationships (significant other, family, friends)
  • Self Esteem (confidence, self worth)
  • Personality (interests, hobbies, fun)

God also clearly defined for me 3 ways in which we react when our needs are not met or are met poorly.

  • Emotional Reaction (anger, sadness, jealousy, greed, selfishness etc)
  • Put up a wall/Shut Down
  • Find a vice/Numbness

Thank you Lord for this clarity! If I can sit down at the table with God (as people do when they cherish a relationship) and just have coffee with him and bring him my hurts, I believe I can put it in one of the 5 categories of unmet needs and hopefully identify how I am trying to meet it with the 3 reactions. So you may think, although this list is interesting, what do I do once I’ve figured all of this out? How do I fix it? How do I get closer to feeling FREE?!

Through my own recent experiences, and a few little whispers from God, I’m thinking some answers may lie in the fruits of the spirit! Hang in there for a second while I try to make this connection for you. If we root ourselves in the holy spirit- we will bear the fruits of the spirit which include:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness and
  • self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I have had times through my suffering, though, where I don’t know how to “root myself in the holy spirit,” know how to hear from God or wonder why he’s not answering. I’m learning that when I’m in that moment, if I turn to one of these fruits and try to apply them to the situation……that I start to receive answers! And blessings on top of that!

If I choose to treat other people (especially those who have hurt me) with love, patience, kindness, self control……(insert any of the above)…..I start to see it cycle back around to me and I start to hear God’s whispers again! I feel like sometimes I just need some concrete steps I can take to give myself a little bit of relief instead of always relying on this huge overwhelming idea that there is a God up there listening and then trying to figure out how to hear him, when my physical eyes and ears try to test me. Am I right? This is me, being totally raw with you guys. I can’t pretend like it’s 100% easy to be a Christian all the time. Our flesh and just the nature of being human, sure do love to test us and make us ask questions! I believe God wants us to experience FREEDOM in such a way that we can be open and transparent with our friends and love God and grow in him together! I pray you are able to feel some relief and experience true FREEDOM through some of these strategies I’ve been trying lately!