Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hurting Hearts

I am sitting on the love seat, typing by lamplight, for the other end of the living room is dark and holds a sick, sleeping little girl.  She's been throwing up since this morning and has finally relaxed enough to sleep a bit.  I should have had a clue when I found her on the couch this morning, fully dressed, laying down with her blanket, just wanting to sleep.  Why I didn't go get "the bowl" at that point, I don't know--guess that's what I get for trying to think positively.

I don't think there is much of anything that makes my heart hurt more than when one of my children is sick or hurting.  And when that sickness also results in plans changing--plans that include the Harlem Globetrotters and much anticipated excitement--it makes me want to cry.  I just want a "mommy magic wand" to wave over them and make it all better.

I guess God knew what He was doing when he gave mommies such sensitive hearts.  After all, it's these hearts that instinctively know something is wrong without a word spoken, just by the looks on their faces.  It's these hearts that make us want to don a cape and save the world, just for the sake of our sweet babies.  And it's these hearts that will do it all over again tomorrow because we love them so stinkin' much.

But sometimes it hurts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Love the Lord Your God

One morning this week, my devotion for the day was centered around Deuteronomy 6.5-9.  If ever there was a passage of scripture to guide our lives as Christians and as parents, this is it.  I wrote the passage in my journal, making some notes for each part of the passage, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength..."  I am to love the Lord with everything I have and everything I do.  My walk must look the same as my talk.

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts..."  I have to commit God's commands to my heart and mind before I can pass them on to my children.  I can't give what I don't already have.

"Impress them on your children..."  After I have filled myself, I am to pour that out onto my children so that they can know God's commands.

"Talk about them when you sit at home..."  Include God and his desires for our lives when we do school, when we read books, when we do chores, when we live life.

"...when you walk along the road..."  Continue that dialog when we are out and about in daily life, making sure it is reflected in all aspects of life, including in our talk and in the music we listen to.

"...when you lie down and when you get up..."  Start and end your day with prayer, scripture reading and conversation about God and his involvement in our life.

"Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..."  Post scripture in prominent places so that is ever before us all day every day. 

I loved what the footnote had to say in my Bible on this passage:
"The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life.  The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented.  The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses.  If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences.  You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related."
One of my favorite things about home schooling our children is that God is central in EVERYTHING we do (not that God can't be central to your life if you are not home schooling, but God gets to be a major part of our education here at home, and that is unfortunately not the case in public schools).  We start our school day in prayer, then in reading the Bible story for the day and discussing what it tells us about God and what we can learn from it, and then we work on our memory verse for the week.  I am blessed beyond belief when I sit down each day with my children both to teach them as well as to learn right alongside them.

Our faith in God must be an all day, everyday kind of thing, not just a Sunday morning thing.

What do you do to make your faith an integral part of life?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Progress

I know I've made progress as a mother when I can look up, see a reflection of my daughter in the glass, notice that her face is buried in her bowl that formerly held veggies and ranch dip--and just smile.  For I immediately know what she's doing--she's finished the veggies and is now literally licking the bowl clean.  She loves ranch dip--after all, it's made with sour cream, and she could sit down with a carton of sour cream and a spoon and go to town.  Gross, I know.  But she loves it.

Back to progressing as a mother...there was a time that I would have immediately jumped up, told her that licking a bowl is not using her manners, and asked her to please stop.  After all, licking a bowl is NOT using your manners.  But in the grand scheme of life, is that really a big deal?  I mean, really--have YOU ever licked a bowl clean because it held one of your favorite things and you had to get every last bit of whatever?  I'm sure I have, especially if it held chocolate or something else ooey, gooey and sweet.  Was she hurting anyone or risking injury to herself?  No, not at all.  Was she really cute when she came to me with her bowl in her hand and had ranch dip from the bridge of her nose to the tip of her chin?  You better believe it!! :)

My type A self has learned a lot on this journey of motherhood.  I'm far from perfect, but I'd like to think I'm in a better place than I was when I began.  Life is too short to stress over the little things.  There are bigger battles that are more worthy of my time and energy than the little piddly things, like licking a bowl clean when no one is around to be offended.  I try to say yes to my kids as often as I can (I don't mean to unsafe or otherwise detrimental things--I mean to the questions of "can I paint on the easel?" or "can I play in the bathtub" or questions of those sorts), especially when saying no is self-centered and focused on MY desires rather than on the desires of my children to simply have fun and enjoy life.

It's amazing what God can teach us through our children if we'll just stop and pay attention.  And it's amazing how much more fun we can have each day if we'll just stop and let our children take the lead!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Simplified Christmas

Receiving this book for my birthday last summer started me on a journey to simplify and declutter our home and our lives.  I will be telling you more about this journey as we go along, but I've been spending some time reflecting (isn't that what new years are for?) on some things I did this past Christmas season that proved helpful in simplifying what is a very busy time of year.  Here are a few things I did:
  • No gifts under the tree:  After reading this suggestion on a blog I enjoy, I decided to not put gifts under the Christmas tree until the night before they would be opened.  My hope was that it would be easier for all of us, but especially my children, to stay focused on the reason we celebrate Christmas and not just on the gifts we would be receiving.  Having the gifts there for days, even weeks on end, is pure torture for my gift-loving children.  Not having them there, however, worked wonderfully--I plan to continue doing this in years to come.
  • No cards until after the New Year:  In years past, I have added "send Christmas cards and letter" to my ever-growing list of things to do during that crazy busy time leading up to Christmas Day.  It usually just adds stress, and I don't enjoy the process like I want to (I like adding personal notes to my cards/letters rather than mailing them straight off the printer).  This year, with no guilt attached, I chose to see how things went and do it when I had time--which ended up not being until after Jan. 1.  I am preparing to send them out this week and hope our friends and family will enjoy receiving our New Year's greetings!
  • No guilt over gift sacks instead of wrapping and bow: If I had all the time in the world, all of the gifts I give would be boxed, gift wrapped, and tied with a fluffy, perfectly coordinating bow.  Guess what?  I don't have all the time in the world!  When it came time to wrap gifts for whatever holiday gathering we were attending, if I had the time, I wrapped the gifts and topped them off with bows.  If I didn't have the time, I chose gift sacks for the gifts and did not let myself feel guilty for doing so.  It didn't seem to dampen the spirits of those receiving the gifts, either!
  • No "obligation" decorations:  Our family hosts an open house (we live in a parsonage) the first Sunday of every December for our congregation.  In years past, I always put pressure on myself to 1) put out ALL of my decorations, with no regard to whether I loved them or not; and 2) to put decorations in every room of our home, because you just never knew who was going to wander back into the master bathroom and be appalled to find there were no Christmas decorations in it!  I changed my tune this year.  First of all, I only put out the decorations that I wanted to and that I LOVE.  If it wasn't one of my favorites or had no significant meaning to our family, it ended up in a box that will soon be taken to our local crisis center.  Secondly, I allowed myself to be free to decorate where I wanted to and not decorate where I didn't want to.
  • No procrastination on thank yous:  This was one of the best things I did for myself this year.  In year's past, I began keeping a list of gifts received when the holiday season began.  Being a pastor's family and being a part of a kind, generous congregation, we are blessed with many gifts throughout the holiday season.  In my free time (you know how much of that there is during Christmas), I would sit down to a long list of gifts received and write the thank you notes.  I am a stickler for sending thank yous, so I would never consider skipping it, but it was such a chore and so daunting to sit down to that long list.  So this year, I purposed to write the thank you note THE DAY we received the gift.  (I usually did not mail it for a day or two--I don't want it to be completely apparent how Type A I am!)  The most I ever wrote in one day was two or three, and never did I feel like it was a burden to write them.  Why didn't I think of this before now??  This will be my mode of operation from now on!  The only thing I didn't do was require this of my kids--I just made a list of their gifts, and we've been working on them now that we are back at school.  Next year, they will be writing their thank yous the day they receive their gifts as well.  That will make it easier on all of us!
Do you have a favorite tip for simplifying the Christmas season?

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Look

New year, new look.  Simple.  Goes right along with my recent journey to simplify and declutter.  More on that soon!

Happy New Year!