THE DREADED CURSE WORD

Many of you have heard the dreaded curse word “strong-willed” child. I am not sure when “strong-willed” became a societal curse word right along with its counter part the “terrible 2’s” (although this latter “buzz” word is one of which I would vehemently argue against, I’ll save that for another blog). Unfortunately, these two “flaws” became a reflection that rested solely on the parent. I find it kind of funny how when I was a young adult, I had this idea in my head on how I would parent and the things I would never let my child say and do. Spanking would be my #1 go to because you gotta keep those babes in line. Then, I had kids…

I am not sure where the idea birthed that parenting was about submission and the goal a compliant child, but there I stood in this awkward position with a war of the mind and wills playing out between me and this once sweet child. If the goal of parenting wasn’t a mindless compliant child for fear of pain, how would I begin to bridge the gap of wanting my kids to set about choosing to “mind”? And also allowing them to feel empowered by the freedom of choice with room to make the wrong choices? While pondering how to play connect the dots externally, I was also dealing with a budding young girl full of life, love, and strength, I soon began realizing that the connection had to be made internally. The power to crush her spirit was in the palm of my hands. It all boiled down to relationship. Am I valuing relationship with this ferocious 4 year old or am I all about the end result? Sadly, many times I wanted the end result, a pious, pleasant 3 year old of which her rightful psychological immaturity didn’t interfere (I hope you are laughing if you see any self reflection in these words).

A perfect picture began to emerge of the Father’s love for His children. His gentle ways are all about relationship and not about the end result (although the end result is certainly a goal). It’s about the personal relationship we have with God. If not, all we would have left would be automation droids just completing “goodly” tasks and never basking in the love of the Father for us personally, uniquely, and us individually loving Him back. No personal choice.

So I say: “don’t fret momma,” if you have a stubborn, strong-willed child in your toting care. You have the makings of something or should I say, someone great. As a side result, stats and case studies show these children grow to be the brains of many an operation; from doctors to lawyers and company CEO’s, they are go-getters and self- motivators with the fervency to make more money and accomplish more than the rest of their peers in general.

I would love to say I have the perfect formula for success, but what I can share is the journey we have been walking through, what has been working for us and our vivacious now almost 6-year-old. When we were wandering through the earlier years with her she had this sweet-kindness exuding from her. She was quite a talker and rather intelligent by her doctor’s standards. However, when her sweet baby brother arrived that sweetness kind of took a nose-dive and never quite seemed to recover. It was almost an overnight process and we were like: “what happened to our sweet baby?” Can anyone relate? We muddled through with many tactics which ended up blowing up in our faces, again and again, but we knew we would be given wisdom to parent this child productively. So we pressed in, asking God for wisdom. She seemed to be set off in emotional mini-explosions with little provocation. Lashing out in anger became her go-to response beginning with hitting and graduating to incessant mouthiness and back talk. We did room time, chair time, explaining via talk time, spanking time, negotiating time. But the real issue for her ended up being a mix of relational mind engagement. Only one tact could not stand alone, rightfully so, as we are dynamic beings should expect the need to adopt more dynamic parenting. We noticed when these needs were met, she began to blossom. Her song returned, her joy, her peace even. We’re still a work in progress, but drastic, positive change has come. Some of our big helpers were Positive Parenting Solutions (an online parenting series) and the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, coupled with being sensitive to what we felt God was saying during these months and years.

To summarize: Building relationship had to be front and center. This created a trickle-down effect, not only impacting the tone we speak to her, but how we responded or didn’t respond to her antics. Proving she is unconditionally loved in all circumstances. Obviously we are not perfect in this area as we still have tough days; days we need to ask our kids to forgive us for our bad attitudes and outbursts (even in that it is just another teaching tool for them and humbling tool for us). We often question our motivations for why we say “no” to her or why we respond the way we do. Fulfilling the need to spend that one-on-one time with her individually as parents (each child, if possible) daily. It doesn’t need to be a long time, just a time where we are fully engaged in what she is about and wants to do. Also, acknowledging her feelings in all things is a must. Whether she is angry, sad, offended, and even disagreeable. She needed to feel heard and powerful in her own right. Never underestimate the power of choice. But as with all choices in life their are always consequences, either for good or bad. So immediate consequences we initiated (trying to make them applicable to the offense at hand) for offending attitudes or actions. In addition, teaching her that her feelings are not wrong, but sometimes her choices from those feelings needed adjustment (I’m sure I will get to that on a later blog).

Mind engagement has also been pivotal in this journey. Daily cerebral challenges expanded her energies in new ways that also filled her love tank by way of accomplishments and “atta-boys”. So we set up shop and I bought some easy Pre-K books filled with fun and color (from BJ’s Wholesale of all places) and began an amazing journey for her at an early age to put her mind at work. She really began to thrive under the attention and activity.

In conclusion, If you have been one of those parents stuck with ‘the dreaded curse word’. I encourage you mom, dad, and caregiver alike. Let’s imagine that “strong-willed” may be a very gift from God, not only to the child, but also to you as the parent and eventually to the world in his or her future spheres of influence. Allow it to mold and expand you. Allow their Spirit to flourish and not lawfully crush their heart. Watch communication unfold before you as you willingly allow a paradigm shift to transform your parenting style as you walk with Father on this new journey. Ask Him about your unique child. He has a way for them. He has a way for you. I could not imagine a world without strong wills. After all, who could be a Christ follower without one? We are learning right along with you so here’s to enjoying the journey.

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Cultivating Vinyards

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I wanna leave a legacy plain and simple. Have you ever thought about legacy leaving? Ruminating on this lately as I have so often in the past years especially since having children. My thoughts run to not only what I am leaving the world but what am I leaving my children. Though I am sure with some fresh perspective from the global phenomenon currently having us all questioning parts of our lives. I was a bit floored when I looked up a current definition of the word legacy. Because we so often associate legacy with money. But is that REALLY what legacy was supposed to be about? Yes currency is definitely included under that umbrella. Here is the definition I found online. “An amount of money or property left to someone in a will.” My first thought was ‘this isn’t right’… So I decided to look up an elder dictionary (Merriam Webster dates back to the 1800’s and holds a better clue at the origination of the term.) The definition is as follows, “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”.. BINGO. So the question now becomes what am I transmitting and what will my family (or others) be receiving from my life (besides wealth or lack of). Am I currently transmitting what I long to leave for a legacy? The song comes to me with the lines ‘I wanna leave a legacy, how will they remember me.”… but I am going to venture to say it’s not about being remembered but its about what I have left behind in working order. To leave a legacy one must BUILD a legacy. What am I currently building? And I am not talking houses, I am talking fruits of the Spirit (Am I leaving a legacy of peace, love, joy…etc). I am talking strength (positive perseverance through the tough stuff of life). I am talking Godly mindsets and passion for people and life. I am taking cultivating tools to face the stuff of life. Cultivating tools to rest in His arms and hear His voice. Cultivating tools of how to have a relationship with Father God. Things that will serve people for generations. Or am I leaving a legacy of anxiety, fear, anger, business, complaining, hurt, uncompleted-ness, unforgiveness, being a victim, or rejection (you know, that ‘like father like son stuff’ that we have often times accepted as our personality). We can leave behind ruins of wild grapes or a working order vineyard. I want to leave a place where my children and theirs can forever reap. A stomping ground of peace and safety where His Spirit and whats of His Kingdom can flourish in the hearts and minds of our family’s for generations to come. I don’t want to pass on the business of life or just great provision for their future monetarily. I want to see abundance and fruit. I want to pave the way for their healing and freedom by experiencing that myself with Father.

In that day,
“A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!
I, the Lord, am its keeper;
every moment I water it.
Lest anyone punish it,
I keep it night and day; I have no wrath.
Would that I had thorns and briers to battle!
I would march against them,
I would burn them up together.
Or let them lay hold of my protection,
let them make peace with me,
let them make peace with me.”

In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.” Isaiah 27: 2-6

Have you ever mused about leaving a legacy? Where do you feel you are at in that process? Have you evaluated what you are actually in process of leaving? How do you feel about that? Is it what you envision? Drop me a note and tell me your thoughts. For more vineyard insight check out Isaiah 5 and happy plowing.

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Leading with Love

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My days seem to be filled with a rambunctious house. 3 sets of little feet scampering about at any given time day or night can have me seeking out rest for my heart, mind and ears. An alone place to just soak in the well of quiet waters. When that place isn’t ever before us, because let’s face it life gets BUSY with the rigors of tending to little people. If I am not careful I can feel the strain of that business on my attitude. There just isn’t’ time in a day for me to have my own little mommy melts and recovery. So how do I lead with love in a what seems to be ‘less than’ environment. When a little face surrounds my bed before 6AM and I’ve already been up several times in the night with my other 2 littles, how can I lead with love. Lead her back to her room without power struggles or brute force, without whimpering and whining?

I have had a few years in parenthood 101 so at least I have gotten to learn a few lessons. Seemingly unimportant, but those little things sure become big things when you’re going on 5 hours of sleep. I have always been kind of a direct person but unfortunately not everyone responds well to direct directives esp at 6AM and especially when you are dealing with a wonderfully strong willed child. So, the phrase ‘go to bed’ doesn’t bare as much fruit as I would want, neither does my irritation. Irritation towards a 5 year old only surfaces rejection and then a slew of rough reactions that my weary self is not fortified to handle when I am not at my best. I have found at such a moment that leading with love has changed the reaction from rejection to loving obedience. Sweet an Spicy girl comes in at 5 or 6AM and I have a loving choice to make. I open my arms and embrace her. She hangs her head in my arms. We say nothing but I rub her back and kiss her head for a min. Then I whisper that it is Very Early and direct her to go snuggle in her bed. And she actually listens, no questions asked. No word, no rebuttal, no power struggle, no anger, no whining. A simple act on my part refreshed my morning and strengthened a mommy daughter relationship.

Grabbing this principal and pulling it into every day usefulness is often the task at hand. A simple ‘well duh’ moment that pours the fruit of goodness over my family in an instant. So, how does one react without irritation during the long days of relentless mommyhood with littles scampering about? Think of the simple phrase ‘lead with love’… and ask yourself how can I lead with love in this moment… the moment my child is banging his cereal bowl with silverware singing loudly (currently) one could be inclined to a gut reaction in the midst of cleaning, cooking breakfast for everyone else, and writing a blog post (ahem)… but instead I walk over sing with him briefly (so I’ve got his attention that I AM WITH HIM AND I AM NOT REJECTING HIM) then I ask him (as I stare into his cereal bowl) ‘are those nuts in there?’. ‘Yum Yum, are you going to eat that?’. A quick simple redirect of a 2 year old and as I walk away my dining room is happy smiley and I can hear the giggles as he talks with my 5 year old as he finishes his food. Well, maybe you say ‘what’s wrong with clanging a cereal bowl.’ But for my 2 year old boy, the banging of the cereal bowl usually is followed by food smearing. And when this can happen at every meal…well you could see how one may choose irritation vs a ‘leading with love’ redirect.

Mommyhood isn’t for the faint of heart. Keep stepping forward mommy. Wield

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the weapons you can for a peaceful home. We have more power over chaos then we know.  Remember the few weapons you already have in your power. You may not win every battle but the war is won one battle at a time. And you are victorious.

Redirect and Lead with Love.

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The Quietness of This Resurrected Life

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Wild stories of miracle healings, great adventurous exploits,  mountains turned into molehills overnight. I have often found myself longing for wild adventurous God moments with wild healings and extravagant miracles…often times my mind tends to want to see them with great explosive fireworks. But, in truth most of the miracles I’ve seen have been worked out of the mundane, the everyday stick-to-itiveness of life. They have quietly come in and the day has quietly passed by. At times I have wanted to take a bull horn and exclaim ‘have you seen what my God has just done’. But, often it is easily washed over by on-lookers and quietly fades by.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

In Quietness and lowliness the Man who forever changed the Religious atmosphere to a relational landscape was born. The Saviour of the World had come. No pomp and circumstance. Mary and Joseph had a ‘normal’ delivery in a dirty room. No government officials there, no news crews to document the momentous occasion. He was quietly born, hidden away from even the King. Yet in the quietness of resurrected life a Kingdom grew that has touched and changed all our lives forever. Carrying immense power, ushering in greatness….signs, wonders, miracles, healing, freedom, peace and strength available forever more. That one moment carried all the power of God. Wow…

…and so do all our miracle moments.

Our miracles may not come with pomp and circumstance but they may come quietly. Through the drudgery of a laid down life. Through the ordinary day of doing dishes, cleaning after children, reading books and sipping coffee. A normal girl like me walking through the pain of an arthritic spine and scoliosis  wakes up one day realizing the pain is gone. But, when did it leave? did I even notice? Walking in the throws of severe endometriosis; polyps and cysts, without a real chance to have a child of my own…with several losses. But, my own, it came silently, and I awake to the miracle inside and quietly grope my way through the 9 months of joy mixed with fear. 2 pregnancies with placenta previa that completely shift and move for a normal pregnancy and delivery. My first child born with developmental hip dysplasia and the promise of many months if not years in a harness or operations, therapy and pain…suddenly quietly healed to the shock of many doctors. Though these grand things have happened we still walked each day out at home alone doing dishes, going to school, working, sleeping, sweeping floors, feeding family,  quietly working to be obedient in mind, word and deed. Buffeting our bodies and renewing our minds. A laid down life moment by moment to the one who calls us ‘more than conquerors’.

So if you are feeling consumed in the monotony of life, praise God you have the makings of a miracle life. I am not special to have experienced the quietness of His mighty hand and you are not too small for His powerful call. A fulfilled promise may come quietly… keep stepping one foot in front of the other.  Set yourself to trust, listen and watch His mighty promises consume you.

 

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,  nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst … Luke 17:21

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A Word From Heaven

Each of our children has had their own miraculous story of wonder before they were yet born…or even conceived. And after struggling for years with infertility Its been on my heart to share our Words from Heaven and their unique stories. Through many dreams and Words from those who didn’t’ know us our sweet children were born. With Provvidenza, a year before she was a glimmer in our lives my husband came home from work one day and said ‘This is the name of our little girl’…So when we were pregnant we just knew it was our little girl. The funny thing is, I always remember wanting a boy first but just before becoming pregnant with her I had just had this ‘moment’ is all I can describe it as and knew a little girl would bring me such healing. To see her grow and bloom with a loving family- I knew would heal my heart from childhood.

My sweet Liam, early in pregnancy I saw in a dream. My mother was holding a little boy, ‘Liam Ephraim’ … I knew we were having a boy and that was to be his name.

About 3 months Ago my husband and I had 3 dreams in the course of a week that we were pregnant with our next child. Around the same 20181127_085301.jpgtime my little 4 year old began drawing her common picture of women in dresses but this time
she added a little baby inside. She even told me one day ‘Momma, you got a baby in your belly’. A little over a month later I was feeling well, pregnant… the funny thing is although I had been gunning for more children in the near future Jamie didn’t share my enthusiasm yet. So it wasn’t the focus of our lives at this point and as we took the pregnancy test together I marveled that Jamie was so excited to see the little double lines. I was truly astonished because I thought he would be less then thrilled as every time i had brought it up he20181218_103015.jpg would be quick to shut me down and at times get a little flustered. What he said to me really amazed me. He said about a week and a half ago he had a moment with God and it transformed him. He told God he was good with having more kids if that was His plan.

So here we are once again surprised by His grace on our lives in this area. Feeling the purpose and love over our children. Each one with a unique story, unique calling a unique purposed life sent straight from Heaven and into our lives to enrich, strengthen and brighten… to fill us with the abundance of Heaven.

Are we to think any less for any of our children. They are born with purpose and wonder.

 

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Behind the Veil

seed!Many know our story about the hardship and loss of four babies before we had our two children and the healing of Provvidenza in just the first months of life (read her story here ‘A Thornless Rose’). Although we reap the benefits of Father’s hand in our life and greatly enjoy sharing our stories of God’s deliverance via miracles, restoration, and healing (personally being healed of endometriosis, arthritis of the spine, and sway-back scoliosis with a short right leg- all documented by doctors), I don’t always unveil whats behind the ‘impossible becoming possible’. The fact is that truth is a battlefield. Healing, miracles. and restoration have often been for me/us the effluence of war.

The pressure cookers of life are where the ‘rubber meets the road’ in our Christian walk. It’s where we really need to take a step back and ask ourselves: “Do I really believe what I think I believe?” What are my responses to this pressure revealing what I believe? What am I dwelling on? Am I filled with anxiety, fear, and unrest? What is my internal and external dialogue? This is often a dirty view of our real theology.

Luke 6:45  “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Proverbs 4:23  “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

What is our heart (mouth) full of? Disappointment? Anger? Bitterness? Unbelief? Self-pity? Hurt? Rejection? Complaining?

I can remember the initial diagnosis of arthritis after months of constant pain and the doctor telling me that I needed to take a “pain management course”, hunker down for the long haul, as well as, try out a number of body numbing medications. At a young age of only 24 this seemed ridiculous to me. I was definitely open to the supernatural of God and would have said I believed in healing, but had I ever really seen any personally yet? Would I allow this ‘belief’ to change the outflow of my actions? Would I really start believing what I always said I believed?

I flatly refused the outcome of excepting this diagnosis as permanent and went along with the plan to try some muscle relaxers (until I could barely pick myself out of bed one morning). There I was, left with nothing except this fate.  Or, I could reach for something much higher, beyond myself. This started the journey for me of putting my ‘money where my mouth was’. I turned and chose to march into battle, instead of blind acceptance of the diagnosis. Healing 101: 1) Know the Word, 2) Believe the Word, 3) Internalize the Word until it becomes a part of who we are.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

And that is simply where I started. The Word says this and I’m gonna believe this until He tells me otherwise. So I began to declare His Word over myself daily. I remember laying on the floor in pain and just saying: “God You said, Your word says!” And as I walked this process with Father God, He began to show me the ‘monkey on my back’ so-to-speak. All the weight I had carried since childhood from issues, people’s words, wrongs done to me – I began to let them go. My heart was getting freed up and in the process my body as well, until I went back to the doctor and had my official healthy diagnosis.

Seems simple doesn’t it? It is! But, in truth this whole process took me about two years until the healing came. No more Rheumatologist visits, no more shoe lift – no more. It took a while for the Word to become a part of me and change my belief structures. At first I had to declare His healing over myself 50 times a day until I really started to believe it…believe who He said He was and why He said He came.

This prepped us for the journey to fruitfulness in having children. When the diagnosis came of upper-stage 3 endometriosis, tipped uterus, closed cervix, polyps, and a fibroid cyst to boot, I knew once again the fight was on. Years earlier, we had been approached at church conferences (out of town where no one knew us) by random people that said something was wrong with me and I was supposed to have children. They said God had a family for me. Frankly, I wouldn’t have even visited a doctor based on that alone, except I was getting sicker by the month and I had a dream that I needed to go. (*For more details regarding our family journey from barrenness to fruitfulness, click the link-Our Journey. ) Now, however, we were in the throws of yet another pressure cooker and another choice: Would we believe in what the doctors said or what God said? Deuteronomy 28 became my life verse during those years (*Read more on that here HIS FAVOR!!! HIS WORK). I firmly believe that if I didn’t submit my body as well as my heart to Him during these precious times, I never would have seen the healing of my body as well as holding my precious children. I can clearly remember one lesson that Father spoke to my heart during this whole thing. He spoke to me about submitting to the process in this because if I decided to fight against Him (even unintentionally), I could create and Ishmael. Did I want an Ishmael or a child of promise? Did I want barrenness or to be a joyful mother of children? He had given me a choice.

I had often heard (even in regards to having my own kids) that it just wasn’t God’s timing or, after having them, that it must have been God’s timing.  While these statements have some truth (because, of course, God has a perfect timing for all things as Ecclesiastes says there is a season for all things), I have found that the core of these statements, for many, is a self-comfort to appease one’s own theology.

Our process for healing and children will not be everyone’s process. My advice when you do find yourself in the pressure cooker is to ask Father how to walk it out with Him. Remember, He came for relationship, not just a destination. Don’t give up or blindly accept everything the doctors say to you. Ask Father and pray about it. If I was to believe all the doctors had to say,  I would have been left with a painful back, an empty house, and a broken spirit.

When the pressure cooker of life hits you, take a deep breath, friend. Know you are not alone. Man doesn’t write the script for your life, but God has a plan for it. Many have gone before you. Find out what Father says in the Bible regarding your issue. Ask Him how to walk out His plan for your life in that area. Speak the truth over yourself until it becomes part of you. Don’t except anything other than what He says over your life. Find a support group that walks with Him and not just ‘believes’ His words but walks in His fruitfulness in their lives.

I hope this has been a helpful chapter in my family’s life. Feel free to comment below or ask any questions.

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A Touch of Sanity

Mother’s often joke about “not having enough time to think” and I’ve certainly felt the squeeze on my sanity but more importantly the need to create a quiet space. It’s a space born of necessity in this momma’s world.

Of course before ‘time suckers’ and the pitter-patter of little feet, time and space were in abundance so the time taken for my rest and ‘centering’ if you will, didn’t come at much of a price or sacrifice. I took it and it was an easy gift to aquire.

But, enter journey momma-hood and a whole new world enveloped me encompassing all moments. The lack was easily felt in a greater way when the quiet space was allowed to be trampled and squashed. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and suffocate as a new mom (and well seasoned one) without some self-care.

My advice to mommies would be take that time even if you have to get up early, or take that baby nap time to place yourselves in the ‘center’ of God’s love. Give Him your heart daily and allow Him to speak to all the newness you are going through; the questions, the emotions, the tiredness. I find nothing refreshes like He does. Proving greater return than a nap.

The days that turn by with lack in this area are often met with anxiety and an intensity with quick attitude flare-ups and overall unrest between not only parents, but parents and children.

Some great joys now in my early mornings (if my daughter awakes) is teaching her this sacred time. I invite her in by asking her to pray for the day with me or I read the scriptures aloud; and if she has no interest she is invited to cuddle, read or play quietly while mommy spends a few minutes talking to Father.

Teaching children to rest is a great gift to give them in this life. They learn not only from watching, joining, but also having their own rest time. We have manditory rest time in this house and it’s usually 2pm where my daughter (and baby boy) spends her quiet time reading or in quiet play/napping for at least an hour. It has taken training, but offers great reward to both parents and child alike. It has often become my quiet space to read, rest, pray, journal and just set myself before my God and be ok being me. It’s my time to quietly be taught to parent, wife, blossom, heal, and recoop.

It has proven to quench the firey darts of the enemy I can be prone to struggle with; fear and hurt which I trade in for peace and strength. And it benefits my children by having a more present mom, refreshed, and ready – quiet-hearted clear of personal clutter. The sacrifice is worth it. The dishes don’t get done, the beds are never made, media fun doesn’t get had, but our family reaps a world of blessings and a house of peace.

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CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG

We have all had those days, babies crying, arguing, tiredness, the stressors of life not being put on their proper perch. And no matter how much we try we just can’t seem to get ourselves out of the mullygrubs. Everything is a nuisance and seems way too much effort.

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I have found during those times we just need to get outside the box of our existence and exercise some MANDATORY FUN TIME as a family. Obviously we cannot make everyone joyfully participate but I have often found joy takes care of itself when we step outside our four walls.

Our family dates could be a walk at the park, playground time, or shopping. As simple as that and we find ourselves reconnecting again as a family. Life can get bogged down with duties, meetings, cleaning, mealtimes and a myriad of other things. Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was to be sure to separate fun time from decision times in our marriage. Often the decision times in our house can seem to outweigh the fun times. Though I am sure in some households they find the opposite true. Sometimes I wish we didn’t wait until ‘It hits the fan’ so to speak to spend this time but family life is always evolving. It is ever growing and ever understanding the nature of our own unique family unit.

He is ever ready to give us wisdom. And sometimes we need to separate out our responsibilities and weigh the consequences against what God has also given to us- our families to nurture and love. These are the lasting things that matter. Not the house, the job, the daily to-do’s of life.

“For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” ~ Proverbs 2:6

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“A Heart full of Anger”

Not sure if you have heard the quote ‘ A heart full of anger has no room for love’, but even if you haven’t heard it I’d image you have felt the throws of it especially when dealing with a rambunctious 3 year old or two. Mommies and Daddies have a calling to due diligence. I really like this definition I found in the Webster dictionary ‘the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons’. The fact is anger hurts. It hurts not only us but also our children. And I’m not talking the initial feelings of anger but I am speaking of the attitudes and actions resulting from our anger.

Children are amazing barometers. They have a knack for reacting to the atmospheric pressures of life they sense around them and thus over-reacting to that pressure. Then we soon find ourselves with them in the ‘pressure cooker’ with attitude escalations, raised voices, and EVERYTHING becomes a REAL BIG DEAL.

Something I have learned when I feel that my world has become a ‘big deal’ is to take personal inventory. Am I angry? Why am I frustrated at my child? Is it really that they are not listening or is it that I am not listening? Am I not present?  And most often what I have learned in those moments (thankfully pre-children) is that in my struggle against self I end up in a battle of wills with my child. My own agenda gets in the way of a peaceful relationship (with my child or frankly, someone else’s). If I wasn’t so persistent in trying to accomplish my own agenda that day I could refocus on my child and relationship. It all goes back to relationship. Anger hinders relationship.

So, when I find myself in this pressure cooker and I’m feeling angry, what do I do? I have to take a step back. Realize my agenda and lay it down if at all possible. And most days I find for myself, that it IS possible. The dishes can wait, the laundry, the house, the shower, the project and the list goes on.

Sheri12

… and some how, I don’t think it’s worth the struggle.

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PARENTING 101

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We’ve all heard the controversy; spank, don’t spank. Say no; don’t say no because your hurting their psyche. Make them ‘do it because you said so’ vs. give them choices so they feel empowered. Be firm but don’t yell…

But what are the facts? Proverbs 22:6 states Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. But, what does this ‘way’ look like? How do we get them from point A.-birth to point B.-adulthood and walking on a good solid path?

What I have found… well, why should you listen to me…little ol’ me. Grown from the weeds of middle earth, I mean middle Maine. What do I know about parenting? What was modeled to me is another topic all together… So, what do I know? Well, I know the love of a Father. Yes, Father’s heart for the little children but most importantly for little ol’ me.  And it is from this place that a solid foundation was laid. 

His heart begs the question, ‘what if parenting is to be directed from the heart of process verses a heart of control (or aka. to ‘make them mind’) or even fear them into submission. What if it is all about relationship. We see the same thing modeled in the life of Christ. Are we a law-abiding Christian like the Pharisees and Sadducees or do we have a relationship with a loving Father like sinful David? A man after God’s own heart, grown out of the ash of process.

I often think of a quote from the Grinch who stole Christmas… ‘Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more’well, I’m stealing it for parenting

grinch

Parenting perhaps means a little bit more…

More than just making my kid mind, more than obedience and public display.

Do we want law abiding children or do we want deep relationship with our children as they grow and beyond? Now I am in no way saying we don’t want our children to ‘mind’ and be respectful etc. etc. I am talking about the core of where we can begin with these little people. Little people with little minds and little personalities all their own. Uniquely fashioned for relationship not only with us as parents, but through that relationship, they are also learning how to have relationship with Father. And we can have a real impact on this relationship. What kind of lenses will you give your child? Have you ever wondered where some people get the idea of an ANGRY GOD? A God that not only shows them their shortcomings, but point them all out too.

Funny, I used to think that children were kind of mindless drones. Don’t laugh, it really was a revelation to me that little ones had unique personalities. Thank God, He spared me of learning this lesson years before having my own children. But, let’s face it for those of you who have followed our journey you know we have had many a year to prepare! Watching both the failures and victories of many around us we get to reap from their mistakes and strengths a like. But, we all know we will make enough of our own.

For what it’s worth, I would like to share a little story about our sweet Provvidenza. She had a space of time that she was prone to hitting. She would hit pretty much anything within reach. If she fell, she would hit the floor. Ran into the wall, she would hit the wall. Bump a chair and there would be wrath given to that chair.  As this seemed to continue, even to the point of us getting some swats from her, we decided to seek the counsel of those we trusted around us. All I kept thinking is does this sweet girl have an anger problem? What are we dealing with here… So, we and our Pastor friend took it to prayer. Our friend came back to us with what He felt as a word from the Lord concerning her outbursts. That she had a little God given seed within her regarding Justice. She would get ‘hurt’ and know that this just isn’t’ right and I don’t like it. As a side note a few days later we also had an unrelated experience as a friend came to us privately and said that they had often wondered why we seemed to react fiercely when one of our friends were suffering or going through hard times. Then she realized we strongly stood for justice. Well, seemed an amazing confirmation to me. Like Father like daughter I guess you could say or in our case, like parents like daughter’.

Now, we had a choice to switch the focus of our parenting. We could continue with our focus on merely stopping that ‘bad’ behavior or choose the harder route of nurturing the gifting inside her. This sweet little portion of her heart that yearned as Father does to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. This portion that was filled with compassion for the people as Jesus was. The shift was from law focused ‘no, no that’s wrong’ and into helping her process what was happening to her. Helping her recognize foremost her emotion and then vocalize how she was feeling  (instead of allowing her to mindlessly lash out on some inanimate objects or us).

We could choose to enter into relationship with our little girl while she was in process, nurturing this gift inside her. A unique girl with a unique calling and a unique heart. If our focus had been on merely making her mind because ‘this isn’t appropriate’, through an avenue of control, intimidation or fear of punishment we could have ended up squelching the very gift God created her to be. She is a home for the justice of God to carry compassion and understanding to those around her. A truth seeker for the hurts in her little world and all that wrapped up inside a little seed residing in a 2  year old.  

All of parenting; what we do, what we say, and the boundaries we set up must be seen through a time machine. How will this affect my child, and our relationship in the long run. How are they being shaped. Are we seeing them as mindless little bodies full of bents towards naughtiness or as great gifts carrying great gifting’s that are being fashioned from the day they were created. 

 

 

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