Sunday, October 19, 2008

Something's Missing

I had the chance to go to Girl Scout camp this summer. It was a beautiful camp with a lot of big tall pines and a pretty lake. But I felt like there was something missing or empty about it. It wasn't until we went to family camp a few months later that I realized what it was: It's Christ! I've never been at a camp that wasn't centered around God and the Bible.

The same thought hit me last week while I was at our Early Childhood Family Education parenting time. The issues that they are bringing up and discussing are all good, but they miss the mark if you don't connect it to Christ and his plan for us as parents.

I was reading an article in the magazine they give out free from class called Scholastic's Parent and Child. The article is "Toned Inside Out" by Sara Holliday and its in the October 2008 issue. It says you need to take time out for yourself - you deserve it! Here are some suggestions she offers. First, "visualize your best self". Hmmmmm. She encourages the readers to find a photo from a time when you looked and felt your best. Before going to bed, look at this special photo and close your eyes to visualize yourself in that place again. Also, be positive! Make statements like "I am beautiful" or "I am smart and intelligent". Repeat these statements every morning and night 5 times.

Seriously that is the craziest stuff I've heard in a long, long time. If I wanted to envision myself at some other happier stage, would that really help me feel better? I think I might just want to run back to my skinny, independent days. Why not seek Christ's contentment in what I have and where I am right now? I'm thankful for the things God has taught me over the years and wold never want to go back to being the selfish brat I used to be.What if you were never happy? I'd like to suggest before going to bed, I should close my eyes and thank God for the privilege and opportunity to have these precious kids. I should ask him for strength, wisdom and grace. Trying to parent with this new age, I'm good enough mentality is just a disaster!

If we are saved through Christ, we don't need to repeat how great we are, we just need to worship how great God is! All my self worth comes from his love and grace for me and he gives it to me freely and talks to me about it in his word. I don't have to convince myself through mind tricks that I'm smart or beautiful.

The article goes on to talk about exercising, eating right, and getting in some me-time which are important. However, my focus as a Christian Mom is to do those things so I can be healthy and used of God for His glory, not so I can focus more on me. I cringe when I read this stuff. And a lot of parents I know actually have to resort to this madness because they don't have Christ.

The truth is that it can be tempting to try this even when we do have Christ. It's so easy to let the ways of Oprah and other influences push into our world. We have to get our worth and encouragement from Christ alone. Don't let these fake and pathetic replacements in. I want to pass on a God-filled legacy to my kids, not the Stuart Smalley "you're good enough, you're smart enough and doggone it people like me". (that's an old Saturday Night Live sketch FYI for you young 'uns out there)

I Corinthians 1:30-31
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Do It Yourself!

Sometimes you just have to let kids suffer through and wrestle with an issue. Take Grant. It's a minor one to be sure. He doesn't like jeans. He wants me to find the kind with a snap on it because it's just too much work to actually button his pants! I told him they don't sell big boy jeans with snaps. Did I mention he's in 4th grade? If he was my only kid, who knows what I would still be doing for him. I may possibly still be spoon feeding him his meals.

Last week I was at school with the little girls. I was watching Abby play on the playground through the window of the room I was in. She was jumping rope, running around and smiling. When we were leaving she was still outside, but was crying. She said she didn't feel good. I was suspicious. I walked her back in to her classroom and when her teacher asked her what was wrong she told her she didn't feel good. Her teacher asked her if it had anything to do with the paper on her desk that needed to be fixed. While I was helping her get settled down (with Maren and Annie in tow!) she told me that she accidentally threw away a paper that she needed. Did she ask the teacher for a new one? No, she was worried that she might get yelled at. She has the nicest, kindest teacher ever. I told her she needed to tell her teacher the problem. She was crying and I really wanted to jump in and just take care of it. But really, it was only coincidence that I was even there! I realized that I need to let her deal with this herself. So, with a nod from the teacher, I left her crying her little eyes out. That feels really great as a mom!

A few hours later, I got an email from the teacher that it all came out and was fine. Several other children had done the same thing and she told them where to get a new paper. Pretty simple solution!

Those growing up problems are so hard. I don't want to diminish that she really felt she had a crisis on her hands. But they have to start handling the little things on their own or they will never be able to handle anything. And that can have disastrous consequences when they are facing big challenges and crisis!

Even if the problems are as small as pants or a first grade paper.

Proverbs 22:6
Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Are There Limits?

I've been going on and on about reaching out a lot lately. I especially have a burden to reach out to my kids' friends and their families. But is there a limit? The kids had a long weekend from school because there is some state wide teachers conference that no teachers I know go to, but we still get two days off.

Some friends of the girls called to see if they could come over for a sleep over. I don't know this family too well, but what I do know is a little iffy. The step-dad has a questionable reputation and their supervision of their kids leaves a lot to be desired. I was unsure what to do. I declined the sleepover and suggested we start with just a few hours of playing. When I saw Mike later and mentioned it to him, he was like no way - not at that house. I guess I kind of felt the same way but wasn't sure how to back out gracefully. Well, it worked out that we had plans that night anyway and couldn't do it.

So what's the right way to respond in those situations. It wasn't even an issue of pleasing or disappointing my girls because they didn't seem to care much either way. But I didn't want to be rude or come across like we are too good for them. I don't want to be overprotective but watching out for and protecting my kids is one of the most important things I need to do. It's more important than offending someone. Duh!

We got some advice from a couple in our church whose parenting we greatly respect. Their son, who is older now, had a lot of kids from rough homes in his class. They handled it by always having the kids over their house. They were able to develop a relationship with the friends and their families while protecting their son from a sinful and dangerous environment. Even though it's a pain, you know where they are and what they are doing. It seems like that is a way to strike a balance between wanting to reach out to them and at the same time protecting my own kids.

It's going to take extra work and personal sacrifice to show the love of Jesus to others. And I guess it will take a lot of prayer and wisdom to do the best thing for my kids.

Proverbs 27:12
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.