Friday, July 09, 2010

Intentions, Part Four

This is turning into a saga and I really didn't intend it to... no pun intended! While I was thinking about the next post which is now going to have to be part five, God reminded me of something. It's not so fun to think about. But you know if we intentionally live for Christ we will be changed. And if we raise our kids to be like Jesus they will be changed. I want them to be changed and be more like Jesus. I like to think of it in terms of things going super duper. The whole rainbows and happy faces mentality I refer to at times. But more often than not, as we deliberately move closer to Christ or when He's trying to get our attention change comes through pain, trials and suffering.

Why would He do that? If I'm growing in Him and reading the Bible and praying that means only good things will happen. If I'm raising my kids to love Jesus, and building good relationships with them then all with go great and they will be perfect. They'll make the right choices, love their siblings and all the other things I want for them. Right?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. " James 1:3

Wrong! It's through the difficult and painful times that God really causes us to grow. We have to be mature and complete! It's where our faith is put to the test. As we trudged through difficult struggles last winter I worried about how it would affect the kids. There were lots of unknowns. There were honestly only a few fleeting moments when we questioned if our marriage would survive, but the fall out included thoughts of moving, job changes and general life upheaval. When we talked to the kids about things, they were scared. I wanted so badly to shield them from every stress in this situation and life, but I couldn't.

It was a huge growing time for us to be able to respond with things like: I'm scared too but God is with us. He knows the future. He loves us. He will provide for us. And we'll be together no matter what. It isn't what I would have chosen for us, but God used it for good in our lives. It brought us closer, made us appreciate what we have in each other and showed us who is in control. Those lessons were important for us to learn, even if they were a bit painful.

Yesterday, I was praying with a friend from church. She is a great example to me of a Godly woman. When her kids were young she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She had a bone marrow transplant. They were not sure she would live several times. She went on to make a full, miraculous recovery. Their family was brought together in a powerful way. I'm sure they wouldn't have chosen that path, but God used it for His purposes. They might never even know all of them on this earth.

So don't look for God just under the rainbow. Don't only look for or expect growth through fun things and good times. God doesn't always work like that. Maybe you are in a financial tough spot. It's easy to wonder why God would allow that instead of looking at what He's doing.

It's a weird peaceful feeling to know that no matter what comes, God is in control. He has our best interest at heart. He loves our kids even more than we do. Try as we may to shield them from difficulty and pain, eventually life will happen. I want to instead teach them to rely on God always, good or bad. And to continue to walk with Jesus with Joy knowing that our suffering here will only last a little while. Soon we will be face to face with our Savior. Isn't that the point of life? To look forward to heaven and Jesus? I know that for me, the good times don't provide that like the hard times. And maybe that's the point.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised."
Job 1:21

"The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more,
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end."
Isaiah 60:19-20

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Intentions, Part Three

Even if I succeed as an intentional mom and do all sorts of great activities, keep a clean and organized house, cook fabulous meals or fancy cupcakes like my friend who made the ones in the picture in part one. I may as well just lock the kids in their rooms if I'm not intentional about teaching them about Christ. Outings and relational activities are crucial stepping stones to being able to talk about Jesus, not just an end in themselves.

That's the whole point of parenting for me, but it's probably the part I'm least intentional about. I mean who has the time or energy to talk about spiritual things in the midst of daily life? A dear friend always shared this verse with me when I became a mom. And she lived it with her kids. I always think of her when I hear Deuteronomy 6:5-9.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. these commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and gates."

Part of my problem with not being intentional about talking to my kids more about Jesus is hit hard in the first line of those verses. Am I intentional about my own relationship with Christ? Do I spend time reading and studying his word? Do I only pray when I am in crisis?

Obviously, if I am not intentional in spending time with my Savior, how can I be deliberately talk to my kids about Him? The easy answer is I can't. That's when we become legalistic about faith. I can say I love God and do all the "christian" things but if I don't pursue Him and live differently because of it, it's empty. That seems like a place where kids are going to get resentful.

Somewhere in finding the right balance, the priority needs to be on Jesus. Talk about Him all the time; at home, driving, at night. A few summer's ago I was taking off to do some shopping while Mike and the kids were weeding the garden. I know, life's not fair! When I went out there one of the kids said, we were just talking about what heaven is going to be like! I think that's the point of Deuteronomy 6. You don't necessarily have to set aside table time or have a curriculum, just talk about and live Jesus.

One area we are trying to work on is prayer. I love this idea that I've heard from various people. When we hear sirens, we pray for the hurt people and the rescuers. When we hear of a need, we just stop and pray for a few minutes making prayer a more conversational, continual part of the day.

There are many days I won't do a good job and I'll fail. But if I trust Christ to help me stay purposeful in my journey with Him, He'll be faithful to keep us moving in the right direction. That's the thing I want most as a mother. I want to help my kids grow into thriving followers of Christ. So why do I give it the least amount of time?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Intentions, Part Two

As I woke up this morning to piles of laundry and a list of errands, I realized I have a problem with intentional mothering. It seems if I really try to be actively involved with the kids nothing else gets done. Or the pendulum swings the other way and I'm only working on cleaning or other projects. I want to go do fun things with the kids, but I also want clean clothes to wear. I desire to do projects but it is also important to have supper. For some reason it's really easy to be all or nothing. I'm either all fun and no work. Or all work, no fun. I might be the best mom ever if I had a cook and a maid.

How do you strike a balance? I wish I knew! I think it's probably different for everyone. I tend more towards the let's hang out and have fun approach so I need to work hard at staying home and doing home stuff before it gets out of control. Sometimes when I do get cleaning I get frustrated because it doesn't stay clean. I'm after the kids to clean up and take off their shoes. When it's already a mess, I just don't really care so much!

On the other hand, I have a friend who is super duper organized. Her house is clean. Her papers are in order. They have chore lists. But she doesn't do a lot with the kids because she is too busy being organized. So we both have areas we have to let go of. She might need to let go and have some fun. While I definitely need to buckle down more regularly.

As time goes on, the needs and routines change. I used to get my housework done at naptime and bedtime but that doesn't happen anymore! It seems I need to work on a new way to strike that balance. One way I know I need to change is by getting the kids to help out more. They are definitely old enough. It's just a lot more work and I'd much rather do it myself. But if I'm intentional about raising them to be followers of Christ and responsible adults, they need to learn about responsibility and work and cleaning.

Being deliberate about mothering doesn't only involve fun, crafts and outings. It's also about meeting the needs of my family. There are days when tasks must be completed to maintain home. The kids need to find something to occupy themselves with: a book to read, a toy to play with or *gasp* a movie to watch!

Take the time to step back and evaluate your balance. Pray about it. Ask your husband about it. I know, I know; that's a scary one! I could ask my organized friends for tips. If my house is always trashed, I will just be intentionally crabby. If I can keep a balance between work and fun, there will be way more time and energy for intentional mothering.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Intentions, Part One

I spent the whole spring looking forward to this summer.  The kids are all at a great age to get out and do a lot of fun stuff.  On the last day of school we went to the Children’s Museum.  Grant was bored.  I realized that we are nearing the end of fun family outings.  Soon he’ll be old enough to stay home or busy doing his own thing.

I had great intentions for summer.  Then it rained for the whole month of June.  Everyone got sick.  Maren has been going backwards with the temper tantrums.  We took a quick trip and had three solid weeks of running to basketball and swimming.  Now it’s July already! 

It’s really easy to have good intentions.  I know because I am the queen of good intentions. 

Instead of having good intentions, what I need is to be intentional. Intentional mothering. Intentional means something is done deliberately.  I don’t want them to be just another piece to life or something to manage; sign them up for this, drive them to that, buy them this.  What does intentional mothering look like?  I think it’s less noisy and busy and expensive and more relational and alternative.  I think it involves planning and desire to really be part of your kids life.  Sometimes I would love to sit back and just wait for great things to happen or for parenting to end.  I’m not afraid to admit that some days I’d love to have someone else come in and do my job for me. But mothering with impact takes effort.

I was reading an article in a hospital waiting room this week.  It talked about changing the way we spend time with our kids.  Less structure.  Camping instead of carpools.  Bike rides instead of movies.  Then today I was reading my Dad’s Caribou Coffee cup.  It had sayings like, “Go home early and play with your kids”.  And “Teach a kid to fish”.  And
“Get there on two wheels”.  There are messages being sent to simplify but it’s drowned out by the other articles detailing the latest movie or electronic device.  And simplicity looks pretty lame.  Relating to the kids seems like a lot of work.

As far as being intentional about relating to kids, there are benefits to not having a lot of money.  It pushes you to do things that are more interactive.  One rainy day, I was babysitting for a friend and if money had been no object we would have all gone to a movie.  But since I didn’t have $1,000 or whatever crazy amount it would cost to take eight people to the movies, we painted tiles. 

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Things like biking to the park, picnics, playgrounds, the beach are the kind of activities that breed relationship building.

Our library has free passes to museums now.  We can go to the aquarium, depot, lighthouses and lots of other cool places for free.  I even like to pack a picnic sometimes or stop at McDonalds.

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I took Grant to a concert at our local college that we got tickets to through the library. 

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I was supposed to have a meeting that night and didn’t think we’d be able to go.  When it got cancelled I was looking forward to a night at home.  But Grant brightened and reminded me about the concert.  So we went.  He got all dressed up.  He even brushed his teeth and got my door.  It was a forty-five minute drive each way.  We made it through the first set then he told me he only likes to listen to classical music in bed.  We went to Perkin’s.

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That night was totally worth it.


There’s berry picking at a local farm,

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or setting up a backwoods slip-n-slide in the backyard

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and making clay. 

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Some Moms I know go out of their way to make extra special treats for holidays.

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Some Dads sleep with their kids in a tent in the backyard (even if *some* people go in to their beds at 1:00 a.m.)

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A lot of days I’d rather be on Facebook or reading my book. But intentional mothering is deliberate.  It’s no accident that God is an intentional parent.  He sacrificed His Son in a plan to save us.  He didn’t just hope things would work our for the best.  He acted and invested.

I know I won’t look back and wish I had a cleaner house or had spent more time on the internet.  I probably won’t care if I’ve seen all the latest movies or had a stellar wardrobe.  What I will care about is how I invested my time during these precious years.  Do I just have good intentions or am I intentional?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.  Ephesians 1:3-10