A Prayer of Thanks for My Children

biblereadingchallenge_day217Lord,

Some days this Mama gets tired.
So tired, in fact, that I just
won’t know what to do except…
set my face before You.

When I come to You in prayer,
I must first whisper “Thank You.”
Thank you, Jesus, for my children.
Thank you for their energy…
and their sleep. Well, when they sleep.

Thank you for their open hearts…
and sometimes willing hands.
Thank you for teaching me so much
about You through them
and for teaching me so much about them through You.

To be chosen as “mama” is a gracious gift from you.
May I recognize that gift as much on the high-strung days
as the low-key days.
May the thought flood my mind with joy and
my simple thanks
transform my thoughts
from weak mommy
to empowered mama.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen

a prayer of thanks for my children

The Toughest Parenting Issue I Have Tackled

biblereadingchallenge_day197

When I was a little girl and played with dolls, being the mommy seemed so easy.

None of my dolls ever got up from their seat at tea time.

Not one of my stuffed animals ever defied my request to eat their vegetables.

More importantly, none of my toys spilled their milk at the dinner table. Not one.

toughest parenting issue

When I was a teenager, we were expecting company for a weekend, so I cleaned the house for my mom. Every last piece of furniture was dusted and every dish sparkled. The house was incredibly, perfectly clean. For about 5 minutes. You see, in a house that size with that many people, “perfectly clean” was temporary. Very temporary.

As a perfectionist who wanted everything “just so,” my little girl dreams of parenthood and my teenage impressions of housekeeping were a bit, well, skewed. The levels of perfection I dreamed of were reasonable to me; however, I didn’t realize the investment those levels would require. Having furniture arranged at the proper angle and decor that encouraged the appropriate, delicate atmosphere was a high priority.

Before sweet babies were born, I’ll confess to you: I didn’t go to bed unless the toilet paper was hanging properly in the bathroom.

Then I became a mom. 

While I could probably stop right there and many of you would completely catch the point I want to drive home with this post, the perfectionist in me just can’t assume that you would get it.

After the reality of parenthood struck home and the special needs of my daughter were well discovered, yet undiagnosed, I became aware that my levels of expectation for housekeeping and such were a bit, well, over the top.

You see the toughest lesson I’ve tackled in these almost 17 years of parenting is not

babies with colic…

or temper tantrums of toddlers…

or developmental delays of preschoolers…

or social interactions of schoolagers…

or rebellion of teenagers…

The toughest lesson I’ve learned and am still learning as a parent really isn’t a problem that children undergo.

The toughest lesson I’ve learned is how to redefine perfection.

Because perfection isn’t insuring that every hair is in place.

Perfection is assuring a happy heart.

Perfection isn’t organizing a closet that the President himself would never forget.

Perfection is cultivating a healthy home environment.

Perfection is more about how your children feel when you make cupcakes…

and less about whether the cupcakes are picture perfect for Pinterest.

Perfection is being the example of Jesus to our children…

He who had no roof to call home.

He who desired to hold the hands and hearts of children.

He who loved with perfect love.

While the dictionary offers the definition of “perfect” as “being entirely without fault or defect,” I tackled redefining the word.

Perfect really has nothing to do with being.

My definition of perfection is “yielding entirely without fault or defect.”

Perfection is simply accepting the imperfections of others, no matter who or what they are, and yielding it all to God.

Suddenly, the stain on the carpet by the front door doesn’t mean so much.

How do you redefine perfection?

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What Every Parent Should Teach Their Children

day 169 bible reading challenge

This weekend I received the privilege of speaking  a few words in my hometown at the church in which I grew up.  My dad was honored especially on Father’s Day for his commitment not only to fatherhood, but also his faithfulness to the ministry God’s called him to do. Through thick and thin, Dad has taught the same Sunday School class for 31 years. That’s a LONG time. As father to nine, it hasn’t been until the recent years of rearing my own brood of 7 kiddos that I truly wondered how my parents did it all. With 9 children, paying our way through Christian school and college….and orthodontics…and glasses for some… and of course nothing ever was broken. Ahem.

My dad is such a hero to me!

I could have spoken about my dad for hours, reliving stories and reassuring him of all the points I remembered from his life and instruction.   But I boiled it down to 5 points. And the more I thought about them as our family journeyed home from the visit, the more I thought that what my dad has taught me is what every parent should teach their children- in a nutshell. So I’m sharing them with you. Here we go:

what every parent should teach their children

1. To love ice cream.

Ok, bear with me for a second. This is the only “funny” point. I really do love ice cream- and so does my dad. While I made a joke of this when I spoke on Sunday at church, I do believe that every parent should believe that making memories often includes making messes. I made a few ice cream messes in my time. But I have some awesome memories of eating ice cream with my dad.

2. To work hard.

Every parent needs to teach their child to give it their all- no matter what “it” is.  A strong work ethic will pull you through when others fail. Dad has always worked hard and he worked hard to instill that in his children. It sure has paid off- all 8 of my siblings are responsible, hard-working adults.

3. To keep your word.

“If you say you’re going to do it, then do it.” I can still hear my dad’s tone of voice when he would make that statement. In the face of excuses, many times I wanted to throw in the towel throughout life.  But many times the little nudge that would keep me from turning my head and calling and cancelling was the heart impression from my parents to keep my word and follow through as best as I could, no matter the circumstances.

4. To love people no matter where they are in life.

This point is not one that I remember ever hearing my dad say. He didn’t talk about it- he just lived it.  Whether the person was a small child,living in the hills of West Virginia, who had no one who cared and loved him enough to cloth and feed him or an elderly person left in the nursing home with few visitors and little sanity, Dad treated people with grace and dignity no matter their circumstances. I didn’t have to hear him say “Now, this is how you treat people…” He simply gave food and clothing and shelter and love whenever he could fill the need.

5. To be faithful to God and service to Him.

I could point to example after example of how my dad emulated this point, but I’m guessing you get that teaching 31 years of Sunday School doesn’t happen by accident. Neither does reading your Bible or praying.

Thanks, Dad, for your love and care. I’m so grateful to call you my dad.

What principle did your mom or dad teach you that you feel every parent should teach their children?

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