Saying “Yes” to Children {Teaching them to Trust}

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Sticks hold a fascination for my 4 year-old.  As do rocks.  He organizes gravel into neat piles, and he carries bugs on the tip of his finger into the house to show me.  He is what they call all-boy {who are “they?”}, embracing the outdoors with enthusiasm.

And so it was no surprise when he approached me last week, inviting me on a walk in the woods behind our house.

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Not today, I answered.  I was busy with dinner, and I was tired.

Not today, I answered the following day.  I was busy with cleaning, and I was preoccupied.

Not today, I was tempted to say when he next asked.  But this day, something stopped me.  Maybe it was the hopeful eyes or the sun shining.  But either way, I grabbed him and said:  Let’s go walking in the woods today!

 

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He scrambled for his shoes, excited and noisy.  And as we headed down to the ravine, I was washed over with delight.

For this moment with my son, and for an instant recognition of the bigger picture.

 

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Saying No

Why do I say no to my children?

Well, mostly because there is always a valid reason.  I am tired.  I am busy.  I am in the middle of something.  I need to be here or there.  And yet, perpetual busyness can convince me that I am  unable to engage in simpler things.

Saying no is natural.  It is easy.  And it allows me to avoid the inconvenience of getting down on my hands and knees to see life through the lens of a person smaller than myself.

But, is this the right approach?  Am I really helping any of us by saying no for no good reason?

 

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Saying Yes

Sally Clarkson, author of The Ministry of Motherhood, speaks to the temptation to decline our children.  And she offers this valuable insight into why we should instead build a heritage of yes’s.:

“Make a list of some things your children like you to do with them but aren’t necessarily fun for you—playing a board game on the floor with a young child, going outside to throw a ball, sitting down with a child to read his or her creative story or to look at an artistic creation, and so on.

Commit to saying yes to their requests instead of no, knowing that if you invest in what is important to them, they will be open to believing in what is important to you.”

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Every yes I speak is not only a validation of my love for my children, but it is also- more importantly- one more stone laid in the foundation of our relationship.

My intentional yes’s teach them that what matters to you, matters to me.  And the older they become, the more powerfully that voice resonates.  I know this, because I was a child-become-teenager once myself.

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The Blessing of Yes

 My afternoon spent in response to a simple yes, was powerful for both my son, and for me. The tactility of walking, smelling, feeling and photographing, delighted him.  And his shouts of enthusiasm with every bug and tadpole, were sufficient reward for a few moments of my time.

I said yes again yesterday.  This time, dutifully preparing a tea party for a little girl who requested it.

And I hope that today I will demonstrate the same nod of approval when they ask.

I want my kids’ hearts.  And if the equation of love = time stands true,  I will invest as many nature walks and tea parties as it takes to win them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monday Has Come – A Few Easter Photos

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I am taking a step back from regular Monday posting today.  We had a wonderful weekend full of company and activity, and I am a few days behind with writing.  And I would not have it any other way. I have not cracked open my laptop since Friday, and the break from regular focus has been refreshing and enjoyable.

Don’t we all need social-media fasts and Internet breaks sometimes? I do.

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Emma found me a beautiful bird’s nest in the yard.  A beautiful reminder of Spring and new beginnings.

 

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The boys found time to be brothers- and Pat was able to document their sweet relationship.

Will thrives on affirmation from Josh.

 

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And Josh rises to the occasion of being both friend, and example.

 

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Our fearless adventurer managed to stay unbroken for the day – and she wore a dress happily, because “it feels like a sweatshirt”.

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Their energy can be so taxing at times, but yesterday was a reminder to me of what I have – and sometimes I am too aware of what is taken from me, in the wake of their needs.

 

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I have them.  They have one another.

But mostly, because of Easter, we have Him.

And He holds us all together.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends.  See you back here tomorrow!

 


Loving {Your} Husband: An Ordinary Hero

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Lori Greiner of the ABC hit show Shark Tank, states that she can spot it instantly: a hero or a zero. Greiner is an entrepeneur and visionary, able to do what most cannot- deduce quality at a mere glance.  Longevity and quality, Greiner would maintain, stand out to her.

And so it was when I met my husband.  Sitting in the class at our church that Sunday morning, I glanced around the room and my vision locked in on him.  Kindness, was the first thought.  Gentleness, the second.  My college-honed eyes were accustomed to weighing guys in the balance.  Nope, not for me, was the regular inward refrain.

Until that Sunday.   The day that changed his life, and mine.

Twelve years have since have come and gone, and with them stretched skin and shadows and lines around our eyes.  Our life together shows itself, and not all of the lines are from laughter.

What Makes a Hero, Anyway?

The past dozen years have also displayed that I made the right assessment, and that he is indeed, a hero.  Not the kind of hero my toddler still believes exists.  But the kind that flies below the radar of recognized greatness, quietly owning his obligations.  To borrow the words Aunt May spoke to Peter Parker’s Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility.  And it is in his exercise of responsible leading, my husband has become ever admirable to me.

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Let me show you what ordinary heroism has looked like to a Mom with a handful of small children:

  • Committing to vows which defend, guard and maintain a marriage
  • Standing beside a hospital bed, gently coaching our little ones into the world.
  • Staying up long nights, to share the challenge of months of broken sleep.
  • Focusing on his life at work, so that he performs not one role, but two.  And well.
  • Noting the discouragement of an overburdened wife, and encouraging her to continue on, because it matters.
  • Defending the values of our home, so that our family is protected and bettered.

And in all of this, exercising patience and mercy. If your husband does any or all of these things, you have a good man on your hands.

The Heroism of Ordinary

In many ways, it would be easier for my husband or yours, to be the kind of hero our media- minds are accustomed to.  The kind that bursts into life at terrifying moments- saving, rescuing, solving.  And is then whisked away until the next time he is needed.  Ultimately, that would be more exciting.

But instead, he vows his faith and single-minded commitment to each day.  Always waking to greet his responsibilities.  Always going to sleep when they have been met.  There is very little excitement and to be honest, not enough praise.  And this is where his ordinariness plants him in a category reserved for those brave enough to face the same old with grace and love and determination.

Hebrews refers to the ordinary as something far greater than we make it.  By faith Abraham, Isaac, David and the prophets lived.  By faith they persevered.  And by faith, they attained the crown of righteousness.  Simple men living ordinary lives, yet by faith.  God calls these men out as worthy of notice and praise, and we should do no less.

Your ordinary man is gifted by God to do what he does best – to live by faith, and through that example to inspire faith for future generations.  It takes grit.  It takes resolve.

And in that daily and determined expression, lives a quiet but inspiring heroism.


A Thank-You Note {To Moms of Little Children}

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My sweet Mom-friend, with little ones wrapped around her legs,

I talk with you often.  You are the ones who seem to cross my path mostly, the ones God draws my heart to.  In fact, you are the ones I had in mind when I began to write one day three years ago, and somehow the words never seemed to stop.  I guess I have a lot to say to you.  See, you are me a few years back, and it is you I made a vow to when I stepped out of my house a couple of years ago, facing the sunshine on the other side of babies.

I will not forget, I promised.

I know a great deal about you.  I know your isolation.  And your loneliness.  I know the repeat cycle you feel stuck on.  I know the discouraged temperature of your homes many days.  I know the feelings you have about yourself.  I know the guilt you carry.  I know that this guilt makes you cranky.  I know that you are overwhelmed and you cry over small things in the day, because the big picture is just too big and too far away.    I know that you are tired beyond words.  That your tiredness makes you forget things.  And that your tiredness makes you depressed.  I know that you compare yourself to other Moms, and that these sideways glances make you miserable.  I know that you struggle day in and day out, for always.

And I know that you are not thanked enough.  For all that you do, you are rarely honored and praised.

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So allow me, my tired and care-worn Mom- friend:

Thank you for waking in the morning and through groggy eyes, kissing your children and loving them, despite wanting to sleep a little more.  Have you ever read stories of children deprived of love and unable eventually to integrate into society?  Your constant love turns a child who could shrivel, into one who blooms.

Thank you for beginning the day by preparing breakfast.  Have you read the statistics on poverty and hunger in our very own schools?  Your feeding makes for eager and alert minds.  Ask any teacher.

Thank you for taking care of your husband.  Did you know that married men live longer, because they thrive with regular care-taking?  Your commitment is literally keeping him healthier and happier.  Ask any doctor.

Thank you for pursuing a Christ-centered marriage.  Have you read the statistics on divorce, as it relates to children?  Your staying together through better, worse and everything in-between, is a success greater than yourself.  Ask any counselor.

Thank you for keeping a close eye on the members of your household.  Have you read statistics on s-x-trafficking and online soliciting?  Your close watch over your family is protecting them from dangers they are not aware of.  Ask any police officer.

Thank you for maintaining a home, and performing the daily tasks without fail. Have you read stories of children trying to grow up without homes and families?  Your maintaining a stable environment is doing more for the long-term emotional wellness of your family, than you can possibly see now.  Ask any pastor.

Thank you for persevering, because if I could choose a word to describe what you are called to, it would be: PERSEVERANCE.  You cannot stop, now or ever.  You are in it, for life.

Thank you for teaching your children in all of your daily acts of service, that the Gospel is real and to be lived.  That the Gospel is true and to be applied.  That Christ came to serve, and not to be served.  That He gave everything, so that we could gain.  Only gain.  His Gospel is for you.  And as you embrace and live it,  you are doing so much more than you can see.  As you point those in your home in His direction, you are discipling those who will lead, tomorrow.  Words alone could never convey what your serving is accomplishing.

So, thank you.  Again and again, thank you.  You are worth far more than rubies, and deserving of great honor.

I close with a blessing my Mom sent to my sisters and I this morning:

“May God be with you all today, giving you an understanding of the dignity of the work you are doing – taking care of his little ones, on his behalf, so the church can continue through the generations!”

Praying for you as you give your life for theirs,

Maryanne

 

 


Friday Home: Home {A Shelter}


This week for Friday Home, I wanted to draw attention to a characteristic of home- making that was most clearly illustrated through the telling of Jo’s story: that of a family’s deep security in one another.  Their confidence in knowing home as a safe place. Their need to feel dependent on what Edith Schaeffer refers to as a shelter.  In her book What is a Family? Schaeffer asks:

What is a family? 

A family is a blending of people for whom a career of making a shelter in the time of storm is worth a lifetime.

As I recently heard Matt Chandler state: At some point, we are all going to bleed.  And it is then, that the foundation of home becomes less about the routines strictly maintained, and more about the love that cannot be found anywhere else.  There is stability in a family home: the deepest kind of vulnerability that is met with acceptance.  The unspoken knowledge that if all else fails, at least family will pull through.

I am reminded of the familiar security of home each day, through a ritual my children adhere to:

Around 2 each afternoon, Will begins to ask when “the guys” are coming home.   And then we start to listen.  We listen for the beeping of the bus as it backs up.  We listen for the footsteps which follow within 5-7 minutes.  And then we listen to the side door bang open, and: “Mom?”  If I am spotted in the kitchen, chatter commences immediately.  But if I am upstairs, I hear “Mom?  Mom?  MOM???”  And then quick footsteps on the stairs, followed by unpacking of the day in loud and competing voices .  Great, not-so-great, I hear it all from every voice in those few moments following the arrival home.

Home for children is so many things, but above all it is a safe place. And the reason it feels safe is because of presence-all of you being together in an imperfect, though complete unit.  When one person is missing, the emptiness is noted. There is a kind of safety in numbers, and nowhere is this more powerfully displayed than in the beauty of family.

Your home will be many things – noisy, messy, upside-down some days.  But it is also security, safety, and the foundational shelter in which we carefully grow small people and protect their childhoods.

For your tomorrow, and for theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Family Vacation

This week finds us on our county’s Winter Break.  The kids are free from commitments, which allows a us all a sigh of relief.  No extra driving.  No homework.  No tests to prepare for.  No after-school activities to chase down.  No early bed-times or early wake-up calls.  No alarm clock.

There were a few years when the word vacation was definitely just a sound rolling off our tongues, with almost a wistful tone.  Vacation?  Oh, I hope it will be relaxing this time! Packing various baby items and medicines for the inevitable ear-aches and coughs that would begin the moment we left home, was not an easy task.  Nor was the sleeplessness that resulted from being in unfamiliar beds.  It was all hard work “vacationing” with little ones- every bit.

Last night I was dozing in the car, listening to the kids conversing as we drove toward Florida.  And I was overwhelmed with the feeling of togetherness we were enjoying.  Just us 6 smushed together amid blankets and food wrappers and various toys that could not be left behind for a week.  And every bit of the hard work came together in my mind -the hours of preparation simply to get out the door- and it was worth it.  This being together felt good.

 

Sitting a moment in the stillness of a Monday without routine yesterday, I was considering what I love most about family vacations.  There are dozens of reasons on my list, but here are the top 5:

Driving:  Driving in the car always allows me to hear conversations and spontaneous thoughts that would be missed if we were spread throughout the rooms of our home.  And driving with your husband can be great conversationally.  Did you know that it has been stated that men actually open up more fully emotionally when they are not facing their wives?  It’s true! If you want the deep-down dirt, save your conversations for the road.

Laughing:  There are simply new and unusual circumstances that arise when traveling.  The moment we leave home, there are all sorts of people and situations that are new and unexpected, providing humorous anecdotes in the present, and laughter for later.  Laughing together is one of my favorite parts of vacation.

Playing:  “All work and no play” makes us dull is the age-old expression.  Stepping away from the office and home allows both my husband and I to disengage from what constitutes our work environment.  The moment we leave behind conference calls and day-planners, we are free.  This freedom allows us to enjoy our children and each other, in a new way.

Exploring:  Whether something new to see or something different to eat, time away from the house allows for discovery in many ways.  The individually owned coffee shop, the beautiful downtown park, the lovely historic home.  Anything that trains our eyes and minds to absorb new information is good for us, and refreshing.  Exploring new opportunities is one of the most helpful components of vacation.

 

Loving:  Time together, but away from “real life” allows us to remember why we enjoy one another.  The life at home has its ruts and its day-in, day-out bad habits.   Stepping outside of the grind reminds us why we are glad we are a family.  And it creates new memories for the future, to remind us all of our bond.

In our North American 40-hour work week with 3 weeks yearly vacation, it can be difficult to step away and unplug from life that is daily.  But what a gift it is when life can slow down momentarily, and we are able to be with our families in an environment that promotes togetherness and rest.  Storing up memories for our kids, so that on into adulthood they have a precious collection of moments strung together into a happy childhood.  And providing rest for adults, so that we return home better able to continue the work of creating this intricate, beautiful thing called “family”.

 God gave us memories that we might have roses in December – JM Barrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Loving {Your} Husband

My husband and I love one another deeply.  He is truly the friend I did not have until we met, and the ally that strengthens me continually through his steadiness and gentle loyalty.  He is a man of strong character and faith.  I am better for his place in my life, finding the longer we are married that we are a healthy balance for one another.

Marriage is a good ordinance from a good God.  I see this more now than I ever did as a newlywed!

 

 

 

But marriage is like any other relationship, in that it has seasons -some which are smooth, and some which are more challenging.  If the past 13 years are an accurate assessment, it would seem that each year we settle into one a valley or town in our relationship.  These are the periods in which we do not connect well and seem to have a more difficult time than usual living with understanding and grace.

These are the seasons in which we are grateful that marriage is founded on a staying commitment that is not tossed about by feelings of love – because the stick-with-you promise is the love.

 

The simple reality is that marriage is committed work, and sometimes we tire of hard work.

The Bible identifies our underlying issue as one stemming from a theology of sin: our world is eclipsed by it, and sin now dwells in the deepest corners of our hearts, pulling us into ourselves.  Thus, his heart is more easily focused on his needs, and my heart is steered in the direction of my needs.

And we hold on to our individual desires for dear life.

In general analysis of the past 13 years, the biggest heart issue that hurts my marriage is this:

Sometimes I fight to love a man that does not exist.

In the valleys of our relationship, I stand in front of Pat and I see a shadow behind him, a vision of who I want him to be.  And all the while I say quietly in my heart: I will love you when you are THAT man.  I will accept you fully when you are THAT man.  I am angry with you for not being THAT man.  See that shadow behind you?  I love THAT man! 

The problem with my vision is two-fold.

First, it is founded on untruth – the lie that perfect human love can be sought and found, and tied up neatly in one person.  This belief denies sin’s pervasive reign and rule on this earth, tempting me with an unrealistic view of one man’s ability to measure up and deliver.  This lie I believe exhausts my marriage if I do not identify it readily.

The second problem with my vision, is that I begin to justify my lie.  One lie always leads to another.  As I commit to belief that perfection should be found in my spouse, I begin to blame him for not meeting my expectations -my unreasonable expectations.

But married vows are based on the premise that perfect love will never be found this side of eternity.  The vows we speak on the day of our wedding when all of life’s bumps lie ahead, are made public to ensure that we know and others know, that we are all in

Countless untruths circulate about married love, particularly the lie that only the one who meets your every need, want and desire is worthy of your love. But healthy marriage cannot be based on continued thoughts of self-advancement.  Real marriage requires tremendous reserves of humility, grace and mercy.  It requires depths of compassion, kindness and desire to elevate the needs of another above your own. It requires a very different temperature of love than that which our misled generation states it will.

 

Someone has beautifully said that marriage is a process of falling in love time and time again, but always with the same person.  And how true!  Marriage is an overall cumulative climb toward the strengthening of the foundational relationship in society.  In the weaker moments of my marriage or yours, the reminder that a perfect mate is not the goal, is helpful.  Til death do us part means loving through every bit of weakness, with a firm foundation of: “ I am with you in this.  I will stand by as God works in you, as He works in us”.  This is the stand-out beauty of committed, married love.  This is the victory!

And this is the truest blessing of being hand-in-hand with one man forever: we are learning through falling down, to fall in love repeatedly in new ways, with new resolve.

 

 

 

 

 

 


What a Girl Wants

Last weekend I attended a women’s retreat, and though for the sake of feeling “away” I planned to keep in touch with my family only on the book-ends of the day, I quickly I realized that my mothering role would accompany me on the trip.

My phone (set to silent) buzzed as I drove up into the mountains Friday, it buzzed a little Saturday, and it buzzed the whole way home on Sunday.  Always a small voice on the other end: “Mom?  What are you doing?  How are you? When will you be home?”  My heart melted at the sound on the other end.  You see, I have an adolescent daughter, and the weekend away allowed me to see with fresh eyes that this precious girl- so independent and head-strong at times- is still so needful when it comes to Mom.

Seated with Moms of boys at lunch recently, I was asked: What do you think the biggest difference is between raising girls and raising boys?  Although I think my immediate answer was something about destruction – my boys break everything!- in reality there is one stark contrast I notice.

Girls need to talk.

On any given day, my oldest son will walk through the door and I will ask him how his day was.  He will reply with either “fine” or “not good”.  He will then get to homework, regardless of the nature of the day.

My oldest daughter on the other hand, will walk in the door from school speaking, even as the door is opening.   I will immediately hear all sorts of things:  Her opinion of the lunch I sent.  The color of elastic bands her friend chose for her braces.  I will hear about who has a new phone, and about which girls are not getting along.  I will hear about which of her friends has a crush and on whom.  I will hear that her teacher is still enjoying the Starbucks mug we bought him.  And on it goes with energy and consistency, until I remind her that homework will not complete itself.

She is classically female and already, wired for relationship.  She wants to talk and she needs somebody to talk to.

Recent studies conducted by British scientists, shed light on this pattern:  It has been claimed previously that women speak about 20,000 words a day – some 13,000 more than the average man.  The basis for this need, is found in a simple protein.  Scientists have discovered that Foxp2 protein actually appears in higher levels in the female brain.  Not surprisingly, Foxp2 is the protein responsible for language.  Women are shown to produce 30% more of it than men, leading them to “produce” more chatter.

There are moments my ears are not attuned to listen, and how my daughters know it.  They will immediately stop and state: Mom, I can tell you are not listening to me.  Older mothers have advised me to listen on and on, to make myself available to each conversation and question.  What a full-time job!  Elizabeth George, one of my favorite mom-authors, states:

Daughters naturally adore their Moms and crave time with them, unless they are being pushed away or ignored.  Then it won’t take long for the wall to go up.  The smart Mom knows that love is spelled T-I-M-E.  And the more, the better!

I am in the mid-stages of learning to stop, engage, listen.  To take serious note of all the seemingly inconsequential details, because that attention spells concern and love.  Ironically, I find that many times when I am most ready to drop to sleep or feel particularly depleted, my girls are eager to talk and they have “one more question” or one more concern.  I am convinced that those Foxp2 proteins surge in highest levels after 8pm!

One idea I am striving toward is to think about raising a daughter as raising a future friend.  The end goal of my time living with my girls is a deep and abiding friendship – one in which they need never question my love, loyalty or investment.  One from which they will draw strength on into adulthood.  And just as any good friendship centers around free conversation and mutual listening, the same applies to raising girls.  They are just small women, craving the same words and expression as adults do.

Those 20,000 words rattling around in your daughter’s brain are waiting to find expression, even now.  I hope and pray that as you and I raise the next generation of women, we are able to put on our listening ears today.

Particularly if it’s after 8pm!

 

 

 


An Imperfect Mom is Still a Good Mom

I can still remember sitting with my last baby in the hospital, comfortably secure in the space between the energized adrenalin of post-birth and the life awaiting at home.  By this time, I knew what to expect in terms of the family adjustment to come.

There would be the sad and displaced former-youngest, needing plenty of one-on-one time.  The older kids to reign in in terms of discipline.   There would be the normal marital adjustments.  There would be a need for greater flexibility in terms of routine and schedule. There would be many little changes necessary to every aspect of our lives, and it was all these things I looked ahead to as I sat cradling Will, enjoying this last experience of becoming a Mom – again.

But what evaded my foreward glance was a shocking but painful reality awaiting: I would not be the Mother of my dreams.

For no sooner had I cut the hospital bracelets off my wrists upon returning home, than I was awakened to the imperfection and limitations of this new life I had created. The baby was gassy and fussy.  The toddler remained high-spirited as ever, her high energy no match for my low supply.  The older kids lived in a cycle of school and after-school activities, none of which seemed to mesh with my new sleep schedule: 3 hours here, 1 hour there. I became discouraged quickly, and realized that I was going to have to employ a new parenting strategy to survive.

Perfect Mother was out of the question.  My blotted record had shown me that already.  But maybe “Good Mother” could be enough for my little ones.

 

The months following Will’s arrival were marked by pain as God began to strip away my perfectionism slowly, day by challenging day.  But they were also months marked by great grace, as He began to free me from the exhaustion of unrealistic expectations. Throughout,  there were countless truths that became clearer with each unrealized goal, each interrupted plan.

Get the Source of Perfection Right: There is only one ultimate root of perfection, and it is found in the person of Christ.   Hebrews directs us to fix our eyes on Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Christ alone lived a perfect life, ultimately dying in our place so that we could stand before God faultless.  Faultless!  No longer guilty of the imperfection and sin that stains our everyday.  He has accomplished perfection on our behalf, emptying our lives of the need to strive for what cannot be humanly had.  This is unparalleled news for Mothers.  Your limitation is covered at the Cross!

Focus on Perfect Promises:  God is a God of promises.  He makes them, and He promises not to break them once He has committed. Scripture teaches us that God is with us when our yoke is heavy {Matthew 11:29}.  It promises that God generously gives us wisdom when we ask it {James 1:5}.  To be unfamiliar with God’s promises is to face the day without armor, emptied of strength.   Know His perfect promises and you will surely see them manifest in your life, day after challenging day.

Focus on Your Strengths: Know your passions, as they are likely your strengths.  There are the crafty Moms and the serving Moms.  The academic Moms and the organized room-Moms.  There are the ministry Moms and the soccer Moms.

We will all be one of the types but none of us will be all of the types. 

The surest means of burn-out is to try and be all Moms in one.  Each of us are uniquely gifted by God to be who He has made us to be, and within the framework of motherhood this allows for great freedom of expression and individuality.  Be you, and enjoy it!

Lower Your Expectations:  This is the white flag of surrender to perfectionist-Moms.  But, it is necessary to lay down false expectations for our reality daily, or we will become oh-so-weary so very quickly.  It has been my experience that roughly 1/2 or less or less of all my mothering goals are realized, and after 12 years in this seems to be a rule, not an exception.  Though this flawed record can discourage me at times, I try to accept that my desires will always supersede the realities of Mom-life.

 

In his book, No Little People, Francis Schaeffer warns against the fight toward perfection when he states, if we insist on perfection or nothing, we get nothing every time.  There is a piece of me that would love to claim the title of Perfect Mom, and I am sure that you would too.  It would be such an honor, such a crown.  But since Perfect is well beyond grasp, why not strive for Good Mom? I am.

And truthfully, life has been much more enjoyable on the other side of perfect.


A House is Not a Home

As a child, one of my favorite storybooks was entitled A House is a House For Me.  In it, dozens of animals and insects show off the “houses” they live in –  a burrow, a cave, a tunnel.  And after describing their particular dwelling, each creature proudly  declares: “A house is a house for me!”

Every so often on the blog, I hope to cover some area of house.  I know that as women we enjoy those little glimpses into the spaces of others, and so I will post at times about the goings-on in our house.  I will also feature the houses of women who have graciously agreed to offer glimpses into where they are living.   But first, I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have about the differing definitions of “house” and “home”, and why I think they are important.

We all live in “houses”.  Upon marrying, we begin the nesting process and part of the fun of that change is the search for and securing of a first house.  I can still remember the excited voices of my friends those early years: “We bought a house!”  I can recall sitting on the front steps of my own first house,with a stack of magazines, wanting to learn how to make this brand new space welcoming and attractive.  The houses we live in are of varying shapes and sizes, square footages and costs.  They are the structures and forms that shelter us physically, and store us and our belongings.  They are necessary to our survival, and the most valuable commodity we will likely ever own.  But at some level, they are not more than that.  They are things, existing to serve us.  We can move from one to another with some disruption, but with our families still intact.

But a home is a somewhat different definition.  A home is more than a physical dwelling that shelters and stores all the components of us.  It is in essence where we belong.  It is where we know place simply by virtue of being part of a family unit.

A home is where memories exist and traditions are celebrated.  It is a soft place to land, in order to feel a strong sense of security and identity, child-hood on into adult-hood.

A child growing up in a homely house that was a loving home might have a lesser aesthetic sense to show for it.  But a child growing up in a house that was not a home at all, will bear the scars of that for a lifetime.

A house can be created by anyone and maintained by anyone.

But a home is created very specifically by the weaving together of family, and can only be maintained by the careful work and devotion of the people living within in.

I love my house.   I love making it, taking care of it and enhancing it.  I love working on projects to better our space, making it more welcoming, more efficient.

But, I also know that home is what my family arrives back to every afternoon.  And what I hope them to arrive back to for years to come.  It is where love lives, where patience lives, where kindness lives, where grace lives.

It is a house God has given us, but a home that we are seeking to make.