What Does Your Schedule Say About You?

“Our schedules reflect our priorities.” – Dr. Kevin Leman

Think about that for a moment. Would you agree with that statement? I have to admit that when I first read that statement, I wanted to disagree. The priorities I have for my family don’t always match up with what is written on our calendar. But, maybe that is exactly what the problem is. Maybe I’ve been filling my schedule with things that don’t really matter in the long haul. Maybe I’ve been too busy doing things that I feel others expect of me. Maybe I’m not setting boundaries when it comes to my time and how I spend it. What about you? What does your schedule say about you?

Maybe it’s not your schedule that is too full. Maybe, just maybe, it’s your kid’s schedule. How many extracurricular activities is your child involved in at this moment, and why are they involved in those activities?  I’m all for extracurricular activities, don’t get me wrong. I love watching my oldest perform with the marching band, my daughter race her pony, and my youngest play floor hockey but, I think it is important to ask yourself if participating in a particular activity is moving your family in the direction God has for you. Is the time spent away from home worth the trade? 

Many feel that extracurricular activities give kids new and varied experiences, extend their social network, and give them a jump start over other kids so they’ll be more successful in life. They may very well do that, but Dr. Leman cautions us. He says that, “Stacking up activity after activity won’t guarantee your kid success in life. Don’t hand your child’s heart, time, and talents over to other people, programs, or institutions who don’t know nearly as much about your child as you do.” Instead he suggests choosing one activity at a time. One activity that your child shows interest in, not one in which you are interested in your child participating. There’s a difference. 

When my oldest was younger, he loved to play summer soccer. I saw what I thought was real potential and pushed him to play travel soccer for a season. The result? My son hasn’t played on a soccer team again. He loved soccer, but he loved playing it just for fun. He wasn’t interested in improving his skills a great deal. He didn’t enjoy competing against other teams. He didn’t enjoy playing soccer in the snow. The dream to play soccer was mine, not his. Now, this year, he’s joined the marching band. Marching band is a huge time commitment for our family, but you know what? My kid loves it! He looks forward to rehearsals, he loves to perform on the field, and he is making some amazing friends. This is his niche. This is the only activity he is participating in outside of school. And it’s more than enough. 

What does your schedule say about your priorities? If you feel that sharing your faith with your kids is important, are you intentionally spending time doing that each week? If education is important to you, are you devoting time to that each week? Are you devoting your time to those areas that are important to you, or are you placing other things or other people above your own family? Are you filling your schedule with numerous activities that take you or your kids away from your family? If so, perhaps it is time to reevaluate and make some changes. Those things that are dearest to your heart, those are the things that need to be your top priority.

Anne-Renee Gumley said, “Tomorrow can’t be rushed, and today will never come again, so let’s make each moment count. This one life is our one life. We don’t get a second chance. “ 

Remember that God has entrusted you to raise the kids He gave you. Be purposeful in how you raise them.  Spend your time on those things that matter most. 

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Bacon, Amanda and Gumley, Anne-Renee. Shiny Things. Harvest House, 2019.

Leman, Dr. Kevin. Have a Happy Family by Friday. Revell, 2014.

https://www.parentsplace.ca/looking-back-on-life-time-with-your-kids/

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Most of Our Moments

I can still remember the feeling of his small hand in mine, his hesitancy at stepping into the room, and his large hazel eyes that looked up into mine. It was his first day of kindergarten. I reassured him that it was going to be ok, and, it was. Seven years later, we found ourselves in a similar situation, yet now, his hand didn’t reach for mine, and with his height, he looked me straight in the eye. I saw his hesitancy in his gaze, and I reassured him once again that it was going to be ok. With a deep breath, he turned and joined the mass of students heading into the middle school. As I watched him walk away, I couldn’t help but wonder how we were at this point in life already and why must kids grow up so fast? As I slipped into my car, I thought about the twelve plus years I’ve been blessed to be his mom, and I thought about how much I’ve poured into his life. 

We do that as mamas, don’t we? We spend countless hours feeding, bathing, snuggling, reading, cleaning, nursing, managing, encouraging, transporting, and disciplining; the list could go on and on. We want our kids to grow up to be adults who are responsible, independent, and who do something wonderful with their lives. To ensure that this happens, we throw ourselves completely into the raising of them. Would you not agree? But, let me ask you something. When it comes to raising our families, are we focusing our time and energy on the things that really matter? Are we spending our days intentionally pouring into our kids in ways that will make a positive, lasting and eternal impact? Are we mothering with purpose?

To do something with purpose means to do it with clear intent. It’s identifying an end goal and developing a plan to achieve that goal. When it comes to raising our kids, it’s taking steps that are going to bring the best out of our kids and help them grow into the people that God created them to be.

Take a moment and think about your own family. What is most important to you when it comes to raising your family? What hopes and dreams do you have for your kids? What do you want your kids to learn from you? What type of life do you want them to have? What type of people do you want them to be? What is most important to you as you raise your family, and how can you be purposeful as you do it?

I think we have to start by taking a look at how we spend our time.  Do you spend the majority of your day checking things off of your to-do-list, rushing everyone from one activity to the next, or scrolling through social media? Or, do you approach each day with the goal of making the most of each moment with your kids?  

Spending time with our kids is extremely important. It helps our kids feel valued, builds positive self-esteem, and strengthens the emotional bond we have with them. Spending time together also encourages communication, can positively impact academic performance and behavior, and can teach our kids how to positively interact with others. As we spend time together as a family, our kids are learning that they are important to us and that family is to be treasured. 

Now, sometimes moms, especially working moms, feel guilty about not spending a significant amount of time with their children throughout the week. Research suggests however, that it isn’t necessarily the quantity of time you give your child, but the quality of time. That quality time does not have to be a big, elaborate, expensive activity that you plan. The study suggests that real family bonding was often found in the quiet, in-between moments of family life, and that everyday activities (like household chores or running errands) could give families quality moments and unplanned, unstructured times of social interaction that are important in building relationships. Our kids value those ordinary moments found in each day often more than the scheduled “fun” events we plan. My oldest will tell you that one thing he really enjoys is simply sitting down and talking together at the end of the day. Quality time is important. 

It’s also important to remember that quality time also means giving each of our kids some one-one-one, undivided attention. Our kids need time when they have our complete attention. This means that we remove all distractions that would keep us from completely focusing on our child. No tv running in the background, no cell phone reminding you that you have a text message, no laundry folding . . .  no distractions. In her book, Purposeful Parenting, Jean Barnes shares that one-one-one time with your child gives you an opportunity to really listen to one another, to connect, and to simply delight in one another. Too often, we allow the distractions that come with living life keep us from simply delighting in our children. I have to admit that I feel like it was so much easier to delight in my kids when they were small. Not that I can’t do that now, but life moved at a slower pace and seemed a bit simpler in some ways. I took great delight in watching them meet different milestones, hearing the funny things they would say, and watching them slowly fall asleep in my arms. Have you had moments like that? Do you take the time to take great delight in your children? Are you making the most of the time you have with your kids right now?

Dr. Kevin Leman, a well known psychologist poses this question: “Why not spend your hours where they can make the most difference in the long haul?” Is scrolling through Facebook going to make the most difference in the long haul? Is finishing the sink full of dishes right now going to make the most difference in the long haul? Is keeping a clean house going to make the most difference in the long haul? What about going for a walk with your child, reading one more book, playing a game, or just sitting down to talk? What will make the most difference in the long haul? Think carefully about how are you choosing to spend your time, and ask yourself if your choices are moving your family in the direction that you feel God has for you.

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It Takes a Little Dirt

My heart sunk as I pulled the laundry from the washer. I had stuck a pen in my back pocket the day before and completely forgotten about it. Now, there it sat in the bottom of the washer, taunting me, making me wonder how many pieces of clothing had been affected. I looked quickly through the clothing, and much to my relief found no proof that the pen had leaked. Later however, as I folded the laundry, I pulled out one of my husband’s favorite shirts. One of his favorite shirts that now had a large purple ink stain on the very front. I had ruined his shirt. I felt horrible.

Have you ever done something that made you feel horrible or had a day when it seemed everything was going wrong and you couldn’t do anything right? Have you ever had a day when you wished you were a better mom, a better wife, or perhaps better at checking the pockets of your jeans before tossing them in the wash? I think we all have days when we feel like we fall short. We feel we fall short not only of meeting the expectations of others, but the expectations we have for ourselves as well. Expectations that we often allow to define us as moms, wives, coworkers, or friends. If the expectations are not met, we then label ourselves as a failure. Have you ever done that? 

I read a blogpost the other day that had a list of what the author called “universal truths of motherhood”. “Universal truths” that she feels are true for every single mom on the planet. Now, as I first read over them, I was anxiously checking off those truths that I felt were true for me as a mom because I wanted to see how I measured up to the rest of the world. As you read over them, I’d like you to do the same. Ask yourself if these “universal truths” apply to you as well. *Please note that I’ve only included only a portion of those truths listed in her post. 

  1. No matter how much you love your kids, there will be times when they annoy you.
  2. By the time you get everyone settled for dinner, yours will be cold, and they will be done.
  3. Any quiet time you get will only occur during screen time, which you will spend feeling guilty about letting them have screen time.
  4. If you choose to use glitter in your home, you have made a lifetime commitment. There will now almost certainly be glitter either on you or your dependents at any given time.
  5. There will never be a time where there is no laundry left to wash.
  6. This also holds true for your home. There will never be a time when every room is clean at the same time.
  7. Any extra money you have will go straight to your children. I hope you like your clothing. I am still wearing underwear from college.
  8. Sleeping in is a phenomenon left behind in your 20s. Welcome to 6 a.m., ladies.
  9. Just because you managed to potty train your children does not mean you’re done wiping (butts). That will likely last until age 5, maybe 6. 
  10. You will grow to hate the sound of your own name, and the word “why,” and “no,” and “snack.”
  11. You will scream. As much as you like to think you’re a good parent and you got it all figured out, you will scream. And then you will cry about it.
  12. You will feel like a success. You will feel like a failure. You’ll feel like running away. And you’ll feel like never letting them go. Probably all on same day.
  13. You will learn to answer questions that have no answers, like, “Why is that a truck?” or “When did the air start?”
  14. You will love more than you knew you could. You will also develop anxieties you never knew existed.
  15. You will have to address topics you dread with no advance warning, like when your kids ask when you’re going to die. My older one asked this for the first time while I was going from entrance ramp to highway. Seriously.
  16. You’ll lecture them on the dangers of too much sugar, then eat all their Halloween candy after they go to bed. Don’t feel bad — I’m pretty sure your parents did it to you.
  17. You will find boogers in places where boogers should not be.
  18. At some point, you’re gonna have to catch some vomit in your bare hands. Spoiler alert: It won’t be yours

Other “truths” that I’ve heard that could be added to this list are: moms who have all boys have their hands full, every mom bonds instantly with her baby, once a mom has a baby she can’t remember anything, and moms can’t function without coffee. I’ve also heard that moms do nothing but worry all of the time, moms are always running late, and moms are usually a hot mess. And then there is one that I hear most often and have believed from time to time. The only way moms can get a break is to hide from their children in the bathroom (preferably with chocolate). What would you add to the list?

Some of these “truths” we can laugh at. There are others though that we probably more true about us than we’d like to admit. However, when it comes down to it, are all of these so called “truths” true for every mom? Are all of them true for you?

It seems like everywhere we turn someone or something is defining what motherhood should look like. It’s in the theaters, on Netflix, and in our latest podcast. It’s found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It even comes from family members, friends, and well-meaning little old ladies in the grocery store. Every day we are bombarded by ideas of what mothering should look like. For example: a good mom breast feeds, a good mom prepares nutritious, organic food for her family each day, a good mom stays home to raise her babies, a good mom keeps a tidy house, a good mom has kids that never throw a temper tantrum in public. A good mom . . . you fill in the blank. Everywhere we turn, we find the world attempting to define what motherhood should look like. And, if we are not careful, it can become  the dominant voice we hear. The dominant voice that can determine our thoughts, our actions, and how we see ourselves as a mom. The world sets a high standard for us as moms, a standard that is often unrealistic, unattainable, and leaves those who strive for it feeling discouraged or defeated. Would you not agree?

In the book of Romans, Paul writes:

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” 

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

Don’t become so well-adjust to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking . . . In her book, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Valerie Woerners says, “That’s exactly the danger – that we accept the world’s subpar cliched version of motherhood without even realizing we could be living something better. It becomes second nature for us to stay in the pigeonhole the world puts us in. We think we have no choice but to live up to the stereotype of moms as worriers and hot messes. The life we live is often far below what God has graciously gifted to us.” “The life we live . . . is often far below what God has graciously gifted to us.” Think about that for a moment. Have you ever wondered if there was more to life than what you are currently living? Has your heart ever yearned to do more or to be more than you currently are?

Valerie goes on to say, “The cliche of motherhood is that we are either perfect or an absolute mess – there is nothing in between. But, maybe the reality looks more like this: we’re sometimes messy-mommas who are being refined into God’s image.” We all want to be that perfect mom, don’t we? But, is that really what our kids need? Do our kids need perfect moms? Think about your own mom. If she had been perfect, what lessons would you have learned from her life? I think in reality, our kids need to see messy-mommas in the process of being refined. Our kids need to see that we make mistakes and what to do when you’ve wronged someone else. Our kids need to see that we have bad days and how we handle ourselves when things aren’t going our way. Our kids need to learn that bad decisions and hard circumstances don’t define who we are. That’s what our kids need. They need a real life example. A real life example in you. 

Lara Casey, author of the book Cultivate says this: “We dismiss the dirt and the mess as bad, trying to keep it off our hands and out of our homes. But dirt holds a certain magic, cradling new life. Your past mistakes, your heartache, your circumstances, and the tension you feel right now in your season- every bit of it is part of your growing ground” Your growing ground . . . You need a little dirt for something beautiful to grow. Philippians says,

 “I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world.”

Philippians 1:6  (VOICE)

If you are frustrated that you yell at your kids every day, that you’ve served peanut butter and jelly for dinner for the fourth time this week, that you spend way more time on your phone than you should, that you spend more time cleaning your house than playing with your kids, or that you don’t measure up as a mom, take courage. God is still working in your growing ground. 

It’s time to let go of the idea that there is a perfect mom. It’s time to let go of the idea that someone besides you could do a better job raising your kids. It’s time to remember that God is always working. He’s given you a beautiful life, and He wants to you to live it to the full. 

 

Mothering to the Full Lesson

References:

Casey, Lara. Cultivate. Harper Collins, 2017.

https://www.scarymommy.com/truths-of-motherhood/ 

https://twitter.com/hashtag/dontfitinstandout?src=hash

Woerner, Valerie. Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in  Motherhood. Tyndale, 2019.

 

I Want to Laugh

Just a few weeks ago, our family was standing in our kitchen laughing. I can’t even remember what was so funny, but I remember looking at each face in that room and savoring the sound of their laughter. It was what happened in the next moment that caught me by surprise, however. My oldest looked at me and said, “You don’t laugh very much.” His observation hit me in the gut. I was quick to defend myself, but as I thought about it later, I realized that he was right. I don’t laugh as much as I used to. Why is it that I don’t laugh very much anymore?

I just finished reading a book called, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday. The author, Valerie Woerner, talks about how we need a change of perspective. She shares that being a mom at any stage isn’t easy, and I think we can all agree that life in general isn’t always easy.  Yet, how often do we allow this knowledge that life isn’t always easy consume us? How often do we allow the stresses of each day, our fatigue, or our fears sew discontentment into our hearts? How often do we allow the disappointments that life can bring cloud our vision and rob us of our joy? What if there was a better way to live our lives? What if instead of just trying to survive our life, we chose to savor it? What if we chose joy?

In the book of John, Jesus says these words:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 NIV 

Jesus came so that we could have life and have it to the full. That is the life that I want; that is the life that I’m after. I want to enjoy my life even when the circumstances surrounding me are hard. I want to trust that God is in control all of the time and that His plan is always good. I no longer want  to allow my fears to rob me of the joy that comes with each morning. I want to love my people more deeply, enjoy their presence, and I want to laugh. I want to laugh more.

What about you? Are you surviving life or are you savoring it? Are you living a life to the full? If not, what is holding you back?

John-10-10

 

References:

http://blog.jacquelynvansant.com/2018/07/his-encouragement-john-10-10/.

Woerner, Valerie. Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in Motherhood. Tyndale, 2019.

Fear No More

Grief has a way of catching us off guard at times, doesn’t it? Sometimes it seems to come upon us slowly and other times, it seems to hit us like a freight train. Whether it’s through the loss of a loved one, a marriage that is struggling, or a child making poor decisions, we sometimes find ourselves in places that we didn’t expect. Places of discouragement. Places of hurt. Places of heartache. Places that cause us to grieve for what might have been. Have you ever been there?

When I find myself in the midst of grief, I am reminded that the path before me is not one that I walk alone. Isaiah reminds me,

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you . . . I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”

Isaiah 43:2-5 (MSG)

   

“Don’t be afraid: I’m with you.” On those days that you grieve for what was or for what might have been, be reminded that you are not alone. When you find yourself in the midst of a day that leaves you feeling discouraged, be reminded that you are not alone. When fear of the future and what might be threatens to take hold, be reminded that you are not alone. Turn your gaze towards Him, lean into His strength, and press on. God promises to be there. 

 

A Spark

“Your letter made me cry.”

I had just emailed a letter of recommendation for a dear friend; a letter for a potential employer that shared many of the things I love about her. As I read her text, I felt God whispering into my heart, and I began to think about something.

How often am I using the time He has given me throughout my day to encourage and build others up?  What words am I choosing to use with my husband, my kids, or even the customer service representative on the other end of the line? Am I allowing the stress I am feeling to spill out through my words? How are my actions affecting those around me? Are my actions revealing my frustrations of the day? Intentional or unintentional, are my words and actions building others up or tearing them down?

Her words made me think.

How often do I lift my eyes from myself, my troubles, my stress, my frustrations and see the others in my life that need a little encouragement? How often do I remind my husband that I love him and that I am so proud of him? How often do I point out the strengths I see in my kids to build their confidence? How often do I tell someone that I believe in them?

I recently read a quote that said, “Your words of encouragement could be the spark that pushes someone forward.” Our words could be a spark . . .

Who can you encourage today? Who can you build up today? Use your words and actions wisely. Often, they have more of an impact than we realize.

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http://favanti.com/your-words-of-encouragement-could-be-the-spark-that-pushes-a-person-forward.html 

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/715561

A Million Canaries

Many might describe her as quiet, perhaps even unsure of herself. But, this picture tells a different story. This picture captures the heart of my girl. And I wish, I was more like her.

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My girl. She loves rollercoasters and barrel racing. She loves deeply and will fiercely defend those she holds close. Her laughter is contagious, and she fully embraces the joy that comes from living life. She loves who she is, and it shows. And . . . I wish I was more like her. I wish that I was more confident in who God created me to be. Have you ever struggled with that? Have you ever felt that you don’t quiet measure up?

I read an article, this morning, by Diana Spalding. In it, she talks about how many women, moms in particular, are feeling burnt out.  They are burnt out from striving to meet the standards set by society. Standards that dictate what a perfect woman, wife, and mother looks like.

These standards surround us at every turn. They are found in the books we read, the movies we watch, and in our Facebook feed. We see pictures of the perfect birthday parties on Pinterest, the perfect vacations on Instagram, the perfect bodies on the covers of magazines in the check-out line. Everywhere we look, we are faced with an image of what a perfect woman looks like, and we are faced with the reality that we fail on so many levels. Have you ever been there? I have. Far too often.

But, I think it is really important that we remember a couple of things when we begin to compare ourselves to this standard the world has set. First, many of the images and ideas that our society gives us of the perfect woman are unrealistic and unattainable: plain and simple. We see pictures that have been edited and feeds that only share the good things that happen. We strive for perfection and find ourselves disappointed every time. 

Secondly, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. The only opinion that should matter is that of our Father. And you know what? In His eyes, you are beautiful. In His eyes, you are precious. In His eyes, you are worthy.

Diana goes on to share a quote from Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, who has spent more than a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. Ms. Brown says,

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering ‘You’re not good enough’ in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.”

“We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.” That’s a powerful statement and she’s right. We strive to find our worthiness in this world when our worthiness is already found in Jesus. Matthew 10:29-31 says,

“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.”

Matthew 10:29-31 (MSG)

You are worth more than a million canaries. Cling to that today friend, and stand tall as the beautiful woman God created you to be.

 

 

https://www.ted.com/speakers/brene_brown

https://www.mother.ly/life/self-care-is-not-enough-to-fix-how-much-moms-are-burnt-out?xrs=RebelMouse_fb&fbclid=IwAR3ZI-s1I37ZeWi6hyCF9KsBgSLpVTt9nbiTaehju3OpQDaXmaX5ZwfqOQQ