Oh, Lord…

sad boy
woodleywonderworks / Foter / CC BY-NC

Oh, Lord…

This past week, my oldest son was a bit sick, so he was horribly grouchy with me. He fought naps, screamed at me and tried to hit and kick me frequently. He threw things and cried. A lot.

I cleaned up potty training messes and tried to patiently encourage potty time while the baby screamed wanting to be picked up. I wiped snotty noses and had snot wiped on me. I’ve cleaned up thrown food and been “the bad guy” when having to enforce the rules. I’ve felt like a broken record and at times, a bit of a failure. I was up often during the nights with both of them and have stayed exhausted.

Tonight alone, I stepped on a small metal car and when I finally got a few moments to actually wash my hair in the shower instead of the sink before the baby woke up again, I had to stop first to pick up the toys from the bathtub.

Lord, I just want to say….

Thank you. For every moment. I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity you have given me. Not every woman who wants to be a mommy is granted the same. Why you have allowed me this great privilege is something only you can answer.

Thank you for letting me hold on to my boys here on earth while you hold my girl in Heaven. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me through these precious children more about what your love really means.

Thank you for putting up with our grouchy, willful, disobedient, selfish, human ways and loving us anyway. Thank you for your patience when we are lashing out at you for things you know are best for us in the big picture. Thank you for loving me enough to say no when you know what I think I want isn’t what I need.

And thank you, Father, for every sweet hug, every sticky, syrupy kiss, every dimpled smile, and every sweet giggle. Please help me to never take a moment for granted.

Your humbled servant,

A tired, grateful mommy.

The grass is always greener…

Pampa - Santa Fe, Argentina
Claudio.Ar / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The grass is always greener… in a well-manicured lawn. No, really, how do you think it became so green? It’s easy to look at other couples or families and think, “wow, they have it all together… they have the perfect life.” It’s just as easy to then look at your own life and compare the two. The problem is that this often leads to discontentment.

In reality, relationships take work. To work on a marriage takes self-sacrifice and a willingness to put your spouse first. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Healthy relationships with your children take work too. It’s tempting to want to be your little one’s best friend, when what they need is for you to be their parent.

As a therapist, I have had many people present their children for therapy and tell me, in one form or another, that their children have behavior problems and they won’t respond to parental correction. As the conversation progresses, however, the parents will begin to tell me of the inconsistencies in their own parenting techniques. They may know what needs to be done, but it doesn’t get done for various reasons. For example, I’ve been told many times that Time-Out doesn’t work because the children won’t stay in Time Out. I’ve also seen the same children respond very well to Time-Out when the parents consistently and calmly follow through. Initially, the children will kick, scream, flail, and try to bite, but eventually they will realize the parent is going to follow through and they will relinquish control to the parent. It can be heart wrenching to watch the process, knowing that the child is doing what he has learned to do to get his way (after all, we all have that selfish, sinful nature that strengthens if not checked), but doing your best to remain loving, patient, and calm while setting boundaries is important. Remember, you are modeling God’s love to your child!

When trying to make major changes, it always looks like it’s getting worse before it gets better, but in dealing with something like children’s behavioral problems, it’s important to know that if you make a big effort to be consistent and give up after an hour and a half of the child screaming and struggling with you (hello, exhaustion!), you’ve only wasted that much energy and your child will then be reaffirmed that if he fights hard enough and long enough, you’re going to give in. It is our responsibility to teach our children how to cope with their emotions (disappointment, frustration, etc.) rather than simply reacting to them.

When making changes in other relationships, whether with your spouse, a friend, family member, etc., It will also take a lot of work.

  • Practice controlling your tongue so you’re not throwing verbal jabs when your feelings get hurt.
  • Make it a concentrated effort to approach the other person lovingly when you feel like running away/avoiding any and all contact with them.
  • Set aside your own pride and hurt feelings to look for compassion that may help you better communicate with them. You don’t have to agree to have compassion!

So now we come back to the lawn. How much is it worth to you for your grass to be pretty and green? How much work are you willing to put into your relationships? It’s up to you, of course. You can’t have the results you want if it’s not important enough for you to put in the work.

 

Keri

 

 

 

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Attention, Wives!

This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to review Darlene Schacht’s new book, The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth. Darlene is a New York Times Best Selling Author and the creator of The Time-Warp Wife blog.

The book, currently available for Kindle (and will be released in paperback soon) is an 18 part study designed to help women grow closer to God and closer to their husbands. Darlene begins by digging deeper into what it means to be virtuous, and establishing a better understanding of what virtues are. The next 17 lessons focus on specific virtues for readers to explore and strive toward in their own lives. Included are: Purity, Self-control, Love, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility, Faith, Forgiveness, Joy, Passion, Radiance, Encouragement, Balance, Goodness, Trustworthy, and Courage. Each lesson ends with a corresponding passage of scripture for further reading, prompts for journaling or small group discussion, and a virtue-driven prayer for personal growth.

Darlene’s transparent approach to sharing what God has done in her own life lends itself well to the informal nature of the study, setting a friendly, non-judgmental, and conversational tone. Her openness and honesty are refreshing and encourage the reader to be honest about her own areas of weakness and potential for growth.

As I read, I found the lessons to be very timely. With recent changes in my own family (including a new baby), I’m finding a new balance. Each day, I’m working to actively love my family more (sometimes this may simply look like me trying my hardest to keep my cool during a toddler meltdown!) and to be more diligent in my efforts as wife and mother while balancing all my responsibilities. The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife was both encouraging and inspirational for me. I hope many of you will also check it out and challenge yourselves to be more intentional in what God has called you to be in your marriage.

 

“I’d rather be a crown than a trophy wife; I’d rather have virtue than vogue.”
-Darlene Schacht

 

Keri

 

 

5 Reasons to Take Time for Your Family

take timeOne morning, when our oldest son was just 18 months old, my husband was running late (or at least later than he wanted to be) for work. He seemed stressed. As he was rushing past, our son lifted a book up to his daddy. “Pae?” (Please)

I watched as my husband stopped rushing and leaned over to Paxton, took the book, and calmly read it to him. I had one of those “I-think-I-just-fell-in-love-with-you-all-over-again” moments that I seem to have frequently.

I continue to see actions such as this on a regular basis, but in this particular incident, it was a short book and probably didn’t take a full minute. I’m sure it would have been easy for him to say, “not now buddy, I’ve got to go.” But he didn’t. He took a moment to demonstrate that our son is important to him.

It seems that all of us feel rushed from time to time. Unfortunately, families who always feel too rushed to take time for one another often begin to fall apart at the seams.

5 reasons to take time for your family

1. Stopping for even a moment to do something positive can help put your stressors in perspective and improve your attitude (read your child a story, tell your spouse your top 5 favorite things about him/her, and listen to your child’s long, rambling story/cheesy joke).
2. Taking time for your family reassures them that they are important to you, which will strengthen your relationships and you may be surprised at the response you get in return!
3. When you take time for your family and strengthen your relationship with your children, your discipline efforts are much more effective, leading to a more stable and secure household. (After all, discipline without relationship leads to rebellion!)
4. Taking time for your family, improving behavior management, and promoting a stable, secure household sets the tone for an improved, intimate marriage relationship and decreased stress.
5. Jobs come and go, but the best relationships last forever.

According to scripture, we were made in God’s image and God IS Love (1 John 4:8). Love is relational, and Love is unending. Our priority is to be a godly example to our families. If we are too busy to take time for them, we are not showing them love. Modeling God’s love to those around us (especially our families) is the most important thing we could possibly do on this earth!

 

Keri

God Our Father

2 Corinthians 1:2
“2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

God. Our Heavenly Father.

What does that mean to you? I know it’s a phrase we often use to describe God, because Scripture tells us that God is our Father… but what does that mean? To You?

Our perception of God when described as a parent can be heavily influenced by our earthly parents, or for many, the lack thereof.

Maybe your earthly father was never around, or when he was, he was harsh, unforgiving, and demanding. Or, maybe you had a kind and caring father. Regardless of what your father has meant to you, once we have a meaning attributed to a word, it’s as if that meaning becomes the glasses through which you view anything attached to the word.

What has your view of God been throughout your walk? God is not the harsh, legalistic, demanding father He is often made out to be. God is a Loving Father who gives us boundaries for our own good. He allows pain because He has a loving plan for us.

As a mom, I’ve had to allow my son to go through the pain of the shots at his regular well-child visits because I knew the vaccines were for his health. It broke my heart as he played and smiled, having no idea what was about to happen, but I gladly cuddled him while he cried and recovered from the ordeal. I picture God looking at us with sadness when we’re facing painful experiences in life – Because He’s a loving Father. I want my son to always know that if I allow something like that to happen, it’s because I love him.

I want my son to know that when I tell him “no”, and when I put him in Time-Out because he wasn’t listening, it is because I love him too much to give him the control he’s not mature enough to have. I want him to know that even when he’s not happy about the decisions I make, he can trust me to have his best interest in mind. I want him to know that I’m not going to be removing privileges for my own enjoyment, but because there is something he needs to learn so he can have a safer, happier life.

I want my son to know these things because it is my responsibility as his mother to model to him the love of God –as a parent. If I were to allow him to be disrespectful to me, to disobey without consequence, to have the control before he has the maturity to know what to do with it, how in the world could I ever expect him to respect our Heavenly Father? If I were to allow him to exhibit such behavior, I would be teaching him that it’s acceptable. He may know (through scoldings or repeated, empty warnings) that I’d prefer he not do such things, but he would not understand respect to be an expectation. Preferences and expectations are two entirely different things.

Please, teach your children that respect is an expectation and not just a preference. It is your responsibility as parents to teach them who God is, as their Heavenly Father. Make your time with them count – they grow up so quickly.

 

 

Keri

What is most important?

I just want to ask you a question: What IS most important? What’s it all about?

Scripture clearly states that God is love (1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love). Love, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13, isn’t about self. It is by nature other-centered. God, therefore, is relational (His being is defined by His relationship to His creation), and we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27)
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them). Have you ever really stopped to ponder that?

We were created as relational beings. What does that mean to our day-to-day lives?

It means that, in our marriages, the relationship is what is important. If we want to live our lives reflecting the example our Creator has set for us, we cannot do that without loving our spouse – meaning we cannot be selfish and godly at the same time.  How does this impact how you parent?

What do you want your children to learn about a loving marriage? It starts early, and is evident in the details. What do you model to your children? Take a moment to look around at the children and teens you know. What is being modeled to them about relationships? Have they been exposed to loving, committed marriages? How does that impact their choices and behavior?

  • Let your children see you doing kind things for your spouse. For example, offer a glass of cold water during yard work, help out with a task your spouse normally does, just to make it easier on the other, etc.
  • Offer your spouse praise in front of the children- tell him/her what you appreciate about his/her character, abilities, etc.
  • Honor your commitments. Don’t threaten to leave every time things get rough. Love is a choice to be committed to the other’s needs, regardless of circumstance.

As always, if your marriage is struggling and you believe your efforts are not helping, please seek help for your relationship. Talk to your minister, find a good counselor, confide in a mentoring couple from your church that you both trust… find some reliable help. Invest in your marriage – your relationships are more important than any of the distractions and trials you may face.

Learn how to love, and teach your children. After all, What IS most important?

 

 

Keri

Love Isn’t Selfish: Understanding God’s Love Through Human Relationships

Publication Date: December 15, 2012

     Because scripture tells us clearly that God is Love (1 John 4:8), we know that God, by very nature, is relational. Love is an action, emotion, state, and characteristic that requires interaction with another being. Love does not exist alone. Scripture also tells us that we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love Him in return, though loving Him will never be forced upon us because love isn’t selfish.

It is this line of thinking that leads me to the belief that the meaning of life is to learn how to love, and then teach others. Considering that our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is to go throughout the world and teach others about our Heavenly Father’s commands (such as love God and love others; Matthew 22:37-39), we must learn first what Love is- who He is. 

     Every relationship we form gives us the opportunity to learn a bit more about His character in order to have a better understanding of who He really is. Marriage, family, friends, neighbors, and even enemies can teach us much about who God is and who God isn’t. This book examines multiple relationships we experience and what valuable information we can gather from those relationships about the character of Love, which is to say, the character of God. It’s about learning to be unselfish in a selfish world.