purposeful-dad

Four Tips to Becoming a Purposeful Dad

As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I thought it would only be appropriate to encourage the dads out there who may be reading this! When Suzette and Faye began the blog, I remember thinking, “I sure hope I can be a purposeful Dad to my girls!”

This post is a starting point for me to become a ‘purposeful dad.’ I am nowhere near perfect and still have a lot to learn, but here are four tips this Father’s Day I’d love to share with other dads out there who may be struggling on this fatherhood journey, especially when it comes to being intentional with your children.

1. Turn everyday tasks into family tasks. You know you’re going to have to go to the grocery store at some point. You know you’re going to have to get an oil change. There are things you’re going to have to do around the house or errands that have to be run. Instead of getting stressed or frustrated when you have to take the extra time to do those things (especially if it’s on your day off), turn it into family time!

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I have turned our grocery trips into daddy-daughter time. I block off at least an hour and a half. We all get ready and head to the grocery store. First stop? The Deli. Most grocery store delis hand out a free cookie to the kids. Now my girls get a little treat, make a memory with dad AND they stay busy while I get to work on that grocery list. Don’t forget to take a selfie! Side note: this is also a good way to give my wife a break at home!

2. Look them in the eyes. The past week and a half have been absolutely crazy for our family. From church activities, to officiating a wedding in Louisiana, to preaching at a camp… all while trying to answer work emails and spend time with my in-laws while they were in town for the week at our house! I was exhausted. Of course, I would love to come home and “veg.” As a dad, I realized my kids needed ‘dad time.’ Take the moments that you do have with your kids and look them in the eyes, tell them you love them and make them feel like nothing else matters when you’re with them.

Fortunately, I was able to put them to bed one night last week. As I put them to bed, I spent time with each child. I’m talking maybe five minutes each. All I did was look them in the eyes and just talk to them! No phone. No TV. No toys. Just me and my child. I looked them in the eyes and made them feel like they were the most important person in the world for the next five minutes. My time had been short with them, but the quality of time spent with them was high engagement and lots of eye contact.

3. Watch your screen time. This is one that goes hand-in-hand with the above mentioned. Quality time with my kids involves looking them in the eyes… and not at my phone. I found an article that showed me how to check the amount of time spent on each app on my phone. I always tell myself that I am “so busy” and don’t have enough time. And yet, when I checked to see how much time I was spending on my phone with social media apps or email, I felt terrible! How could I be okay with spending four hours on Facebook in the last seven days but not spend four minutes playing a tea party with my girls!

I realize our world is almost to the point where we can use our phone or apps for almost anything we do, so I know that having your phone always on you is just a normal routine for most people. I try to push myself to leave my phone in another room (on purpose) when I play with my girls. I also have turned off all email and social media notifications. Don’t be afraid to turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ button on your phone for “phone-free playtime.” My wife has also been a HUGE help in reminding me to be present when I am home and not staring at a screen (including the TV!).

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4. Pray for your wife and kids. Whether you’re the dad that stays at home and your wife works or you go to work and your wife stays with the kids, don’t forget that the most important “bread-winner” of the family is the one praying for your family. As you lead your family, be sure to lead them spiritually as well. Pray for your wife and kids. Be the father God has called you to be.

One of the ways I remember to pray for my wife and kids is by picking a day of the week to pray for them. That way I know, if it’s Monday, it’s time to pray for my wife and kids. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar. In the evenings, I lead my family in a short prayer time where I lead the prayer. I pray for the salvation of my kids and that our family and marriage would honor God. My kids will hear me and see me pray for my family. It doesn’t happen every night of the week, but our goal is to do it almost every night!

I realize it’s tough being a dad! I still have so much to learn. There are tough days being the dad and spiritual leader of my family. I continue to push myself to be a better dad each day and follow the example of my Heavenly Father. What an honor it is to be a guest blogger this Father’s Day weekend. I hope and pray this can be a starting point for you to become a “purposeful dad.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Josh Waugh is the Associate Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church Hendersonville, Tennessee. He and his wife, Susie, have been married five years and have two beautiful daughters: Bella Grace (3) and Juliette (2). Suzette and Josh served at a church in Florida together for a season! You can follow Josh on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and blogs over at www.joshwaugh.com.

purposeful-dad

Dear Newlyweds, Be “Ring Polishers”

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 NIV

Dirty dishes, soapy residue, cleaning chemicals, lotion, Playdoh, and sand…. My wedding band (the most precious piece of jewelry I own) has been through it all.

I remember the night I received the first half of it… It was our private engagement at a very special restaurant called Berns’ Steakhouse, in our own privately enclosed booth of the Harry Waugh Dessert Room.

It was Valentines Day 2010.. And I had a feeling this would be the night my amazing boyfriend would propose to me… (But, of course, I didn’t let on that I knew. )

Yes, I was aware from my own inquisitive probes that he had already requested permission from my dad to marry me… And with him having previously asked me to look at rings for ideas as to my preference, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would be engaged.

Jim was not content, though, with my preference in a ring. To him, the one I chose was just “plain vanilla” and he wanted it to be way better and have “sprinkles” as well.

That evening as we sat across the table (with me awaiting my Macadamia nut ice cream and Jim his creme brulee dessert), Jim got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

He pulled out the most beautiful ring, which he had personally chosen for me- the one with the sprinkles- and, of course, I gladly accepted.

It is a request, I will cherish forever.

That evening at my sister’s home, after Jim had dropped me off…and after all of the excitement of knowing I would soon be Mrs. Adams’… I sat on my bed admiring my ring.

It was beautiful.

When the light hit the diamonds, they sparkled so beautifully every which way.

It was absolutely gorgeous.

And more importantly, it was symbolically the promise that I was now in the process of fully belonging to someone forever.

It’s so amazing how every once in a while the memory and feelings I had from that special evening of admiring my ring alone in my room tend to return to me…

No, it’s not an everyday occurence… But  do you want to know when those memories do reappear?

It typically happens after I’ve cleaned my ring.

Yes, just as smells and songs take people back to certain times or events in their lives, seeing the sparkle in my ring literally brings me back as well.

But you know what…..

The messes of everyday life often get in the way of the sparkle of my engagment ring/wedding band… The dirty dishes, the soapy residue, the sand, the playdoh… All of those things.

It isn’t always easy to see the rainbow of colors that love to glimmer when I turn my ring this way and that on just any given day.

No…It takes a toothbrush and a cleaning agent to get my ring to sparkle again as it once did the day I first received it.

And you know what…. Life in marriage can be that way too.

Work, chores, routines, financial hardships, children, reponsibilites, school, health issues, activities, etc… All of those things are a part of life on this earth, and they can often “fog up” the “sparkle” couples  once knew when their life together first began.

Sadly in our day and age, though, rather than taking the time to “polish”, give better attention to the marriage and find the sparkle once again, couples these days sometimes choose to sling their own “mud” on the “ring”. They begin taking each other for granted and begin showing signs of disrepect toward each other both in private as well as in public. They unfortunately have lost the value they once placed on each other and may even venture as far as to toss away “the ring” in search of the “sparkle” in a new relationship.

You don’t have to look very far to see this.

In fact, the cashier’s aisle at the grocery store is just one proof of this. It’s a relationship graveyard.

No, it’s not enough anymore these days to just have magazines dedicated to fictional Soap Opera dramas. Rather… Beside these you will find very REAL  ones that expose the lives and broken relationships of the most beautiful people in entertainment.

The tragedy and ugliness of broken relationships is shared all over magazine racks and online.

I don’t which behind-the-scene “exclusive” interviews are true or not. And it doesn’t matter. The sad reality is….Another beautiful relationship  that should have lasted “bites the dust”….

Whatever happened to “In sickness and in health? Till death do us part? Before God and this company of witnesses?”

Were these vows meant to be merely poetic lines shared with the “hopes” that they would be kept?

No.

These vows were meant to be upheld.

And yet couples need to be reminded at the very start of their marriage that throughout their life together…

Through the mundane…

Through the hardships of life…

Through thick and thin…

It is each spouse’s job to be a “ring polisher”… 

Yes, there will be days when the excitement of being newlyweds subsides and everyday life kicks in…

When there’s laundry to be done…

When the bills pile high…

When the car breaks down…

When there’s an unexpected job loss…

When you have a noisy house filled with little people…

And a floor littered with toys …

When the date nights grow fewer because things have become tighter  financially…

In all of the clutter and fog of life…

Remember to clean your ring.

The sparkle is still there…

But throughout the marriage it takes faithfulness, love, and a strong commitment to God and each other to continually keep that sparkle shining at its brightest.

No diamond ring ever gets tossed when it loses its sparkle… Rather, one who values his/her ring will take the time to get it polished and cleaned in the most gentle and effective ways.

And You, Dear Newlyweds… Must always remember that.

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Here’s a small slideshow that I made back in 2010 of our engagement. If you click the link, it will take you back to that special day with us! http://www.smilebox.com/playBlog/4e4455774e6a41334d6a6b3d0d0a&blogview=true

 

 

Others “May”…You May Not

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Don’t ask me the situations…..

I won’t even remember the specifics.

What I will recall from these times after being hurt by others during my teen to younger adult years, though, is my dad pulling a book from his library shelf and opening to a chapter with the following quote:

“Others ‘May’… You May Not.”

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No…It wasn’t always an easy pill to swallow or the lesson you wanted to hear at the time…

Especially not when you’re “needing support”…(or so you think).

No, in these moments, you want validation for wanting to respond in a reactionary way to others.

No…It’s in these times you want someone in your “corner”.

Someone to say, “You’re right and they’re wrong. It’s okay. Go ahead and give that sarcastic and witty comeback response that will knock them off their feet.” (Not that I’ve ever been good at comeback responses anyway… It’s usually more like a delayed comeback response…… And in my head, no less, long after the fact..)

But no. Instead of support and validation for reactions I may have felt were justified, what did I hear instead?

“Others ‘May’… You May Not…”

A beautiful quote right?

Ummmm….? Let me think about that one for a bit….

To me…? In that moment…?

No.

But to God?  Um…. Yes.

To God… It was beautiful… (1 Peter 3:4)

And afterall, that’s really all that matters anyway, right?

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Now in mid-life, looking back at this important lesson my dad reminded me of during my younger years, I stand very appreciative…

…Because rather than adding fuel to my fire, he instead steered me in a direction that I would need to grow and mature… not only as an adult interacting with others but more importantly as a Christian.

And I would learn more from this lesson than if my momentary feelings had gained his support. In fact, as I said earlier…I can’t even remember the specifics of the situations in which I had been hurt, but I still remember to this day the “take-away”.

In this life, people will hurt, offend, and reject. They will be rude, sarcastic, and unkind….

And you know what?

“Others ‘May’… You May Not…”

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at applying this lesson in my own life.

I still struggle at times… Especially when others don’t respond in ways I hoped they would.

And yet, what is it that God asks of me during these times?

To do what is right… No. Matter. What.

Yes.

“Others ‘May’… You May Not…”

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Here’s what the Bible has to say specifically regarding this point…

“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:39 NIV

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 NIV

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:7-8 NIV

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Romans 12:17 NIV

Oh…It’s so easy to want to shelve it out as easily as others have given to us at times, and yet as Christians we are called to be different.

We are called to follow a different path.

A path that dies to “self” and lives for God, truly representing the Savior we boldy claim to follow, not only through our words but also by our actions…

And even more importantly from our hearts.

If the thought of living like this is still hard to swallow, consider the following example from the life of Jesus…

“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:33-34 NIV

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Can you imagine how Jesus was feeling as He watched the people around Him?

He came to be their Rescue. Their Help. Their Hope. Their Peace.  Their bridge back to a right relationship with God.

The angels announced “good tidings of great joy for all people” at His birth. (Luke 2:10) His life, death, and resurrection would change and restore any person who came to God through Him. And not only would those who turned to Him find their lives changed and healed, but He also promised an eternity with God through faith in Him.

The words He taught, the miracles He did…. All He ever did was good. There was no reason for any of this.

And yet, here He is on the cross watching the faces of those who are glad to see him hanging there, hearing the mockery of those watching, and observing as people cast lots to see who will get to keep his clothes.

But what message do Jesus’ actions speak from the cross?

Do good, love, and forgive no matter what others do or have done.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14 NIV

“Others ‘May’… You May Not…”

Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re the one on the receiving end of pain, hurt, and rudeness…

And yet, Jesus left us a perfect example to follow.

An easy one?

…No. Not on our own.

But thankfully…We’re not on our own.

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Jesus has given those of us who have place our trust in Him His Holy Spirit to indwell us. And the more we yield ourselves to Him and His leading, the more we will be able to respond in ways that Jesus would in times of conflict.

“Others ‘May’… You May Not…”

Why not?

Because we follow a different way… A path that was marked out by our Savior, showing us by His own life how we are to respond even when others treat us wrong.

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invest your marriage

Investing in Your Marriage Without Spending a Fortune

You know how it goes.

Wedding day comes and you are ready to spend your life with this man who didn’t just steal your heart- you gave it to him willingly. You dream of the impromptu dates that will occur- a late night run to Starbucks to get coffee because really who needs to sleep! In your mind’s eye, you imagine talking deep into the night and waking up fully refreshed the next morning.

You plan weekly date nights. Since you are both working, you think nothing of the cost of going out for a sit down dinner weekly. You’re in love and nothing else matters.

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Then one afternoon a few years into marriage, you wait for your sweet husband to come home from work so you can give him the news you were both hoping for. You’re pregnant!

Once the baby comes, you determine to not give up on your date nights because connecting with each other is important…. but you can’t go out weekly because the budget won’t allow it. Your income may have been cut in half and now there is one more person pulling from it.

So what do you do?

Committing to our marriages is so important. Marriage takes work and time.

Is it possible to getaway from it all without breaking the bank?

When you add up the cost of babysitters, dinner, a movie, maybe a coffee and dessert, it can put a real dent in the budget and your attitude about date night.

invest your marriage

Or you can get creative!

My sister, brother-in-law, husband and I have figured out an arrangement that works for us.

Every other month we get a weekend.

This past weekend was Brian and my weekend. Faye and Jim had our kids from Friday thru Sunday, and Brian and I had the weekend all to ourselves. Next month, we will watch my nephew, and Faye and Jim will have their weekend.

This is the time we can go out to a leisurely dinner together. We can leave our county and head into the “city” for more options. Because the kids are with Faye for the weekend, we don’t have to rush back to relieve the babysitter.

Babysitter= Free

One of the things we enjoy doing on our weekend is seeing a movie. Theaters are always an option, but we have found a way to keep those costs down, too. Have you checked your debit card points? Our debit card had been earning us points that we didn’t know about. When I stumbled onto this, I discovered that we could purchase movie tickets with our points.

We also keep track of which movies are being put on Amazon or into our local Redbox kiosk. My husband gets coupon codes sent to his email (for Redbox), so we are able to rent a movie and enjoy it from the comfort of our own couch and our kitchen is our concession stand.

invest your marriage

Movies= Free or cheap

One of our favorite things about our weekends is the rest factor.

Because the kids are being cared for elsewhere, I can sleep deeply, not having one ear and eye open (moms can relate). No one wakes us up early. We sleep in, and we are fully rested when our children return to us.

Nightly accommodations= Free

We are homebodies. Although we enjoy an adventure, rest and relaxation means staying home in our pjs and chilling. We eat what is in the fridge, freezer and pantry. Going out to eat for at least one meal on our weekend is part of the fun. Sometimes we have gift cards which help keep costs down significantly, other times we don’t.

Food= almost Free

On Sunday, whoever is watching the children returns them. The one receiving the children prepares dinner for all to share. We sit at the table, share our weekend adventures, listen to the kids retell the fun they had, and feel full in our hearts from a hearty weekend investing our marriage.

Investment in our marriage = Priceless

invest your marriage

We look forward to this time every other month. It is refreshing for us as a couple and as parents. The time it gives us to pour into each other and ourselves personally is so necessary but so often neglected. We are able to pursue our hobbies without feeling mommy or daddy guilt. “Mom and Dad” talks to decide the direction we want to go with the training of our children, to figure out what has worked and what needs to be adjusted, and to encourage each other on parenting successes are possible without interruption. We are able to establish short term personal, marital, parental, and financial goals since we can reevaluate every other month.

As a couple, find what works for you and is safe for your children. Investing time into our marriages and being responsible parents are crucial for our families.

There are ways to invest in your marriage without spending a fortune. Sometimes, you just have to be creative.

invest marriage

Hosting Is Where My Heart Is

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Give me a reason to host friends and family in my home for the day…and if I have the availability and the resources, I’m excited and ready for the opportunity.

Hosting a luncheon or special celebratory event is just something I enjoy.

Yes, there is always dusting, some cleaning, and preparation to do before everyone arrives, but to me, there’s nothing like the wonderful sense of satisfaction I feel as I look around and admire a clean and organized home before the first guests arrive.

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And while I may not have the largest home in the neighborhood, I know that’s not really what matters during these occasions.

What is important to me is that our home resonates with the love and peace of Jesus, so that all who enter feel loved, welcomed, and at home when visiting.

And this is just how it should be.

Recently, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to host a sponsored event in our home through HouseParty.com. This website gives people like me- who enjoy hosting- a reason to have people over beyond just the normal holiday parties and get-togethers.

When checking out the site about two months ago, I noticed that there were open applications for a Peter Pan sponsored Simply Ground peanut butter party. And although I had never done one of these before, I was excited to apply.

Yes, I would create a party centered around peanut butter, asking my guests to all bring in a dish, appetizer, or dessert featuring this delicious, popular ingredient!

food-house-party-simply-ground

While it took a couple of weeks to find out if my application was accepted, once it had been, it was only a matter of time before I received my box of free Peter Pan sponsored party supplies from HouseParty.com!

simply-ground-peanut-butter-house-party-pack Inside of the box, I was so thrilled to find basically everything I would need to decorate, sample, and promote the Simply Ground peanut butter products.

My free party pack included a jar of Simply Ground Original peanut butter spread, a jar of Simply Ground Honey Peanut peanut butter spread, a cutting board, a bag of Simply Ground balloons, silver plastic spoons with the sponsor’s name, small snack cups, a lot of coupons (1 for a free jar of peanut butter and several others for $1.00 off), an apron, and tote bags to give away.

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All that was left to do the morning of the party after the previous day’s cleaning was to decorate the house, set up the food and beverage areas, and cook my main dish of Spicy Peanut Chicken, a recipe I found on the Betty Crocker site via my search engine inquiry.

Prior to the party, I had  thought I would need to have games, putting a little pressure on myself to make it oh-so perfect.  But with all of the regular demands and busyness of life and preparation, I never had time to really get any games together…

And you know what?! No one even seemed to notice.

Everyone just enjoyed sitting and chatting together. It was just beautiful how everyone got along so well together.

Simply ground partyFrom family to friends from church to my sweet neighbor (who helped me perfect my spicy peanut chicken recipe which did not originally include peanut butter), everyone just hit it off.

And that’s one thing I love so much about these kinds of times together. It gives everyone the chance to get know each other…People who probably would never even cross each other’s paths in normal life… And even more so, it gives those of us who do know each other the opportunity to become more than just passing acquaintances, giving us more time to get to know each other on a personal level.

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Yes, hosting is definitely something that brings me a lot of joy.

The ability to share my home and a sweet experience with the wonderful people the Lord has surrounded my life with enables us all to get to know each other better, and we can find so much encouragement from each other during these times as well.

Yes, hosting definitely opens up opportunities for building beautiful relationships with others.

And you’ll quickly realize after get-togethers like this that these were definitely important times worth opening up your home for…

Even if it’s an event simply prompted by an opportunity to sample free and delicious Simply Ground peanut butter!

peanut butter party

 

a great boy

Make Him a Great Boy

This week has been all about this little boy. He turned five, which made me realize that he is one step further from being that roly-poly baby and one step closer to one day being a man.

As most mothers do, I want my son to grow up to be a great man. I want him to do great things. I want him to influence many. I want him to live his faith out loud. But then one day I came across this quote by an unknown author.

“Don’t wait to make your son a great man- make him great boy.”

I don’t have to wait for someday to come along. I can start now in the midst of 5T clothes that are getting to be too small and Ninja Turtle action figures to help him grow into a great boy who will in turn grow into a great man.

raising a great boy

As daunting as growing a great boy into a man sounds, it is possible. Although I am a mother who is knee deep in raising children and am by no means an expert on how to raise children, there is one thing I do know. If I follow God’s Word in bringing up my children, I cannot go wrong. 

While trying to raise a great boy, I decided to look to what God said about the one Boy who grew up perfectly- His own Son.

Luke 2: 52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

If you think about it, those are the four areas we as parents should focus on when bringing up great boys (and girls).

Wisdom- “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7  

Wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. I want to raise a little boy who knows the difference between right and wrong according to God’s Word (not society’s definition) and then allows his actions to be dictated by just judgment.

I don’t what him thinking that “smarts” equal wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are two entirely different areas of growth. Before knowledge comes into play, I want my son to be wise. Wisdom comes from a heart that seeks after God, knowledge comes from the head.

raising a great boy

Stature- “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

As important as it is for my son to grow physically, one thing I want him to remember for himself and for others is that what we look like on the outside is not what matters most. I want him to learn to view others and himself the way God does- by looking at the heart.

I don’t want him to value people based on the brand of clothes they wear. I want him to value their hearts. I don’t want him to like others solely by their looks. I want him to like them for their personalities. I don’t want him to be wowed by the pretty girl that shows up in youth group (Lord help me!). I want him to see her for the young woman that she is based on how she treats those around her. I don’t want him basing his self-worth on what he sees in the mirror. I want him to know he is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

Favor with God- “For whoso findeth me (wisdom) findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” Proverbs 8:35

We receive wisdom from reading God’s Word, but when our boys are small (before they can read), they can only hear God’s Word if we are willing to read it to them. Daily Bible reading and teaching is something we value in our home. My son will only know how to please God by learning it directly from His Word, and I have the privilege of bringing him into the presence of God each time we stop what we are doing to read God’s Word.

Right now, since my son is small, we are learning how God wants us to behave, act in faith, and show courage by reading about the great heroes in the Bible. He was amazed when God sent ravens to bring Elijah meat at the brook, he smiled from ear to ear as God answered Elijah’s prayer with fire from Heaven, and he loved hearing how David brought down Goliath with a small stone.

Our sons will learn wisdom by learning the lessons from the men and women they read about in the Bible. And as they learn wisdom, they will please God when their actions line up with his Word.

raising a great boy

In favor with man- “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7

We all want children that others want to be around. When people see my children, I want their instinctive reaction to be joy, not dread.

What qualities are found in children we all want to be around?

Behaviors such as being kind (Eph. 4:32), obeying and honoring parents (Eph. 6:1), and respecting authority (Romans 13) are all qualities that will endear our sons to others. Being a hard worker (Exodus 20:9), honest (Eph. 4:25), and a man of integrity (Proverbs 11:3) will bring him favor with his future employers.

My 5 year old is growing into a great boy. One day, that great boy will be a great man. But for now, I’ll enjoy every bit of the boy stage with all of the dinosaurs, cars, transformers, and legos that come with it. And as I wake up day after day to raise my great children, I will cling to Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

raising a great boy

Balancing High Expectations with Love This School Year

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As a new school year begins, kids are excited to return to their classrooms, meet their new teachers and begin another season of learning.

Yes, “new” is always fun and exciting! Well…. for most children at the start of the school year at least.

But what do we do as parents when the excitement or “newness” wears off, like it so often does with most things?

When homework becomes drudgery and begins to interfere with the things our children would rather be doing instead?

When excellence in effort begins to diminish and work returns home disorganized and messy?

When an hour’s worth of homework becomes a never ending evening of pain that feels more like a root canal than spelling practice?

Where tears are spilt and impatience flares?

What do you do?

Might I suggest….

Balance it all with love.

Balancing high expectations with love this school year post for parents

As a third grade teacher for a little over ten years, I remember one year feeling quite frustrated with a particular class I had… And although I had been enthusatic and passionate about my career in education, this particular year I was  beginning to lose my joy in teaching.

I had a few chatty kids and- at the time- I just didn’t feel as if they were giving the attention, focus, and behavior I felt was needed to have a “good year”. It was- I guess- a bit overwhelming to me as well, because my focus on these students gave me a sense that the “whole” class was just a mess.

As a teacher you can begin to feel somewhat justified in feeling frustrated during times like these because of the way your students are acting, despite your efforts. Oh… And you can certainly feel justified in handing out consequences pretty quickly in times like these as well.

But you know what… That’s not how God wanted me to respond…

And I remember one day, He totally shifted my perspective…

Yes, He certainly did!

And it was a much needed shift that totally remade my year.

So, what happened so drastically to reshift my perspective and give me a great year?

Well…. The Lord began to open my eyes to the students who actually “were” paying attention, and He inspired me to begin majorly highlighting them verbally in front of the class when I needed the class to “come back” to me.

When things began to get chatty, I would all of a sudden start naming the students I saw behaving appropriately, and it was totally amazing!!! You could see how everyone else started to follow suit so that they could get recognized as well. Yes, friends, love and a positive outlook took over as opposed to stress, pressure and a focus on negativity.

It was a miracle!!!! 

Furthermore, something God also opened my eyes to was the fact that I also needed to change my preferred style of teaching a bit to accomodate the students who enjoyed talking more… So, it actually helped me grow as a teacher too! (Yes, many times it’s not simply about changing others’ attitudes or actions, but it’s about God changing us in the process as well…. Something we don’t often like to hear, but it’s so true.)

Balancing High Expectations with Love this school year

No, our children are not going to always give us the responses we want from them…and so often it’s so easy to fall into the trap of highlighting the negative…

“Stop acting  that way… Sit down… You’re not doing your work. Pay attention! Why don’t you ever clean your room or your desk?”

We often highlight the negative things our kids do with our words… Don’t we.

And while it may at times produce the result we want… I’d like to suggest a more effective way of achieving the responses we would like to see while still holding high expectations for our children.

It’s something God has helped me learn over the years and something I can always continue working on, as I raise my own little one.

Balance your high expectations with love, highlighting your child’s positive behaviors and alllowing the Lord to use your words and actions to inspire them to continue following the path you want them to be on.

Instead of saying, “Johnny, you’ve been sitting at the table all night doing your homework. You have to get your work done, or your teacher won’t be happy!” (Or whatever other phrase you normally use….)

Why not instead say something like… “Johnny, I know this is hard work, and sometimes it’s not all that fun. But I want you to know I am SO proud of you for working so hard. Remember when you did that paper last year and we thought you’d never get through it… You did it, right? I’m SO proud of you! And I know you can do this too! How about we step away from it for fifteen minutes? Then, we’ll come back to it and get it done together.”

Try it out and see!

Afterall, there’s no reason why you need to add to the chaos of the moment by pulling your hair out when there’s something positive you can do to redirect your child in following through with the task.
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Our children are still little people with hearts that can be wounded by our harsh words spoken “in the moment”, hardened by stubborness because they’re tired and just not motivated to follow through, and yet softened and encouraged to press on when they see your patience, love and admiration.

Children truly want the caring adults in their lives to be proud of them and will do what they can to reach the expectations we set for them. And yet it is our repsonsibilty to continually give them positive reasons for striving to meet our expectations… Expectations that will ultimately have long term benefits in their lives.

(Hey, and as adults, we don’t simply go to work everyday just because we’re always just so excited to get up and go, right? We have reasons for going beyond just a passion for our career. Don’t we? And the same is true for our kids…)

So, yes! Go ahead and throw in some tangible rewards for your kids during the year for them to work towards and to celebrate their success!

Put their good work on display for all to see. Take them out for a celebratory meal or fun day after a hard test or project that they worked hard on. Give them opportunities to share their successes and their excellent work with you and others. Tuck little notes into their lunchboxes to let them know you are proud of them.

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…Because we understand our children are not learning robots, simply storing and computing information just for the sake of it. They are little human beings with beating hearts longing for our approval and a reason to give their personal best.

And whether it’s sitting behind a desk answering phones in the workplace as adults or studying for a spelling test as a second grader, we all need daily reasons to strive for our personal best.

Let’s all give our children good reasons to pursue excellence and give their personal best throughout the year… setting high expectations that are motivated and inspired by the love they see in our eyes and the words and tones they hear in our voices.

“A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Proverbs 15:1 NET

 

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When Words Hurt Rather Than Heal

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“I just say what I think, and if people don’t like it…. oh, well!”

Have you ever heard that phrase before? I have, and when I hear it it makes me cringe inside.

On the flip side there are people who say what they think and don’t even realize their words are piercing the soul of the hearer.

We spend so much of our time behind a screen- computer, phone, television- that we sometimes forget a real-life, living, breathing person is on the receiving end of our words. We have lost the art of tact and the mindset of consideration for the feelings of others, and we rush headlong into airing our thoughts and unrefined feelings for the world to hear and read.

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Words can be beautiful, though.

Have you read the Declaration of Independence,  Little Women, the Chronicles of Narnia,  the poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress? The beauty of these words have lasted a few hundred years and will continue to be passed down to following generations.

However, the words that we see through social media and hear in conversations, radio, and television have eroded over time and are not always fit for young eyes and ears. Rather than using the countless beautiful words that God has put into our vocabulary and that Daniel Webster put into his extensive dictionary, our culture has chosen a limited number of  words and uses them to express every emotion known to man.

The saying “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not as true as we want it to be.

Yes, sticks and stones hurt us physically, but words hurt our soul.

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Words can eat away at the very fiber of our being.

Words can cause our stomachs to knot and twist.

Words can make us feel sick inside of our bones.

Words said in the heat of the moment can divide.

Words said in haste can cause irreparable damage.

Words thoughtlessly spoken can sever longtime relationships.

As always, God has something to say about the words that we use.

Ephesians 4:29- Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Words can heal when they are seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6).

Words can be as beautiful as a plate of golden apples in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Words can correct behavior when spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15)

Words can unite when spoken quietly and not shouted over others (Proverbs 15:1).

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Maybe it’s because my love language is words of affirmation that I am more in tune to the pain and joy words can bring. When I hear words directed at my children with a tone that speaks down to them rather than lifting them up, my heart hurts. When I view social media and see people shouting at each other from both sides of the aisle trying to be heard but not making any headway because their words are cutting and abrasive, I want to throw my hands up, slap the lid down on my laptop, and walk away in frustration. When I hear politicians use their words to manipulate, my faith in our governmental systems is shattered.

But when I open up my Bible and read the Words that God has inspired, my soul is renewed again.

As a Purposeful Woman,  we can choose to be intentional with our words online, with our acquaintances, friends, coworkers, but most importantly our families. We can ask God for wisdom in finding the right words that will unite rather than creating chasms.

As a Purposeful Wife, we can choose to let our words bring life to our husband’s tired heart after a long day of work. Ask God to allow your words to be a soothing balm for his tired and weary soul.

As a Purposeful Mom, we can choose to use words that build our children up and solidify the value we place on them. Beyond our four wall there will be words a plenty vying for the opportunity to whittle our children’s souls down. Our words need to reinforce to them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

There are people all around us who are in need of healing. Our nation is in need of healing. May God use the words we speak (and post) to bring healing to the hurting.

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When in Barnes & Noble, Play with the Trains!

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Over time, as the Lord has begun to open my eyes regarding my need for being more intentional as a mom, I’ve come to the realization that there are additional relationship building opportunities beyond playtime at home that would benefit from me being more engaged and present in the moment…

And, you know, it really didn’t take too long for an opportunity to present itself where I could actually begin taking practical steps in that direction.

In fact, the opportunity came one day as I was at the local mall with my son.

On this particular day I decided to take my little guy to the oh-so beautiful bookstore by the name of Barnes & Noble. You know it well yourself… It’s the one with a Starbucks coffee shop tucked neatly in the corner with small tables that invite you to just sit and cozy up quietly for an hour or two with a good book…

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In days past, that could have been something a “pre-mommy” woman like you or I could perhaps leisurely consider as a relaxed destination option, but these days, that’s not our draw. No, it’s what’s directly in front of us when we enter the store that brings us the “greatest” joy!

…The two escalators leading up to the “pot of gold” at the top of the “rainbow”!!!

And you, my friends, know the very place I’m talking about… Because it’s every stroller-pushing parent’s go-to spot!!!

The CHILDREN”S BOOKS SECTION!!!

Hooray!!!! (Yes, we are all looking for things to do with our little ones these day, and Barnes & Nobles just seems to get that. Oh how we love you B&N!)

Once we reach the top of the rainbow- by taking the elevator, of course-  we excitedly remind our little ones that we are about to arrive at our primary destination in that area…the train table!!!!

Okay, Class, now let’s all say it together, “Hooray for the trains!”

Our little ones are excited and so are we. We love them oh-so much and just want them to have the most fabulous time and loads of fun every single day… Truly that’s just something God placed in our hearts as parents.

So, we stroll our little ones over to the train table and lovingly lift little “Johnny” or “Suzie” out of the stroller and repeat, “Yay! Look where we are! The Trains!!! Hooray for the trains!!!”

And then what do we do next……..?

WE…SIT…ON….THE….CHAIRS……….

…And we get on our iPhones while they play.

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No… Of course the story’s not over… because on this particular day, I was really excited about being more intentional as a mom and giving my son the gift of my focus and attention.

I hadn”t started writing the blog post on “Confessions of a Self-Diagnosed ADD Mom” just yet, but God was already working on my heart regarding my need for being more engaged during playtime with my son.

So, my friends…. On this day….

“Yes, yes?” I can hear you say. (Oh, I just know all of you are holding your breath.)

On this day…..!!!!

I decided to PLAY WITH THE TRAINS! (Cue the applause soundtrack, as I curtsy and take a dramatic bow.)

Yes, Dear Friends. I decided to play with my son at the train table. No, I may not be the best at playing trains, but truthfully that doesn’t really even matter….because it’s my time and focused attention that are what truly counts during moments like these.

And you know what…. In addition to enjoying the time with my son at the train table and seeing him happy that I was involved in train play, something also took place that helped reinforce the value of making that decision. I was actually able to catch a glimpse of what that time “could have been like” if my mindset had not been changed earlier that day by the awareness of my need to be more intentional in my focus during playtime with my son.

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A few minutes into our play, another parent also came to the train table with his little girl. (She was probably around three or four. And “Hooray for the trains!!!” was, I’m sure, his thought as well.)

But viewing this scenario, from my place at the train table with my son, was almost like watching my own version of Charles Dickin’s classic “A Christmas Carol”….as I watched a past version of myself in his response to the amazing train table.

He brought his child to the train table…

He sat on a chair…

And then he went on his iPhone…

I think at one point, he even asked his little girl to look at him, perhaps for a picture… (And sadly, I could identify…) As parents we sometimes think, “Let’s take a picture of our cute little one in this moment, while he/she is doing something fun…” All the while, we as parents are not active participants in that fun.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all of our photos as parents are of moments in which we are not actively present. But in this moment, I could identify with that father from times past at the same train table.

Yes, take pictures of your children having fun. Yes, celebrate along with them that there is a train table at the “top of the rainbow” in Barnes & Noble…

But, for goodness sake… Play with the trains!

And leave the chairs empty…

And let your iPhones starve for your your attention….

Because in this moment, only one can be fed… And it’s either your phone or your child.

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Worth the Wait: Our Love Story

“When will he ever come? Will I ever get married? What will he look like?” I’m sure every single girl has had these thoughts.

And although I don’t think I ever had a mental picture of what I wanted my future husband to look like, I did know the kind of man I wanted him to be.

I wanted him to have a heart for the Lord, have character and integrity, a man who honored his parents, and would love me and treat me with kindness and respect. Someone who worked hard and was financially stable and mature.

The years dragged on, though, and it seemed as if meeting my spouse was something that would happen “sometime” in the ever-looming future… a future that always seemed so out of reach.

It wouldn’t be until I turned 29 that I would finally meet my husband, who had also been waiting a while himself. At the right time, though, we did finally meet… through a new (and now more popular) platform for meeting one’s future spouse… via an online dating site that you all may have heard of…. called Christian Mingle!

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My dad was actually the one who suggested the idea to me, so I knew that in my case it would be okay. In his words, “They’ll never know you exist unless you put yourself out there”. And with the pickings being slim in the area where I lived at the time… I decided to go ahead and check it out for myself.

(One thing I will say to my single adult readers, though is this… While there are many “fish in the sea” on dating sites, not all of them are the perfect catch. So if you are considering online dating, be careful and very selective. If you’re too desperate, you can certainly end up with a guy…but not the one God has for you. And that could be devastating. Waiting for the right one is always best, and surrounding yourself with wise counselors and friends that can help you avoid many Mr. Wrongs is also highly advised.)

After a while of looking through a few online sites and seeing a lot of “Mr. Wrongs” myself, the day after my birthday in 2009, I happened to notice that one particular handsome guy had looked at my profile on Christian Mingle. And what he had to say really proved to me right away that he was the real deal- not simply a Christian in “name” only but in life as well.

How did I know this?

He had written in his profile that “Christ has to be at the center of the relationship.” (Hmmm…not many other guys seemed to be that serious enough on a Christian site to post a comment like that. I could just tell this guy was legit.)

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So, “brave” little me (who was usually pretty shy around guys) decided to initiate the talk by sending a pre-made comment. He then replied and asked if I was interested in us getting to know each other better. We weren’t actual subscribers at the time to the site, but both of us decided to join to move along further in conversation. Later I learned that (just before meeting me), he was considering getting off the site completely. So, YES!!! I got him just in time!

We then began chatting by instant message and by phone, and he was just so kind and respectful. He amazed me by always wanting to know details about my day. (Wow, a guy who could actually be interested in the details of my life?! I was impressed.) And after meeting my dad and getting the “green light” to date me, we began the process of getting to know each other in person.

Throughout our dating relationship, Jim was always so respectful and kind, and from the start he proved that he was really investing in me personally as a potential mate. He would drive a distance of an hour and fifteen minutes for each date just to pick me up and take me out for the day. After the date, he would then return me to my sister’s home where I lived at the time, and then make the drive all the way back to his home. He was a true gentleman and still proves to this day that chivalry is still very much alive.

Together we chose to save our first kiss for our wedding day and also chose to remain abstinent until marriage, out of our respect for God and each other. It is a decision we will always be thankful that we made. No regrets.

A year after our intial meeting we were married, and it just so happened that my 30th birthday fell on a Saturday that summer. So, I was thankful that he actually allowed me to choose the day, because he is definitely the best birthday gift I have received or ever will receive for my birthday. Hey, and I waited 30 years for him! What an awesome present to celebrate a milestone birthday, right?!

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While as a single the time may have seemed to drag on in wondering how or if I’d ever find my husband, at almost 36 years old now looking back, I can see how God’s timing in my life was just perfect. I honestly don’t think I could have been the woman my husband needed before that point.

You see, when you feel like you need a husband in your life in order to give you the affirmation and confidence you need, it’s probably not the right timing. I know I needed to learn how to find my contentment in the Lord without having another person in my life to provide that affirmation first.

Yes, I had to learn to be content apart from any other person and also learn to be the kind of woman my husband would need as a blessing in his life… Because true love is really about giving of yourself for the benefit of another… not “mainly” looking for all that you can get out of it for yourself and simply your own “happiness”.

But you know what the awesome thing is… When Jesus is at the center of your relationship and both hearts (of the husband and wife) are yielded to his leading, both individuals become equal beneficiaries in the marriage relationship. It isn’t as if one is sacrificing so only the other is happy in the marriage. With both people having a heart to freely give their love away and looking out for the other’s interests (as opposed to simply looking out for their own), the two end up being a blessing and meeting the needs of the other while also reaping the blessings themselves.

That’s the kind of marriage we have, and that’s the kind of marriage I want to see other singles have when they find their future spouse… And it happens when Jesus is at the center of your life and marriage… and when you choose to wait on His perfect timing for the one He is preparing for you.

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