Let Them Be Bored!

Let Them Be Bored!

Carrying fresh towels out to the pool I caught my youngest in the midst of a precious moment. All eight years of him looked up, wide-eyed. Flexing outstretched, sinewy arms, he hollered, “Mama, look at my boat. It’s a real boat and it’s mine!”    I set the towels down on the picnic table, keeping my eyes on his thin lips, curled in a smile, every bit of him living out an inspired summertime adventure. It was all so stinkin’ beautiful! There he was, with his brilliant boy imagination, splashing around our pool at 9:56 in the morning on a perfect summer day! My heart swelled with pride as I watched his body strain under the pressure of paddling. Then up came his “spear” and he slayed the monstrous eel that swarmed ’round his boat. His face contorted and I knew it was all real.     And a tear pricked, because this boy fought tooth and nail just a few short days before. “It’s not fair! It’s summer! All of my friends play video games and watch cartoons as much as they want!” He invited me to fight him then, and I refused. “Sorry son, this isn’t a consequence, you didn’t do anything wrong, but you and your brothers aren’t playing video games and watching tv all day. It’s the choice your dad and I have made. You boys can do it every afternoon after you’ve played yourself into a happy stupor and rested with a book for a while, then you can have some screen time then. But, no, that’s not how our family does summer.”  ...
Remember what you love about your husband

Remember what you love about your husband

“Lift with your legs, not with your back!” I hollered to my husband as he drove off down the rode, the truck loaded with our three sons and a mountain of work tools. He gave a wave from the open window, as the sound of boyish laughter added a living harmony to the melody of U2 pumping out of speakers. “Good thing we don’t have neighbors close by,” I thought as they rambled away noisily. The early morning air stung my nostrils causing my eyes to prick with tears.     My husband is a hard worker. He sees a need and gets it done. Whether the need is chopping down a tree, fixing sprinkler heads, cleaning out the rain gutters of an elderly woman down the road, or heading out the door for an extended business trip, he’s always going – always working. During the years with multiple babies in diapers this was difficult on me. For some reason, needs like baby baths, dishes, and tuck-ins didn’t register as his job, and no matter how I tried to ask for help, he was out the door sweating in the sun or loading up his truck with an overnight bag for another business trip. These were the days I felt abandoned and abused. Like a victim. Left alone to care for his children. Our roles have always been clearly defined. Though it’s all rather June Cleaver in a pencil skirt, it actually worked for us… that is until I was outnumbered by three strong-willed children, whose muscular tendencies took after their father. And I felt like the world was against me, my world was...
You are not a victim, you’re a mom

You are not a victim, you’re a mom

I sat beside her at the public swimming pool, her little ones in the shallow wearing water wings, mine canon-balling off the high dive. We were wading into the metaphorical deep-end ourselves, talking about the hard stuff, that chlorine scented afternoon. She was exasperated, worn out. Her frustrations bordered anger, and she felt great shame over her emotions – still they flooded. Picking up a damp towel nearby, she wiped her face then said, “I think that I’m most upset that my children ruin my plans each day. And not just my plans for the day, but my plans of being a good mom. They ruin it no matter what I do. They ruin all of the meals I serve by hating what I’ve made and crying at the table. They ruin our trips to the park and our playdates with friends by throwing fits when it’s time to go. I plan so much fun, and they ruin it all by demanding more or different. And I guess, if I’m honest, they ruin my dreams of what my family would be like. I had such good dreams. I’ve dreamt of being a mom for so long, now here I am and there aren’t any peaceful, happy tuck-ins, no Bible reading at the breakfast table – not without more fits! Everyday I’m disappointed, frustrated, and angry. I feel abused! Some days I just want to throw in the towel.” And she did throw down the tattered towel in her hands, with a pathetic little moan. I smiled, leaned in, and hugged her. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but as she shared I believed...
disciple before you discipline

disciple before you discipline

When my first-born was a toddler, and his baby brother napped in a bassinet nearby, we would draw together, talk together, read together, be together. We memorized Scripture songs and prayed for our loved ones, filled sticker books, laid out the tracks for Thomas the Tank Engine, made cookies for neighbors, and often walked the mile to our local church. And everywhere we went, every time we sat down, each nap-time as we laid down and rose up again, I discipled my child.     “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9   There’s a holy order to growing up in Christ, and there’s an order to our children growing up, too. It’s not as elusive as it seems on most long parenting days. It’s actually quite simple. First we disciple them, then we layer in discipline, and finally we pull back our need to discipline as they grow in self-discipline. DISCIPLE DISCIPLINE SELF-DISCIPLINE Read more about each important...
Because we all end up bowed down, low to the ground, eventually

Because we all end up bowed down, low to the ground, eventually

My posture these days is running, standing, and going. My posture is muscular and active –  throwing people and priorities out of the way and out of my day because the school bell is set to ring. There’s very little slowing down and kneeling down and falling down prostrate on the floor in quiet surrender because… well… Life.     There is no time to fill up our souls with God’s beauty before the sun rises – before my sons rise – and so we rush into life lacking beauty. Beauty within and beauty flowing out into the lives of our little people. We throw make-up on our faces at stoplights, but we can’t cake it on thick enough that it eeks it’s way down through our pores and into our souls. True beauty doesn’t work that way. It’s got to start deep within, and work it’s way up and out. But we’re living lives that are much too busy for such things. Hurried, harried, and horrible: they go together. But hurried and holy rarely co-exist. Holy and hallowed and hushed, now those are true companions. They meet together in the morning hours before the sun steals past the beauty of dawn. We need to join them there. We need to fellowship with the Holy One – slowing down, sitting down, and coming down off our cram-packed agendas to seek Him on the floor. On the floor. Because that’s where every person is going to end up, eventually. Either on purpose, prostrating oneself in worship, intentionally in the morning hours; or at night in a tearful puddle; or, and this is a frightening thought,...
Over-Stimulated Children – Over-Stimulated Mom

Over-Stimulated Children – Over-Stimulated Mom

I walked into the sterile room with florescent lights, and draped an extra blanket over the top of my sleeping baby’s stroller. Only four weeks old, he slept most of every day (thoughtfully preserving his strength for our midnight bonding sessions). We waited so long for the pediatrician I eventually fell asleep in the exam room’s plastic blue chair, slumped over like a worn rag doll. When the doctor walked in I startled awake and smiled awkwardly. He nodded like I wasn’t the first new mom to doze off waiting on him.   Over the next ten minutes he asked me a litany of questions about how the baby was sleeping and feeding and pooping. He worked his way through a clip-board list of details and when he finished his questions (but before rousing my baby to count his fingers and toes) he asked me two surprising questions. First, he asked me if I’d yet had a date with my husband since the birth. I said no, of course, the child was only one month old after all. So he wrote me a prescription for a date night and placed it in my hand. “Take one of these a month, once a week is even better, but in the very least once a month. I’ll check in on you at your son’s three month check up. This is for your health. It’s just one of the thing that you and your husband need to do to have a healthy marriage… therefore it’s what your son needs too. And I’m his Doctor.”   Children need their parents to date. Click To Tweet   Then came the Doctor’s second question. “Did you hang a...