All posts in Raising Kids

Working Mom’s Devotional: Are You Present At Home?

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Some of my friends are picking one word this year.  A single word to sum up a goal or intention for 2015.  A simple way to stay engaged after New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten.

What’s the first word that comes to mind for 2015?

Here’s mine:  PRESENT

No, I’m not going to focus on this word for an entire year.  I’m way too impatient (and I have too many words I’m excited about) so I’ll focus on one word a month.  Want to join me?

This January, I’m asking myself if I’m really present – at home, at work, with others, and in my relationship with God.  Am I engaged in the moment, or am I constantly preoccupied with everything else?  More often than not, I can tell you what’s happening on my email, what’s going on on the other side of the world, or what’s on my calendar next week.  But can I tell you what the person sitting beside me is thinking or feeling?  Am I connected in real time?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for months.  So much that I haven’t been blogging.  I haven’t been writing.  And I’ve backed off considerably from social media.

But this is about more than unplugging.  Unplugging is a knee jerk reaction to something bigger.  Unplugging is about pushing the pause button so I can stop and think.  And listen.  Fortunately, I have plenty of people who are willing to give me advice.

Starting with my third grade daughter.

“Mom, yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.” (Author Unknown)

Pretty timely, huh?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some serious down time.  I’ve had the luxury of connecting with my family in real time.  And I’ve learned an important aspect of living in the present.  Being present means putting other people before yourself.

Several times over Christmas break, I have spent time jumping on the trampoline in our back yard.  Not by choice.  It’s freezing outside.  I get dizzy jumping up and down.  And I twisted my neck and broke my fingernails playing this crazy game on the trampoline called “Ga-ga.”  It’s much easier to be selfish with my time.  Being present requires me to engage.  It requires me to consider the thoughts and give in to the preferences of others.  It even requires me to play Ga-ga.

But my daughters love it.  They light up whenever I jump, and they say things like, “Mom, this is so cool.  I can’t believe you are actually good at Ga-ga.”    You see, when I’m jumping on the trampoline, I have a singular focus.  I can’t multi-task, I can’t take a phone call or text, and I can’t even carry a conversation.  I just jump, laugh, and try not to get hit by the ball.

Do you make similar sacrifices to be actively present at home?  How can you best engage in real time with your family in 2015?

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Working Mom’s Devotional: How Do You Find Time For Church?

Last Sunday, I got chills during worship as my church celebrated the packing of 500,000 meals.  As exciting, my 7th-grade son actually got engaged – I mean really engaged – about a service project for the needy.

It’s one thing to take our children to church.  It’s another thing to really get involved.  With the demanding schedule of a modern-day family, getting invested in a local church can be a challenge.  I know all too well.

When my kids were young, I almost gave up.

Who has time to be involved in a church?  I already have enough on my plate.

Which is why I believe many working moms just give up. Besides, the church doesn’t always know what to do with us.  Think about it.

  • We don’t have much time to volunteer.
  • Our kids are often exposed to too much media and technology.
  • MOPS happens during our work day (along with a host of other Bible Studies and play groups).

Plus, there’s no good time.

Early morning?  I have to get the kids to school.

After work? I’ve barely seen my kids all day.

After my kids go to bed?  I’m exhausted.

And what about time with my husband?

Excuses, excuses. I am full of them.  But thankfully, God cares about us more than he cares about our excuses.

But I also believe that God is patient with us during each season of life.  Just this week, I was talking to a new mom at church, and she can barely make it through a worship service — with a 20-month daughter who keeps getting sick in the nursery.  Yes, I remember those days like yesterday.  So I encouraged her to hang in there.  Just think, today I have a 7th grader who is packing meals for the hungry!

How do you make time for your local church?  What are your excuses?

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

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God, thank you so much for my church.  I don’t know how I could do it on my own. Raising kids is hard enough these days.  I pray for all the working moms who are isolated from the local church.  Bring us together in community, and please help us to be patient with each stage of life — and to get past our excuses.  

 [Note to self:  Remove above picture of Nick in the hair net before he sees it! I couldn’t resist!]

Working Mom’s Devotional: Should We Force Kids To Go To Church?

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“Mom, I don’t want to go to church this morning.”  My fifth-grade daughter protested as I woke her from a deep slumber.

“But Anna, you missed church last week.  Plus, next week you have a volleyball tournament.”

“I can’t move, I’m exhausted.”

“That’s because you had a sleepover Friday night.”

“Well, I’m too tired.  I just want to sleep.”

“Anna, please do your best.  This is important.”

I closed her bedroom door and walked downstairs.  This conversation is going no where.  I’m the parent, I just have to set the rules.  It’s not like I let her skip school when she’s too tired.

I thought back to my own mother on Sunday mornings.  She never let us sleep in.  Not in a million years.  I could have been on my death bed, and she’d still drag me out of bed on Sunday morning.  So what if my father stayed home to read the paper and smoke cigarettes, she would never dream of skipping church.  And sometimes I resented her for it.

I don’t want Anna to resent me.  I don’t want her to think that her faith is a set of rules.  That we just need to tick a box and show up to appease God.

But I also don’t want her to miss out.  We make time for the things in life that are important.  Even when we’re tired.

Grace-based parenting is harder than it sounds.   The answers may be simple.  But execution is complicated.  I’ve read the books.  I understand that each child is different.  I understand that as parents we must set an example, and that actions speak louder than words.

I also know that on my own, I lack wisdom.  That only through prayer and the Spirit of God will I have the discernment to know when to hold firm and when to let go.  That God is doing a work in my children through his amazing grace.  That more often than not, I need to engage.  But sometimes, as they get older, I need to get out of his way.

As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, my husband started the car.  No sign of Anna.  She had slept through breakfast.  As we walked out the door, she stumbled downstairs with messy hair and sleepy eyes.  She was dressed and ready.  Breakfast could wait.

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Do you struggle with grace-based parenting?  If we ask God for wisdom, he promises to give generously.  

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:15

Working Mom’s Devotional: What Are Your Goals For 2014?

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There is nothing like a fresh new year.  As we look forward to 2014, some of us are prepared – maybe even excited — to make some real changes.  Personal “goals” often fall into the categories of diet and exercise.  I for one am eating “healthy” for the first three months of 2014 (which means I’ll avoid white sugar and white flour, except on Sundays!).  I’m also starting some intense yoga and weight-training (to show I’m completely insane, I’m even doing P90X with my husband this week).

But what about spiritual goals?  As a working mom, I can barely keep my own devotional and prayer life afloat.  I know my children are at impressionable ages and need me to give them spiritual guidance and direction.  I know that soon they will be grown and gone.  But life is so busy and we’ve been in a rut.  Besides, it’s already the first week of January, and I lack a “plan.”

[Note to self:  if you wait for a plan, you will never take action.]

Sometimes, we just need to act.  Since when do we need to wait for a plan?  Working moms are experts at making it up as we go along.

It starts with a simple question. What do I really need this year?  What is lacking in my life at the moment, and what will make a real difference?

For me, the answer is easy.  I need to hear from God.  And I need to help my kids hear from God.

I don’t need to read another book.  I don’t need to buy an expensive program.  I don’t need to set more goals.

I decide to start with some basic ingredients.

Paper.  Markers.  Scissors.  A Bible.  A big vase.  A big mouth.  A willing heart.

“Ok kids, I am going to memorize some Bible verses this year.  I would like for you to join me.  I am not going to force you.  I am not going to pay you or bribe you.  But I would like to do this together.  Who is in?”

Three affirmative responses followed.

We sat on the floor cutting out paper.  Reading Bible verses.  Nick (7th grade) found a site based on 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know.  We picked some, and we also added a few of our own.  We came up with 52 verses.  We wrote each verse on a piece of paper and put them in a large vase.  52 weeks.  We will pick a new verse every Sunday.

Anna (5th grade) picked our first verse for 2014.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 

No pressure.   I hope we don’t quit by June.   But it’s a start.

Have you set your goals for 2014?  Are you waiting for the perfect plan?

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: I Am Not The “Snack Mom”

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I was sitting at a soccer game last weekend when a mother on the opposing team lamented,

“I forgot snack.  I can do other things, but I’m not the Snack Mom. In fact, I hate snack duty!”

Been there.  I feel her pain. In fact, I even offered to share some of my pre-packaged Oreos and Nutter Butters. 

No, I’m not proud of my choice of snack.  But after a week of traveling and jet-lag recovery, I was just thankful that my husband (bless him) made a run to the grocery in my absence.  

Even though I wholly embrace healthy eating, I simply don’t have time to make my children healthy food like they deserve. When it comes to snacks, I’m a terrible packer. Most mothers who have nutritional control over their children carry around these coolers filled with fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and purified water. Not me. It’s downright embarrassing.

The other mothers look at me like, “Don’t you have your own cooler?” Actually, I don’t.  But it is on my “to do” list.  One of these days I will take nutritional control and make amends with the Snack Police.

The good news?

God still offers me (and my children) spiritual food.   He’s not even waiting for me to get my act together.  In John Chapter 6, Jesus tells us:

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval….

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Just think, I’m worried about the Snack Police, yet God places his “seal of approval” on food that will never spoil!  I just need to “come” and ask.  I don’t even need to bring my own cooler!

Have you struggled being the “Snack Mom”?  Are you in need of some spiritual nutrition?