All posts tagged Daughters

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)

The Blessing of a Forgotten Cell Phone

I was driving to Abby’s soccer game when I began to panic.  I yelled out a twisted moan.

“What’s wrong Mom,” Abby asked.

“It’s nothing.  It’s just that I forgot my iPhone.  And I don’t have time to go back home to get it.”

No, I wasn’t upset about not having the camera. (I’m not one of those moms that constantly takes video of my 8-year-old playing soccer.)   My panic stemmed from the fact that I would be disconnected from the world for an entire hour.  Maybe longer.

The problem is much deeper than I care to admit.  I utterly felt naked without my iPhone.  Like a part of my body was missing.  Like I was missing.

Don’t ask me why I’m so addicted.  But I am.  If five minutes passes and I haven’t checked my texts and emails, I start to fidget.   Plus, the soccer game is a perfect time to catch up all of those personal messages I’ve neglected all week.

Now, I am going to waste all that down time!  What will I possibly do for one hour? 

Believe it or not, I survived.  I’ll tell you what I did.

Instead of sitting in my self-absorbed la la land, I actually talked to the other parents.  I introduced myself to a few familiar faces and made several friends.  I connected with my son’s former teacher who was thrilled to learn about Nick’s middle school experience.  And I actually watched the game!  It was no coincidence that Abby scored three goals – and I even saw them because I wasn’t staring at my phone!

Am I going to leave my iPhone behind on purpose next time?

Of course not.  God knows I still have a long way to go – and I’m sure my obsession borders an unholy form of idolatry.  But at least I know I can do it!  With God’s grace, I can do it, and so can you!

God, I so much want your peace to fill my soul.  Forgive me for letting technology get in the way of real relationships.  Help me to unplug – even for an hour. 

Have you ever forgotten your phone and panicked?  If so, how did you fill the void?   

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16.33

Working Mom’s Devotional: Slowing Down With Sick Kids

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Nothing disrupts work like a sick kid.   Of course, it always happens during the worst possible week.  When I am traveling.  When I am too busy to stay at home.  When I am maxed out.

Enter bronchitis. 

My first-grader, Abby, has been coughing for two weeks.  She’s been trying to tell me she’s sick, but I’ve insisted otherwise.

“Honey, it’s just a cold.  Just drink some water and go to bed early tonight.”

In other words, You can’t be sick right now!  We are all too busy.  Who is going to stay home from school with you?

So I try to convince her she’s not sick.  But she’s not buying it.

“No. Mom, I’m serious.  There’s this frog in my throat.  The nurse says I should get it checked out.”

Did she say “the nurse”? 

Yes, we got the call.  Or should I say my husband got the call.  I was away on business.  (My timing is always impeccable.)

So I rushed home as soon as I could.  I clawed my way onto a full flight by giving them the “working mom” sob story.  And now I’m rearranging my day so that I can take care of her, work from home, and alleviate my guilt.

(Have I mentioned that I’m really afraid of the school nurse?  Ever since she caught me sending Nick to school with a fever in second grade,  she’s got my number.)

Yet deep down, I know that taking care of my daughter is exactly what I want to be doing today.  What I need to be doing.  Because as much as I hate it when my kids are sick,  it forces me to slow down.  To be still.  To stop and to be. 

We sit on the couch and read her favorite book.  She begs me to read another.  I turn off my phone and feed her ice cream.  With one hand on my laptop, I stroke her hair with my other hand.

Part of me feels guilty for doing “nothing.”  I am so preoccupied with being productive that it’s hard – I mean really hard – to watch cartoons and re-read the same books over and over again.  So I  turn my phone back on.  I even take a few calls.  But I don’t mute her coughing or worry about the background noise.  Because today, my most important job is being with her.  Being a mom.  Even forgetting I am a busy, stressed-out lawyer with whacked-out priorities and too many deadlines.

I hear the words of a prophet from the 7th Century BC. 

Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (Jeremiah 2:25) (The Message)

I need to take that deep breath.  To thank God for this day.

God, thank you for using a sick child to put my life in perspective.  Thank you for slowing me down.  For showing me that the temporary things that I am chasing do not compare to the gift of my daughter.  And please help Abby to get well soon. 

Has God ever used a sick kid to slow you down?

Did Your Parents Teach You About Grace?

Teaching a 9-year-old about grace is one thing.  Teaching a teenager about grace is another.  I hope my young daughters don’t repeat a few of my teenage stunts.  But in case they do, I plan to borrow a few scenes from my parent’s play book.  Starting with my father.

Yes, this is the man who struck terror in our hearts with his deep voice and massive hands that would squeeze the back of my neck ever so gently whenever I got out of line.  But even he knew to sprinkle some grace on the journey.  (Either that, or five daughters just wore him down.  As my older sisters say, the youngest always has it the easiest!)

Fortunately, I didn’t get in trouble often.  But when I did, it tended to be with my church youth group.  (Note to parents:  just because your kids are with the church crowd, do not assume they are behaving.)

In a particular lapse of judgment, I decided to “skip” youth group and join my friend I’ll call Mary with her older boyfriend and his football buddy for an R-rated movie.  I didn’t have to get in Mary’s car.  But if you had a choice between riding in a cherry red Mazda RX-7 with a sunroof or an old beat-up church bus, what would you do?

Exactly.

The plan?  We would drive separately and ditch the church bus on the way to miniature golf.  When questioned, we would claim that Mary’s contact fell out of her eye, causing us to pull over and get lost.  And rather than wasting a perfectly good evening, we ended up at the movies. 

Of course, I didn’t get away with it.  When Mary dropped me off at home after the movie, I knew I was busted.  My father wasn’t just waiting for me, he was standing in the garage.  Always a bad sign!

I got out of the car and he asked, “What happened?”

I thought hard about the contact story.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I started sobbing and told him the truth.  The whole truth. 

His response?

“Thank you for telling me the truth.”

No further questions.  No punishment.  No gentle squeeze on the back of the neck.

And we haven’t discussed it since!

How did your parents teach you – or not teach you — about grace?  (I’m thinking about deleting this post so my children don’t use it against me!)

Teaching Our Kids About Grace

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Teaching kids about grace is harder than it sounds.  Like most adventures on the parenting journey, we can’t simply tell our children how it’s done.  We have to show them how its done. 

My father used to say, “Do what I say and not what I do.”  Either kids have gotten smarter today, or I’m just a weakling.  (Maybe it’s because I don’t have my father’s deep voice, or his massive hands that used to squeeze the back of my neck ever so gently when I got out of line.) It may have worked for my parents’ generation, but it just doesn’t work for me. 

So I spending time reading books like, Give Them Grace:  Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of JesusAnd I’m working on putting grace into practice, starting with the small stuff.

Like last weekend, my kids were supposed to clean up after a self-inflicted popcorn plague landed in our basement.   In a moment of parental weakness, I decided just to sweep it myself.  Sometimes, I just don’t have the time or the patience to supervise clean-up when I know it will take twice as long with their “help.”

Later that evening, Anna asked me for popcorn.  Rather than flying off the handle or simply saying no, I decided to seize the moment.  Here’s my chance to teach her about grace!

“Anna, I’m going to teach you about the difference between justice and mercy.  Let’s start with justice.  Justice is what you deserve.  You didn’t clean up the basement last night, even after Mom told you to clean up the mess.  That was wrong.  So, applying justice, you don’t get any popcorn tonight.”

She apologized and lowered her head.  I continued.

“But Mom isn’t going to give you justice.  I’m going to give you mercy instead.   I decided to clean up the basement for you.   It’s already done.  So even though you deserve to be punished, I’m not going to hold it against you.  That’s the great thing about grace – it’s a gift.  We don’t deserve it.  I cleaned up the basement because I love you.”

I went on to tell her about how God gives us grace instead of justice, and we should do the same for other people.  She just starred at me and looked confused.

“Mom, does this mean I get to have popcorn?”

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What are some creative ways to teach children about grace?    Can you share a story from your playbook?

(Come back next Wednesday and I’ll give you the real story about how my dad taught me about grace.)