All posts tagged Raising Kids

When Possible, Say Yes!

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This month, we’ve been focusing on the word YES.

Unfortunately, yes has become a dirty word for many working moms.  Some of us think we don’t have time for yes.  Yet saying NO by default can be self-limiting and even create barriers at home and at work.

Last year, a Supreme Court Justice challenged me to say yes, even when it’s hard at work.  Similarly, as a young adult, I received some powerful advice — about saying yes — from a respected Christian leader.  I commented on how wonderful he and his wife had raised their five children.  I asked him his secret.

His answer surprised me.

“We don’t have lots of rules.  When possible, we try to tell our kids YES.”

He went on to explain that he and his wife save NO for issues that involve safety, health, and morality.  They didn’t have trivial rules, artificial bedtimes, or heavy chores.  They didn’t have complicated discipline charts and behavioral point systems.  They tried to keep it simple.  They tried to say yes when possible.  And I’ve never forgotten his advice.

Now that I have a teenage son (and two daughters who aren’t far behind him), it’s tempting to just say NO by default.  You can’t stay out past 10:30.  You can’t listen to that kind of music.  You can’t have a new iPhone.  You can’t watch that movie.  

He is hearing no all too often.  No is easy.  No is safe.  No gives him necessary boundaries.

But I don’t want to become a mom of no.  So I have to work hard to say yes to the little things.  Even when it’s inconvenient.  I must admit, it’s easier to say yes to my daughters.  It’s easy to say yes to little things — to braid their hair, paint their nails, or lie in bed with them for five minutes. But a teenage boy is different.  So I have to work even harder to say yes.  It usually revolves around food.  Like on Saturday night when Nick wants to make bacon at 11:00 p.m.   This is the last thing I want to do.  I’m tired.  I want to go to bed.  The kitchen will be a greasy mess, and I’ll be cleaning until midnight.

But bacon at midnight is not a moral fight.  It’s not going to kill me (or him).  It might even be fun.   So I get out the frying pan, albeit reluctantly, and I turn on the stove.  I remind myself to follow my own advice:  when possible, say yes!

He said it was the best bacon he’d had in a long time.

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Do you try to say YES when possible?  When’s the last time you had bacon at midnight? 

 

 

Working Moms: Do You Blow Off People You Don’t Know?

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For the month of January 2015, we’re focused on a single word:  PRESENT.

So far, we talked about being present at home and being present at work.  But what about being present with people we don’t even know?  Does it really matter if we are attentive and engaged with strangers?

The short answer is yes.  People matter to God, and they should matter to us – whether we know them or not.  But this is tough to do. Really tough. If you’re like me, you’re already overextended and maxed out with home, work, and everything in between.  It’s so much easier to “zone out” with people we don’t know,

Case in point? The check-out line.

More often than not, I don’t make eye contact in the check-out line.  Instead, I am talking to my kids, talking on my phone, or disengaging for a rare, unplugged moment.  This past Christmas, I was completely and totally ignoring a sales clerk in the check-out line at T.J. Maxx.  He had been trying to have a conversation with me, but I was stonewalling him.  So he called me out.

“Ma’m,” he said.  “Can you at least say goodbye?”

I was ashamed and embarrassed.  Especially when my 8-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, why did he say that to you?”

So this week, I’m focusing on making eye contact  — being present — with strangers.   I can think of at least two good reasons:  1)  I want to show my kids that people matter; 2) I might be talking to an angel without knowing it.

Do you zone out in the check-out line?  What can you do to be PRESENT with someone you don’t know this week? 

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Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

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)

Brooke’s Story: Turning A New Page At 30

As we launch our “Story Series” this week, I’d like to introduce you to Brooke Poague.   Brooke and I have been virtual friends since she picked up a copy of Chasing Superwoman, and she is part of a small but growing tribe of “Lady Lawyers” who read this blog.  

Brooke, please introduce yourself (and tell us the many hats you wear).

I am a mother, soon to be ex-wife, divorce lawyer (I see the irony), and Christian with the mouth of a well- educated sailor that I am working on.  Seriously…I am.  Work just seems to interfere with that every day! 

What key events have marked your journey?

I invited Christ into my life when I was about eight, but like a lot of people I didn’t really appreciate the relationship until my late twenties; my late twenties have marked several key events in my journey.

My son was born with a brachial plexus injury to his right arm when I was 25.  His arm was paralyzed and all the doctors said it would heal on its own.  Something deep down told me that wasn’t true.  After searching and seeing expert after expert, we were blessed to find surgeons at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that were able to do amazing things.  Without them, Grant would have never used his arm.  He has about 80% usage and just finished his first season of baseball, playing third base!

I also received a cancer diagnosis at 27, and even though it was very early stage, I underwent 8 surgeries over a two-year period.  The cancer was vaginal, and for any woman who has had surgeries to remove breast, vaginal or any other “female” cancer, it can be disfiguring and a big blow to your “womanhood”.  All while trying to raise a young son and keep my failing marriage afloat.  For almost two years, my life revolved around oncology appointments, gynecology appointments, surgeries, recoveries, and figuring out which pain meds I could take and still work! 

My marriage began to fall apart about the same time my health took a turn for the worse.  I think that sometimes hardship bring people closer, but when people are just barely hanging on to their relationships, hard times are often the final straw.  We held on for about four more years and separated Spring 2013.  It’s amicable and the best I could hope for, but it’s always sad to see the end of an era.  It’s especially hard with kids. 

Sometimes, looking back, I don’t see how I made it through certain days, weeks or even months, but I did.  I made it with God’s help and the help of those that truly love me.  I won’t say it’s been easy, but I also can’t say that I don’t know people who have had it much worse.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Today I am thankful to be cancer free and surrounded by wonderful doctors that keep a close check on me, a little boy that hangs in there and plays ball as well as the next person despite his limitation and an amicable relationship with my son’s father.  This year, the age of 30, really seems, as it should, the beginning of a new decade.

What is your greatest struggle?

Juggling it all.  Owning a business, working full time (if not more), being a full-time single mother; it’s tough.  Work, school, camp, church, school projects, homework, team mom….It’s hard not to feel sorry for myself or get down, but at the end of the day when I put my blessings on one side of the scales and struggles on the other, the blessings always outweigh the struggles (even if I have to really look for them!).

How do you integrate your faith, home, and work?

It’s often hard to integrate my faith into my work.  I feel as if I can’t be too pushy with clients.  I often suggest marriage counseling and ways to save their marriage prior to filing for divorce.  The problem is that by the time they come to see me it’s usually too late.  At home I try to talk about the biblical aspects of situations with my five-year-old and we discuss “Jesus” and “heaven”; I think that’s about as far as you can go with him right now.  He’s still wondering where heaven is!

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Thanks, Brooke for launching our Story Series.  I’ve often said that God has a special mountain in heaven for women lawyers.  You can visit Brooke online at  www.baileypoague.com or at www.facebook.com/WetumpkaDivorceAttorneys.

Does Brooke’s story strike a powerful or familiar cord?  If so, please let her know!

Working Mom’s Devotional: Do Your Words Bless Your Children?

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As mothers, it’s important to use words that bless our children.  Yet we have to be intentional.  Otherwise, we forget.

We say things like, “Hurry up and brush your teeth!” and “I already told you five minutes ago to get in bed.”

And we forget to say things like, “Thank you for being patient with your sister today,” and “Did you know that I think about you all day, even when I’m at work?”

Our words have so much power. 

Have you ever noticed that it takes serious effort to be intentional with our words?  At the same time, it’s easy to be careless and say the wrong thing.   It’s also easier to turn out the light and throw up a few canned prayers than to individually engage and bless our children after a long day’s work.  Yet we may be missing a golden opportunity.

One of my friends goes out of her way to “bless” each of her children at the end of each day.  I call it “The Blessing Challenge.”  She makes sure each blessing is intentional, individual, and specific.  For example, instead of saying things like, “You were really a good boy today” she says things like “I noticed how patient you were when we were waiting in line at the store.  I know you were hungry, but you didn’t complain or whine and you set a wonderful example for your younger brother.”

The Blessing Challenge takes hard work and practice.  At the end of each day I am often brain dead and exhausted.  Yet our children are worth the effort.

Every day, let’s bless our children with positive, specific words.  For example, we can bless our children by using the words of Ephesians Chapter 3.   Don’t know where to start?  It’s easy.  Try putting the name of your child in the passage below. 

Ephesians 3:14-20
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the believers, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Will you join me in The Blessing Challenge this week?