Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Kind of Parent are You? Long or Short?

As promised, here is a recap of the very convicting parenting message that our pastor preached this Sunday morning. I just was able to learn so much, and apply so much to my own life, that I feel burdened to share this message with all of you as well.

Our pastor started out by sharing that there are four things that typical parents, even typical Christian parents, work to ensure that their children have. These four things are: educational/intellectual development, health/physical development, economic well-being, and emotional fitness. There's nothing wrong with wanting these things for our children...the problem comes when we STOP with these four things, and ignore the MOST important aspect of our children's development - their spiritual maturity.

When we take the long view of parenting, it allows our children to be TRULY happy. We all want happiness for our children, of course- I think it's just natural for a parent to want our children to be happy. But, in the end, we do not control what happens to our children...God does (and what a sobering truth that is). When we train our children to seek after happiness at all costs, our children are not prepared for the hard times, and may react with bitterness when their lives do not go the way they planned. Lasting joy is a consequence of living life for GOD, and not for ourselves. Are we instilling this in our children through our attitudes towards the hard things in our lives each day?

When we take the long view of parenting, we give our children a reason to really live. Luke 10:27 was the passage for this point, and this verse reads, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - these are the two most important commandments, according to Jesus. This verse sums up the total of ALL my child needs to accomplish in this life. Everything I teach them relates to God's purpose - every choice they (and I) make is either consistent or inconsistent with God's purpose for their (or my) life. This really hit home with me, because so often I am caught up in getting things done, hurrying through my day, keeping a 'clean' house, teaching my son about this and that, and how many of those things are TRULY important to God? Our culture & society today prides busy-ness & involvement in many things - but how many of these things really help our children learn to love God and love others? Another statement that our pastor made during this section that I just could not believe was this: It has been statistically proven that the greatest obstacle to people entering full-time vocational Christian ministry is Christian parents. Can you imagine??? Having been in ministry for our 6 1/2 years of marriage, I can think of no greater joy than to hear my little Z say, "Mommy, I want to be a pastor." Okay, admittedly, a foreign missionary would be harder...to watch him fly to Bangladesh, and not be able to hold my grandchildren very often? That would be hard. But if that's what God has planned for him, that would be the ONLY way my little boy would be truly happy. I loved this statement, too - "We need to remember that when we supply our child with life's true meaning, God will supply our child the MEANS for living." And, oh, how God has proved this to be SO true in my life through the years.

Finally, and, parents, this one's for us : When we take the long view of parenting, we ensure that we have no lasting regrets. I have been a mommy for only almost 18 months now, and I can't even imagine what it would be like to have no regrets about how I have raised my little Z. Not that he's turning out bad at age one or anything, he's such a good boy, but I can be so impatient...and when I see pictures of tiny newborn him, it's hard to feel anything but regret for all I missed during those first few weeks...all I can think about is how I struggled back then emotionally, and what a self-centered person (and parent) I was, and still can be. The way I raise my children affects me, too...not just them.

I'll close with the super-convicting statement that has been on my mind ever since our pastor spoke it on Sunday, and I have prayed through it ten times at least. "So many times we focus on 'surviving parenting', AS IF IT WERE ALL ABOUT US." Too many days, too many weeks, this describes me and my parenting goals: survival.

Lord, help me to focus on raising these children that you have entrusted me with in the way that honors you. Let me hold every decision up to the purpose that you have for my life and for my children's lives each day. Help me to trust you, and to allow you to live through me. Let me be Christ to my children today.

This post is paraphrased & quoted from Pastor Charles Colton's message, Why We Need to 'Go Long', shared at Panama Baptist Church on May 24, 2009.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It May Be Random...But At Least I'm Posting!!!

I haven't posted in a while, and I really don't know why. I've been tired lately, but not feeling too nauseous. I've been keeping up on everyone else's blogs, commenting, tweeting, and all that. So I guess I will write a swirly post, attempting to catch everyone up on what I've been up to over here.

My parents and sister (5 yrs. younger) came for a visit last weekend. It was really fun to watch them interact with Z, and to see all the things that he learned while they were here. He called my sister "Ella", which is nothing close to her real name, and he pretty much adored her. We all went to the Buffalo zoo last Monday, and that was really fun- he loved watching the sea lions (you can watch them swim around underwater), and one big turtle in particular, and he loved the seagulls who ate one of his chicken nuggets when he dropped it at lunch. He liked the bears, too - he called one of them a kitty. :) So it was a nice visit, and really good to see my family.

A few weeks ago, I bought Z a little pair of green & yellow crocs, which he now loves. He calls them 'cwocs', not shoes, and always chooses to wear them instead of his other shoes. :) Here he is sliding down his slide in his cwocs. The slide has since been fixed & we have also removed the tree from our porch. :)

I bought a 7-yard length of a stretchy jersey knit fabric last week, and cut it in half lengthwise to make my own homemade Moby-ish wrap. If you go to Moby's website, they have all their instructions for public viewing, so I've been using those to practice the different holds. I like it so far, and Z & I have had great success with the hip carry & front tummy-to-tummy carry in it...but I canNOT for the life of me get the hang of any back carries with it yet...and that's kind of why I wanted it...I'm sure I'll use it a lot with a newborn, too, but I really bought it for comfortable back carries later in my pregnancy. :( So I am still using the Patapum for my back carry in the camp kitchen, which is working alright, I just have to wear the hip belt really low & it looks kind of funny. :)

I went shopping for maternity clothes this week, on the way to a bridal shower at church...I actually found 2 pairs of shorts (one stretchy & one Motherhood maternity) and 2 pairs of pants (one stretchy but nice for church - I'm wearing them today actually, & one pair of maternity JEANS for $2!!!) at Sal-Val, and I spent a TOTAL of $11!!! Go thrift stores! I enjoyed the bridal shower, too, and Daddy & Z had some 'guy time' at home. Daddy picked up ALL the toys & also did the dishes for me along with babysitting- what a great guy! :)

Our pastor started a VERY convicting series on parenting today at church - I may write more about the series in the coming weeks, but here's just one super-convicting quote from this morning's message: "How many times do we as parents focus on just 'surviving' parenting, as if it were all about us???" And, wow, yeah, some days... This morning was all about the long-term view of our parenting goals & how we need to focus on our children's spiritual development. I hope to share more later.

Hubby has a cold, so he's taking a nap this afternoon in an effort to be rejuvenated by the time he leads songs & has KidZone practice at church tonight. I put Z down for a nap at 3, so he would wake up in time to leave for church at 5:10, and...he went to sleep around 3:40. Sigh. So now I'm heading for the couch, where I will lounge & possibly nap myself for a while. And hopefully I will blog again before June. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!!

I received part of my Mother's Day present this morning- the opportunity to sleep in while my Hubby got up with Z & dressed him, fed him breakfast, and played with him until what time I chose to awake. :) I actually woke up around 8, and then just laid there & spent some quiet time with me, myself, and God until 8:30...it was so nice. :)

I'm extra-excited about this Mother's Day because we have a little extra reason to celebrate (and that little reason is 9 weeks along today - only 31 weeks to go)! I would love to write a beautiful post about Mother's Day...all poignant and pithy...but the truth is that, just like last year, someone has already written it better than I could. :)

So head on over and read this post by Melissa - absolutely beautiful. It reminded me of two beautiful truths that I should be keeping in mind this Mother's Day and every day -

1) Every moment is to be cherished. Even when I've just finished giving my son his nineteenth spanking of the morning, all while wondering what my nauseous stomach would possibly enjoy eating...every moment God gives is a blessing.

2) I've also been reminded to take some extra time today and tomorrow to pray for those who are NOT moms yet, but, to quote Melissa, 'their desire to be mothers supersedes almost every other thing in their lives'. Because I have been there. And I can tell you that for those moms who have to face yet another Mother's Day with empty wombs and empty arms, this is one of the worst days of their year. Please keep this in mind as you plan or participate in ceremonies to honor mothers at your churches...maybe a quiet recognition would be less painful for those struggling with infertility or miscarriage.

One of my most painful Mother's Day memories that comes to mind was in a small country church, where they had a beautiful ceremony honoring their mothers. Every child came to the front to get a flower for their mother, and brought it to her, as they read the mother's names aloud. It was a wonderful ceremony, but rather heart-wrenching for someone who desires nothing more than to receive a flower, and to be called a mom.

And God's ways are so far above ours...His timing is truly impeccable. Here I am just a few years down the road (four, if I remember correctly), giggling with my toddler while my hand rests on my belly, cherishing this moment with my two children.

Lord, please help me to keep in mind the fact that Your ways are perfect. Thank you so much for all of the blessings in my life, Lord. Let me cherish each moment that you give me with my husband and children, and praise you constantly through the ways I interact with my family and others. Lord, please give peace during this rough weekend to those who desire so strongly to be mothers, but haven't yet received this blessing from You. I'm thinking of a few friends in particular, who I know follow You and serve You each day...please, Lord, give them peace, and if it would be Your will, bless them with a child of their own to rejoice in.

**Edited to Add: Here is a link to another wonderful post that outlines the pain of those who are celebrating Mother's Day today without all of their children on Earth. Check it out & say a prayer for them, too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Secret Is Out

Z is pleased to announce that...

That's right! Z's going to be a big brother!!! Z will turn 2 on Dec. 5th, and this baby is due on December 12th!!! :)

We had our ultrasound yesterday afternoon, and it was the quietest, most somber ultrasound I've ever been a part of. As far as I know, the baby is just fine...but I don't know much...the techs were so quiet, I actually asked at one point if something was wrong! They might have thought it was twins...because at one point the lady tech kept saying, "Now, see, there's ONE...there's ONE..." And I was like, "PLEASE TELL ME THERE'S ONLY ONE!!!" At one point in my life, I wanted twins - oh, so cute dressed up in their matching outfits, right??? Yeah, then I had Z. And I realized that those matching twins mother would be residing in an insane asylum!!! Oh, I know, truly, God would give me the strength, but for real, twins would be SO HARD!!! :) So I was glad when there was only ONE!!! :) Anyway, they were so quiet- they wouldn't tell me ANYTHING!!! Finally b/c I was sort of freaking out, they told me the baby's heartbeat was fine...so, okay! At least there's that. :)

As far as how I'm feeling...just kind of icky. After keeping up with Kathryn's adventures in front of the porcelain throne with her 3rd pregnancy, I'm utterly thankful for my mild nausea. Nothing really sounds good, which makes it a challenge to eat healthy, so I'm working on that. I'm also more tired & crampy with this pregnancy than I was with Z, which my dr. attributes to chasing Z around. :)

I announced in MOPS this morning, and everyone clapped, it was so fun. :) I love being pregnant...especially the end part when I'm showing...so fun! :) And then on the way home, I saw one of those orange & blue slides on the side of the road (for large item pickup), so I stopped & got it, and Z LOVES it. He can slide all by himself on it, and oh my goodness, it is so cute. That combined with the yellow & lime-green crocs I bought him at Wal-Mart...it is too much cuteness. :) He loves them so much he calls them 'crocs', not shoes...and he asked to wear them in the house tonight. :) I'll have to post a picture/video sometime. :)

Well, this is enough rambling. Hope everyone else had a nice day, too, whether it involved crocs & slides or not! :)