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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

“Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were six of you — your mother, your father and four children. What percentage of the pie would you get?” a teacher asked her students.

“One-fifth,” said one boy.

The teacher responded, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are six of you.”

“I know,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. She would say she didn’t want any pie so we could have more.”  (Author Unknown)

As mother’s, aren’t we about giving, sharing, and encouraging?  There are times, though, when a mother has nothing left to give, little to share, and few words of encouragement for the children in her life–especially when she’s parenting alone and is both mother and father.

I’ve been there several times.  With a husband in the Navy, I’ve survived three long deployments.  One with a newborn and toddler, the next with two preschoolers, and another with a 6-year-old, 7-year-old, and two teenaged boys (need I say more?).

I would guess some of you have been there, too…military wives, single moms, women with husbands who travel frequently, or those with guys who–for whatever reason–disengage from family life.

The great news is that regardless of the situation, every mother can rely on God by taking four simple steps–like my friend Jen.

The first time Jen and I met, I was struck by her honesty and haunted eyes.  She had only just arrived in Colorado after having travelled across the country in a beat-up van with several children.  At night, when her eyes could no longer focus, Jen would pull to the side of the road where she and the family slept for a few hours.  But, as miles of unfamiliar scenery unfolded in front of her, hope began growing in Jen’s chest—hope for her children and herself.  Why?  Because Jen had escaped from a life of abuse to a life of promise– much like Hagar, the woman whose name meant “stranger”.

Hagar.  We don’t know much about her, but some Rabbinical texts suggest she may have been pharaoh’s daughter—a gift to Sarai during her time in the king’s harem.   Or, like so many others, perhaps Hagar was a poor girl whose family wanted to assure she would be given food and shelter.  Princess or pauper, Hagar was a young Egyptian woman who had been a servant for 10 years in a foreign land.

She was alone, destitute, and given to an old man out of her mistresses desperation.  The goal?  Surrogate motherhood.

Fast forward a few months—an 85 year-old man and a beautiful slave-girl in her mid-20’s have conceived a child together.  For the first time in years, Hagar felt pride.  A child!  Someone she could love and who would love her in return.

But, Hagar’s pride got in the way.  She flaunted her growing belly and offended Sarai.  Hard work and maltreatment followed.  Finally, after enduring another beating, Hagar ran away.  She wept—tears of shame, tears of loneliness, tears of hopelessness.  Hagar was a stranger once again—except to God.

Look over the following account from Genesis 16.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.

9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a]

Hagar had been wandering aimlessly; now she worshipped El Roi (El Raw-ee)—the God who sees.

Notice that God didn’t remove her from her current situation.  Instead, he responded to her cries of distress, sought her out, and comforted her with his presence and his promises.  Hagar’s story doesn’t end there.  In Genesis 21, we find Hagar in another situation—that of single parent.

…and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.

 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

And, ladies, listen to this!! 20 God was with the boy as he grew up.

Did you notice the word “wandered”?  Hagar “wandered in the dessert”.   The Hebrew word used to describe her “wandering” means to go astray.  Here she is…in the desert a second time…without a GPS and in need of direction.  Don’t you think she would call out to God, El Roi, the One who Sees?  But Hagar forgot to look for Him.  Instead, the Lord responded to the cries of the boy.  His words?  “What is the matter, Hagar?  Do not be afraid?”

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God’s love for us?  When we find ourselves in the midst of the desert, unsure of which way to turn, and fearing the worst our first step is to call out in  our distress, our weakness, and our wandering to The God Who Sees.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, thank you for sharing the gift of motherhood with me.  My desire is to glorify you in my parenting and to bless these children as I seek to point them toward you.  Father, show me how to rely on you in all I do today.  Amen

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They could be lyrics to a catchy jingle.

                 Driver’s lessons, swim lessons,

                 soccer practice, homework,

                 Business trips, staff training,

                 open house and PTO .

Instead, they’re additions to August’s jam-packed, back-to-school calendar and I’m left wondering when I’ll find time to sleep–let alone fit in enough marital romance to keep the fire’s burnin’ and my marriage a focal point.

Have you ever struggled to balance the challenges of parenting with the needs of your husband?  Do you feel as if you have to choose between the laundry sequestered behind the utility closet or a quiet moment shared with the man you promised to love and honor?  Even worse–are you too tired to care?

My answers?

1.  Yes–most days.

2.  Absolutely.  There is something about laundry!  It multiplies like rabbits and seems to get away from me no matter what I do.

3.  Ask me this question at the end of the month.

Pausing to consider the importance of spending time with my husband, Dave, I’m reminded of something his friend once said, “The day my wife had our children, she became their mother and stopped being my wife.”  I know I’m not responsible for Dave’s happiness, but I am determined that I will remain engaged in his life as only a wife can–despite the busyness.

So…how do I avoid putting my baby on the back burner–especially when we’re both in constant motion?  There are three simple ideas (ladies, these tips are for you!).

  • Get it on!  Your husband’s sexual desire is as much an expression of love for you as snuggling is for you.  Pencil in “the night” on your calendar and give yourself enough alone time to rejuvenate, refresh, and regroup.
  • Time out!  Set aside one time each month to schedule 3 to 4 dates.  Schedule a babysitter, trade with other parents, or take advantage of “Parent’s Night Out” opportunities at local gyms.  For a little added fun, take turns planning each date.
  • Reality Check!  If you don’t make the beds or do the laundry, they’ll be waiting for you the next day.  If you don’t invest in your marriage, your husband may not be.

Recommended Reading

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Scripture for Reflection

The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. (1 Peter 3:1 MSG)

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I loved Sunday evenings as a child.  Our family would gather around the TV set with a large bowl of popcorn and watch Walt Disney’s featured special.  I didn’t care if we saw The Apple Dumpling Gang, Pollyanna, or Old Yeller.  I just enjoyed the sense of togetherness.  The familiarity.

In this fast-paced, long-distance-relationship-world, children (and their grown-ups) find comfort and stability in traditions.    They are the feel-good memory makers that build relationships.  Whether we make pancakes every Saturday morning,  read story books together each night, or go camping in the same little spot once a year, our traditions are part of the legacy we pass on to our children.

Homes may not last and income might dwindle, but a tradition is often passed from one generation to the next.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  Psalm 133:1-3

 Family Tradition Ideas

    • Weekly Game Night-Gather board games, turn off the TV, and have some fun!
    • Date with Dad/Mom-Take each child on a “date” once a month.
    • Bedtime Stories-Does it get any better than snuggles and fairy tales?
    • Mid-week Pizza-Buy a kit, make your own dough, and crank the music.
    • Formal Dining-Light the candles, dress up, and have dinner in the dining room.

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Gene pool?  Birth order?  God’s design.  It’s a mystery, but our children are different in defining, beautiful ways.  One is a rule-follower and lives life as if there are no shades of gray.  The other thinks outside of the box and bends the rules–challenging for his parents, but a trait that holds promise if used for God’s glory.

Both keep me on my knees–battling against two disparate traps–perfectionism and rebellion.  I believe God wants me there.  Interceding.  Calling out.  Relying on the one called Abba, Father.  If you are in the same position,  praise God for teaching you to rely on his bountiful grace and mercy.  Do you remember His words?   “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

If my fallible heart can be so consumed with love for my children; grief for their suffering; and yearning for Godly living then how much more must God love His own?  Dear friend, He gave everything-position, power, prominence–to give up Himself for us.  Are you amazed?  Then have faith!  Claim His promises for the children He has given you.  It doesn’t matter if they are newborns, teens, or middle-aged.

There is hope.  There is tomorrow.  There is Christ.

Action Steps for Today

  • List 3-5 ways you can pray for your child.  Track each prayer request and check it off as it is answered.
  • Commit to praying with another parent. We need other people to pray for our children, marriages, and families.

Recommended Reading

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…you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

Please, mama?  Come on a walk with me.  These words had become the day’s mantra and finally I said, “Let’s go.”  After crafting the perfect insect-friendly habitat–complete with sticks and grass–in his new bug-catcher, we set out on an adventure.  Twenty minutes later, Seth had forgotten about searching for bugs.  Instead, he navigated the unexplored boundaries of the small creek as it wound its way through our neighborhood park.  The mud encircling the bottom of his pant legs was as much evidence of Seth’s delight as the grin spilling across his face.  I wanted to capture that joy– the gleam of pleasure in his eyes–and hold on to it forever.

I wished I hadn’t waited all day for this moment.  We’ll go later, honey.  I’m too tired right now.  Let me finish these dishes first.  It’s easy to push aside the special moments–thinking there’ll be another just around the bend–when life is pressing in on every side with the “important”.  But, important won’t matter when I’m looking back on my life.  Instead, I’ll cherish time invested in those I love.  Exploring creek banks with my son, tea parties with my little girl, quiet walks with my husband…this is what really matters.

Scripture for Reflection 

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Recommended Reading

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I’m not inviting my girlfriend over because you embarrass me. The words, emphatically offered by my teenage son, stung. How could I possibly cause embarrassment? After all, I never produce questionable baby pictures or use childhood nicknames when meeting Ben’s friends. Instead, I make popcorn, rent the requested DVD’s, and remain outside of the immediate area.
Mother guilt engulfed me. Had I done anything in particular to cause embarrassment? He must think I’m too serious. Maybe I should buy a few joke books. Or, it could be my music. I’ll need to remember not to play smooth jazz when people visit. Then, the truth struck me. Ben isn’t embarrassed by one specific thing—he’s embarrassed by who I am.


While considering my son’s assertion I was reminded of Romans 8:35 which reassures Christians that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ”. Despite my areas of weakness, poor choices, and sinful nature God offers love and acceptance. And, unlike my earthly family, the heavenly Father is never embarrassed by who I am. Instead, he sees me through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice—as his beloved child.
Do you ever struggle with acceptance? Are you afraid you might do something to put an important relationship at risk? Friend, take comfort. Your Lord knows you intimately and nothing you do will ever jeopardize your position in his family.
Now…about those baby pictures.

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Teach your preschooler practical ways to love others using this simple activity.
First, assemble a booklet made of blank construction paper. Join your preschoolers on a “picture walk” as you look through magazines. Help your children find pictures of people who are demonstrating love. Ask such questions as, “Can you find a picture of someone being helpful? Do you notice anyone sharing? Praying together? How else might a person show they love somebody?”
After deciding on a few pictures, cut or tear them out of the magazines and glue onto pre-assembled booklet pages. Using the pictures as a prompt, discuss ways you and your children can love other people. Give your child a supply of crayons and a piece of paper labeled with the words, “I can show love to (name) by (action).” Attach the personalized page to the new book and place it in your family library.
Review-
1. Read the book together during family devotions.
2. Create additional pages as your children discover other ways to express love.
3. For each day of the week, choose one person to whom your children can demonstrate love. You might bake cookies together, draw a picture, or pray for that person.

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“I thought I would be the perfect mother. Then, I had children.”

The words drifted from the cars’ speakers as I pushed the dashboard button. I smiled, agreeing inwardly. I remembered all of the dreams I had of being that sort of mother, too. My goal wasn’t lofty. Angry words? Never. Consistency of discipline? Always. Great attitude? Every day.
You may have guessed…I haven’t come close to living up to my ideal. I’ve regretted words, failed to know how to discipline, and feel overwhelmed or irritated on a regular basis. Do you relate?
In my shortcomings, I’m reminded that God is the perfect parent. His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). If I rely on His word, turn to Him for understanding, and trust His direction for the children He has given me then I can give up the idea of parenting perfectly. I’ll do my best and trust that God–the One who is perfection–is working in their lives despite and through my imperfection.

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