Parenting With the End in Mind

Parenting is a long, terrifying, rewarding, heart-breaking journey, one we won’t see truly see the fruit of for

Photo by radnatt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by radnatt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

years to come. And in the interim, as we chase after naked babies, clean vomit from furniture, and bruise our knees–literally–through the teen years, it’s easy to get bogged down in the tedium of it all. To lose sight of our end goal, and maybe even to worry we’ll never quite get there.

If that’s you, I hope you find comfort in today’s post, and may you rest in God’s promise found in Galatians 6:9.

-And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up-Galatians 6-9, ESV

Waiting for the Harvest
by Meredith Houston Carr

 

I promised them I’d be right back. I just needed to step into the pantry to look for that box of much-desired Teddy Grahams.

Alone. And behind the thin layer of protection afforded by the pantry door.

children-251610_640As tiny fists pounded the pressed wood separating me from my 1- and 2-year-old toddlers, my ears absorbed the millionth whiny cries of the day. Without warning, hot tears filled my eyes and made their way down my flushed cheeks.

I’m so tired! The inaudible scream left my heart and shot up to God.

Tired of the whining. Tired of the crying. Tired of the sheer volume of epic neediness two toddlers can exhibit!

Yes, I needed to duck into my pantry to look for my children’s snack … but more than anything, I needed a good old-fashioned time out.

Inside that small space, in a brief moment alone, I felt the gentle hand of my Heavenly Father on my shoulder as He whispered, be still.

The words of Matthew 11:28 resonated with my fatigued soul: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (NIV).

Breathing in the truth of these words, I wiped my tears, whispered to Jesus how worn out I felt, and timidly emerged from the pantry—Teddy Grahams in hand—to see smiling, happy faces.

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Motherhood is hard. That sounds obvious, but oftentimes the world makes us forget the truth that this high and holy work we’re doing is about so much more than simply feeding hungry mouths and clothing precious bodies. We are nurturing souls, sculpting human hearts and minds in the midst of the mundane, everyday tasks we do.

It is all at once boring and chaotic. Routine and unpredictable. Filled with incredible highs and wrenching lows.

In the exhausting hyper-vigilance created by mothering young ones, I am reminded of the words of Galatians 6:9:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV, emphasis added).

These early years of motherhood are all about laying the hard, laborious groundwork. Sowing, planting, watering, pulling weeds, shooing away birds, endlessly tending to tender, young shoots. The harvest appears very far off at times, and it’s easy to lose your way in the midst of all the work. This I understand, and all too well.

Dear mama, I know you are weary—I am too. But let us cling to the beautiful promise in this verse. All that hard work and sacrifice? It matters, and you and I will see the harvest … friendship-831522_640one day … if we will only not give up!

So keep on loving those little ones. Keep on showing patience and grace and forgiveness and kindness and joy in the midst of these intense, chaotic days. Keep on keeping on.

Your babies are watching, and their little senses are taking it all in—taking in all the love and sacrifice and grace you’re offering, day after weary, beautiful day.

And one fine day, you will emerge from the pantry, or wherever your hiding place happens to be, and look up to see the beginnings of a golden, bountiful harvest. Born of love and tears and perseverance, this harvest will make all these sowing and cultivating days worth the effort.

And you and I will feast with joy.

***

Meredith CarrMeredith Carr is a Georgia Peach but now calls the hills of Northern California home, where she lives with her husband, energetic son and precocious daughter, and two crazy Chihuahuas. An attorney in her former life, she now enjoys the thrilling and slightly crazy stay-at-home mom life. You can find her writing (semi) regularly during naptime and in between loads of laundry at meredithhcarr.com.

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Let’s talk about this: Meredith shared from experience the exhaustion that comes with parenting, but she also the hope and encouragement found in God’s Word. What are some of your favorite verses to gather encouragement from? How do you work through your weariness and continue on? Share your thoughts in the comments below because we can all use ideas!

Divine Truth April 23 2For those of you who live local, join me this coming Saturday at Divine Truth Christian Bookstore where I’ll be signing copies of my latest release (and maybe my previous titles as well).

You can read the first few chapters for free HERE.

You can read some of the latest reviews HERE and HERE.

You can read how God is using this novel HERE.

And, just for fun, come learn about the writer’s personality, because I’m truly not weird! Well, maybe I am, but when surrounded by other writers, I fit right in! Read more HERE.

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Loving Fiercely

Their love is fierce, in the passionate moments and in the conflict, and though I know they’d rather skip the fighting all together, they’ve learned how to hold on. Tight.

Love isn’t always flowers, date nights, and long, intimate conversations. Even the best of marriages have teeth-gritting, foot-stomping moments. Those moments can absolutely shatter your marriage, or you can find a way to push through.

Today I’m honored and tickled to have my sweet brother and sister-in-law on my blog.

-However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.-Ephesians 5-33, ESV

Warm Cups of Tea
by HaYoung Jung Febus

I woke up this morning to a very awake husband whispering(ish), “Jakkiya, do you want 20160309_073940some tea?… Jakkiya, do you want some tea? … Jakkiya, I already boiled the water. Jakkiya, do you want some tea?”

Now, for those of you that hear about our marriage off-Facebook, know that my husband and I can be fiercely affectionate to each other…and equally fierce in our fights, as well. Like, really fierce. I think this is what makes these whisper(ish)’s and teas all the more special for me.

We have both felt “defeated” as we repeat certain conversations over and over and over. And over. A wise friend once told me of the 20151230_114539importance of “persevering in repeated conversations” in marriage. Yet there have been times we both literally felt like we had depleted every ounce of perseverance juice in our souls—every ounce.

However, through these warm cups of tea, the Holy Spirit is very much alive in our household, and I experience the Spirit’s love through my husband. I know my husband doesn’t make me tea in horrendous hours of the morning just because I am so great to him. I know that he’s seen the ugliest side of me—he will see more—and the miracle is that he still chooses to serve and love, because the Spirit is very much alive in him.

Even after this wonderful cup of tea, we will still fight. We will still have deadlock areas that seem impossible to figure out. We have baggage that will take a lifetime to unpack. And it still hurts that my husband doesn’t think I’m funny, because let’s be real people, I’m hilarious. But as long as we have these milk tea-moments in our marriage going on, I know we will only learn to love better. I 20160318_184554know we have already learned to love better and praise God for that every day. Well…almost every day.

Conclusion: Husbands, thou shalt make caffeinated beverages for thee wives every morning. Thank you, husband.

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Let’s talk about this: HaYoung shared a bit about her marriage and the fighting–and how the Holy Spirit uses simple peace offerings from her husband to show His love and keep hers and Raymond’s strong. Do you see “milk-tea moments” in your own  marriage? How do you intentionally reconnect after a conflict or during times of stress?

For those following me online, here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Today I’m on Putting On the New talking about intentional obedience and deliberate grace. Join me HERE.

Tuesday, I was busy! I dropped in at Seriously Write and spoke about how authors can get their books into libraries and stores. Join the conversation HERE. I also went over to Seekerville to share my observations about those who have a winning mindset. Join the fun HERE.

On Saturday, I had the joy of visiting Edie Melson on The Write Conversation. I spoke about narrowing the scope of your blogging. Join the conversation HERE.

And finally, last Friday, I shared how reaching the end of myself led to freedom on Elaine Stock’s site. Read the story HERE and join in the conversation.

10426573_10205915387019579_6039181238012022411_nFor those who live in or near the Omaha Metro, join me on April 9th at Barnes and Noble near the Oakview mall between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. I’ll be signing copies of my latest novel, Breaking Free (and maybe all my other novels as well. I’ll find out). Come in, say hi, grab a latte or mocha at the cafe’, grab an autographed copy of my novel for you or a loved one, and let’s chat! And help me spread the word by inviting your friends! You can do so by sending an email through the B&N link then click on “email” in the bottom right. Click HERE. 

Team-Mentality Parenting

Photo by donwhite84 tkaen from pixabay.com

Photo by donwhite84 tkaen from pixabay.com

Does your child know you’re on her side? That every time you ground them, take away their iPad, and ask them to clean their room, you truly do have their best in mind? Or have they begun to see you as the enemy?

When our daughter was young, I felt like I was in constant correction mode and many times our home felt more like a battle ground than the sanctuary I so wanted to create. But even in the gunk and frustration, my daughter knew I was on her team. She knew I did everything with her longterm good in mind. Well, almost everything, but I’ll get to that.

This team-mentality parenting, the kind that says, “I’m for you,” didn’t just happen. It was the result of intentional and consistent communication, a continual evaluation of my parenting choices, an ever-present awareness of my failings, and a commitment to let God use even my biggest blunders for my daughter’s benefit.

 With every parenting decision, I made sure to communicate the why.

Some may argue this point, saying it’s important our children learn to obey for obedient’s sake. While this is true, even that has a why. Or should I say, in obeying, your child has a why. Perhaps it’s to please you, or maybe it’s because they fear punishment. Or maybe it’s because they know obeying you honors God. But regardless the reason, if we don’t connect the dots for them, they’ll come up with their own reasons, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust a five, six, ten, twelve-year old’s reasoning skills.

More than that, they won’t know our heart behind our actions. They certainly won’t think longterm about how that behavior, action, or habit can affect their adulthood. Not unless we tell them. ID-10075948

I wanted to make sure my daughter knew, because my goal wasn’t behavior modification, which is often short-lived, but rather, heart change.

Here’s what it looked like:

When we were in a conflict and she lost her temper, I’d set a clear boundary: “That behavior is unacceptable. Please go to your room until we can discuss this calmly.” Then, once she had time to calm down, I’d discuss with her how that behavior might look in a marriage, at work, or with her friends. I helped her see how her behavior, if left unchecked, would ultimately hurt her. Then I always ended our conversation with, “I want more for you. I want you to grow up to be a well-adapted, successful adult.”

And every time–every. Single. Time.–her anger diffused. Because she knew I was for her, and that turned me from her enemy to her greatest ally. 

I continually evaluated my parenting decisions. 

This of course implies that my parenting choices truly are for her benefit–and not my comfort or preference. When I viewed our home life through that lens, I discovered many battles I felt tempted to fight needed to be let go. 

What she wore on Sunday morning was one of them. I loved dressing her up, and for some strange reason, carrying a well-attired child into Sunday school with her hair done nice made me feel like a better mom. Or at least, made me think I looked like a better mom … even if it took an insane amount of tears, cajoling, foot-stomping, and screaming to create that image.

What, or perhaps who, would it hurt if I allowed her to pick out her own clothes? Would wearing a pink and green polka dot skirt with her yellow rubber boots and red Elmo shirt derail her life?

I decided no, and as a result, I had the most originally dressed preschooler in church. Our Sunday mornings were also relatively stress free.

I recognized my failings and weaknesses and apologized for them.

Most of us operate on a heap of baggage that influences our perceptions and behavior. Add in our normal selfishness, impatience, and sinfulness, and we can pretty much guarantee making major mistakes.

I did. I do, A LOT. The issue is not will we fail our children but rather how will we respond once we do?

I determined to respond with humility. I refused to sugar coat my sin, justify my behavior, or make excuses. Instead, I called it what it was, apologized for hurting her, and let her know that I God was actively working on changing that part of me. In so doing, I showed her what it looked like to live in grace.

MamaMondaysjpgLet’s talk about this! Does your child know-know-know you’re for her? Does he tend to see you as his enemy or greatest ally? How have you created a team-mentality in your home? What are some things you can do, today, to further that? Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!