Lessons from my son

With thanks to my dear friend Monique for writing her second guest post here at Writing on the Doorposts!

I became a mom two and a half years ago and I remember thinking, ‘I have so much to teach my baby boy.’ The thought was rather overwhelming at the time. Actually to be honest, I was scared of such a responsibility. My prayers increased as I cradled, fed, nurtured, burped, and changed him. Now that two and a half years have passed, God has shown me something amazing. While I am training up my child Thaddeus, he is, at the same time, teaching me life-changing lessons. There are several lessons I have learned, but here I will list three.

Beauty

“While I am training up my child Thaddeus, he is, at the same time, teaching me life-changing lessons.”

Open your eyes. My son Thaddeus has taught me to open my eyes to my surroundings. His curious nature allows him to point and say, “Look Mama, ant!” I can tell you that without my two year old’s keen vision I would have missed the opportunity to see the busy ant walking back and forth to its anthill (Proverbs 30:24-25).  Another example is when I’m carrying Thaddeus and he waves to the person behind us in the checkout line at the store. Without him doing that, I might have easily forged ahead with my errands and not stopped to speak to the person behind me in line.

Enjoy the moment. Thaddeus loves life! He is full of energy and doesn’t let things wear him down. As an adult, I get caught up in the worries of this life, such as paying bills. It is important, as an adult, to be responsible and take care of what God has given us, but we must also enjoy each breath God has blessed us with and live for each moment.

Keep looking up. Thaddeus looks up a lot searching for airplanes in the sky. When he sees one, he shouts with glee, “Airdplan!” This has reminded me to look up more, figuratively speaking. My Heavenly Father is up in Heaven and my life here should consist of “ups.” I should be living my life in such a way that people will want to look up and know more of my Father. My desire is to live one day in my heavenly home with my God.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with the role of “mom” in this life. It’s a beautiful thing to see life through the eyes of a child.

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Guest Post: He is with me

With thanks to my sweet friend Leigh Roberts for writing today’s encouraging Guest Post.

He is With Me

One thing I’ve learned from being a mom is that Quiet Time with God comes in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes finding quiet moments alone with Him can be rare, especially when you have two kids under two. I found making time for Him especially tough after my son was born trying to adapt to new schedules and lack of sleep. And frankly, I failed a lot. Some days – okay, most days – I chose sleep over Quiet Time with Him (and when I did stop to talk to Him, my prayers consisted of a one-sided, five-second imploring: “Please help me not to pull out all my hair today.”) But I do believe in the importance of journaling, especially as mothers – storing moments in our hearts like Mary to remember forgotten blessings and answered prayers. One day I finally found an uninterrupted moment to write – so many blessings that I needed to record – and noticed my last entry had been in October, right after my son’s birth.

And it was December.

I was also behind in my daily devotional readings, but I found amazing grace in the passage that day. A passage from a book I found on my grandmother’s bookshelf, Streams in the Desert. A passage meant for October that touched me in December…

God’s timing is like that.

"He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short."

“He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short.”

I found hope in these following words: “There is an inarticulate fellowship, more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right. So the saint and the Savior can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.” (C.E. Cowman)

So my goal this year has been to look for Him in the Ordinary Moments of Motherhood. Not just in certain places or postures but In the Chaos and Cleft of the Rock. He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short.

On days when everything is a battle and my kitchen counter looks like Armageddon, when my son needs my bosom and I need Christ’s…

Like a weaned child is my soul within me….as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.

On days when I cannot measure up to that oh-so-annoying Proverbs 31 woman who awoke every morning before the crack of dawn…

He surrounds me with other moms’ stories of failures and kind words of support.

On days when I am drowning in guilt. And dirty diapers. On days when I fail…

He reminds me that I tried and that His mercies are new every morning. 

On days when I don’t have enough hands and I envy every girl that lives within a 60 mile radius of their mother…

He surrounds me with surrogate mothers and grandmothers who pour out love and help and strength for me and my children.

And I hear lyrics I usually ignore…my daughter singing along to the song on the radio…”He is with us, He is with us, Always, Always”…comfort and truth from the mouth of babes.

And when I lay my head on my pillow at night and feel like my biggest accomplishment that day was the slam dunk I made with a dirty diaper from ten feet away…He reminds me that I fed and cultivated souls that day. And that He is with me. Always. In spoken prayers and written words. In simple reminders from my daughter to pray. In the sweet, innocent smile on my newborn’s face. Like Brother Lawrence searching for God’s presence in the most menial of moments, I find treasures of grace and love in dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty diapers, and dirty little faces.

From the moment I feed them their daily manna to the moment when I tuck them in bed…He is with me.

And I am touched daily by this beautiful prayer: “Commune with me through ordinary work and duty. Be my companion when I take the common journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.”

He is with me.

Guest Post: Avoiding Frustration

Heading Things Off At The Pass
Or…
Ways to help avoid frustration in our children

  1. Pray for your children to have peace, contentment, flexibility, generosity & calm.  That’s a big ask but God is a big God… and it is important for us to do the asking on our children’s behalf.
  2. Emphasise foundational concepts regularly.
  3. Help your children learn perspective by pointing out regularly what is (and isn’t) of first (i.e. eternal) importance.
  4. Set clear, realistic expectations AND make sure they have been heard & understood.  My personal favourite – calling gaily from the kitchen whilst making supper (with the extractor fan on) into the lounge (where someone is playing the piano) that supper is nearly ready and someone must please set the table – is NOT what we are looking for!

    Conquer the entangling web of frustration!

    Conquer the entangling web of frustration!

  5. Give a warning before you want your children to change what they are doing.  E.g. when they are about to need to tidy up/go out/come for a meal/come inside/stop playing. My children are more often happier with having to stop playing if they can finish a ‘last chapter’ of their game; it lets them get to a suitable stopping point, which is more satisfying than stopping in the middle of an exciting bit.
  6. Early Intervention Plan.  Distract your child from potential/early frustration & come up with alternative courses of action.
    – E.g. If a child is looking lost for something to do/someone to play with, offer them a menu of options to choose from including, if at all possible, some things with you.
    – E.g. If a sibling has done something a child did not want/like, suggest ways the child can be gracious to their sibling – and make that sound like an appealing thing to do so they can be just like Jesus – then offer the aforementioned menu of options for things to do (possibly including doing something nice for the sibling)
  7. Ask YOUR CHILDREN to tell YOU what the right thing to do/say is.  This is a ‘double scoop ice-cream’ type approach:
    Scoop one: you can avoid them getting frustrated with being corrected/told what to do.  This is especially helpful if a) you are a long-winded communicator, like me and/or b) they are a child that needs frequent guidance…some children do.
    Scoop two: you are training them in the discipline of making right choices themselves. Obviously, if they are floundering, help them out – otherwise you start off a new cause for frustration, which is not quite the idea!!
  8. Ask questions, rather than jumping to conclusions.  If you think the situation they are in might be likely to trigger frustration in your child or if you spot their warning signs, asking discreet questions might either dispel your concerns or activate your early intervention plan, rather than you having to help them recover from a meltdown later.
  9. Patiently explain misunderstandings.  Often, when you are in the habit of asking questions, you will discover that there is a lack of understanding in your child. Explain things patiently and calmly, without laughing at the child or putting them down (which is more easily done than you would think – especially if they express themselves in a super-cute way – and can lead to insecurity in some children).

Isn’t it wonderful how when you write these things down they sound so easy and straightforward!  Since drafting this I have been busy trying to remember to put these ideas into practice myself…today was a better day because of it…

What are your ideas on how to head things off at the pass to help your children avoid frustration?

Guest Post: Laying Strong Foundations

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25

Hi! In this family I am known variously as Sinead, Sineadanne, Tobe (pronounced ‘Toby’) and Aunty Tobe – I think that covers it! We have been so blessed by God to have one foster son (adult) and four precious princesses (ranging in age from 7 to 12). We love God, family, music, nature, being creative, food & laughing together!

I was thinking the other day about some basic concepts it is helpful for children to know. It was a useful process for me: taking a step back to survey our parenting focus from a ‘big picture’ viewing point. Below is what I came up with, vaguely grouped but in no particular order of importance.

I thought I would share these ideas in the hope that God may be able to use something to help someone somehow 🙂

RELATING TO GOD

Laying strong foundations is important in parenting.

Laying strong foundations is important in parenting.

– God loves them and desires that they love Him
– Our value comes from the unchangeable fact that God made us and loves us; we & God belong together
– Jesus is a friend like no other they will ever know – even us, their parents – and He demonstrated this on the cross
– When we do wrong things, we deserve to be punished by God. God keeps a record of every wrong thing every person does – but Jesus’ sacrifice means that a Christian does not have to take their punishment as Jesus has already taken it for the
– Following Jesus includes:

  • Putting God first
  • Putting other people before ourselves
  • Showing grace (a simple definition = undeserved favour)
  • Being humble
  • They can talk to God about anything

– Sometimes things are hard/bad things happen – this is actually good in the end as God uses these situations to train and strengthen us

RELATING TO US (PARENTS)

– They can talk to us about anything
– We love them and like them  (Note: these are connected but different things and they need to know BOTH)
– God has given them us, their parents, to look after them and teach them about His love & His ways – THAT is why it is wise & beneficial for them to listen to us
– Our love is unconditional and we will support & encourage them through the ups and downs of their lives
– Unlike God and just like them, we make mistakes (this gives us an opportunity to role model humility, repentance & the joy of God’s grace)

PURPOSE

– Our purpose on earth includes:

  • to love God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul
  • to love others as we love ourselves
  • to fear God
  • to serve God
  • to praise God
  • to honour God

– Our lives (time, words, actions) are created by and for God, not ourselves

Take joy in everything!

Take joy in everything!

JOY

– God will take care of problems and help us cope in hard times, which means there is nothing we can’t get through in life with Him = JOY!!
– Christians go to heaven = JOY!!
– All good gifts come from God and He gives us many every day = JOY!!
– God wants us to look out for these good gifts all the time and be thankful to Him and others for them = JOY!!
– CHOOSE joy – in the end it is always better to look on the bright side

RELATING TO OTHERS

– God will meter out justice (so they don’t have to!)
– Do good to others as much as you can, especially if they are unloving to you
– Imagining what others might be thinking/feeling is useful in knowing how to bless them
– Show grace & forgiveness as you have been shown grace & forgiveness
– Wisdom is seeing things as God sees them & it is something good to desire
– Think BEFORE you speak or act
– It is great to be an encourager/helper

  • Everybody needs one
  • It is good for everyone involved e.g. helper & ‘helpee’.

– People make mistakes – including us and them – it doesn’t make the people less lovable: God forgives them (and us) so we should forgive them (and ourselves) too

Wow – that ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be! This may seem overwhelming to some of you but let me encourage you; when I start to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the responsibility of parenting, I have learnt to remind myself that there are THREE parents: God is working tirelessly to lay strong foundations in our children’s lives – we are just His helpers! Furthermore, we have surprisingly many opportunities in the day to gently teach & reinforce these foundational concepts.

I am sure there are others, too – probably some obvious & important ones – this was just a mind dump with a little revision. Can you add any ideas on foundational concepts children should know? I’d love to hear them 🙂

Brick image courtesy of Kai4107  www.freedigitalphotos.net.

Guest Post: Hannah’s Heart

I’d like to thank my dear friend Monique Demas for writing today’s guest post.

Playing mommies as little girls, now blessed mommies as grown-ups!

Have you ever desired something so much that you lost your appetite and sleep over it? Have you ever fervently prayed for something and waited for God’s answer?

During a difficult period in my life, I remember sleepless nights with painful tears and constant prayers. My husband and I desired to have a baby.  We had been married seven years, and the doctors told us that we might not be able to have a child. However, the constant reminder that the God of the universe is in control gave us strength.

When I read Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1, my heart understands her anguish.

Sometimes we do not understand God’s timing. Every year, Elkanah, Hannah’s husband went to worship at Shiloh, and his other wife Peninnah provoked Hannah about being barren (1 Samuel 1:5-7 ESV). Verse 7 mentions how Hannah wept and would not eat. The Scriptures say in verse 10, “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.”
Hannah’s heart was in the right during this painful time. Verse 13 says she was speaking in her heart while praying. While praying, she made a vow to God, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor will touch his head.” (verse 11)

The Lord blessed Hannah with a son, and she gave him back to God. In verse 22, the Scriptures say, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” Wow! How powerful! Hannah’s son Samuel was to appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.

On December 2, 2010, we found out we were having a baby. Our hearts were full of joy when God blessed us with a baby boy! It was very convicting to read of Hannah’s heart whose deepest desire was for her child to dwell in the presence of the Lord forever. We see from the Scriptures that Hannah’s desire to have a son was a godly desire. We are able to see the difference between a godly desire and fleshly desire in this story. A fleshly desire is a yearning for something that upon receiving, one refuses to give back to God.

As mothers, we must have Hannah hearts. Our children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and we must train them in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6).

Let us constantly remember that our job as mothers is to train our children to have an understanding of their Creator and to dedicate their lives to Him. Live each day with Hannah hearts!

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