Cultivating Consistency

Thursday, January 24, 2013  ::   6 important comments

One of my favorite things to hear is what great kids I have. And I do. I know it. Sometimes I want to say thanks for noticing because Chad and I have prayed and worked very, very hard to cultivate the little humans God entrusted to us into big humans that are great. But that would be awkward, so I usually just blush a little, grin and look to the side, and respond with a quiet "thank you."
Kyle and Carah were excited to line up tallest to shortest because they passed Esther this year. 
Parenting tweens and teens is certainly different than raising up the little ones. To be honest, I haven't found books that are beneficial for this stage of my journey. I read just about any parenting book I could get my hands on when they were little. I knew nothing about kids. Nothing. The What to Expect series saved me when Esther came to into our family. If a mom or dad I respected recommended or even mentioned a book on parenting, I read it. I was ignorant and desperate. If you are still in the camp that believes parenting comes naturally, I respectfully disagree. Sure, it may be natural to want to feed, clothe, and love them, but parenting runs much deeper.

Parents, don't make excuses. Read. I know you are tired. Read anyway. Not every word of every book will be beneficial, but you can glean important concepts. I know you are busy. I know you are the expert on your littles. Read, sift through information, discuss with parents older than you whom you respect, discuss with your peers who are in the same stage as you. Educate yourselves on the ins and outs of discipleship, health, development, and nurturing of children. Did I mention that I think you should read books on parenting? Please consider my plea.

If I had to choose one concept I gleaned out of almost every book I read it would be consistency. If you asked me what I thought the key to our parenting has been so far, I would tell you consistency.

Do you know what problems come up with working to parenting with consistency? It's tiring! You have to pay attention! It takes works! It takes much stamina!

Consistency in parenting breeds trust. Trust gives birth to security, and security develops children who respect and listen to their parents. Children who respect and listen to their parents grow into adults who respect and listen to God and critically think about the world around them.

If you tell your child that you will play with them "in a little while," don't forget. Play with them.

If you say you are on the same team as the other parent, then don't undermine what the other parent has spoken. If you disagree with what has been spoken, discuss it privately.

If you want your child to sit in a time out for three minutes quietly and respectfully, then make it happen, even if it takes you an hour. There are no easy outs in consistency.

If you say you will cuddle after bath time, cuddle even if it's late and you are exhausted.

If you tell them "no," let it be so. Your yes means yes. Your no means no. They should not manipulate you and you should not manipulate them.

If you say they can pick out whatever they want to wear, let them wear it even if their outfit includes plaid, clashing shades of yellow, and a cape. Don't project your insecurities of what others may think on their unique opportunities to display themselves to the world.

If you tell them they will face a consequence if you count to three, then by all means count to three without any half numbers, but the moment you say three, scoop them up and deliver the consequence. They learn quickly whether or not you mean business. Develop the very best "I mean business" look you can manage. Practice in the mirror.

If they obey you, then praise them. Consistently.

If you say you will read three books, then read all three. Of course, read more if you have time, but follow through on what they heard you say with your words.

If you make a mistake, then apologize with specific words about your offense and how you plan to make things rights. Speak to their value in your life and your desire to love, nurture, and care for them. Consistency in admitting your mistakes will usher you into authentic communication possibly for the entirety of your relationship with them.

The if/then examples of consistency in parenting could go on and on. The point is it takes work. As parents we must pay attention to what we tell our children. We must realize this work starts as soon as they are born, not at age one, two, five, or twelve. We are building the foundational blocks of trust in our kids from the beginning. However, if consistency hasn't marked your parenting and your child is already one, two, five, or twelve, it isn't too late. Your work may take more determination, but be determined to do the very best you can for your child.

Chad's and my parenting desire/hope is to have mutual adult relationships with each of our kids. At this stage (the teen-age years that many told us would be the worst years of our lives and they were dead wrong) we are beginning to see the dividends of consistency in our family. I'm praying God will continue to give us insight into parenting our pre-teen and teenage kids with continued consistency, humility, and deep dependance on Him.

What about you? In what areas are you most consistent in your parenting? Do know where you need to grow in this area? Is there an example of consistency in your family you could share with us? Let us know your thoughts.

Like a Tree :: An Update

Tuesday, January 22, 2013  ::   7 important comments

A few months ago Chad asked me to write up some thoughts highlighting what I've learned so far in this health journey. I re-read it this morning and it encouraged me to press into Jesus and renew focus. January has been a rough month. I thought I had geared myself up to make it all the way to the 31st, but Sunday I fell short. It was a rough day realizing I still needed to be strong enough to make it another week, but felt completely empty with no reserves. 

Sometimes when I face difficulties I read back through my journals or even this blog to remind myself of all that God has done in my life. He is faithful. Even though my heart is prone to wander, He never ever wanders. I may forget, but His memory is perfect. 

This is what I wrote for Chad to read during one of his Sunday messages. I hope it encourages you as it encouraged me. 

In the beginning I was overwhelmed with fear and questions. Before we knew it was a stroke, my mind would run away with so many what ifs. While we were waiting for the initial diagnosis, God continuously brought 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to my heart. Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I would consider myself a fairly thankful person, but suddenly I was challenged with being thankful in a scary life circumstance in which I had no idea of the outcome. My heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness for Chad and my kids, but God was challenging me with more. Could I be thankful that He was taking me through such a trial? As He has so perfectly planned, being deeply thankful that He was giving me this opportunity to more fully trust Him was the one of the main ways He brought peace to my heart through the anxiety. On many occasions since August 16th when the stroke occurred, I have spoken out loud to God, "Thank you for this opportunity to trust you more fully." This isn't a casual "Oh, thank you for this day" type prayer. This is deep in my heart, through prayer, tears, and often fear, "Thank you, thank you, thank you for your faithfulness, for your provision, for your steadfast love, that your eyes are ever upon me, that you are trustworthy, that the outcome of this does not change who you are, that you desire to mold me and shape me to be more like Christ."

I've questioned myself so many times over the last three months (now five) wondering where I am rooted. In my marriage? In being a mom? In ministering to women? In physical and emotional strength? All of these wonderful things in my life are so good…they are the beautiful marbles in the glass jar of my life, but I sometimes wonder if I'm just coasting on a big fat head full of just puffed up knowledge. Over the last three months Jeremiah 17:7-8 has become a passage that I continuously pray in my heart, out loud, in my dreams, when I can't focus on conversations, when I am afraid, when I'm sitting in doctors offices, when I am too tired to engage, when I wonder what my new normal will be. “Blessed is the man {or woman} whose trust is in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worry in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  I so want my confidence to be in Jesus! I don't want to trust in what is seen because it is only temporary. God has deepened my trust in Him in a way that my words can't convey. He is growing me to be rooted, built up, and established in a tree. 


His mercies truly are new to me every morning. I pray I continue to grow my my ability and understanding of accepting and resting in His sweet mercies. 

A quick update on my health: I was referred to a specialist in Phoenix. Chad and I are both very pleased with him. He spent about 45 minutes discussing and reviewing everything with us. He is fairly certain the stroke-causing problem originated with a hole in my heart. When Chad shared this news on Sunday with our church, I heard audible winces. Don't worry. It isn't a huge gaping whole (some may argue otherwise), but a tiny spot that you could make with your pen. I will have two tests on January 29th to confirm or reject the doctors suspicions.

The other relief I received from the doctor was his validation of my symptoms. I've struggled much over the last five months wondering if I was crazy, making symptoms up, being a baby. He confirmed that what happened to me was significant, difficult, and real. He said my brain will take one to two years to heal and that the healing process is very active in the first six months, that I'm still in the middle of the fastest healing and most noticeable symptoms. I felt relieved and validated. 

My family and I continue to appreciate your support and prayers. The journey is a strange one to be facing as a young-ish woman. I always thought strokes were for old people! I still sometimes pause to wonder why in the world I had a stroke. But, I do know that it did happen, I trust God, and we choose to move forward with Him. Thank you for walking this journey with us! 

Moxie Memorizers for a New Year

Tuesday, January 15, 2013  ::   8 important comments

Moxie Memorizers will change a bit for this year. I will only be posting on the first of each month. And, in fact, as much as I can manage it, it won't be my words you will be reading. My plan/hope is to have a different person each month this year share different aspects of memorizing scripture. This is a great plan because each of us should be actively involved in challenging and sharpening one another. Maybe my words will inspire you sometimes. Maybe your words will be used to inspire everyone other times. I like it.

If you are new to reading my blog (or waiting to read a post on my blog because I haven't been an active writer lately), please read this post about how we as a community memorize God's word together. This is a smaller version of what our friends at Living Proof are doing. Each month on the first, come and leave a comment with one or two verses you are memorizing for that month. This creates accountability and encouragement to persevere in this foundational spiritual discipline.

If you have any questions about this process, please email me.

For those of you that live in Tucson, on Sunday evening, January 27th after Second Mile's gathering we will meet for a salad and sandwiches potluck dinner. We will share some of our favorite verses from 2012 with each other. I will give another mini-lesson on my own memorizing system. And, of course, I'll give a pep talk about why this discipline is so important in our lives. If you are completely sold out on this process, this get together is for you. If you are uncertain about memorizing, this get together is for you. If you would simply like more information, this get together is for you.

Men, you are invited to attend, also! This is good for our whole body, not just half of it.

Please comment with what you are memorizing for January. If you are not on Facebook, leave an rsvp for the Jan 27th event, as well.

I will be working on Colossians 3:15.

Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 

I'm looking forward to taking God's word into my heart in 2013. Are you? I can't wait to see what you're memorizing!