If we could hear a recording of ourselves talking to our children and our family members would it change us? Would we cringe at every harsh word or tone? Would we laugh at the conversations we’d had the day before?
The funny this is, that if we want to know how we talk to our children and what they hear…we just need to listen to them talk to their siblings. What do they say? How do they sound?
I struggle with being overly critical. I grew up with a lot of critique and very high expectations and I knew when I didn’t meet them. I grew up desperately wanting to please those around me and it took me the first few years of our marriage to get out of that habit. I also grew up setting high expectations for myself and for those around me, including my children. I have, at times, struggled with being critical of them in the same way I swore I would never be.
I had a convicting moment this last week. I heard one of my children critiquing his brother about how he had done something. Older brother to younger. Older brother used the same words and the same tone that I have used…and I cringed. I was humbled and convicted. In that moment I prayed for forgiveness for not showing patience and kind words to my children. I prayed for God to stop those words before they come out of my mouth and to change my thoughts before they become words. I prayed it wasn’t too late to soften the harsh edge that has already begun to develop in my son.
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
It is so easy for the harsh words to just come flying out if we’re not guarding ourselves against frustration, anxiety and busyness. I have learned that when I am trying to “multi-task” too much, when I am trying to do 3 things at once that my patience and tolerance decrease significantly. I have had to be more disciplined with my time and what I allow to pull me away from where I am with my children. When my “work” duties interrupt my “mom” duties or visa versa, I get frustrated and short. I have slowly learned to put up boundaries and to be willing to put some things on the back burner for later. It means I have to be a better manager of my time, but it keeps me from getting so overwhelmed I say things I regret.
I encourage you this week to think about how you’re talking to your children, your family and your spouse. If we can engage our “filter” when we’re at work or church and avoid saying hurtful things there…we should be able to engage it at home too. Ask yourself would I talk to a co-worker or friend the way I’m about to talk to my child or spouse? Would I use this tone with them? Ask God how He would have you communicate with your family and children? What heart issues are there that keep you from using your words to build up your family?
If you really want some insight…ask your spouse how you communicate with your children or them. And remember words can cause deep, long lasting wounds. You’re teaching your children how to be as parents…you’re teaching them how to treat your grandchildren.
He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. 30 A tranquil heart is life to the body,
But passion is rottenness to the bones.
We got the call from the genetic counselor today. Our baby has been diagnosed with Turner syndrome. Which means the baby is missing all or part of (we won’t know until the “full” test is back) a sex chromosome. It also means our baby is a girl.
99% of babies with Turner’s syndrome die before 26 weeks gestation. I am currently 13 1/2 weeks. Of the babies who survive they will be short (like this baby was going to be tall anyway), infertile and are at risk for heart defects and learning disabilities. We will probably have “viability” scans every few weeks for the remainder of the pregnancy. The chance that this will recur in future pregnancies is less than 1%.
To be honest I am devastated, hurt and angry. I don’t get it and the thought of losing another baby is almost too much for me to bear right now. I don’t know whether to get maternity clothes out or keep them packed away. I don’t want to have to put them back like I did after Knox. I don’t want to wake up every day for the next 13 weeks (until I get to 26) and wonder if my baby is still alive. I don’t want to go through the grief of losing a baby before I get to hold her. I don’t want to have to explain to my children that their baby sister has died. And even if we make it to 26 weeks we aren’t safe. I don’t want to have to preface every sentence about the baby with “If she survives…”. But if she survives, I don’t want to worry about whether she’ll find a husband who is okay with not having children.
I just plain don’t want to walk down this road. I so wanted to hear “everything looks good”. But I didn’t. I don’t know why God is bringing us here. I don’t understand. Like Kerry said “The doctors didn’t give us much hope, so we can only hope in Him.” And it’s true. Talk about being brought to the point where we fully have to rely on God. I have to trust Him for peace, for the life of my unborn child and for what lies ahead. Right now I am thankful that my baby is alive today, I pray she will be alive tomorrow too. I am thankful we have answers. But I am struggling to understand and to process this all. I don’t have anything but tears and raw emotions right now.
Thank you for praying.
1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Being a wife and mother requires sacrifice. We miss out on sleep to tend to children who wake up during the night. We sacrifice comfort to spend that same night sleeping in the recliner because they can’t breathe with stuffy noses. We wash hundreds of loads of laundry and still get the question “Where are my favorite pants?” We often sacrifice hot meals to serve our families and help little ones eat.
But it’s a sacrifice we should make joyfully. It may not be easy, but we are called to respect our husbands and love our children. Are we missing God’s blessing for our lives when we’re so selfish that we fail to be willing to serve our husbands and children?
Society would tell you that we all need a little “me” time and that it’s okay to not want to be with your family, sometimes they even encourage separate vacations. I challenge you though, is that really the type of mother God has called you to be?
We shouldn’t be judging ourselves by someone else’s standard, recommendation or ideal. We should measure ourselves against the standard God has set forth for mothers and wives.
Titus 2: 3-5
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
It is important to remember why we are doing what we are doing. It isn’t so we can win a make over or mother of the year award. It isn’t so that we can measure up to the mom or wife next door. It is so “the word of God will not be dishonored” It’s so HE can be glorified by our actions of obedience.
It isn’t easy. I have to ask for forgiveness daily for my shortcomings as a mother and wife. I fall on my knees asking for grace and for God’s love to be shown through me. I have had to go to my children and my husband, more than I would like to admit, and apologize for not being the woman God has called me to be. I am slowly growing, but I fall short so very often.
God created mothers with a specific purpose, when we are obedient to Him we honor HIM, we glorify HIM, we sacrifice for HIM. Being a mother is honorable, not because of us but because of God’s grace. We are blessed to show the love of God to our children and husbands through our actions, our words, our sacrifice. If we play the “martyr” card, and sacrifice…but do it with a sigh or with the wrong motive…we’re seeking glory for ourselves and not to glorify God.
I am so blessed to be a mother. I have learned lessons about forgiveness, love, humbleness and redemption by being a mother. I have grown to see children as the blessings God sees. I have learned to delight in my children, to delight in the sacrifice of motherhood. I have known the ache a mother feels for her children and I know what it is to pray fervently for those children God has entrusted to me. With motherhood, I gained new appreciation for the mothers in my life and the sacrifices and prayers they’ve made on my behalf. More than anything though, God has shown me more opportunity to become the woman He’s called me to be. He has taught me more about sacrifice, service and love than I could have ever imagined.
I am thankful for the gift of motherhood, I am blessed daily to bring honor to God by caring for my children.
Delighting in our children seems so counter-intuitive in the world today. I was reminded this week about just how foreign that concept seems to those around us. I had to take the boys to the doctor on Monday for a routine check up. I was stopped by a lady in the elevator and our conversation went something like this…
Her: “Are they all yours?”
Me: “Yes they are!” (I really wanted to roll my eyes and say duh!)
Her: “Why aren’t they in school?” (She was pointing at my older 2)
Me: “We homeschool them”
Her: “I could never do that! My kids drive me nuts and I only have 2!”
Me: “We really enjoy it! It gives us a great chance to spend time with them and learn together as a family.” (My older boys shake their heads in agreement and I can tell she’s a little uncomfortable by the thought of being home with her children all day)
Her: “I don’t know how you do it, especially with 4 boys! Your house must be nuts!”
Me: “Oh I love it! I was totally made to be a mom to boys! They’re so much fun and there is always something going on!” (In my mind I’m thinking okay seriously lady…how many times are you going to insult me before we get to the second floor?)
The elevator dings and we’re on our floor (Thank goodness!)
Her: “Good luck! I would never bring all those kids to the doctor by myself! That’s just asking for trouble.”
Me: “Thanks! I’m sure we’ll have a great day! I’m looking forward to it. Enjoy your day!”
It wasn’t so much that this lady said something negative about a number of things that I believe in strongly, but I felt bad for her and her children. The joy she is missing out on by choosing not to delight in her children! Children are such a blessing and a joy to behold. We are so fortunate to have the children that we do. I think my perspective has changed a bit since Knox was born, but I have always delighted in our boys.
It’s not always easy. But my heart breaks for children who’s parents don’t delight in them. It’s not enough to just tolerate them or their noise and messes. We should be finding joy in spending time with them, in being with them and in who they are.
How are we to delight in our children? First I would say we have look at why we should delight in then. In Psalm 127:3-5
“3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth. 5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
The Lord clearly calls children a gift. How blessed are we whose quiver is full of children (That’s why my blog name is Fillingquiver! We hope for the blessings only God can give)!
So how do we delight in our children?
One way that we can show we delight in our children is to disciple them. In our family we do this by homeschooling our boys and taking time to show them the ways of the Lord and to teach God’s principles to them daily.
Another way you can show delight in your children is to model for them the character traits you’re teaching them and you’d like to see them develop. Titus 2: 7-8 says “7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” We do a lot of talking in our house about character traits, we memorize them, we talk about developing them and we expect them, but do WE (as parents) model them for our children. Remember, children will do what you do and not what you say. They learn by your example.
Do you discipline your children out of love for them and not out of your own anger or embarrassment? Proverbs 3:12 says “12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” We should discipline our children, but it shouldn’t be done out of anger or embarrassment because it reflected poorly on us. It should be because we want better for them, we want them to be obedient to GOD and because we love them.
When your children ask you to if they can “help” do something with you or if they ask if they can come along with you on an errand do you turn them away because it will take more time or do you gladly welcome their company and the opportunity for training? Delighting in our children means that we’re willing to take the extra time it means to train them or that we’re willing to spend time with them even if it might slow us down. Use the time you spend with them to disciple them, to search their heart, to learn to know your child. Even Jesus welcomed children unto Himself when the disciples and society would have turned them away. Matthew 19:14 “14 But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Children desire to be with their parents when they’re little. You are the person your child looks up to most when they’re young, but even a child gets tired of being rebuffed time and again. Parents will lose their children’s hearts when they don’t delight in their children. Their children’s hearts turn towards those who are willing to give them time and attention, unfortunately in today’s society sometimes that means TV, video games, gangs and other poor influences on our children. It’s too bad that so many times the gifts that God has given us in children are seen as burdens, punishments for bad decisions and inconveniences to our lives. While being a parent requires self sacrifice the gift of a child is so worth it. Philippians 2:3 says “3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”
We should be seeking every opportunity to win and keep the hearts of our children. The first step in doing so is to delight in them. And make sure they know that we are delighting in them. We do it by wanting and seeking to spend time with them on a daily basis, by raising them in the nuture and admonition of the Lord and by LOVING them for the gifts that they are.