Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Teen Caught Between

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man (adult), I gave up my childish ways.”
(1 Corinthians 13:11)

My teenager is a mystery that baffles every sense of reason and logic that I try to apply to being her guide and mentor.  No matter how many times I think I’ve gotten past a gap in our communication, I slam into yet another seemingly impenetrable wall, and feel like I have to start all over again.  I love my daughter very much and I know she has a deep love and respect for me, so it is very stressful I think for both of us when anything disturbs the usually calm waters of our daily interactions.  The latest emotional meltdown and typical teenage shutdown that occurred created in me a deep desire to try a different approach to reaching out to her that would hopefully bring a much needed change in our ability to interact more effectively…What did I try?
I simply waited for her to be very calm and non-emotionally involved in any issue between us, and I had a heart to heart talk about what is going on through her eyes.  The insight shared was very enlightening and matched alot of the information I had been reading on the internet about what our teenagers have to deal with.  Most importantly, I realized that I was making the mistake of trying to look at her too closely with the eyes of an adult expecting her to be able to respond and interact with me as a mature adult.  Big mistake….huge in fact!  In reality, our teens are not mature adults, but they are also not children….they are caught somewhere in the twilight zone of being between 2 worlds and trying to transition through a very confusing time in their lives.  We may never have a full understanding of what they are going through, but we have the opportunity as Christian parents to apply enormous amounts of grace in to the midst of their rapidly changing worlds.
Here are some of the things that my daughter and I gleaned from our conversation and some applications for future interactions.
1. Teenagers may realize that they are overreacting and blowing things out of proportion, but at the same time, feel overwhelmed in their efforts to calm their emotions.  Thus the emotional meltdown, or the shut down or both.
  Application:  Both recognize this is happening.  Teenager should ask for some time to get their emotions together and then resume discussions.  Parent should recognize that the teen is not capable at that moment of being rational and allow the teen some reasonable time to calm down, or just be alone to think through their inner reactions, and organize their thoughts.

2. Teenagers can be overly sensitive to direct confrontations, especially if they perceive anger in the tone of the adult’s voice or mannerisms.  Teenagers can work on trying to remember that the adult is wanting an issue dealt with, and may not realize they are being overbearing in their directness.   The adult can work on remembering that a teenager may be more sensitive and defensive with a very direct, confrontational approach and make special effort to be less direct.
 Application:  Instead of the adult saying bluntly or maybe even with a stern tone, “Why haven’t you_______, (can come across as a very confrontational, accusatory attack)”.  The adult can say, I noticed you are doing_____________, and I had expected that you would have done____________.  Is there is a reason why this hasn’t been done yet.  Is there a misunderstanding in what I expected of you?  This approach, is indirect yet still addresses an issue is present.  It gives the teen opportunity to explain and not feel so attacked.  Many times, I think I have clearly communicated my expectations, and we have a mutual understanding, but when I hear my teen out, I realize she had a very different perspective or an incomplete understanding.  I may have assumed she was intentionally ignoring her duties.  She may have been on a different page all  together.

3. Teenagers want to be independent and yet they don’t.  A teen may toggle between presenting as confident, capable, and wanting to be  independent, and then expressing apprehensions, and insecurities.   They have unique and strong peer pressures to deal with, a constant fluctuation of hormonal changes to deal with, and they are transitioning between being dependent children and being prepared to face the “big wide world out there” as responsible adults.  They want to be considered adults but they do not feel fully competent yet to have that safety net of depending on mom and dad fully removed.  
Application: Teens need to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, even if it is done in baby steps to develop more competence and confidence.  Parents need to balance their push out of the nest with encouragement and support.  Make clear expectations.  Make clear consequences for infractions.  Give more trust and opportunity for independence yet maintain accountability and expectations of mutual respect.

To other parents out there equally perplexed by the bizarre and unpredictable behaviors of teens, I hope to offer some encouragement:  I have spoken with many friends who have already survived these challenging years of parenting, and they assure me that if the child is being raised by loving Christian parents, they will mature beyond these transitional moods and behaviors.  They can indeed become responsible and capable, and the preserved communication between parent and young adult  can develop into a new and very rewarding relationship.  In the mean time, love them bunches and bunches and try to be understanding of how difficult this transition period can be.  Don’t give up on them….God doesn’t.

Prayer for your teen:  May they find in you the example of a strong faith in God, and the reflection of God’s love, patience, and understanding as they mature into being what He wants them to be.

Picture Above courtesy of: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

It’s Just Routine.

Are routines and especially bedtime routines important for our children?  Some may think I go a bit overboard in the routines I have established for my 7 year old who is very hyper and prone to mood swings.   I on the other hand, am reassured that the routines are important, and not just because research supports this, but because my child has her own way of letting me know.  These are some of the signs:

1.  She will often begin to put herself to bed at or near her bedtime without being told, because she is tired and wants to go to bed.

2.  If she goes to bed later than usual, she is much more difficult to deal with in the morning and will often comment, “I’m tired.  I didn’t get enough sleep”.

3.  Sometimes when she is moody and having difficulty controlling her behavior, she recognizes that it’s because she is tired or there has been some other change of routine she is not used to, and she will say so.  She will say, I should have…..regarding something in her routine.

4.  She no longer has to take medications for her behaviors, and behavior issues at school are becoming rare.

5. When I am tired, and want to ditch the usual bedtime routine that she and I have done every night for the past few years, (I hope she will just go to bed without it, but NO)….she always remembers and she says “Mommie, aren’t you going to sing the song”.   That lets me know that these routines are a comfort and joy to her, and I gladly comply with her request.

Here is our unique bedtime ritual which is a song I made up for her when she was much younger.

I’m tired…so tired!
I just wanna go to bed,
Lay my head on my pillow.
Cuz I’m tired!
But first I’ll shake my cares,
Say my prayers…
(child inserts prayer here)
Love you Jesus!!!
I’m so tired!
It’s time to warm my toes
Underneath all my covers,
Tuck me tight
(tucks/hugs/kisses)
Get the light.
(Lights off)
Now, shh…shh…good night.

This is such a simple and quick routine (depending on how long a prayer she wants to say), but oh so special between us.  Sometimes it’s the little things that we are consistent about that make the most impact in our children’s daily lives.

Prayer for Your children: May they know the love and comfort of a parent who teaches them the importance of routines and consistency.  May acknowledgement of God and simple prayer time be included in what they learn to treasure as part of daily family life.                                                                         
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Above: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Media Series Wrap-Up

For the past 6 weeks, I have been linking up with Women Living Well’s Series called Media Mondays.  This final week is a wrap-up of what we have learned from this venture together.  The most important thing I have learned is that we need to be good stewards of how media impacts our lives, and we should always keep our focus…..

on God above!                                                    

Source of image above:(c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

This is a new era of technology and  - THE MEDIA -  impacts many facets of our daily lives….

OUR WALK WITH GOD: Technology is a neutral thing that can be harmful or beneficial in our walk with God, depending on how well we manage it’s use and impact in our daily lives.  When our media gadgets start to crowd out our time with God and to shuffle our priority list…..it’s time for a Reality Check.  

 OUR MARRIAGES: In this day and age, the internet, texting, chat boxes, and other social outlets make it very easy to be enticed into being dissatisfied with our marriage partner or too busy/preoccupied to spend time on keeping our marriages strong and vibrant.  We must make special effort to guard our marriage relationships.

 OUR PARENTING:  When recognizing the influence media has on our children and how much their world is bombarded with its messages,  our responsibilities as parents become critical.  It is good to become Web Aware as parents, and to empower our children with knowledge and discernment skills as they daily navigate the world of technology and media.  It is also good to be aware of what and who they are being influenced by.

OUR HOMEMAKING:  The Bible talks about the importance of being a woman who is diligent and faithful in running the affairs of her household.  The internet has many tools and sites for ideas that can assist us in caring for, managing, and decorating our homes.  We just need to be able to balance out time spent on the computer with time spent  ”Get’n er done”.

OUR FRIENDSHIPS:  Modern technology provides us with many valuable ways to keep in touch with friends and to nurture our friendships.  We need to keep a proper perspective on reality vs the virtual world, and honor God in all our interactions with others, reflecting His love always.

OUR HEALTH:  We have a responsibility to take care of our health.  With so much information, there is really no excuse to not be able to become informed and to live a healthier lifestyle.   (Body and Spirit)  

Conclusion:  I have enjoyed this exploration about the media and how it affects so many areas of our life.  The media is here to stay as well as the virtual world.  As Christians, we can gain a lot from such easy access to the media and it can be a tool that we can use to enrich us and help mature us as we strive to connect with other believers, and learn from other believers.  We can be good stewards of these resources as long as we keep tabs on our priorities and our walk with God.  Important to remember, is that God can bless us through media, but He still wants us to draw away from the distractions of life (including the media), and carve out that quiet time one on one with Him.   

Prayer for How the Media Impacts You:  May God always be your priority and focus.  May the media be a tool that He uses to enrich and bless your life!


                    

Body and Spirit: Media and Our Health

We have a responsibility to take care of our health.

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  I Corinthians 6

BODY:

The media is saturated with information about health and fitness.  You can find information about correct exercise techniques, healthy eating and how to make healthy recipes.  There are downloadable workouts, there are support forums for various health programs, and there are blogs and websites that specialize in the exchange of health and fitness information.  There are also research articles and journals for those like me who work in a health care profession.  With so much information, there is really no excuse to not be able to become informed and to live a healthier lifestyle.  The warning, however, is to make sure that the resources of your information are credible, and to gather opinions and counsel from multiple sources.  We also need to limit our time as well as how much time our children spend on computers and other electronic devices.  We should encourage, instead,  exercise through indoor and outdoor activities that promote movement.  Spending too much time looking at a screen has also been found through studies to interfere with our ability to get restful sleep.

If we keep our bodies healthy, we will live a longer, more abundant life, and we will have the energy and physical ability to be a servant of God, ministering to others:  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2

SPIRIT:
It is important to keep our bodies healthy, but it is even more important to keep our spirit healthy.   8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.  1 Timothy 4.  We are only on this Earth, occupying this body for a short time, but the condition of our spirits has an eternal value to it.  The media of course is full of things and ideas that can distract us from God’s truths, and we must navigate the spiritual information out there carefully and prayerfully.  The media, is also, however, a very abundant source of information, and connection for believers to help nurture and mature them spiritually. There are Christian web sites that promote Bible study, family relationships, marriage relationships, and Chrisian living in general.  Christians can connect to each other through personal online interaction in the form of emails, prayer chains, Bible studies and blogging link-ups.  You can have daily devotionals or scripture passages sent to your email to start your day with meditations about God.

Important to remember, however, is that God still wants us to draw away from the distractions of life, including the media, and carve out that quiet time one on one with Him…and He will meet us there to renew us.

                    11 The LORD will guide you continually, 
                        And satisfy your soul in drought, 
                        And strengthen your bones; 
                       You shall be like a watered garden, 
                       And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  Isaiah 58:11

Prayer for your health:  May you Honor God in your use of the media to be healthy in your body and spirit, and seek HIM as the source of your LIFE.  May He richly bless and renew you.

 

My Words On Your House

Today as I was blog hopping, I found this post from  Tommy Mommy Lindsay Ferrier http://www.tommynelson.com/2011/08/he-is-always-with-us/comment-page-1/#comment-4243.  The post is about sharing God with your children in all the everyday events so they learn he is with us 24/7.  This was a great post.  It made me think of the following verses which I looked up :
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 11

Verse 20 made me think about how my mom kept so many Bible verses posted up on the walls of our home.  Thanks mom for doing that!  It does make a difference when scripture is something familiar to you….when you don’t have a Bible readily available, those scriptures are on your heart and go with you everywhere.  When people visit your home, they also see those scriptures and it makes a statement : This home values God’s word.  I have some scriptures framed in my study room, but I think I am going to find some more creative ways to post some scriptures up in my home.   Ideas include: pillows with scripture on them, wall decals (there are tons of these available and they are very elegant), and maybe even some Christian framed art.  I also want to find other creative ways to teach my children scriptures in the everyday happenings.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Prayer:  May your home reflect God’s words not only in written form, but in lived out everyday life. 

Friendships Are Still About Connection

Since days of long ago,  friends have reached out to each other to communicate when they had to be apart….usually in the form of paper and ink.  When I was a child, I had a collection of stationary – all colors, themes, some even scented, and all with matching envelopes or seals.  I loved writing, sending and of course, receiving letters.   I remember the excitement of checking the mail box every morning to see if a letter had arrived. 

Today, my stationary sits in a box in the back of a cupboard and I don’t even know what most of my friends handwriting looks like, because I rarely have reason to see their communication in print form.  It’s just another change that technology has brought to our world…but it’s also opened the door to  more varied, and definitely faster means of keeping us in touch with our circle of friends.  It’s so easy to send an email, a text, an e-card, or to post something to a social site.  Via social sites, we get to reconnect with old friends too that we wouldn’t otherwise have opportunity to stay connected with.  We get glimpses into their lives via pictures of their family, friends, and we get to share in the special events of their lives such as birthdays, weddings, births, etc.

We must also keep in mind, however, that the virtual world is not the real world….the oh so glitzy, life is good, best bits glimpses into other’s lives are not a true picture of  reality.  The Bible warns against being envious of what others have or of judging others which is a hard thing for all of us to not be tempted to do.  So many times I have thought someone just had that perfect, all together life only to find out with closer scrutiny that it was just a front they would put out for the world to see, while  real world life for them was actually ” a hot mess.”  God wants us to be like Paul, content with what we have, where he has placed us, and to focus on doing the best we can with what we have…as wives, moms, employees, bosses, and as friends.

Friendships are a wonderful thing, and God can richly bless us via modern technology and especially via forms of portable media access to help us stay connected to each other.  Via media, we can also find and connect with people that we wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with via blogs, and social sites,  and God can use those people to enrich our lives.  I have met many special people over the past few months just from blogging.  They have taught me, inspired me, and enriched my life.  It has been good for me to read the blogs and websites of other women who are trying to be godly wives and moms because it helps me keep my focus and perspective where God wants it to be.
9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.  Proverbs 27

As Christians, we have a responsibility to honor God with our connections to others, and we should be careful to make sure that whatever we communicate to others reflects his love, and honors him.  I have tried to be careful with what I put in written form that can be publicly viewed by others, and to not get caught up in the HE said, SHE said, kinds of  conflict that so easily occur.  When I’ve messed up, however, I’ve had to make formal apology as well and try to make amends or clear up any misunderstanding.  Just the other day my feelings got hurt because I was told about wrong information being gossiped about me…I had to just remember that when misunderstandings occur, God knows the truth and He is ultimately in charge.  I resisted the urge to post a comment and just handed it over to Him to take care of (and He did).

In today’s fast paced world, we should cherish our  friendships, and the means to so easily stay in touch with those we care about.  We should remember, however,  to make sure that at times our closest friendships get preserved with more personable communication too….an actual phone call vs a text, maybe a birthday card via snail mail vs email, and of course – one on one time with each other face to face without any of the distractions of modern technology.

Prayer For Your Friendships: May your friendships be cherished, preserved, and blessed by the Father above who looks down on us with joy when our ability to relate to each other reflects His love for us.        Image Above:  Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

The Waiting Place by Eileen Button (Book Review)

The Waiting Place……             

“Through it all, I’ll peer into the waiting place’s dingy corners, and hunt for treasures beneath the grime.”

I just completed a thought provoking and reflective book by Eileen Button about embracing through faith all the periods of waiting that permeate our lives here on Earth.   She takes you on a journey through various milestone markers in her life, from childhood to being in her 40s that highlight very different kinds of waiting places she has had to experience.   She provides feelings, reflections and valuable insights she has gained through these times of waiting in her life.  She also expresses how her faith in God has carried her through these waiting places, providing meaning and value to the circumstances and an ability to persevere and grow in her wisdom and understanding of Him.
We all have waiting places in our lives, those times when we just feel like we are caught between where we are and where we want to be, or when we are not sure of God’s direction, or we just don’t know what he has planned for us next.  Because waiting places are common to us all, it helps to relate to the author as she opens her heart to us, and shares with us the joys and sorrows, tears and laughter that have made up her waiting places.  It took me a little while to make a connection with the author, but as her story continued, my interest increased.   I began to feel her happiness, her excitement, her enthusiasm or her disappointment, her fatigue, her pain.  I was amused at times, and I shed some tears at times.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for something a bit different yet heartwarming.

I was provided this book for free by BookSneeze.com in exchange for providing an unbiased and honest review of the content.

Organized Chaos

 MEDIA AND HOMEMAKINGThis week, I have been using some vacation days to spend end of summer time with my 2 girls, to get everyone’s back to school needs met, and to do a lot of organizing  at home.  I am usually a very organized person, or at least at work that is what I’m often told.  In truth, I am just organized chaos – without some degree of being organized, I can’t function well at all.
We have been in our new home right at a year now, and I have found that having a much bigger home to take care of  has really challenged my organization skills, and I have let it get the better of me.  With new grit and determination, I resolved this week to figure out new strategies for getting better organized and at least tackling some much needed projects while I had the time.  It has been this week, that I have found vast resources and practical ideas via the media.  It has been time consuming I admit to gather the information and learn/explore the tools that would best suit the needs of my family and household, but it has been time well spent.  I think the important thing that has pulled it all together for me, has been that I have balanced out time spent on the computer with time spent  “Get’n er done”.  I haven’t completely mastered the areas I need to, but I have the satisfaction of knowing I have made good progress toward those goals, and can more easily keep up with the household when I do start back to work at the end of this week.
Another wonderful event of this week, has been that my kids have also caught the enthusiasm and joined me with cleanups, and projects which has made it even more fun.  My teenager, especially has wanted to use some of the organizational resources I have found on the computer to help with her own personal organizational needs.  She has also pitched in to help me paint and do a thorough room makeover/clean out of her younger sister’s room which is part of a birthday surprise (she turns 7 tomorrow).  I have truly felt enriched and productive this week, and have been thankful to have the resources of the media at my fingertips.
The Bible talks about the importance of being a woman who is diligent and faithful in running the affairs of her household.  I want to be such a woman, and so I have been praying and thinking about how to improve in that area this week.  As my daughter and I sat in the middle of a chaotic mess of crayons, dolls, and various toys, I thought about how often our lives have to get a big mucky before we realize the need to put them in order, and about how it is a process that sometimes involves feeling like it gets worse before it gets better.   Sometimes when God is trying to organize something in our lives, perhaps he has to let it get a bit messier as part of the process of teaching us something and renewing us.  Although the media can be a valuable resource, we need to remember to not be self-sufficient and busy God out of the process.  In the chaos of life, if we just turn to Him as the ultimate resource, He is always there to help, restore, put in order and make new.  He can help us find the discipline and balance we need to be the homemaker He desires us to be.


Prayer for Homemakers:  May God richly bless you in the important duty of being a homemaker.  May He renew you as you go to Him each day for the wisdom and  resources you need to focus on your priorities, manage your time, and the needs of your family and home.  May He bless you with a servant’s heart, delighting to honor Him in whatever task is at hand.
Image above courtesy of: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>


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