6 Gifts For a Tired and Overwhelmed Single Parent (Part 2)

Each
gift drew me closer to God. 

I began to feel loved.

I began to feel wooed. 

But I knew God wanted more.

He wanted all of me: heart, soul, mind, body and spirit.

Welcome back! I hope and pray you were encouraged by last
week’s post. That post described the first three gifts I was given as a single
parent. God granted me these gifts as His way of ministering to my wounded
spirit. He used them to uplift and redirect my heart toward Him. Instead of
focusing on my single status, I began to focus on the awesome
privilege of being a parent, not led by a spouse, but by my great God. 

Here are the other three gifts. Please share these blogs
with another single parent. These gifts are for everyone!

4. God cast a vision for my life. 

Regrettably, after my divorce, I tried to fill the hole
in my heart my own way. God wanted to surround me with His protection and
unfailing love, but I searched for human love and acceptance outside of His
care. I thought I knew best. I didn’t understand that His perfect love was
best. But He never failed to call me back to Him. He continued to pick me up
each time I fell. Finally, I began to understand—He wanted my heart. 

All of it.

It was then that Matthew 6:31-33 became personal to me. Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall I do?’ or ‘Will I always be alone?’ or ‘How will I make it?’ Nonbelievers say all these things, and your heavenly Father knows what you need. But seek first my kingdom and my righteousness. THEN all these things will be given to you as well.  I must be first.“ (My paraphrase!)

5. God gave me the gift of music.

I was working one day with my longtime colleague, Peggy, while the radio played. I considered her my friend. And my friend loved country music. As you know, that particular genre has numerous sad songs. Before an hour had passed, I felt so disheartened that tears seeped from my eyes. 

Fortunately, Peggy was a sensitive soul. When she looked
at my face, her eyes widened and her body froze. I smiled and said, “Peg, it's
okay, but these songs are breaking my heart!” She quickly reached out and
changed the station. I was touched that her first response was to mend my pain.

Music has extraordinary power, doesn’t it?

Melodies, a refrain, or a verse all have the power to
move our hearts. Music can inspire us to great heights or bring us to tears.

I love music that activates our worship of the Lord.

We are empowered to walk with Jesus throughout the day,
in part, through the gift of Christian music. Beautiful melodies and lyrics
encourage and inform us of God’s love and provision. 

This
verse of the song “First” by Lauren Daigle speaks volumes to our heart’s need:

Click here to be encouraged and uplifted by this inspiring song

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You first

6. God gave me the gift of a promise ring.

Falling in love with Jesus and giving your whole life to Him, including the hope of a future spouse, has a way of causing confusion among family and friends. (There is so much more to this story, but you will have to read the book when it comes out!) As my dating life changed, and I learned to lean in and savor my relationship with Jesus, I began to enjoy a sense of deep peace and contentment that I had never experienced. 

My heart began to heal as I placed a silver promise ring
on my left-hand ring finger, where I had worn my engagement ring and wedding
band for so many years. The promise ring was engraved with the words, “I am my
beloved’s. My beloved is mine.” I wish I could say that I was a perfect
“Beloved” to the Lord during that time, but I was not. Yet He was perfect and
faithful! Oh, so faithful!

I began to see myself as “chosen,” “spoken for,” and
“His.” I realized that when I was NOT following Him, I was following a way that
did not fulfill me and only led to greater devastation and heartache. Only
Jesus has the wisdom to choose how to satisfy the needs of my heart because He
knows me FULLY and loves me COMPLETELY. The same is true for you!

Although God did bring a godly man into my life, and I have been married for almost 13 years now, I still wear the same promise ring on my left hand. It reminds me that God is still first in my life. He is my Beloved, and I am His!

Please leave your thoughts and comments.

If you would like to walk and talk or talk and tea give me a call! 512-925-5575 or email staceyjeannett@gmail.

6 Gifts for a Tired and Overwhelmed Single Parent

Raising kids as a single parent is often lonely.

It is tiring.

Frequently it is also overwhelming.

But then, God grants you a surprising moment when your heart is touched by a gift of thoughtfulness.  And you are refreshed.

Over the years of my single parenting season, I have been given six tangible gifts by the Lord.  Each gift has marked my soul with an enduring Yada* of His love for me and my family. 

My favorite name for God is Faithful.  He is with me daily and He loves me, in spite of my faithlessness.  He is faithful despite my failures.  His promise to never leave me or forsake me is based on His perfect character and His unfailing love.  He is with you too!

I want to share these gifts with you. Here are the first three. I will share the rest in my next blog post.

1. Don't Quit poem by John Greenleaf Whittlier


I wrote about this poem in one of my very first posts. This poem was a gift of hope. The Lord was telling me to persevere through the difficult days because He was working all things out for my good.  Whether it was a "getting-ready-for school" tussle with my daughter, a bill pending, or a lonely night, “Don’t quit, Stacey; I am working.” was the echo of this rhyme.


2.  Isaiah 43:3.  Since you are precious …


While going through my divorce, going to bed alone during the first few days and months was particularly painful.  Throughout the day, work and the busyness of parenting seemed to keep the singleness factor at bay.  But as the sunlight began to fade, the devastating awareness washed over me:  my spouse was not coming home.  

I began the habit of taking my Bible to bed with me.  It was an incredible comfort!  His Word was close.  He was close.  One special evening, as I was lying there, tearfully reading my Bible, Isaiah 43:3 burst into my heart.  God was redeeming a phrase that my spouse often would say to me: ”You’re precious”.  God spoke softly in my soul: “Since you are precious and I love you”.  He  was telling me that I am not alone.  That He will move mountains for my daughter and me.  He will redeem our losses.  I encourage you to read God’s Word every day because He wants to whisper to your heart also!

3. A marketing pin from a jewelry store.

Read the Helzberg Story here.


Walking through the mall one night, I entered a jewelry store to daydream of the day when someone special might enter my life.  The need to belong to someone- to be known  and loved – is a God-given need.  I wanted to feel loved again.

I saw a bowl of pins and God again spoke to my spirit: “I love you”.  Feeling a sense of peace, I knew He could hear the desire of my heart.  He is walking with me, and He knows my needs.  Needs that He built into me.  Once again, He proved He is faithful and close to my broken heart.

Next week I will share with you three more gifts that God has faithfully given me… These gifts are yours too.  Will you embrace them?

I would love to meet or talk with you and encourage you.  Call/text, 512.925.5575 , or email stacey.jeannett@gmail.com to get together.


* To know by experience. https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/yada.html

Resetting Your Family

Transitioning to a single parent home...

Last week we looked at how divorce provides us with an opportunity to reset our hearts, so we focus on God. Now let's look at how becoming a single parent requires us to change how our family operates with love, unity, and grace. I've found that one of the best practices for a family in transition is to establish a weekly family meeting. 

Set aside a regular, weekly time when you and your children (and perhaps extended family members who are supporting you emotionally) can sit down together. Share your joys, sorrows, concerns, and fears. This focused time of conversation and prayer will institute a rhythm for your family to share your joys, sorrows, worries, and fears — a time of encouragement. Your family meetings also will empower you to work together to brainstorm possible solutions for the issues that you may be facing.

 I have found that these three steps effectively contribute to a successful family meeting.

1. Start with fun. 

Begin each time together with fun! Prepare a special meal for dinner, or maybe a yummy dessert. Give each child a small gift—even if it's just a little toy from the dollar store. Search the internet for some good jokes so you can start your meeting with laughter! 

Week meetings weekly may seem like a chore for those families who are incorporating this for the first time. However, changes are occurring in your life anyway; making this one positive change will offer stability and many other long-term benefits to your family. 

2. Have an agenda.  

Bring a written agenda with ideas of topics to discuss. Focus your first family meeting on discussing the values, habits, and responsibilities that are important to you and your family members. Give each person a voice to share the positive or negative things that he/she thinks should be addressed.

Ask everyone to fill in the blank: “Our family will _________________”. Here are some suggestions:

  • Have fun and laugh often.
  • Support one another (with homework, chores, encouragement).
  • Stay out of debt.
  • Be hospitable (invite friends and neighbors over).
  • Respect each other's space and emotions.
  • Put God and others first.
  • Listen without judging.
  • Love each other and bear one an other's burden.

Keep adding values as your family grows and becomes comfortable with seeing these principles in action. As your communication grows through these weekly meetings, you and your kids will develop essential life skills. Especially vital skills as your children mature. 

Additionally, keeping "topics to discuss at our next meeting" list on the refrigerator door will provide your family members with an opportunity to write down problems or ideas to discuss. This proactive list will encourage each person to be thoughtful and engaged in future meetings.

If your agenda is short, that means more time for fun! Especially in the wake of the devastation of divorce, be sure to celebrate even the small victories. Praise God for the aspects of your lives that are going well. Taking the time to sit down as a family will spur more conversations about life issues that wouldn't come up without the safety of knowing that this time is for YOU!

3. End with prayer and more fun.

Fun, communication, and prayer will be the foundation of your family meetings. Spend time praising God and thanking Him for His provision. Ask for His protection and healing for yourself and your children. 

Asking God to guide, protect, provide, and love your family will point them to Him as the perfect Parent, Friend, and Counselor. This space of time is when you might hear tender heart concerns that you will then take to the Lord on their behalf. This partnering in prayer will open doors to follow-up conversations and anticipation of what God is doing in your family's life.

Always end with fun or a special treat. Your family could watch a movie together while sharing a big bowl of popcorn, or go to the park, or play a new board game. Invite each member of your family to suggest fun ways to celebrate. 

Remember, family meetings are unique and fun gatherings of people who love one another deeply and are learning to support each other and grow together. These weekly "pause and connect" are especially meaningful for the single-parent family that is transitioning from a two-parent home to a one-parent household. Try it this week!

Resetting Your Heart as a Single Parent

Don’t you
wish life had a RESET button? In some ways, a divorce (even though it is
extraordinarily painful) offers us that opportunity. Even the most devastating
breakup can be redeemed by God to give us a “do-over” in certain important
areas of our lives.

Recently,
I started facilitating a divorce recovery program in a local church. My own divorce
happened almost thirty years ago, yet this program has given me profound
insights about healing that I wished I had way back then. I highly recommend attending
a divorce recovery program. In addition to the practical advice and the caring support
group format, these programs offer a wealth of encouragement and resources for
newly single parents.  

One of the
most important principles I learned was that separation and/or divorce provide
us with an opportunity for deep personal evaluation and “course correction.” A
reset, if you will!

The end of
a marriage actually can be the beginning of a new season of walking in deeper
dependence and communion with Jesus. It can be a wake-up call for us,
motivating us to reset our hearts. Here’s how!

Reset Your Heart

An
involuntary reset of our hearts may not seem like a positive step. Most of us certainly
have not sought it out. But in reality, resetting our hearts is a CHOICE. It is
a mature decision and an incredibly healing step that we can take to help us
move beyond the pain of divorce.

When we
face the devastation of divorce, we really have only two choices: to draw
closer to God and cling to His promises, or to turn away from God and isolate
ourselves from Him and His people. Resetting our hearts means that we will choose
to trust Him with our pain.

From my
own divorce, I’ve found that even what seems like a total disaster, when
managed well, can turn into an opportunity that brings healing, strength,
deeper love, and family unity. And we all want that!

But how do
we reset our hearts when life is turned upside down—when we are emotionally off
kilter and still in shock? We turn to the one stable Rock in our lives –
God.  What does He say?

Spend some
time in your Bible looking up such words as: “stability,” “foundation,” “constant,”
“firm,” “strength,” and “steadfastness.”  Dig deep to discover what God
says about Himself and His provision for you. Recommit yourself to seeking Him
first (Matthew 6:33). Boost your heart as you read and claim all the promises
of hope given in Scripture. 

Yes,
divorce causes pain and division. But as you root yourself in God’s truth and
focus on His love, you will begin to see Him redeem this tragedy. You will
discover what it means to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). You
will experience a deepening of your faith and a sense of  amazement over God’s compassionate care for
you and your children. As you allow God to reset your heart, your family will
enjoy a profound sense of unity as you lean on God and study His Word together.

Next week…
we will look at one very practical tool to help you and your children reset and
draw you closer as a family!

Called To Be Faithful

I don’t remember when, it was a long time ago.  I was raising my daughter; in my recollection
she seems to be about eight; so I was a single mom about six years by
then.  Occasionally the neighborhood
would have garage sales, usually spring cleaning or fall clean-up, but I
remember warm temperatures as we walked about entering garages and greeting eager
peddlers.  

Scanning the odds and ends positioned to attract an eye or appeal to a tiny hand, I notice a small plaque with a picture of a long road.  Reaching for it, I took a deep breath and sighed. I felt like that road, long with no end or a rest sign in sight.

I felt like that road

Printed over the road was a poem.  As I read the poem, I could feel God’s
presence.  This bargain was a gift that
would encourage me with every step of my parenting journey.

The poem is about faithfulness. It is about not quitting
when the job gets hard.  God is giving
you this gift right now for Mother’s Day. 
 God knows our troubles and our
hearts.  He knows the road is long this
side of parenting but extremely short on the other side.  You are not called to perfect parenting but
only to faithful parenting. 

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

I don’t know what this Mother’s Day looks like for you, but I do know that God is SO very proud of your faithfulness to persevere on the difficult road of parenting as a single mom.  I am thanking God for you!  You are a great Mom!  Because you are a faithful Mom!

The Rich Aroma of a Fully Steeped Life

Steep your life in
God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out.
You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Matthew 6:33, 34 MSG

Have you ever had a weak cup of tea?  Perhaps the water was poured without reaching
a rolling boil…  Or you lacked time to
allow the tea to brew properly… or worse yet, all you had to submerge for your
morning caffeine dose was yesterday's spent tea bag!

If you're like me, you like a full-bodied cup of tea! None
of this lukewarm water to brew my tea bag! Use yesterday's bag?  No way! I want the full boost of a rich
caffeinated morning Lipton.

Matthew 6:33

Most of us are familiar with the traditional translation of
Matthew 6:33 "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all
these things will be added to you." 
But a recent reading of that verse in the Message translation gave me
new insight into the practical application of what Jesus was imparting.  "Steep your life in God-reality,
God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all
your everyday human concerns will be met". 
I found it fascinating (and a beneficial word picture for this tea-drinker!)
that the Message uses the word "steep" to convey the idea of
"seeking first the Kingdom of God…"

Just like a weak cup of tea, my life can become weak,
unfulfilling and lack energy if I don't steep my day in seeking God. 

Oh, I have a quiet time every morning!  I sit down with my bible, a daily devotional
and my journal to begin my time with God. 
But often, pretty much daily, I am distracted by things… Facebook
birthday announcements, email notifications (that are mostly junk emails) and
tasks that need to be done that day.  The
Message translation helped me to compellingly see that God's desire for me is
to "Be still and know that He is God!"  (Psalm 46:10 ESV)  His passion for me is to steep my soul in His
magnificent presence and take in His love for me.  As I absorb His love, I understand He is in
control of my life situations and cares… not only for me but for all my family
and ministry concerns.

Not a wast of time

For this "task-oriented" person, I felt like it was wasting time.  However, steeping my life in God's presence and love has become a practice for my time each day.  Is it possible that being still, meditating in God's presence, is far from doing nothing?  Could it be true that the Holy Spirit can work while I sit quietly and wait on God?  Is it possible that all my worrying and controlling has actually delayed God's hand moving in areas of my needs?

As I allow God to infuse my feelings with the truth of His
Word, I become a rich aroma of God's peace. 
And just like a great cup of fully brewed tea invigorates my bones, my
soul is thoroughly steeped in God's amazing love and care.

Tip 3, Family Meetings, Combine the first 2 Steps

“I told you last week we had this appointment!”  “Mom, are you going to my game tonight?”  “Dad, I need to go to the store to get some
stuff for a project due tomorrow for Science.” “How many times do I have to
tell you?”  “It was your job to make
dinner tonight!”

Not only can these statements be said with an attitude of disrespect, but they also reflect a lack of cooperation and communication.  We desire harmony in our homes.  But we have all been there, right?  It seems that the right hand doesn’t know what the left is often doing in family life.  This final tip is a useful skill for children to learn and will lead to an increase in family communication and peaceful living.  As single parents, family meetings are the best parenting approach you can implement to increase communication and cooperation.  We are family!

Family Meetings

Family meetings combine both respect and communication habits and will enable cooperation to be the norm in your family. Gathering around the table or in the living room to talk about what the family has going on that week or may want to plan for the next season of life is a valuable time to unify and also get to know what is going on inside the hearts and minds of each other.  Your meeting can be combined with a fun activity like a game, a movie night, or a special meal. 

10 Guidelines for Great Family Meetings

Here are some general guidelines for your first meeting:

1.    Decide in advance what time and how long the meeting will last so that everyone can be there.

2.    Incorporate fun!  This time is not work, school, or punishment.

3.    Be
consistence.  Don’t give up even if you
aren’t successful the first few times. 

4.    Provide everyone with some ideas on what will be the topic and also give them with some time to bring up some of their own issues to be discussed. You could put a meeting agenda on the refrigerator and ask everyone to add a topic before the meeting.  (Examples:  new school schedules, celebrate accomplishments, household duties, summer vacation, problems with a sibling)

5.    Don’t force attendance.  Teens are usually the first to bulk. In time, the fun and the decisions made in these meetings will draw all in!

6.    Before the meeting begins, take some time to give some procedures, i.e., mutual respect, everyone gets a turn to speak, time frame, etc.

7.    Start with
appreciation!  Even if it is just them
being there!  This would be a great time
to ask each other what they were thankful for today or throughout the week.

8.    Everyone is
allowed to give their opinion and or ideas about each topic being
discussed.  This could look like a
brainstorming 5 minutes where nothing is thrown out until the time is up.  Write down every thought and then rule out an
idea that is not useful, helpful or respectful. 
This is a time of connection and also supporting each other with
problems. 

9.    Follow up the
time of discussing issues with a time of encouragement.  Confidence in each other’s ability to handle
problems builds self-esteem, courage, and family connection.

10.    Add some fun to
the meeting by having popcorn, getting a movie to watch afterward or having a
reward presentation for the funniest suggestion, most polite child, or best
attitude.

The Rewards

Family meetings may seem odd to some, but I hope you will give it a try.  Research has shown it to be highly effective for family connection, communication, and cooperation. Consistent meetings will provide your family with quality time together, opportunities to bring up concerns thereby giving them a voice.  As your family gets comfortable with these gatherings, perhaps hand off the leadership to one of the older members so that they can develop their leadership skills, courage, and communication skills.

Here are several websites that may help you fine tune your
family meetings to fit your style.

https://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/family-life/family-meetings

https://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/family-meetings

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/10-tips-holding-family-meeting

http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2012/01/family-meetings.html

Step 2 of 3 for Gaining Your Child’s Cooperation

Tired, overwhelm and
even perhaps a little depressed, I come home to a messy kitchen, school
paraphernalia lying around and the television blasting. Instead of the quiet
haven, I yearn for, I am met with the energetic environment of children doing
their own thing.  Can you blame
them?  No.  But still my fuse is short, and I lose it.

I long for self-control,
for a calm and warm attitude that will attract my family into a relationship
and a spirit of cooperation.  I dream of
consistently coming home as the parent I want to be instead of the parent that
I’ve allowed myself to be.   Parenting
alone can be so overwhelming that I lose hope. 
Is there hope?  Is it possible to
be the parent I desire to be?

There is Hope

“For everything that was
written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance
taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have
hope.  May the God who gives endurance
and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that
Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
Romans 15:4-6

The Second Tip: Part A

This scripture leads us to the second tip to win our family’s cooperation  (First tip from last time). Empathic communication is a powerful skill to develop as a parent.  It diffuses conflict, soothes pain, and especially connects love ones emotionally.  And we learn it and receive it from God so that we can give it to our families.

In this scripture, God
tells us to first come to Him for love and encouragement.  As the adult and spiritual leader of our
home, we must first fill up emotionally and spiritually to enter into our homes
and be prepared to give to our family. 

The Second Tip: Part B

In the first verses of
chapter 15 in Romans, Paul tells us “We who are strong ought to bear with the
failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbors for
their good, to build them up.  For even
Christ did not please himself…”

We parents are the
“strong” ones, the mature ones.  Even if
we don’t feel that way! Looking at verse 4, we are shown to go to scripture for
the wisdom, encouragement, and endurance we need to gather our family together
and live lives that glorify Him together. 

Make a habit of taking
some time (I suggest 15-20 minutes)to be loved by the Lord before you engage
your family.  Breathe; Take in His love
for you.  Know you have all you need (2
Peter 1:3) to raise these precious children. 
Prepare yourself to open your eyes and ears to the hearts of your family
after you have opened your heart to the loving eyes and ears of God.  He understands your needs and is walking
ahead of you to show you the way to love when you don’t feel very benevolent.

The Second Tip: Part C

Then enter into family
life filled and prepared to hear with empathy as God has listened to you.  Begin to make a habit of sitting with your
family to connect with them on an emotional level.  Leave the advice for another time.  Ask them a question that will help them to
connect with their emotions and thought processes.  Questions will also build their emotional intelligence
and deepen your connection.  Perhaps
start with asking what the high of the day was followed by their low.  Give them your full attention with your eyes,
ears, and words of understanding.  Say
things like, “sounds like you had a _____________day” (exciting, bad, terrific,
eventful, disappointing – fill in the blank). 
To connect the emotional with the concrete act of love end your time
with a hug, high five, or soft touch.

Empathetic communication
connects individuals.  It draws two
people together, and that is the foundation of cooperation.  Feelings of being cared for loved, and
understood.

Try it and let me know
how it goes!

Parenting Well – First of 3 Steps to Gaining Your Family’s Cooperation

Last time we looked at how God leads us in love to parent
well by running the way of His commands (Psalm 119:32) and loving Him with our
whole being (Deuteronomy 6:5).  This week
we look at the first step that will gain their cooperation.

I happily cooperate with people I like.  People that rub me the wrong way, I
avoid.  Sounds pretty reasonable, right!?
We look forward to being with people we know will listen to us and care about
us personally.  Naturally, we want to
hear from them and love them too!  This
relational tendency happens within circles of coworkers, friends, nuclear
families, and extended families.  Good
relationships foster a feeling of comfort, well-being, and closeness.  In other words, good relationships create an
excellent atmosphere for working together – cooperating!!

Family life within a single parent home requires tons of
cooperation!  Frequently everyone in a
family will have an overall goal.  The
kids may say it’s having fun, but Mom may say the target is a clean house with
everything in its place.  It may be
living in harmony without sibling rivalry or trouble knocking at the door.  The truth is, however, successful family life
has to have everyone working together for a common goal and purpose.   The whole household needs to be working
together to have a functional, successful, and fun family life! The first step
towards getting the spirit of cooperation is treating each other with mutual
respect.

Mutual Respect

Mutual respect is to place honor or value with one another within our family. Within the family, parents model this through kind words, polite requests, and sacrificial acts.  Even an apology, we are able to communicate to our children that our parental authority does not mean we are perfect.  We demonstrate their God-given value when we admit our mistakes, especially when our mistakes take a form of disrespect as in the following examples.

Disrespect

As I mentioned, no one will want to work with someone they don’t respect. If I don’t look up to someone, it usually comes from something that person has done to lose my respect.  As a parent, I discovered that my daughter did not want to cooperate with me because I was pushing her away with my yelling. Yelling is a common form of autocratic parenting.  Those of us that have found ourselves yelling have more than likely learned it from our own families.  However, that is not an excuse, but it does explain why parents so often resort to a dictator style of parenting.  But yelling is disrespectful.  It pushes our children away from us and cooperating is the last thing on their minds! When we command, yell, or are apathetic to our children, no matter their age, we are communicating a lack of love.  This is a disconnection with them. 

Disrespect also comes in the form of doing things our children can do for themselves.  Doing things our children can do is robbing them of self- esteem, and confidence.  It is telling them we can do it better and faster.  As teenagers, it is telling them they don’t have what it takes, and they will never get it.  Getting into the habit of saying, “I respect you too much to do that for you, I know you are capable!”

Other ways we disrespect our children without really realizing it is by not getting their opinions on how the home should operate.  Listening to all family members thoughts regarding chores, meals, and activities contribute heavily to winning everyone’s cooperation.  Parents understand this from their work environment.  When operating systems change at the office, often we find employees griping because no one asked them if they had any suggestions.  We feel unvalued and irrelevant. Begin the habit of asking your children for their input. 

Mutual respect in a home not only invites a spirit of
cooperation but opens the door to communication which is our second step in
winning cooperation!  See you next time for
step 2!

This week’s practical application:

  • Begin to notice whether your voice rises when you are speaking to your children.

  • Empower your children by having them take responsibility for their bedrooms, clothes, and even some meals.

  • Consider asking for input from your children when making decisions.

Parenting and a Marathon

I once ran a marathon. 
It was a long time ago.  I
actually found the training more rewarding than crossing the finish line.  Each day I took off for a run was a challenge…
difficult hill or long mileage runs that I thought would never end.   However, after finishing the workout, I
would always have a sense of accomplishment that would make me look forward to
my next training run.  I often found that
sense of well-being would transfer to other tasks or challenges that filled my
to-do list that day.  The day of the
marathon, however, seemed sad.  I’d
forgotten the days when my legs ached or, my body was so tired that thinking of
doing anything required Holy Spirit movement! I didn't think of all the extra
time necessary to train.  Completing the
race didn’t give me the feeling of accomplishment.  It was the day-to-day training that I wanted
to continue!  Finishing was anticlimactic

Training Like Daily Parenting

Single parenting is sort of like training for that
marathon.  It is challenging and
stressful but, it can also be the most rewarding.  Like completing the marathon, I found the end
of my active parenting season to be the same as running across a finish line
but not wanting to really finish.  The
memories of each season brought a sense of amazement that made me want to keep
on parenting, to not finish the race. 

Are you in a stretch of parenting that may feel like a long run?  Are you facing challenges every day that test your inner character?  Do you have days where there is ease in parenting followed by days of rugged uphill battles with your teens? Do you find managing a checkbook daunting?  Does the thought of future parenting years seem overwhelming?  Not sure if you will make it?  Do you look forward to the finish line?  Where do we get the energy, the stamina to complete your parenting season and cross the finish line with cherished memories?

Psalm 119:32

running along a road

As Christians, we know that we are not alone and that we are enabled by His strength to do the work He has called us to.  Easier said than done.  Right?  Without planned prayer and meditation on God’s truths, days, then weeks, and even seasons will pass by just doing daily tasks that have no final goal but are merely crossing off the day on a calendar.

As parents we desire to finish our parenting race with a feeling of accomplishment and have memories of many good days with our children.  Parenting is a long race we are called to run.  Psalm 119:32 gives us two tips.  We are to run in the path of God’s commands, and He will empower or make it possible.

Called to Love

 My first thought is,
“There are a zillion of your commands, Lord! 
How am I to know and practice them all?” 
But then I recall Jesus saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and
greatest commandment.  And the second is
like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on
these two commandments.”

As we contemplate our day as parents, does love lead?  Not loving ourselves, but others with the
same thought that we give ourselves!  Do
we filter our tasks and our motives through the lens of love? I know I don’t,
but I am encouraged by this verse that God will enable me!

I have found that when I take 5-10 minutes to meditate on
this truth, God will provide all I need to parent, I found that throughout the
day His command to love runs through my thoughts and I remember to love. 

In the next few weeks, we will be looking at parenting skills.  Each of these skills will mean nothing without love.  So in the coming week, I ask you to join me in praying and meditating on Psalm 119:32, asking God to open our eyes to opportunities to love well.