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.

Real Love Has Claimed You

With red hearts on parade and billboards pushing bling, was I going to avoid the Valentine festivities or would I enter into the wonder of Love?

That was my choice. 

I considered the possibilities.  Yearning for a deeper experience, I didn’t want to go through the motions of pretending I was OK.  I knew no matter what I chose, I wanted to comprehend the love I instinctively knew God had for every one of His children.  My heart still had wounds, yet I knew that love was the healing balm for the present day. 

Bridge the Gap

Are you there? Feeling the ache, still needing the bond of
relationship? Not sure how to bridge the gap of loneliness and connection
without the risk of more pain.  Do you
want more love?  Maybe you have dated and
were thwarted again.  Perhaps you are fed
up with the romantic options available and yet there is still a profound need
alive within your heart?

After years of dread, I decided I had nothing to lose and
found another option short of having a romantic date present me with a
Valentine!

This Valentine’s Day I would have a rendezvous with Love
Himself.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

Be My Valentine

I think it probably made Him smile as I, in childlike fashion, prayed and asked God to be my Valentine.  Believing that God accepted my invitation without hesitation, I pondered His love for me and how I could demonstrate my love for Him.  It was simple:  abide in His love.  I smiled and danced in the staggering truth and let this amazing love fill my soul.  It was as if I fell in love!  This was a deeper love that would never leave me.  Utterly content, I was able to delight in the Valentine celebration genuinely with family and friends.

Do you believe that God loves you?  Not in your head, but in your very
being.  Do you trust God loves YOU?  Wrestle with that truth.  Take five or ten minutes, right now if you can,
and close your eyes.  Take in several deep
breaths.  Breathe in that reality, “God
loves me.” “God has shown me His love in Jesus.”  “God loves me, even if I don’t understand His
love or feel love towards Him.”  “God
loves me, still.”

There is no arguing with God.  He has declared His love for you.  You can receive it with joy, or you can
reject it, but nevertheless, God loves you. 
Once more, sit in that reality. 
No matter how you feel, no matter how angry you are at Him, no matter
how far you have run from His affection for you, God loves you.

You have a choice.Will you spend this Valentine’s Day week in the wonder of God’s love or alone?  Contemplate your options.  Connect with the source of love within you or align with things that pull you from looking deep inside and finding the love you are really looking for.

Real love has already claimed you.

The Faithful One

Since my birthday and Valentine’s Day both occur in February, as a new single, I was pleased to kill two lovebirds at one time!  I was happy to get the whole “being alone” thing over in one week. 

Unfortunately, it took a few years for me to break free from the expectation of sharing Valentines’ Day with someone of the opposite sex. Eventually, I realized that I was ignoring the Lover of my soul, the One who knows me inside and out, for an idol I called boyfriend or husband.  Therefore, many years were wasted feeling like I was missing out and yearning for someone to fill the hole in my heart.  For years I went after unfaithful men instead of my faithful God, which ironically made me the unfaithful one. Joyfully, the year I started giving my heart to Him afresh, was the start of a love adventure that hasn’t stopped. 

We want to be known

How many of us have fallen into the category of looking for love in all the wrong places?  We go to dating services, country dance nights, bars, and even single’s church events all with the purpose of finding someone to love. We are looking for that person that sparks and ignites our hearts again.  To fill the empty spot in our hearts that we believe is for romance, but is it?

Ultimately, what we really want is to be known and loved.  Romance fades.  We want enduring love from someone who understands.  But, as we have found out, life doesn’t always provide everlasting love. There is only One who promises everlasting, but do we resist His affection?

Your right hand shall hold me

Beautifully, Psalm 139 describes how much the Lord cares and is crazy about us.  In the first verse it says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!”  The word “known” is the Hebrew word “Yada.”  You may have heard of Yada being used to describe marital intimacy. However, it means to be known within any covenant relationship.  The writer of the Psalm, King David, a man after God’s own heart, had this sweet, intimate connection with God.

In verses 7-12, God describes how we may run from Him, trying to do life our own way.   We are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances and do not leave time for our relationship with Him.  In our anger, pain, or selfishness we hide from Him.  Nevertheless, in verse 10, God says He will still lead us and His “right hand shall hold me.”  He knows our thoughts, our ways, even our DNA intimately (verse 15).

What about you?  Are you planning a Valentine’s Day that involves looking for that special person for the weekend or even just a person of the opposite sex to have dinner with?  Are you looking for love in all the wrong places again this year… like I did?  Open your heart to the Faithful One!  The Lover of your soul is waiting to spend the evening with you!  Focus on giving yourself to Him uniquely this year for Valentine’s Day!

P.S.  If you have the
kids that weekend, you have a unique opportunity to give them a paradigm shift
from how most of the world looks at Valentines to how they can get the deep
need of their hearts filled.    Teaching
our children about the depth of God’s love and the meaning of love will have
dividends in their lives for years. 

Self-Love Gives Way to Other Love

“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your
neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

There were,
and I guess I have to be honest, still are, times when I don’t like
myself.  Well heck, every now and then,
if I could, I wouldn’t even want to be with me! 
There are times when I am disappointed in behavior, wishing I would not
have done something or kept my mouth shut. 
These times usually lead to moments of isolation.  In those times, I have no love to give to
others because I don’t even love myself.

Have you
ever experienced that?  Coming home from
work, drained from the day, without energy to love your kids, neighbors or even
the dog as you would like.  Overwhelmed
by bills, responsibilities, or loneliness, you feel like you want to be left
alone.  Perhaps you, like me, just want
to run away but you know that you can’t. 
But you could use a break.

Oh, if I could fly
away!

Psalm 55
describes this feeling perfectly!  “I
said, oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.  Behold, I would wander far away, I would
lodge in the wilderness.  I would hasten
to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest” (Versus 6-8).

These are the times when we need self-care to regroup and go to the only one who can give us the forgiveness and the power to enter life again. The only one who delights in us unconditionally and empowers us with His love so that we can step out to love others.  Psalm 55 continues with, “But I call to God” (verse 16) and “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you (verse 21). 

Part of
self-care is taking refuge in the Lord and calling on Him.  Again in Psalm 118, “Out of my distress, I
called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is on my side as my helper” (Versus
6-7a).

A Helper for You

The Lord is
our helper!  And, boy, as a single parent
I knew I needed help and still do.  Don’t
you?  Taking the time to care for your
soul may seem like another duty to add to the list, but how would your home environment
look if you were refreshed and felt loved? 
How would you respond to your children, the person at the daycare, the
checkout clerk at the supermarket, or even your co-parent if your soul was
cared for?  Seriously, take a minute to
imagine knowing you are loved and had an everyday helper.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and say,
“I am loved by the God of the universe” or “Jesus. loves. me”.  Do that three times or for a minute and rest
in the truth of His love. His love for you and your responding love for Him.

Now what if we did that daily, take a truth of scripture and breathe it into our souls and minds.  Take rest in the facts of scripture.  Tell them to your children, to your neighbors, other single parents and yes, even your co-parent.  Would we not then love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength?  And it will be out of that reality that love will overflow towards our “neighbor.”

Try it for
the rest of the week and see it doesn’t change the environment in your home or
workplace!

Four Ways Single Parents Can Fight Fatigue

We’ve been looking at how vital self-care is to any parent.  Being available for our children is essential to their development emotionally and physically.  A tall task for the single parent!  However, to have energy that matches our kiddos is a possible goal!

#1 Suggestion

So my first suggestion for the single parent is to get a checkup.  Make sure your iron and thyroid are working well, and you are in good health.  Other than getting enough sleep and eating well, anemia and hypothyroidism are in the top reasons for fatigue.  My low iron count was a symptom. I remember feeling like my skin was crawling.  Every day I was tired, short-tempered and irritable. I thought it was because I was a single mom, but found out later that celiac disease undoubtedly contributed to the mix.

#2 Suggestion

A second suggestion for fatigued parents is to make a shift away from the current culture of busyness by getting comfortable saying “No.”  Being strong enough to say “no” to many of the offerings of the world so that you can say “yes” to the short season of parenting will reap abundant rewards and emotional closeness with your family.  It will take courage to decline church events, dating, committees or even many children activities!   I know there are tons of great things out there to do, but when your kiddos are out of the house you will wishing for one more night of movies and popcorn, game night, or camping with the “little ones".

#3 Suggestion

Learn the fine art of conversation.  Part of the stress of parenting is to really understand where our children are with their emotions.  Getting them to talk may be difficult.  Some children do not want to burden us with their problems, especially if they think we are struggling with a divorce, the stress of bills or an illness.  Knowing we are emotionally connected to our children provides us with a sense of peace and unity as a family.

There are two ways I have found to get my daughter and other children or adolescences to start talking.  The first one is an old card game that had questions on each card and the second is a Jenga-like game that has questions on each block.  I have had done an internet search for both of the games and cannot find them, but I did see one called Tabletopics Family Edition. Teens are especially challenging to get talking, and parents are bewildered to find the right questions without getting “the look”! Tabletopics looks like a great option!

#4 Suggestion

Finally, trust God.  He knows your needs.  He knows your kiddos needs.  He loves you and them more than we can comprehend- so much that He entered into our world   Seek Him more. Cling to Him. He will provide because He is the Great Provider.

If you would like to get together to talk about some of these ideas or be encouraged, I would love to meet you at a local coffee shop or video chat and get some self-care together!