Bucket List Challenge & Motherhood Challenge

The bucket list concept is exploding nowadays.  Every time I turn on the internet I’m reading about another bucket list experience.  Sadly, some of the stories are about how people have used up all their money and gone into debt to accomplish their bucket list.  Some are stories about a dying infant’s bucket list.  I myself have a general bucket list that I’d like to accomplish before I die.  While pondering over my list and what appears to be a global phenomenon, my thoughts kept coming back to this: while pleasure and exploring is fun that is not the only thing that I need to be focused on.  As the thoughts kept rolling around they combined with one of my favorite mottos: Hope is not a plan.  The Bucket List Challenge for my children come into being.  What are the Godly characteristics that I want to teach my children?  I’ve made out a list and it’s a long one.  Now I’m exploring ways to teach those attributes that correspond to the appropriate age.  I wish I could teach those characteristics to my children once and I’d be done with it, but I know that while they may get patience now, I’ll soon be revisiting patience in a year or two.  So what activities should I be doing at each age for each characteristic?  My search is on and soon I will begin my children’s bucket list and the lifelong teaching/learning it will bring.

The Motherhood Challenge is one that’s for me.  What area do I need to work on as a mom?  I want to spend the last six months of this year working on a new habit each month.  That’s six new areas of improvement as a mom.  It doesn’t sound like much, but after reading about a mom that has done this and how she has improved her whole family’s lifestyle, how could I not take the time and do this?  God has already been prompting me to change a few things in my mothering.  So I have my first month’s challenge ready to start.

How many times have I looked at my family and praised God for how wonderful they are and how we are doing?  Then friends come over, I read a blog or I’m having a bad day then suddenly I’m the worst mom with the worst kids that people don’t want to be around because they are out of control and it’s all my fault and how did God think I could be a good mom.  Does this sound like you?  That’s me all too often.  So my first challenge will be to stop comparing.  Most of my friends have kids that are not as active as mine.  God hasn’t given me calm kids, He gave me extremely active boys with strong wills.  It does me no good to dwell on the differences because God isn’t going to miraculously change my boys into sweet, obedient and calm boys.  I have what I have and it’s for a reason (I have theories as to why).  What I need to do is not ask everyone else how and what their kids are doing.  I have a pediatrician, Dr Norah Randles, who is great at telling me when I need to be concerned and when not to worry.  I trust her.  I also trust that God has given me a mom sense about my own children.  My goal during the last part of June and throughout July is to trust God to lead me with my children.  I will not be asking a million questions of other moms.  I will not be pouring over blogs searching for answers.  I will not be crying because our boys are not as well-behaved as other kids, besides they have their own issues too.  It will be an incredibly hard task.  I firmly believe that this first change will make me a better mom, a better wife and a better Christian.  I proclaim that my faith is strong, so I’m putting it to the test this month.  God can handle me and my active boys!  I can go the mom route this month with just my God as my co-pilot.  I can’t wait to report on the progress, setbacks and outcomes that will come this month.  God will be showing me new mercies as a mom and revealing wonderful truths about my boys.

Advertisements

Praise

Wow, I’ve read some great articles this week and here’s another one that I think moms should read.  Really makes me think!  Enjoy.

Don’t confuse me with facts

John Rosemond – Syndicated Columnist – 5/23/2012 10:15:00 AMBookmark and Share

Living with Children (big banner)Â

When I was growing up, it was said that one should not engage in discussions of religion or politics. These days, engaging in conversation concerning how someone raises their children is just as likely to end the relationship as a discussion of their religious or political beliefs.

The further problem is that anti-intellectualism is in the air. In The Iron Lady, the aged Margaret Thatcher, as portrayed by Meryl Streep, becomes quite agitated when her physician asks her how she’s feeling. She reprimands him, noting that it is a person’s thoughts, not their feelings, that truly count, that truly reflect the character of the person.

Indeed, feelings are functional only when they are under intellectual control. When the opposite is the case, when feelings rule thought processes, irrational thinking and behavior are the inevitable outcome. Furthermore, when feelings rule, facts become irrelevant. Examples abound of widely-held beliefs that have little if any basis in fact. To the believers in question, that makes no difference. They FEEL — and that’s enough for them.

I recently came across a study showing that when adults praise ability, performance actually worsens. Praising effort, on the other hand, raises performance over time. This is the difference between telling a child he’s really good at math and telling a child you’re proud of how much effort he put forth studying for the math test (irrespective of his grade). Over time, the former child’s math grades are likely to go down, while the latter child’s go up.

Apparently, ability-based praise causes the former child to believe he is entitled to good grades in math, no matter his effort. So, he does less and less. This finding just goes to show that regardless of context, entitlement is corrosive. It does not bring out the best in people and may in fact bring out the worst, including increasing demands for more entitlements.

The interesting thing about the research in question is that when the researcher informed parents — who tend, in general, to believe praising ability is good — of her results, the majority dismissed it, became defensive, or flat out told her they didn’t care, they were going to keep right on telling their kids how wonderful they were.

That’s irrational. That’s a prime example of the axiom that when a person “thinks with his feelings,” he does not think well. Here we have parents for whom facts are irrelevant. They won’t even consider them. They think that they, and only they, know what’s best for their children, not some academic. That’s not true, of course. It is difficult at best for parents to be objective. The purpose of research-based information is to help them make better decisions. Granted, not all research is equal. Some is garbage, but this particular study was not.

Why didn’t the study’s results cause parents to reconsider their praise policies? Because giving praise made them feel good, and receiving praise made their children feel good. As the refrain of a popular 70’s tune put it, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings.” They rule the day.

For more than 40 years, parents and schools have put more emphasis on children’s feelings (i.e., making them feel good about themselves) than their thoughts. This is why so many of them have such difficulty thinking straight: choosing responsibility over irresponsibility, delaying gratification, holding back the wild horses of their impulses.

It’s bad enough when children operate on the basis of feelings. It’s potentially catastrophic when their parents do as well.

Still Not That Perfect Mom

I was having a bad night after yelling at my kids, putting them to bed and feeling bad that I yelled at them.  The God’s tender mercies came down this morning with the perfect email from Hello Mornings by Kat.  Below is the email.

 

I hate days like these.

Frustrating. Difficult. Defeating.

And, I do feel oh-so-defeated. Because, as I sit in this moment, it seems as nothing in me has changed. As much as I have prayed and tried and prayed and tried–I am still yelling at my kids. I am still loosing my temper. I am still not that perfect mom.

You know her, right? She has everyday planned out perfectly with fun crafts and activities to keep her kids happily busy and well-educated. Her words are always kind and gentle. She always knows when to give grace and when to lay down the law…without yelling.

Well I’m not “that mom” and I’m certain I will never be. (You know, BECAUSE SHE DOESN”T EXIST! …how easily I forget.)

My Distracted Mind

Yet, somehow I let my thought-life get away from me, and I imagine God—looking down at me and shaking His head with disappointment—pained by by mistakes. All the guilt-ridden sermons of the past echo in my head. “Jesus died for you…and you can’t be obedient for Him?” “God is so gentle with you, how DARE YOU yell at your kids.”

I don’t remember exactly when I first understood it, but there is an implication of my relationship with God that has changed me forever.

There is no work I can do to make Him love me more.

There is no sin I can commit that will make Him love me less.

(Even yelling at my kids. Again.)

I’m so thankful for this. Aren’t you?

The Power of the Gospel

The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death. —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel (emphasis mine)

The gospel has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

I just finished reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, and I have been studying 1 Peter for a while now; both have much to say about the good news of Jesus.

 We must abandon the idea that there is condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! We must abandon the idea that our sins pile up on some scale that will earn God’s punishment when tipped, as if Christ didn’t take this wrath from us already on the cross. We must also abandon the idea that our good behavior somehow rubs the spiritual lamp that inclines God, like a genie, to emerge and give us the things we wish for.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

So, when my mind drifts to all of my failings and my heart feels the weight of my sin, I must remember that Jesus already took care of it all. He already died to pay the debt I owed from today’s sin of yelling at my kids. (He’s taken care of tomorrow’s mess-ups, too.)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God… (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)

When I do remember that all this has been done on my behalf, and that now—right now—God is looking down at me with abounding love and kindness. He is well-pleased with me. Not because of my merit, but because of Christ’s perfection.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Colossians 1:21-22)

Tonight—though I have just lost my temper and certainly wounded my kids—I am holy and blameless as I stand before God. Without a single fault.

Wow.

And, with this weight lifted, it makes me want to run into His grace and worship Him with my tomorrow. Worship Him with one more step toward controlling my temper and holding my tongue.

Not because I have to  but because I want to.

Turns out momma was not the only tired one. My two youngest fell asleep fairly quickly, a good hour before bedtime. So, with a refreshing night of sleep for all of us, I will start all over tomorrow knowing that whatever the outcome—whether I succeed or not—God is smiling when He sees me.

What goes through your head after you yell at your kids? Do you rehearse what is true—what scripture teaches? Or, do you struggle with condemning, defeating thoughts? Can you imagine God—well-pleased and smiling at you—or do you see a stern, disappointed task-master?

Crazy Noise

Music is in my soul, dancing flows through me because of the stirring in my soul and laughter springs forth with singing.  All this combines to make a crazy noise that is a sweet expression of love to My savior’s ears.  We are made in God’s image.  There are people who move mountains with the beauty of their dance and it makes me wonder how graceful, melodic and creative my God must be.  Now, the next time you see me dancing and singing, please don’t use that as your picture of God because I leave a lot to be desired in this area.  Never-the-less, I’ve been reminded many times this week of Psalm 100:1, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

We start off breakfast in the morning with a great little cd for kids called Crazy Noise.  My boys just light up with laughter while  they chair dance to the beat.  You know what I’m talking about.  When you’re sitting in a seat, whether dinning room, movies, desk, car or wherever you are, and the best rocking music comes on.  Your head starts to bob, then your shoulders, followed by your hands and arms and usually ending with your feet tapping or legs swinging.  Even if you aren’t a great dancer, you know how to bust a move while sitting down and especially when in private .  There is no way to contain the laughter when a 1 1/2 year old makes his move, then compound it by two.  Two arms raised up & wiggling furiously to the beat, heads thrown back and squeals aplenty.   The song that gets them really going is the title song Crazy Noise.  It says “Make a crazy crazy joyful noise A wacky silly funny sound that you enjoy Make a crazy crazy joyful noise So everybody knows that you’re praising the Lord.”  When we are at home, I’m rejoicing and having fun with all the silly sounds and wacky moves that James & Lance can make.  When we go out in public my whole demeanor changes.  I’m no longer having fun with silly sounds and squirmy moves.  I see the knitted brows and a occassional head shake at my kid’s behavior when they are not the perfect little angels sitting quietly and patiently for me to finish.  Sadly, I let other’s impressions pressure me into wanting to change my boys  immediately.  I do know that the loud shrieking is not be tolerated and is rude for anyone else around and I’ve been frustrated as to how to get them to stop.  I usually end up raising my voice and feeling very embarrassed with myself.  Then it dawned on me today that I don’t want two perfectly quiet little boys sitting like angels out in public because that would mean that I would have to train them to be that way at home as well.  You can’t have it one way at home then another out in public.  Toddler brains just aren’t wired to be like that.  I like my rough and tumble, hilariously happy boys.  What I really want is to get the volume down to a normal level.  I can even ham up the silliness at an acceptable level in the store to keep the boys entertained and in control.  What a joyful reminder to others of the fun days filled of laughter with their own kids.  I should even remind my boys that when we are too loud, it is not respectful of others, it’s not kind and not honoring to God.  Rather if we make our noise at a normal level of volume, we will be making a joyful noise unto the Lord that other’s will praise and we can give God all the glory when others praise my happy and joyfully under control children.  Amazingly I do get gracious compliments from people when the boys are behaving well.  So to end on a great thought this week, we can make a joyful noise to the Lord whether at home or in public and that will change my attitude when we are out shopping.  I’m so thankful for the mercy of a little cd!

Tot School – 20mo twins – Learning Without Teaching

This last week we have had grandparents staying with us.  There’s  a lot more sitting in laps, running around and just having fun.  Any structured learning has been put on hold.  We spent several days outside in the back yard.   We have a small see saw that the boys like.  They climb on and mommy frequently has to get them going by rocking the saw and I usually say see saw as they are riding up and down.  Very fun, very informal, very play.  This morning after all the company has gone home and we are left to ourselves and I was amazed at their newly discovered concept.  James had pulled over the basketball goal and it was laying on the ground supported by the rim.  Lance started shouting see saw as he ran over to climb on the post.  James followed  and climbed on the other end of the goal.  They both stood up and down over the post saying see saw. 

What this reminded me of is that as a mom, not everything has to be structured and God has given us the ability to learn on our own.  God has certainly given my boys very curious personalities.  So when I don’t think that  I’m teaching my kids enough, I need to remember that God has mercifully preprogrammed my boys to learn.  Learning does take on the form of formal, informal, academic, physical and spiritual.  When I look at each day, I’ve managed to work with them on one of those areas specifically.  It might not be the sit down and spend 30 min without interruptions, but the boys pickup more than I realize that they do.  It doesn’t surprise parents when kids get to the point of repeating what their parents say.  Parents aren’t sitting the kids down and intentionally teaching those words.  Most parents are aware that this will happen.  So why should it surprise me that they can learn concepts the same way too?

Which leads me to a very good reminder.  I’m teaching my boys about God by the way I behave and what I do during the day.  They are learning informally from me about what a wife does to serve her household and her attitude about it, what kind or unkind words I’m speaking to friends on the phone, grumbling about the kid’s behavior or encouraging better behaviors, praying at meals and other times of the day.  The list could go on.  So when I’m feeling that I just haven’t done my job as a mom, I need to step back and remember that my boys are indeed learning and informal learning is just as important as the formal academic lessons.

Tot School – 20mo twins – shapes

Mercies started raining down at the very beginning of this week.   The free section of craigslist helps God provide those mercies sometimes.  A sweet mom was giving away a few toys so I went over to get them.  When I got back home to look at the toys, there was an old shape sorter ball.  It didn’t look like much, but the boys have spent so much time playing with it.  Unlike the ones we already have, this one has twice as many shapes and each of the two halves rotate separately.  This rotating feature adds such a new level of difficulty.  With the other sorters, they know exactly were each piece goes and how to line it up.  They don’t have to think about it anymore.  With the rotation, shapes could be on the bottom or top and not lined up with the same shape directly below it as it was the last time they put a shape in.  When I flip the ball over, sometimes the shapes are upside down from their starting placement.  So I get to see the shapes that are easy for no matter where it’s at and I’m able to see the shapes that they don’t know so well but I thought they did.  Repetition is good.  It helps solidify learning and it builds confidence, but if things become easy due to repetition, then a few new changes will keep the brain hopping.  Because it’s still new, the boys can play with this for  20 min before they bored and move on.  Because of that extended time, there are a few squabbles that I have to manage.  Each boy has shapes that are his favorite.  The ball is continually being rotated and flipped to get to the correct shape.  It takes longer to figure out some of the shapes when they are upside down.  There is always the last piece to be placed in.  That is the list of potential squabble causing issues.  Each time we dump the pieces out and start over, I’m guaranteed to see some issue that resorts in the boys screaming at each other.  That’s when mom steps in, removes the shape sorter from their reach and tries to calmly explain that they need to be kind and if they can’t share and wait their turn, then no one gets to play with it.  After a minute or so, the sorter comes back and we try it again.  There are times when things go really well and both boys share and everything gets put in its place with no issues.

This is a toy that I think will be around for a while and will provide good learning that’s constantly changing and promotes thinking.    Sometimes I start feeling proud of my boys with what they’ve learned.  I think most moms feel proud.  With that pride sometimes comes the satisfaction that we helped teach them that skill or concept.  It’s a bit of a humility check when what you once thought was a perfectly learned skill, you now know it to be more memorization/familiarity and not the ability to fully understand a concept yet.  The memorization isn’t bad, it’s just that it’s the beginning of learning.  I’m thankful to be reminded of this.  I pray that I will not seek the credit for my children’s accomplishments, but rather praise God that He has given them understanding and used me as one of the tools to provide the learning.