Archive for the Growing Leaders Category

What’s in your Deck?

Posted in Growing Leaders, Parenting on April 29, 2010 by charleecat

I have often been plagued with feelings of not measuring up…in so many areas of life.  Mostly, it was in my looks as a teenager… and lack of friends… and lack of pop culture knowledge.  Later it was in my finances… and ability to be a wife… and how good of an example of Christ I was…. But the most painfully obvious one at present, is parenting.  I tend to feel like I must be failing as a parent as I see my kids having the same issues over and over and over.  And my response is far from perfect most of the time.  Sometimes, I’ll have bright moments where I feel like I am walking in obedience, and if I fail, God’s grace covers it and it’ll all work out in the end.  Then typically, I’ll hear another mom or dad talk about their kids and what they’re doing in the training process, or they’ll give me a piece of their experienced mind (in a sincere intention of love) that ends up making me feel like my parenting is… less than it should be.  And that perhaps they are looking at my kids and wondering if Mike and I are really doing what we should be doing.  And that if they were raising my kids, they would probably have better behaved children.  Usually, I don’t think these things in full thoughts, but just general impressions that make me want to get out of the situation, hide away from the world and try to bring things up to everyone else’s (or at least everyone that I respect) perceived expectations and then on that illusive day when everything is perfect… then we can show our faces to those people again.  But I don’t actually act on those feelings.  I just…want to.

I recently was faced with something that made me realize we don’t, and shouldn’t – I mean really shouldn’t, not just theoretically shouldn’t- try to raise our kids to someone else’s standards, or expectations, or hopes, or beliefs.  God did not give our kids to anyone but us.  Yeah, I’ve had that thought multiple times, but it hasn’t helped me feel any better about things.  But here’s the reality: our kids need us to raise them the way God is leading us for them.  If we were to raise our kids to a stricter, or looser standard because of the way He may be directing someone else to train up their kids… it could potentially damage our own kids, and the specific destiny He has purposed for them!

So here’s the picture I got.  It really helped me to see things differently.  I don’t know if it’ll make sense for you, but it is helping me derail my comparison mentality.

Each person is dealt a different hand of cards.  You may be playing the same game, but you weren’t dealt the same hand.  Each hand must, by nature of the cards, be uniquely different.  And to win the game, you must work with the hand you have.  If you are dealt cards that lend themselves to be a Full House, you could lose out on a great Full House if you try to rip it apart to try to build a Large Straight.  If your hand is nearly a Straight, you would be foolish to look at your neighbor’s confidence in their Full House, and split apart your hand to play a meager Full House.  You cannot try to play your hand like someone else’s hand.  If you do, you will lose.  You must play your hand to the best advantage of what you were dealt.  Play it right, and you win.

Alright, so a very simplified explanation of parenting, but it made sense to me.  And suddenly, it’s ok if I choose to do something that’s very different from those people I most respect.  If I know we are obeying God to our best knowledge (after all, I will be giving account to Him for my actions anyway, and telling Him that I trained my kids like So-And-So was training hers isn’t going to be a very strong answer), then it doesn’t matter if it “measures up” to what they are doing.  I’m not playing their hand.  I’m playing mine.

How are you playing your hand?

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Angry Brother vs. Strong Champion

Posted in Growing Leaders, Parenting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by charleecat

The conversation with my son “Frog” started with intense frustration, desperation, and a good amount of anger.  Yes, I know… a key indicator that you are not in a place to handle a situation with your kid is when you are angry.  The thought did, in fact, cross my mind that I should have him sit down somewhere and I go somewhere else and calm down and pray.  But I didn’t.  And while he explained his reasoning for why he hit his brother (again), I was so incredibly frustrated because we’ve had this converation over and over and over and over!

GOD!  WHAT IS WRONG?  WHY ISN’T HE GETTING IT?  WHAT DO I SAY TO HIM TO MAKE HIM SEE THE NEED TO CHANGE, AND THEN REMEMBER IT WHEN HE’S IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS OWN FRUSTRATION??? HELP!!

Barely holding on to my ability to listen to him, I try to also have the ability to listen to the Holy Spirit so I can catch on to any new idea He brings my way (don’t tell me you don’t have those days that you have been pushed so far you can hardly even think anymore… nothing seems to work anyway!)  HELP, GOD!  HELP!  My prayers were not well thought out… nothing super-spiritual about it.  But He heard my heart, and the inner groaning of a mother’s despair at getting through to her treasured child.  And unaware that He was already at work, I started explaining to Frog that he and his brother “Monkey” are different.

I’ve never had this conversation with any of my kids before.  I don’t know why… I guess it’s just never come up.  But I visually explained to him with gestures, big facial expressions that made him laugh, and words that he apparently understood that Monkey’s feelings are a lot bigger than his.  Monkey’s feelings are so big, in fact, that it’s hard for him to contain them in his little body.  He has been learning his whole life to have some measure of control, but when his feelings get too strong, he can hardly contain them within his frame and they start shooting out in ways he doesn’t probably even intend.  Monkey has been learning so much in the last few months, and is really doing so much better at trying to communicate with reasonable conversation.  But I tell you what, you ignore him, and those emotions go into hyper-overload.  I am not exaggerating.  HYPER-overload.

Monkey is the sweetest, most lovable little guy you could meet.  My little cuddle-bear!  His love drips from his lips as he compliments and esteems us all day long.  But you cross that little boy, and tell him something that he doesn’t want to hear and his little Me-Monster jumps into overdrive and he can barrel down almost any unsuspecting adult.  He brings one of the greatest adventures to our lives!

Frog has a tendency to feel like he can always do what he wants.  Many times, his ideas are the most fun, and with his persuasive personality he typically finds it easy to direct the flow of events.  Monkey, however, sometimes has a mind of his own and when Frog tries to manipulate by ignoring little Monkey and proceeding with his plans… well… you can imagine the fallout.

So back to my conversation… I explained to Frog how God made no mistake by putting such a capable, understanding loving boy as the oldest of our troup.  God knew that Frog would be fully able to come alongside Monkey and help him.  Help Monkey learn to control his feelings and to channel them in a productive way.  The ways he can help, are to listen to Monkey;  let Monkey know that his feelings are important;  look for ways to teach him new things;  include him.  Frog seemed to understand.  If my brain was not too addled at the time, I believe I even remember Frog thanking me for explaining all this to him.  So after instructing him to go apologize to  Monkey for ignoring him, Frog spent the rest of the day bringing peace to our home.

Yes, peace.  My sweet Frog now had a motivation for being a true friend and brother to Monkey, because the Holy Spirit revealed to him that his brother is not only different than himself, but also containing extreme emotions that neither he nor I fully understand.  But it is what it is.  And as Frog has been championing Monkey (and even helping me to deal with him better), Monkey has started championing Frog.  What a delight for this Mommy to see!

And I have to admit – the visual explanation I gave Frog has also been helping me to see Monkey differently as well.  But having Frog on my side has been the most tremendous help of all.

THANK YOU, GOD!  I REALLY NEEDED YOU TODAY.