Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Speaking of Children...

School started back today-- after a month of holiday.  The four weeks were fantastic but today is pretty fantastic too.  The kids are settled in their new campus, new classrooms-- with hair combed, teeth brushed-- even socks and shoes--- and I am in a quiet house.  With hot coffee.  Even with enduring the onslaught of the mountain cedar that blew in here last Saturday, I am just happy to be here.  Kleenex, chapped nose and all.

Anytime I am with my kids for extended periods of time, it always causes me to evaluate my parenting.  Lots of time = lots of opportunities= lots of mistakes= lots of fun.  As I fall asleep at night.....How do the kids seem to be doing?  Am I connecting often with them?  Do I harp on things that don’t really matter?  How has my tone of voice been?  What sort of foundation am I laying now for possibly more challenging years to come?  Do they feel seen and heard?  Do they feel known by me?

I think I do a lot of “harping” that would NEVER be missed and will NEVER produce any fruit in my kids.  I’ve got to be more careful with this.  My community and close friends know I struggle here- too many words in not so great a tone of voice.  It’s basically “default mode”-- my flesh, my sin nature, the times in my day when I am NOT walking in obedience to the Spirit.  Two days in a row {the last two}, I had apologize to Julia for the way I had responded to her.  And here is where I ask myself a question-- how is this struggle going to serve our relationship later?  Give her four years and I am still responding to her like this, it could get ugly.  And I will be responsible.  I need to give James 3 some more airtime in my head..... and the VERY first scripture our church pianist, Mrs. Janie, gave me to memorize, still tucked in my Bible:

 At twelve years old, I was given the Word that would need to be a prayer of mine for years and years.  Words and tones of words can create walls difficult to destroy.  The small spark of my tongue can burn up a lot of good.  I want my words to bring life.  Deep down.  Down where it matters.  Down where beautiful and strong things push through and grow and provide goodness to others.  This is the foundation for my kids I want to strengthen with MY words.

“Being known”, I think, is paramount to most all people, but, for kids, who may not know how to express this desire, it’s even more critical.  They are trying to figure themselves out, even as their brains mature and develop, and we, as parents, play a crucial role in helping them understand themselves.  And that is why I think pursuing them, studying them, initiating conversations, drawing out the feelings and thoughts about situations or people is so important for us to practice as parents.  For us to know their responses- emotional, spiritual and even physical- to the world around them will go a LONG way as they are raised in our home.

I’m so grateful I have “talkers” but there have been a few occasions where hurt and pain weren’t revealed until there was time to delve in.  I’ll never forget the afternoon, last year, it took us longer to get home because of a few stops including dropping B at practice....  Once parked in the driveway on Clover Lane, I remember turning to Julia and asking, “So, how was your day?” and she burst into tears.  She had to have held it for hours.  She had gotten to the part in Where the Red Fern Grows with Rubin and the axe-- if you’ve never read it, just imagine those two things together-- never a good thing.  It was traumatic for her.  I climbed in the backseat to hold her- big and awkward in a bucket seat-  and she cried hard for a good 30 minutes.  I wonder when it would have come out?  Sometimes it’s a few hours or a few days before they are ready to reveal their hearts on certain things- and I get that- but just don’t miss the opportunity to sit down, look them in the eye and chat.  {Or turn your head and climb into the backseat.}  It could be the conversation they never forget.

I love being a parent and feel very blessed to be one because there were days when I wondered if it was part of God’s plan for me.  It’s a role to take seriously and a role, second only, to being a wife.  As our desire to be a good parent pushes us forward in truly knowing them and being intentional with our words, let us, above all things, keep in step with the Spirit.  {Galatians 5:25}

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