Friday, October 19, 2012

Big Tex Is Burning! A Lesson For Us All

If you live in Texas, you probably have heard that “Big Tex” the icon of the State Fair of Texas that welcomes guests as they walk under his towering presence, burned down today. One story I saw said that he had a motor in his mouth that caught fire. Ouch! My dad used to jokingly refer to me as “Motor Mouth” when I was a kid, and quite frankly I resemble that remark. I never thought I had anything in common with “Big Tex,” but perhaps I do.

As soon as I read that I thought about how we as mothers can also allow our “motor mouths” to set things on fire. How many times have our harsh words ruined the day of our children? How many times has a word spoken frivolously been taken to heart and burned someone? How many relationships have trust broken because of a confidence shared? How many times has a comment made out of judgment or jealously set off a spark that went out of control?

The Bible tells us a lot about how easily our motor mouths can set things on fire. James 3:6 (NIV) says: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell,” and Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) tells us, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

One thing I have been convicted of and have tried to remember is that just because something is true, doesn’t mean it needs to be said. I must choose my words carefully and keep my motor mouth in check.

I am quite sure that Big Tex will be rebuilt and will probably be even better than the first one. Let that encourage us all, because nothing is beyond repair! Forgiveness and repentance can build relationships back up bigger and stronger than they once were. So let’s spend some time thinking about whom we might have burned with our words and seek to repair the damage and rebuild our legacies.

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Kids and Moths Have In Common

We’ve had a lot of moths around our house for the past couple of months. Whenever I see them flying around, I am reminded of a basic truth about parenting. What do moths have to do with parenting you may be wondering? Well, when I see them in the evenings swarming around an outdoor light, I am reminded of what it took for that fragile little moth to build up the strength and endurance to be able to fly.
 I once heard a story about a man who found a moth’s cocoon and was intrigued by it so he took it in the house to inspect it closer. Upon further inspection, he realized that the tiny moth inside was working vigorously to come out through a small crack in the cocoon. As he sat and watched, it tried and tried to get out. As time went on, he became worried that the crack was too small and that the moth wasn’t strong enough to break it open, so he got a pair of tweezers and pried the crack open. How surprised he was when the moth came out, but had under-developed wings and was unable to fly.

 What the man didn’t know was that it was the difficult process of working its way out of the cocoon that actually built up the moth’s wings so that it could fly and live a full life. When he “helped” the moth get out, he actually handicapped the moth and prevented it from reaching its potential.

 Don’t some parents do the same things to their children? It is painful to watch our children struggle through something, or experience challenges and obstacles, because we feel the pain too. Our “mom-nature” tends to want to make things easier for our kids, to do everything we can to prevent them from feeling disappointment, hurt, or failure. When we do that, though, we actually hinder them from becoming the person God intended them to be. It is through overcoming obstacles, learning from mistakes, and working hard to achieve things that our children actually develop the “wings” they need to fly.

 One of my favorite sayings is that we should prepare the child for the path, not prepare the path for the child. When we see things in their path ahead that will make their journey more difficult, do we run ahead of them and try to clear everything out of their way, or do we equip them with the character, work ethic, and skills that they will need to make it through the rough spots? When we allow our children to try new things, give them the freedom to fail, and learn from their mistakes, we help them develop courage and wisdom. When we allow our children to work through life's difficulties, experience the consequences of bad choices, and work toward goals, we help them develop perseverance and character. The truth is, when we do things for our children that they are developmentally and physically able to do on their own, we hinder their growth.
So now when you see a moth, let it be a reminder to avoid the temptation to remove all the pain and challenges from the life of your child.  Instead, walk alongside them, encourage them to do big things and dream big dreams, and be there for support through successes and failures as you watch them grow their wings in the midst of life's adversities.

God Bless!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Are You Over-Committed and Under-Connected?

Remember back when we were in school and we were around other girls our age all the time? Everyone had pretty much the same schedule, lived in the same area, and you had plenty in common?

Now we are wives and moms, and our priorities change: taking care of our kids and our families, working outside the home and inside the home, keeping appointments and running errands. Sometimes, friendships get put on the back-burner and sometimes they just fade away altogether. I want to encourage you and remind you to make the time and effort to MAKE and MAINTAIN meaningful, like-minded friendships, and invest in people.

What does this have to do with being a Legacy Mom? I believe that the best mom is a mom who is healthy in all areas: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The quality of friendships we have with other women is crucial to our success in many areas of our life. Think about back when women had to work together: harvesting, sewing, washing, caring for the children, etc. Women young and old would gather together and voice their frustrations, offer advice, and share laughs. They would realize that they were not alone in their struggles and concerns. In less-industrialized countries, where moms spend more time with other moms, there are fewer cases of post-partum depression.

Think about it - don’t you just instinctively know that you feel better after connecting with someone? Whether it be a new friend or an old one, don’t you just feel happier and more energetic after having a good time with some girlfriends? Believe it or not, that is not just a “feeling”. Research actually shows that friendships protect us from depression and anxiety. They help boost our immune system and our cardiovascular system. People who spend time with friends have better memory and sleep better at night.

Researchers and experts also say that moms who have a support group of other moms, who can share ideas, vent frustrations and compare notes can make a difference in each other’s lives and keep one another from feeling alone and overwhelmed. A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when women hang out with their girlfriends, they produce the hormone oxytocin, which actually acts to reduce everyday stress. The research suggests that investing time and energy into female friendships is a very simple and natural way to reduce stress.

We have more modern conveniences, more technology, more free time and “recreational activities” than women have ever had before in history. Moms these days are busier, yet more isolated, stressed, and lonelier than ever before. Why? We are just plain over-committed and under-connected.

When was the last time you met someone new and thought, “I really like her and I think we could be good friends?” Then you never took the initiative to get to know her? When was the last time you told a friend “We need to get together for coffee and catch up?” but didn’t schedule it and make it happen?

I am right there with you. One of my closest friends from college and I haven’t talked in years. We have been playing phone-tag for the last couple of weeks and discussed when we could set aside some time to talk. I think about it every day, and yet, I haven’t done it. Good intentions don’t count; it’s the actions that matter.

When I was a new mom an older mom told me that school years are the busiest and fastest of your life…boy was she right!

I believe that we all have the potential to fall into the trap of the treadmill. We get so caught up in our “daily schedules” that we miss the real important things: like connecting with other people. We schedule our days with things like hair and nail appointments, errands, working out, shopping, running kids to this class and that practice, and then find ourselves too “busy” to spend some quality time with a friend who may be going through a difficult time, or call an old friend, or get to know a neighbor and share our faith with them.

It’s not just when your kids are in school. We all know that season with a new baby. We can become all about that baby and can lose touch with others from the on-set of motherhood, then wonder why we feel so “disconnected.”

Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with getting your nails done, getting highlights, working out and shopping, but when you can’t visit a sick friend because you have a hair appointment, I think we need to ask ourselves where our priorities are. Life is about PEOPLE….not how many things we can check off our “to-do” list.

Connections and relationships are important.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

“Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth form each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

People should matter to us because they matter to God. God reaches people through relationships. God works on us and through us through our relationships with people.

Being over-committed and under-connected may make you super-efficient for the short-term, (you may “appear to be the super-mom” get a lot done on your to-do list, and may look like the super-volunteer who is on every committee and team mom and room mom) but in the long-term, you will be isolated and ineffective to really impact anyone for eternity and you may miss the blessings that God had for YOU through your meaningful connections with people instead of a superficial interaction as you rush to stay on schedule.

We as women have the capacity to be each other’s greatest allies and support system, if we are willing to get our priorities straight and get past the busyness and insecurities that keep us from reaching out and investing in people.

So don’t miss that blessing that God may have right in front of you today because you are too busy to notice it. Call that friend, give a kind word to the lady at the grocery store, invite that new girl over for coffee, and don’t let your need for having things done keep you from being available to do what God intended for you all along.

P.S. Can I just mention that Legacy Moms is a great place to meet and connect with other moms on a regular basis?

Now, I’m off to call my friend from college. : )



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Addressing Behavior Problems With Heart

Ask any mom and we can quickly identify a behavior that we would like to see improved in our children. For some moms, it’s just simply that we find a particular behavior annoying or challenging to deal with. Most of the time; however, we identify bad behavior and try to change it because we desperately want our kids to be “good kids” and we want our kids to grow up to be “good people.”

That is normal! I mean, we know that many undesirable behaviors that are left undisciplined can lead to bigger problems later on, right? We know that our child’s selfishness, rudeness, or lack of self-control could leave them vulnerable to making poor choices that will bring them pain later in life. That is a completely legitimate and honorable motive for changing your child's behavior.

Sometimes; though, if we really want to dig deep, we may find that we feel our child’s behavior reflects on us as a mom. It’s hard to admit, but we want to appear to have it all together so we focus on our child’s behavior because we don’t want them to embarrass us or make us look bad, and that can be a strong motivation to work on our child’s behavior.

Whatever our true motivation is, it is very common for us as mothers to get so caught up in our child’s outward actions that we find ourselves treating the symptom instead of the problem. If we want to train our children correctly, we must get to the heart of the matter, that is, our child’s heart. We need to find the source of the behavior and train that instead of treating the outward actions. In addition, we as moms need to learn to parent our children from our hearts, instead of just reacting to their outward behavior out of fear, fatigue, or frustration. It's really about being a proactive mom instead of a reactive one.

One of the biggest problems we face as Christian moms is that we work really hard at training and instructing our children about Godly character, but we don’t have a clearly defined goal for that training. We know we want our kids to know God and have good character, but we aren’t really sure what that is going to look like tangibly.

For example, when my daughter and her friends were about 11 years old they decided they wanted to make a dessert. They wanted it to be really good and taste like chocolate cake, but they didn’t have a recipe so they just threw in a lot of stuff that looked like it should be in chocolate cake: sugar, eggs, flour, and cocoa. Well, as you can imagine, just looking like they were doing all the right things did not result in a chocolate cake. It was funny looking and it tasted terrible, and they were disappointed that all their work resulted in a poor outcome.

It is much better to define your goal and then create a clear plan to achieve it. As parents, we must be intentional! Identify the character traits that your children need most and then work on those. Most of the time, you will find that many behavior problems you identify as consistent problems lead back to one or two main character issues that need to be addressed. Get to the heart of the matter and the outward behavior will change.

“A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”
Luke 6:45

Put all your heart into reaching their hearts. Your kids are worth it!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Who Is Cheering You On?

Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re like me, you have seasons where you are running through motherhood at a pretty good pace and feel optimistic about how things are going. Then other times, the race gets a bit treacherous, the obstacles are difficult, and it feels like you’re running uphill with no end in sight. In these moments, we sometimes start looking around and comparing ourselves to other moms in the race and we become our own worst enemies.

It is when we are barely trudging along, sweat pouring off, every muscle in our body hurting, looking like a mess and trying to fight through the pain, that we notice her: that perky, upbeat “perfect” mom that trots by without a hair out of place. To make it worse, she is pushing a jogging stroller with twins that are perfectly behaved and she waves as she passes us by. We convince ourselves that she has it all together and we are not equipped to be a good mom. We start feeling like failures.

This is when we need someone in the crowd to cheer us on and encourage us. We need someone on our sideline to remind us that perfection is an illusion; someone that wants us to stay the course and persevere.

Unfortunately, I know too many moms that line their paths with people that are not cheering them on, they are just dragging them down. The women in their life yell things from the sidelines like “You are just a mom, look at all you are missing in life.” They point their fingers and say, “Your kids are bad and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT” or “Things aren’t working out because you aren’t good enough.”

Who is in your cheering section? Do you even have one? Every mom needs like-minded friends and support from other moms to keep us on track and running the race.
Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

I often say there is no way to be a perfect mom, but there are a thousand ways to be a great one. A great mom runs hard after God and stays the course, but to be a great mom, you need other moms around you that are running after the same things. If you’re feeling discouraged, don’t give up! You can live a life of courage and faith and run the race with all you have. You can be the mom God has equipped you to be. God has plans for you and your family and He is in your cheering section, He is telling you that He picked you to be the mom of your kids for a divine purpose and you are equipped to do this. It's often said that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. He called you to run the race of motherhood with all you have. Are you listening to Him?

Go, mom, GO! You can do this! The finish line is closer than you think.