The Challenges of Parenting

Spread Kindness

I was not going to write about this topic today. The kids and I went on a fantastic hike earlier and I was inspired to write about so many different topics.

But then this happened.

Our neighbors left a snow blower on the side of the road and a lady stopped to take it. My husband was watching her and quickly realized that she was not going to be able to lift the snow blower into her vehicle. So he grabbed my son and they both ran out to offer assistance.

My husband did not do this to be acknowledged, but the truth is he does things like this all of the time that no one knows about. But God sees it all.

Spreading kindness is such a simple thing and in this world that is full of horrible news, we need to be reminded of the good that is still in this world. There are still men of integrity and honor out there, men who are leading their sons through their godly example. There are young men growing up knowing that they need to respect women and value them. They are learning to live unselfishly and sacrificially, because they have men pointing them to the example of Jesus.

As women, we don’t need to diminish men in order to feel like we are equals. Instead, we need to celebrate the men who are honorable and humble and kind. We need to value them and then we get to be the incredibly blessed recipients of their kindness and love.

We heard “Revolutionary” by Josh Wilson on the radio today and I think it’s a message that we all need to hear:

Why does kindness seem revolutionary?
When did we let hate get so ordinary?
Let’s turn it around, flip the script
Judge slow, love quick
God help us get revolutionary!

Let’s get revolutionary. Let’s spread kindness!

Smile More

I think we can all agree that 2020 was not the greatest year, but when we look back on difficult times, it’s important to look for the great moments too.

We are now experiencing all of the one year anniversaries of events that happened during a global shutdown. Perhaps these anniversaries are bringing up some painful memories that you would rather not revisit. I know this is true for me.

So today, let’s celebrate the moments that made us smile. What were the best things that happened to you this past year?

Here are my Top Ten Favorite Moments Since the World Shut Down:

  1. Movie Marathons with my Family- we watched the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, the “Harry Potter” series, the entire “Star Wars” saga, the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy and many others. It was a time when we needed an escape and I’m glad we made those memories together.
  2. Epic Game Nights- we have friends who love games and are introducing new ones to us all the time. We learned to play “Love Letter” this past year and it is a new family favorite.
  3. Trips to the Beach- Living next to one of the Great Lakes was a huge blessing during the Pandemic. There was always a beautiful place to just go and be. In our most anxious times, we would go to the beach and allow the beauty to flood our souls.
  4. Driver’s License Test- Our oldest was ready to get her driver’s license before everything shut down, but we hadn’t scheduled her road test. The result was that by the time she was able to take her test, she was MORE than ready. There was no stress and she was more comfortable behind the wheel then she ever could have imagined.
  5. Trips to church camp- my teenagers were excited to be on staff at a Christian camp last summer, so when things shut down, they were deeply disappointed. However, Camp Hickory Hill went above and beyond to have family camps and special camp days that still met the requirements. We were able to attend a pastor’s family camp and it was exactly what we all needed. The friendships my kids have made as a result of camp have been an amazing blessing to them.
  6. Reading- Sheltering in place gave us ample time to read, so read we did! I don’t have a final count of how many books I read in 2020- I lost track- but it was a lot. I love getting lost in a book!
  7. Music- There were times last year when I felt like I was drowning. When I couldn’t get to the beach, I would listen to music. I found two YouTube channels that I would listen to frequently- Sounds Like Reign/Tiny Notes from Home and Jonathan Ogden/Rivers and Robots. I listened and watched and was encouraged and challenged. I’m no longer in that desperate place, but these channels became the soundtrack for making it through dark days. I’m forever grateful!
  8. Trip to the Adirondacks- Our friends have a home on a lake and it has become one of our favorite spots on earth! We have now been there three times and each time has given us an opportunity to enjoy time with friends and family, explore beautiful places and make unforgettable memories. My happy place!
  9. Trip to Pennsylvania- This memory brings its own grief and sadness, but also joy. My Mom went home to be with Jesus in October. She had been suffering for a long time and was so ready to go, but I’m not sure you can ever be ready to lose a parent. The remarkable thing was that all of us- her three daughters and sons-in-law and all of her grandkids- were able to come together and celebrate her life. THIS was an incredible blessing in the middle of the worst year ever. She would have been so pleased.
  10. Journaling and Reading Scripture- This became an absolute lifeline for me! I’ve shared this before, but there is nothing like the Word of God to help you fix your eyes firmly on Jesus. And nothing can lift you out of despair like He does! I knew this was true, but now, I REALLY know it. All else will fail, but He never will!

As you reflect on 2020, what makes YOU smile? I pray that the Lord will help you to keep your focus on the blessings. We need to learn from the difficulties, but I don’t believe we are meant to dwell there.

Smile more!

Glimpses

Do you ever have one of those days where everything seems right in the world?

I had one of those kinds of days today and it was a reminder to me that God isn’t done writing my story. He keeps giving me glimpses of his beauty and his perfection. In the squish of homemade playdough through tiny hands. In the laughter of friends. In the rejoicing of cancer-free news. In the preaching of God’s Word. In the voices lifted in praise. In sharing a meal with friends. In the warmth of the sun on my uplifted face. In the late afternoon rain shower that produced the loveliest of rainbows.

Glimpses of his goodness. Evidence that he has not forgotten me. Reminders that he is putting me back together again.

I hope you are seeing those glimpses today too.

There were days during this past year when I thought I would never have a day like this again. But I now realize how true it is that God does not take us into a dark valley and leave us there. No! He walks with us through it, leading us, guiding us, loving us.

Keep looking for those glimpses of his goodness. They are there. And one day, he will remind you that you made it through and he never left you.

 

Value Others Above Yourselves

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~Philippians 2:1-4

A strange shift has been going on for quite some time in Christian culture, a shift that seems to be moving towards acceptance of the logic of the world. It has become acceptable and even applauded when we treat others poorly if we don’t agree with them. I think that the pandemic and the gaping political chasm has only magnified a problem that was already there.

We are a people who like to be right and we don’t like it when others don’t agree with us. And so we justify our poor treatment of others by saying that it’s our integrity that keeps us from being kind. We lived in peace and unity until we discovered that the person sitting at the other end of the pew actually has a different political opinion than ours. We “write off” people who don’t agree with us. We demean those who have different perspectives. We condemn and berate and slander with ease.

How did this happen?

I think it started when we started thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. We became proud of our ability to discern the state of someone’s heart. We gained followers when we were bold. Others looked up to us when we were able to speak with the tongues of men and of angels.

We forgot to love.

Oh, Christian friends! We’re missing it. When we argue with others in the same way the world argues, we’re missing it. When we put some down, even with the right desire to build others up, we’re missing it. When we sit in the seats of the scoffer, we’re missing it.

This doesn’t mean that there is never a place for challenging others or for disagreements. But how we do it and when we do it speaks volumes. If we do it without love, we become a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

Could you imagine what would happen if everyone would value others as better than themselves? We would no longer need to fight against injustices, because there wouldn’t be any. We wouldn’t have racial, political or socioeconomic divides. We wouldn’t have mass shootings. We wouldn’t have sibling rivalry or bullying. We would no longer judge others based on assumptions or hearsay, but only on truth and in grace.

If you claim to be a Christ-follower, than it starts with you. And it starts with me.

Value others above yourself.

 

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