Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Fasting from activity February 22, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:49 am

Productivity. It’s one of my greatest strengths and weaknesses.  I’m someone who can and likes to get a great deal done in a relatively short amount of time.  Strength and, as I say, weakness. Examples: I type super fast but do so by attacking my keyboard and thus have carpal tunnel syndrome. I can knock out three errands in an hour (without the kids of course!) but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to go back for my sunglasses. You get the idea. I have a hard time slowing myself down, and I burn myself out without even realizing it. 

A few years ago when I was feeling particularly overloaded, I took an activities fast that was the perfect exercise for me to step back, pray, reflect, and regroup. It was a wonderful and fruitful time for me.  Here’s some of what I wrote about the fast a few months later:

“Why was I addicted to over-scheduling my life and taxing myself so heavily? What was driving me? How could I stop? I didn’t know the answers but I knew that God had the answers. (more…)

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The new career February 19, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:34 am

Within the past five days I have done the following: misplaced my keys at least twice. Left the stovetop burner on when we went to pick up our minivan at the mechanic. Left the light on in said minivan overnight, killing my battery. Forgotten I’d left my dog out in our backyard for long enough that he ransacked the chicken coop and ate enough to send him to the emergency vet. Not my best week.

After the van light incident I thought to myself: “Wow, I’m really not staying on top of things. Feels like this has been happening increasingly since baby #3 came along.”  The dog incident clinched the deal. Overload.

Today I was talking with a dear friend whose three kids are about the same spread as mine and she was commiserating with me and the balls being dropped. Each of us knows that what we’re going through is normal for our stage and that many other moms share our plight; each realizes that both healthy doses of grace and also intentionality to improve are required. But this is what she said that I’ve been mulling over all day: “We’ve made a full-on career change in the past few years, and the learning curve for the new job is high.” 

She was completely right. I spent nearly a decade amassing and polishing my skills as a consultant; I know how to do that job well.  I’m good at it.  Going from consulant to homemaker/mom is something like going from engineer to nurse… not a lot of overlap.  And in my new career as mother/homemaker, I’m a rookie and it shows. I’m learning how to mealplan and cook, learning how to keep house, learning how to organize life for a family of five, learning how to parent kids at various stages simultaneously, learning to prioritize and multi-task in these capacities.  It’s intense; it can be grueling. Doing it well will take a lot of practice and I haven’t had all that much yet. It’s a learn-as-you-go endeavor with no option to fast-track straight to seasoned pro.

Ironically the Bible verse the kids and I are memorizing this month is about working hard (one can imagine the applicability of such a verse for a four-year old known to, at times, complain).  The verse is this out of Proverbs: “Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table.” Perfect.  In the midst of my career change, I can rest assured that God will see to it that the work I spend developing my new career skills won’t go to waste.

 

Playing the hand you’re dealt February 12, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Education,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:43 pm

For the past five months our four-year old son has attended a preschool that we like and he greatly enjoys… but yesterday was his last day.  It’s been a tough month for my husband and me as we’ve waded through how to respond to challenges stemming from our son’s attending this sweet school.  After a great fall, significant behavior issues abruptly emerged in December, and he started acting and displaying attitudes that were contrary to our household norms and his prior behavior. A sudden onslaught of defiance, meanness, rudeness, and other issues took over and quickly met us with alarming regularity.  We met with the lovely teacher; we analyzed every angle; we assessed the situation for weeks; we attempted a variety of responses to his numerous misbehaviors (occurring only at home) to try mitigating them. We loved the preschool and his experiences there and wanted to make it work out. And we hated the idea of disrupting things by stopping the experience for our son before year-end. (more…)

 

Blogging on blogging February 8, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:53 pm

Lately I’ve been kicking around some thoughts about my involvement in the blogging world. I’ve been reading blogs regularly since late 2008 and blogging here for almost a year; the blogosphere has been a gift to me  and my family in many ways. Today I have the honor of being the featured mama for “Mama Monday” over at the Flourishing Mother  (one of my favorite blogs), so I thought I’d jot some blog-related thoughts here.  Current top 7 thoughts on blogging:

1. I read blogs for vision, inspiration, and practical ideas in life and mothering.  The bloggers I follow lift my eyes from myself, speak into my heart, and foster thankfulness in me.  Several bloggers (Andrea of the Flourishing Mother is one) feel like e-mentors to me. If I run into a parenting challenge or seek inspiration, I’ll search these mamas’ blogs to gain perspective and/or wisdom.

2. My Google reader is my friend and makes following blogs easier and less overwhelming. I don’t read blogs any other way.

3. I choose blogs carefully and don’t follow too many.  When I find a blog I think I like, I add it to my reader with a ‘trial’ mindset and follow it for a few weeks.  If I find myself unenthusiastic about reading new posts, I unsubscribe. No guilt!  Time is precious. I try to choose wisely, and I even pray through which blogs I should follow.  

4. I almost never follow blogs that post daily. It’s too much content for me and works against my efforts to discipline myself in time online.

5. I aim to limit my blog reading to two to three times per week for no longer than 20 ish minutes at a time.  More than that and I find that I a) feel overwhelmed, b) get addicted, and/or c) see a spike in feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or e-jealousy (or any combination of those three!).

6. Akin to #5, my mantra is “books more than blogs.” Blogs are helpful and important to my life, but books – their weight, their permanence , the quiet they speak through their pages – are more important. I try to make sure that my time goes first to books (with the Bible of course being the most important).

7.  Before I write a post, I avoid reading others’ blogs and pray through my topic and thoughts, that I would honor God and He’d use the time and effort to bless me (and others as He chooses).  I’m learning to give over the words, their reach, and “what happens to them afterwards” to Him. 

Any blog-related guidelines you follow? Related thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

 

Sheltering from vs. engaging with the world: the tension February 7, 2010

Filed under: Books,Culture — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:16 pm

I’ve been mulling over two quotes of late. One speaks to the need to protect our children from negative influences; the other speaks to the need not to shelter our children from the world.  At first glance they seem almost to contradict each other… except that (as I see it), they’re both true.

1) “You can do everything I recommend in this book and still lose your children to the world. How? By not separating them from wrong influences until they are very mature in their training and faith. (I believe this maturity comes far more slowly than most parents assume.)  …When you allow your children to be exposed to questionable outside influences, you are only pushing them into the arms of a second master. Considering the many exciting temptations the world has to offer, it is unlikely that their loyalty will remain with you.” (Elizabeth Krueger, Raising Godly Tomatoes)

2) “We are to be the steady glow that helps the lost people around us find their way out of darkness. When families are committed to being this light, they are inclined to live more intimately for Christ… Somewhere in all the talk about raising kids, we moved away from this as a priority in our parenting…  A family is, without doubt, the most effective vehicle to produce the kind of people who can move confidently into the adult world and have a redemptive impact on their culture – that’s what we are supposed to be doing. So why aren’t we?… I think fear is what motivates so much of the Christian parenting advice we get.” (Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting) (more…)

 

A mother’s celebration February 6, 2010

Filed under: Holidays,Prayer,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:34 am

It’s 5:15 Friday and pouring rain at the end of a wearying week. Your husband calls to say he’ll be home late.

Has he ordered the dinner you’d discussed?  Whoops, no… But he will.  Tack on another 15 minutes.

The kids, housebound all day, weary of Leggos; the bickering begins. The baby wakes crying. On goes the TV… hate doing that at 5:30, but today it’s a must.

When Dad walks in at 6:05, he missed your message and hasn’t picked up the mail. As you’re feeding the baby, your potty-training toddler wets herself for the second time in an hour. You plunk next to her on the potty, coaxing her to go.

It’s 45 minutes past normal dinner time. The kids are excited but overtired; the table’s not set. The cupcakes, waiting for assistance from Daddy, haven’t been iced. The infernal sink is again cluttered with bottles and sippy cups.

At dinner your daughter spills her milk on the floor and refuses, in typical fashion, to eat. Plates cleared, you find cocoa for the frosting detail while you clean the kitchen for the fifteenth time.  Where are the candles Mom? 

The table still smeared with chocolate, your son bonks his elbow and starts to cry.  You duck into the stairway as tears prick your own eyes. Thank you Jesus for my children, for the gifts they are to me. Thank you for my husband who’s exhausted and trying his best.

Make the prayer enough, God; change my heart. “It’s better to serve than to be served.” Make it real Lord… Convert it from theory to truth.  Give me thankfulness.

O God, whose own Birthday was humility incarnate, sanctify me today. What better gift could You give than using today to make me more like You?