Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Correction within the “Gospel bubble” April 30, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Correction,Sibling interactions,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:59 am

This morning my kids and I visited a friend and her 4- and 6-year old sons.  For the past week plus, our two oldest (4 1/2 and 2 1/2) have been going through a rough patch- one of those when you wonder, “Is there something in the water?  What the heck is going on here?”  Both have struggled with unusual moodiness, defiance, and difficulty holding it together over even minor issues.  Sometimes kids just hit seasons like this for no clear reason and you just have to work with them patiently and help them ride it out. But it sure can make for taxing, head-scratching, prayerful seasons for the mom!

Before we arrived at my friend’s house, I talked with the kids about how we behave – polite to our hosts, kind to each other, share, etc. Fine. In we went, and within the first 10 minutes both behaved terribly. They fought over the same toy, displaying some of the grabbiest and rudest behavior I’ve seen. Nor were they receptive to my correction or direction to amend their ways. I was sorely vexed. Some of my annoyance no doubt stemmed from the fact that this was our first visit to these friends’ house and my kids’ behavior painted us all in a poor light (a good humility lesson for me); a bigger part was sheer discouragement – feeling like our childrearing efforts were pointless. I mean, why bother pouring into children at home and training them intentionally if they are going to act this way when we go out? Things did improve somewhat and we had a nice time, but other episodes of whining and disobedience occurred and my son left reluctantly in a pouty and less than polite manner. Among outings of this type, it was a low point. (more…)


I love iTeaching April 26, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Communication and speech,Culture,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:55 am

Among the “top five items I love:” my iPod.  But not for the reason you might think.  Sure, I like my music and enjoy my playlists… But the real gold for me is the podcasts. Early in 2007 I started listening to sermons regularly, and it’s one of the best things habits I’ve ever picked up.  Particularly because I’m an audial learner, it’s hard to describe how much knowledge and wisdom I’ve gleaned through listening regularly to teaching this way. It’s been a lifeline.

In my mind, teaching-via-iPod seems well suited to the life as a mother of young ones – who get short, often unpredictable spurts of time here and there that might be put to intellectual use.  I listen primarily while I’m washing up the dishes as my husband’s getting the kids into their PJ’s. Sometimes when I’m doing housekeeping work by myself (not too often) or exercising.  Occasionally when I’m alone in the car for a stretch – picking someone up from the airport or running errands solo.  Redeeming the time, whenever possible, by plugging my brain into the teaching of God’s word, refreshing me and providing direction all in one go.  Load ’em on; listen; unload.  Podcasts refresh where you last stop them, so when I stop halfway through, I can pick up right where I left off next time.  It’s one of my favorite things about modern technology. (My “pro” column in this arena is frankly rather short, so I’m glad to be able to be able to pony up a positive that I can heartily endorse.) (more…)


The junk and what to do with it April 20, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture,Emotions,Fear,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:22 pm

I’m not a big TV-watcher; my normal repertoire consists of political news and a couple prime-time shows my husband and I watch together.  One show I do enjoy is TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”  Anyone seen it?  Each episode follows an individual who over-collects stuff and ends up with an insanely full, cluttered house.  My husband, who finds the show depressing (and justifiably so), teases me for liking it. Which made me wonder: “Why do I like this show?”

Here’s what I came up with: I like “Hoarders” because it takes a common human problem and illustrates it in a visible, material way.  What problem?  Accumulating baggage, piling it up, ignoring it, and carrying on with life as if it weren’t there.  As if we can simultaneously hold onto all our junk and continue living a productive, focused, healthy life.  (more…)


Helping kids learn to rely on God April 14, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Communication and speech,Fear — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:18 pm

Lately our 4-year old has been having the occasional bad dream, and the other day he told me he’s afraid of the dark because something unseen – “wolves or bad guys” – could come for him.  He made the comment in passing; his fear is nothing debilitating – easily assuaged by his two nightlights- and doesn’t interfere with his night sleep.  Fear of the dark seems to me to be, at some level, a rite of passage that most every young child goes through at some stage.  The next part of the conversation was most important to me:

Me: “You know what you can do that helps the most if you’re ever afraid at night, don’t you?”

Him: “Yes, pray to God. But I don’t do that.”

Me: “Why not?”

Him: “Because I think I should be able to do it by myself. I don’t need God to help me.”

Here we go, I thought to myself.  He’s four years old and yet a perfect specimen of one of the most monumental human struggles: reliance on self instead of reliance on God.  “Of course God could help me,” we think. “Of course I could ask him. But I should able to do take care of this sort of thing on my own. God’s a last resort (or for the weak).”  How many grown men and women has Satan taken down with that lie?  Evidently it’s not taught but bred right into our hearts… it comes with the territory of being human.  It’s part of the curse.  As is the enormous rift between knowing what we could (or should) do and actually doing it.  Not the same at all. (more…)


What? Day of Rest? April 11, 2010

Filed under: Books,Culture,For moms,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:13 pm

Imagine a day with no cooking, no dishes to wash, no laundry.  A day where your to-do list is hidden from sight and productivity is forbidden.  A bubblebath… maybe a cup of tea.  A leisurely stroll with your family.  Sounds heavenly, right? And hopelessly unrealistic? Now imagine that you had this day happened frequently.  In fact, that this day was a norm in your life – that 15% of your days were this day.  What would that feel like – for your outlook, your sanity?

Why hello Sabbath. Nice to meet you.

If anyone needs to be re-acquainted with the notion of “Sabbath rest,” it’s us moms who stay at home with young children.  I mean really, can you think of a job that’s more 24-7 than a mother to preschoolers?  But there are two problems (maybe more, but these are the big two I face): 1) few people take the idea of “resting on the Sabbath” seriously anymore, even among believing Christians, and 2) the job doesn’t stop on th seventh day. Heck, it doesn’t stop ever.  Kids still need to be fed, clothed, changed, cleaned-up after, loved, played with, monitored, and disciplined.  Why even bother thinking about a Sabbath in the midst of all that?

Lately it’s been occurring to me that the very”24-7 ness” of mothering young children is the reason that obeying God’s command to “rest on the seventh day” is more important than ever.  Burnout is extremely like in our jobs as mothers to little ones, given the constant demands on our time and attention; without a discipline of regular rest, it’s basically inevitable. (more…)


Of earthquakes, fear, and Mary April 5, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Fear,For moms,Holidays,Mary — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:26 am

It’s Easter, and we had an earthquake here this afternoon – a tremor so subtle that it we weren’t sure at first that that’s what it was.  We all just felt a touch dizzy, standing on the sidewalk, and then my husband realized that the cars were shaking a little.  Nothing too unusual for southern California.  Easter afternoon, though.  Could there be a more fitting time for an earthquake?  When the life finally ebbed out of Jesus, hanging on the cross on the first Good Friday, “the earth shook;” then again on the third day, there was a “violent earthquake (when) an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.”  So the quake today was really fitting.

An earthquake can be a pretty scary thing; I’m sure if I’d been present for one the first Easter quakes – much more dramatic than our little rumble today – I’d have been petrified.  The soldiers standing guard at the tomb clearly were, as they evidently fainted.  Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene, also present at the time, must have been terrified too, because the angel’s first words to them were: “Do not be afraid.”  Whether their fear stemmed primarily from the earthquake, the angel, or the absence of Jesus’ body in the tomb – who can say?  All three rolled together, no doubt. (more…)


The 4-year old theologian April 1, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Books,Culture,Holidays — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:01 am

As we approach Easter and spend a good bit of time each day talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection, our four-year old son has had some pretty deep questions about God. For example:

“Mommy, why are there two Gods?  Jesus and also the God up in heaven?”

“What do you mean, that the men who killed Jesus were wrong?  You mean grown-ups do wrong thing too?”

“What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? Why did He have to die for them?”

So this week we’ve been having conversations about the triune nature of God, the evil inherent in all human hearts (adults as much as kids!), and the atonement for sins.  Not quite in those words… but still, pretty heavy stuff for a four-year old. (more…)