Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isa 43:19) September 29, 2011

Filed under: Blogging — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:34 am

Lately I’ve been reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, a fruitful read. She writes:

“(Writing) is life at its most free…, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself… The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world , that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever…

A shoe salesman – who is doing others’ tasks, who must answer to two or three bosses, who must do his job their way-is nevertheless working usefully. Further, if the shoe salesman fails to apear one morning, someone will notice and miss him. Your manuscript, on which you lavish such care, has no needs or wishes. Nor does anyone need your manuscript; everyone needs shoes more. There are many manuscripts already – worthy ones, edifying and moving ones, intelligent and powerful ones.”

Indeed. And if there are many manuscripts out there, how many more blogs are out there in the world today? Somewhere upwards of 133 million, evidently. It’s insane. The world is flooded to choking with blogs, and we all need shoes more.

And yet I blog. I’ve been blogging here now for well over two years, and on I go. Thousands of Christian moms blog on parenting, and oodles of them do it way better than me. But after wondering about it and praying through what the heck I’m doing here exactly, and if it’s worth it (1 woman among 133 million), I’m still here. God’s given me ideas and the words to express them, and I’m a better person and mom when I do that. Truth crystalizes at the keyboard. The blurry comes into focus. It’s how He made me and a huge part of how He shows up in my life, so on I go.

The surprising part is the New Beginning part. After blogging here for two plus years about the young lives that reside here – new beginnings in the form of our four sweet faces – the blog itself is getting ready for a new beginning. I wasn’t looking for that and didn’t expect it, most of all in a season of having just added a fourth child and a homeschooled kid to the mix. But our God is a surprising God at times, isn’t He? And He’s been pretty clear about this, so off I go. New name, new look, new level of web-engagement, searchability, and potential exposure… Though same topics, same tone, same me. It’s a bit exciting, to be honest.

So here’s to a different kind of new life being born within the next week or two. Kind of interested to see where God might go with this in His time. I sure hope you’ll come with me to find out.

 

In search of the gentle mom September 19, 2011

Filed under: For moms,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 7:25 pm

Last month, a friend and I communicated about her tendencies toward being a pushover and my tendencies toward being, how did she put it?, “overly confident.” Indeed, I have a fairly strong personality, I can be pretty intense, and yes, I can come across as overly confident. In an email I wrote her, I said: “I come by a domineering spirit honestly – all my family members are prone to it in one way or another – and find that gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit I tend to most lack and need to pray for God to grow in me.”

And that’s the truth. I wish I were a more naturally gentle person. And I wish I were more gentle with my children in my mothering. Don’t get me wrong, I have my gentle moments, and there are lovely quiet, warming moments that my kids and I do share. Moments in which I am (as dictionary.com states) “kindly, amiable, not severe or rough.” They just aren’t as plentiful as I’d like, not by any stretch.

Two verses jump to mind when it comes to gentleness: (more…)

 

Celebrating the kindness of children September 16, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Sibling interactions,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:50 am

Tonight we held our long-awaited Kindness Celebration. After two months of recording small acts of kindness that the children display on our large, posted, gangly Kindness Chart, the butcher block paper was finally full so we threw ourselves a little party to celebrate. The kids were beyond ecstatic, having asked about it for days now — “Is the list long enough yet? Can we have our Kindness Celebration now?”

The format was simple. Here’s what we did:

–Announce the pending Kindness Celebration, suggesting a trip to the store to pick out all the ingredients for custom-made ice cream sundaes. Rousing approval of that notion.

–Spend all of dinner talking about what kind of sundaes everyone was going to have. In between, read the first half of the items on the list, praising the kindness of the do-er in each case. Review our kindness Bible verse: “God our Father is kind; you be kind!” (Luke 6:35, The Message)

–Go to the store, bring the ingredients home, and make the sundaes

–Read the second half of the items on the Kindness Chart aloud, again praising the kindnesses shown.

–Allow each child to share which kindness documented on the list s/he most enjoyed doing. Then allow each child to share which kindness s/he most enjoyed receiving. Finish by having everyone at the table recite the Bible verse together.

It was almost startling to see how exuberant the children were about the party and every little part of it. They adored it. And when we read the recorded kindness that they’d done, they both beamed in turn. And beamed again. And again. Our son, almost 6, actually said at one point: “It made me feel so good when you read that, I think I grew four inches!” (Clearly he got that line from a book. But still, it was adorable, and telling.)

We all know that positive reinforcement is important, and most of us have heard that it takes seven spoken praises to balance out on spoken criticism. But this exercise was an amazing opportunity to remember and specifically call out right actions performed by our children and actually celebrate them. To encourage the good and selfless moments that take place in sibling interactions, seldom though they may be in a given day. It was a chance to reinforce the good my husband and I see in our children, and to make a big deal about it. It was a perfect example of the kind of “building others up” that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:29. Our kids were very built up by our little party and its events. And it gave them a chance to actually experience how good it can feel to do kind things for other people – not just in the doing of the kindnesses, but in the remembering of them.

This project was such a success that I’m contemplating covering several of the fruits of the spirit in this manner. Up next will, I think, be self-control as that is one area that our kids could use a lot of work. Stay tuned for more.

 

Helping kids build a good reputation September 12, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture,Education — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:33 pm

I was thinking this morning about reputations, and the importance of having a good one. This came to mind for two reasons. First: I’m using a new babysitter this morning for the first time. And second: it’s my son’s first day of (a type of) school. And in both cases, the concept of reputation comes into play in a big way.

This year my son is participating in a Christian homeschool academy called Artios that meets every Monday morning from 8:45 to 12. This morning was his first day of school, and he was excited and nervous, as every kid is on that auspicious occasion. As we were driving up in the car, we talked through the school’s rules again and reviewed the kind of student he needs to be. Attentive, polite, respectful, obedient, etc. “Is it ok to be mean to other kids or to tease people?” I asked him. “What if the teacher tells you to do something you don’t want to do?” And the like. Surprisingly, he was very interested in this and wanted to ensure that there were no other rules he needed to know that we hadn’t covered. We talked about the importance of timeliness, and I assured him that I’d see to it that we arrive on time – despite traffic – because yes, being on time matters. When I pick him up afterwards and we debrief the morning, I will ask him about these things as part of the conversation.

A reputation, I was thinking as he and I talked, is built on such things as these. You behave righteously because God calls us to do so, not because you want to impress other people, but the impression you give to other people also matters. Because how you behave reveals the kind of person you are: polite or rude, obedient or defiant, attentive or spacey, timely or late, rowdy or calm, dependable or flaky. Is my kid viewed as a positive influence on people or a negative? The fact is that course of a person’s life is, to a real degree, shaped by the character traits he displays to the world. When a person hears my son’s name, what impression of him will come to mind?  (more…)