Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Long parenting in a Christ-ward direction July 17, 2011

Filed under: Books,Parenting,Prayer,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:20 pm

Eugene Peterson has a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, whose basic premise is that becoming a disciple of Jesus is life-long pursuit rather than an instant gratification-style effort. Lately the title has been coming to mind as I pray into some of our parenting efforts for our four kids.

Somehow I had internalized the notion that, if my husband and I persevered in correcting  misbehavior consistently and well, my children’s misbehavior would diminish to virtually nothing, and peace would reign in our household.  Many childrearing books I’ve read indicate that this is exactly what should happen if the parents are consistent, fair, loving, and firm. And there’s truth in this…  Loving and firm parenting is necessary and does produce fruit – in children’s heart and behavior, and in the household overall. But I think it’s only partially true. Some misbehaviors and bad attitudes are tied to character issues that children will possess and struggle with for their whole lives, and extinguishing them – even through the best parenting techniques – just ain’t in the cards.

The effect of believing that issues should become very minimal or disappear if correct parenting techniques are consistently  applied can bring frustration and disillusionment to moms. This was true for me. Because some issues in my kids – some pretty big ones – have endured for a long time with very little improvement. The question, “What am I doing wrong?” has cropped up in my mind dozens of times. If it’s true that my intentional and consistent training toward those challenges should shrink them to near nothing, then I’m failing. (more…)


Taking a lesson from my toddler May 18, 2011

Filed under: Prayer,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:15 am

She surveys the room and seems to observe that its occupants are all moms holding their babies, and she surprises me by climbing into my lap. We’re at a breastfeeding support group – my toddler daughter, my infant daughter, and I – so I can weigh my wee one to ensure she’s reversed the weight loss trend that comes with my low milk supply. I’m resting my seven-pound bundle against my shoulder when my toddler takes note of my folded legs and positions herself on top of them. At 20 months, she is the height of independence and a can-do spirit; she is the farthest thing from a mama’s girl. I can’t think of a time she’s climbed into my lap on the floor, and I’m touched by it. She sits, watching and listening, for the few minutes we’re there, good as gold.

Again yesterday, when her big siblings were participating in a music circle at our preschool co-op, she climbed into my lap as I sat on the floor behind them, baby bouncing on my shoulder. She seemed cosy there and content, watching the bigger kids do their thing with the teacher. Again I relished the moment to house her there on my legs, surprised at her wish to nestle quietly there for a few minutes. Taking a break, it seemed, from the ongoing exploring that is her norm. A touchpoint with mom; a nestled rest; a place to sit and observe.

These moments with my sweet girl bless me. The positioning is awkward – balancing my newborn on my shoulder while I steady my toddler on my legs, making sure she doesn’t knock the baby with her head. But I’m touched that she wants to sit with me – on me, even. I love that she wants to be there – that plunking herself down with me appeals to her. How little I expect her to want that makes it all the more pleasing.

And I think of the Father, sitting with an open lap, and how much He must love it when I stop and rest there — slowing down long enough to be with Him, no good reason, just watching the world go by. Companionship there, just taking comfort from being with Him… the quiet delight He must feel. A good portion of prayer, perhaps, is just quiet communing. “He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love.” (Zephaniah 3:17)


Kids, conscience, and the forgiveness of Christ April 12, 2011

Filed under: Communication and speech,Correction,Prayer,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:02 pm

Our 5-year old seems to have begun a new phase: the apparent growth of his conscience. In recent weeks he’s become uncharacteristically concerned about his misbehavior, even to the point of self-condemnation. It’s nothing we’ve ever seen in him before.

Example: he and his 3-year old sister squabble over a toy. He grabs for it, yells at her, and pushes her roughly. I intervene and correct him, and – when he throws himself on the floor in protest over the unfairness of it all – send him to his room for a minute to cool off. When I meet him there he is near tears: “I’m always doing wrong things. I do the most wrong things of anyone in the world!”

The first few times he expressed these types of feelings, I told him that we all do wrong things, explained temptation, and said one key is to pray to God for strength to do something different just as he’s about to sin. “God’s the one who gives us the strength not to do wrong things; He helps us and gives us self-control,” I told him. He accepted this; we prayed together. Similar scenes of him coming undone over his wrong actions occurred. Typically during the misbehavior phase he’d be defiant and naughty; it wasn’t till afterwards that he’d morosely express his sense that he was a boy filled with wrong-doing. (more…)


Thanksgiving prayer November 25, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Mothering role,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:06 pm

For the life you’ve given with all its joys and gifts, for my blessed, God-given portion and cup, I thank Thee, Lord.

For a loving husband who fathers his children so well and tenderly, I thank Thee Lord.

For three ruddy children, the life and joy they bring to our home each day, I thank Thee Lord.

For a sweet babe kicking in my womb, this new life You’ve created who’s yet to be born, I thank Thee Lord.

For work to do and strength and health to do it each day, I thank Thee Lord.

For hearth and food, clothes and books – the abundance of our daily blessings – I thank Thee Lord.

For a pondering heart and a ready writer’s hand and pen, I thank Thee Lord.

Most and best: for Jesus Christ, the Sun shining on each day without Whom all would be lost, I thank Thee Lord.


Sacrificing “thank offerings” for our children October 31, 2010

Filed under: Emotions,Materialism and entitlement,Mothering role,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:17 pm

I’m four months pregnant with our fourth child (not sure I’ve mentioned that yet, but if I haven’t you won’t be too surprised if you’re a regular reader here), and lately I battle a fair bit of fatigue.  I slept terribly on Friday night and yesterday woke up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  It had been a long week, and as hunting season just started my husband was out for the morning, so I was on my own with the three kids.  That plus preparing for a full weekend – Halloween today and our eldest’s fifth birthday on Monday – and I was a crank.

The two bigger kids bickered considerably throughout the morning,the baby refused her morning nap, and when my husband returned I begged off our son’s 11 AM soccer game (he took all the kids) so I could go back to bed.  As I lay down I felt God prodding me.  All I wanted to do was crumple into a heap of  moodiness and slumber.  But, as God pointed out, I was riddled with thanklessness.  In my mind I was rehearsing all the frustrating things about my life and home and family, feeling completely sorry for myself, when in reality He has given me blessing upon blessing.  Here it was, the five-year anniversary of my becoming a mother, and all I could do was internally whine. (more…)


Reminded to treasure my children July 27, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:53 pm

Yesterday I called 911 for the first time.  I let the kids each pick a treat out of their ‘birthday party stash’ – the candy that had come out of a pinata at a friend’s birthday party.  My 4 1/2-year old chose a small piece of hard candy; when he asked how to eat it I told him it was like a lollipop but without a stick. Two minutes later he was choking – able to cough but not to speak, panic in his eyes as I gave him back blows and encouraged him to breathe through his nose. I called 911 as soon as the first couple blows didn’t work… and was on the phone with dispatch when he succeeded in coughing the candy into his mouth (at which point I called it off, sat with him as our adrenaline pumped, and prayed thanks to God for bringing him through it to safety.).  I’ve never been so relieved in my years as a mother as I was at that moment.  It was the first time that I truly felt crisis set in… that things could go terribly wrong right there in my kitchen with my little boy in my arms.

As I’ve reflected on that moment over the past 24 hours, I’ve thought about how the moment was for me a tangible instance of the visible and invisible worlds coming together.  It was an intersection between the what-is and the what-could-be, the possibility of a life-and-death moment.  The here-and-now and eternity seemed to meet in that moment. (more…)


Parenting with full surrender and trust in God July 18, 2010

Filed under: Fear,For moms,Parenting,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:31 pm

There’s a large, vibrant church in our community called Jesus is Reality that I’ve often heard about; you see bumper stickers all over town that simply say: “reality.”  The lead pastor, Britt Merrick, is a 30-something guy from a serious surfing family and apparently an amazing teacher.  Last week I learned from Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace that Britt’s young daughter Daisy has cancer.  A large tumor was discovered last fall; after surgery and six months of chemo she was declared cancer-free; last week a new tumor was discovered.  At Kendra’s recommendation I watched Britt’s sermon from last fall, given six days after Daisy’s tumor was discovered… It was, without exaggeration, one of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever listened to.  It spoke into the places of heart-wrestling, at the mother level, that recent months have presented… when my baby’s heartbeat was irregular; when my friend’s son died of SIDS; when my nephew was born 14 weeks premature.  It spoke to me about parenting with a spirit of full surrender and trust in God.  Britt’s sermon, “When my heart is overwhelmed,” was so powerful that I took some notes; I figured I might as well share them here.  Bring me, O Lord, to this same place of parental conviction and peace…

–What I want to talk to you about this morning is, what do you do, as a Christian, when the doctor says to you, “Your 5-year old has cancer”?  How do you deal with that; how do you process that?  As the people of God, who (more…)