Recently I was talking with a guy whose child has stage 4 cancer. He made a comment that stuck with me: “Sometimes you don’t realize that you are living in the ‘good-old-days’ until your life takes a bad turn. Looking back, I wish I had enjoyed life more and savored the moments, not realizing what the future held.”
I’ve thought about his comments many times over the last few weeks. I’m working to savor the little things.
Here are a few daily practices I’m trying to incorporate into my life to keep focused on what matters most.
- Sitting quietly for five minutes a day without distractions and reflecting on the blessing in my life. No TV. No phone. Just me and Jesus.
- Gratitude Journal: In my regular S.O.A.P. journal I’m including a daily gratitude sentence or paragraph. I have so much to be grateful for and I need to recognize it and give thanks.
- Pray for God to help me realize the brevity of life, so that I may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12) #DailyBibleReading #BibleReadingPlan
Have you found any practices that help you to enjoy, remember, or savor the little things in life?
I am more aware of the how quickly the times of hand are ticking. I see the almost overnight changes in my daughters as they start and go through puberty. The summer has flown by and another school year is right around the corner.
I have one life to live.
And this life is short.
I am so grateful for this time in my life when I am able to work less and enjoy my kids more. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. #BecomingMary
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalms 90:12 NLT
#PassportToPurity #Passport2Purity @DennisRainey @FamilyLifeToday
I’ve been offline for several days . . . creating memories, bonding, and having important talks with my almost 12-year-old daughter. We had a Passport2Purity Getaway. I highly recommend for parents of 10-13 year old kids.
Passport2Purity is a product created and sold by Family Life. The package includes CDs, a parent guide and a student journal. In the CDs, Dennis and Barbara Rainey cover topics like peer pressure, the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus, making wise decisions in dating, and puberty and sex. All from a biblical perspective.
My daughter was very apprehensive of the trip. She absolutely did not want to talk to me about sex. Before we left she told me “this trip is going to be worse than my 7th grade shots.” But on the last CD she said “Oh no, this is like being on the last chapter of a great book.”
Not only is the information on the CDs great and presented in a fun, age-appropriate style; but the way they have the getaway organized makes for a very memorable trip.
Here is our itinerary and my recommendations:
- I reserved a cabin at a state park about two hours away. This length of drive worked well for us, though I recommend finding a place to stop part way through the drive to complete Project One (you’ll need a flat table to do puzzles). Then you can finish more of the CD on the drive.
- We left on Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t start my shopping, preparing my projects, etc. until Wednesday morning. I DON’T recommend that! Read over the to-do and to-pack list at least a week in advance and start preparing.
- For the puzzle project, instead of 100 piece puzzles (which I couldn’t find at Wal-Mart in my frazzled, last-minute shopping trip) I bought her a 1,000 piece puzzle. It got the point of the lesson across, but it also had pictures of dolphins, which she loves. We worked on the puzzle during some of the downtime. I did bring the puzzle box . . . I just kept it hidden until after the project was complete. Going forward, my plan is to take the puzzle out each summer and do it with her . . . and reminisce about the Passport2Purity Getaway. Or maybe we will finish the puzzle and I’ll frame it for her.
- We didn’t eat out as there weren’t any restaurants nearby, but I packed foods that I knew she would like. (My healthy diet went completed out of the window as I gorged on powdered donuts and strawberry shortcake the entire time).
- Thursday morning we listened to a CD – took a short hike – and listened to the next CD. Then we had lunch and headed to the pool. After an afternoon of swimming we went back to the cabin for more CDs, dinner and relaxing in front of the campfire.
- I bought her a special gift to commemorate the weekend – a (lab created) ruby necklace and earring set. I found it for $49 at the Kay Jewelers Outlet. She hasn’t taken the necklace off since the trip and it looks beautiful on her.
- I recently read The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman. Her top love languages are “Acts of Service” (by far), followed by “Words of Affirmation” and “Receiving Gifts”. I tried to incorporate all of these into every day of the getaway. I am also hoping to be more intentional about incorporating these into my daily life. If you are interested, you can have your teen take the quiz here to determine the best way to express love to him or her.
- The Passport2Purity getaway is good for either boys or girls – there are different CDs and sections to listen to, depending on the sex.
I need to remember that my job as a mom is to:
- Love my daughter
- Pray for her
- Model a Christ-led life
- Equip her with knowledge and tools to make good decisions
- Encourage her in her walk with Jesus
I am not responsible for the decisions that she makes. She may choose to follow the advice of Dennis and Barbara Rainey and make good decisions about choosing friends, setting boundaries and dating. Or she may not. She may choose to love the Lord with all her heart and soul and seek his will, or she may treat God like a spare tire – only calling on him when she is in trouble and needs help (which is exactly how I treated him for 30+ years). I can’t control her decisions. I can’t control her heart.
But I can love her with all my heart, forgive her when she messes up, and keep pointing her toward Jesus.
I don’t ever feel like I’ve got this motherhood thing down, but some days are worse than others. I have moments when I pat myself on the back for handling a situation well . . . but then there are mornings like this morning when I wonder how much counseling my kids are going to need someday. Seriously.
I try to put safeguards in place. I try to have rules and consequences. I try to make sure they know I love them. I read plenty of parenting books. I pray for them. I read the Bible to them. I take them to church. I search for the balance between mercy and consequences.
There are many a days when life gets in the way of attentive and intentional parenting: Housework. Work work. Errands. Reality. A migraine. Emotions. I lose my temper. I don’t give my kids the time or attention they need. I am human.
Then there are other days when I feel like I am really on my A-game, yet still I watch my child making bad decisions. I catch her disobeying. And sometimes it isn’t just a little thing. Sometimes it is a big sin.
And I feel sick to my stomach.
But I have to remind myself: God is in control. He loves this kid more than I do. I will answer to God for my job as a parent and a wife . . . but she will answer to God for her own sin. I can shepherd her and guide her, but I can’t control her. She will make her own choices. I don’t answer to God for her choices.
I stumble. I fall. But if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I get back up.
She will stumble. She will fall.
And just like I am sure my heavenly Father aches for me when he watches me screw up; my heart breaks when my daughter makes bad choices.
My job is to be there for her; encouraging her to get back up. And reminding her to keep her eyes on Jesus.
A Call for Advice from Experienced Moms
I love my kids, but there are days when being a mom is a punch in the gut. Parenting shows me how little I know. How can I set a good example when I struggle with the very things I need to teach my kids?
Other moms, do you feel the same way? Especially for those who now have grown kids . . . any words of wisdom to share? Any secrets of success? This is a call for advice from moms who have successfully navigated the tween and teen years. Any moms of grown children want to chime in?
Here is what I am struggling with right now. And I know there will be many more decisions and dilemmas as my kids get older.
The Infamous Cell Phone Dilemma
- 6th grader wanted a cell phone. She begged for one for about a year. Cried many tears. She wasn’t “cool” and was the only kid in her class without a phone. She made lots of promises, including doing chores to help pay for it.
- I read all the arguments for and against, but my husband and I ended up getting her a cell phone and gave her some basic rules on usage.
- I snoop on her phone. I know there are probably parents who disagree, but I paid for the phone and she is my kid in my house and I need to know what she is viewing and doing on the phone.
- I added NetNanny . . . not sure if that is the best tool, but I wanted something on the phone to restrict her ability to get on inappropriate sites.
- Last night I found out she was texting boys. Ugh! Nothing inappropriate, but one of the boys told her he wasn’t allowed to text girls and she has continued to text him. Double Ugh!
- She hasn’t been completely obedient with the rules my husband and I set (she is only supposed to use it for games or texting after she has done her homework and cleaned her room), but we haven’t been consistent with making sure she follows the rules. We’ve never really grounded her from the phone or taken it away.
So now my husband and I need to come up with a new game plan for the phone usage and rules.
Moms, I’m not looking for specific pros and cons on cell phones (I’ve read a million arguments for and against), but more high-level suggestions. I especially long for suggestions and encouragement from moms who have already raised preteens and teens.
- What is the best parenting advice you ever received?
- How did you guide your preteens and teens through relationships with the opposite sex?
- What is the best parenting advice you can give?
- Any suggestions on communicating with kids ages 12-18?
- How did you teach your kids to be wise in choosing friends in middle school and high school?
Moms, we need each other. For you moms with more experience, your wisdom is much-needed for us moms now entering the preteen years. It is daunting . . . and any insight you can share would be much appreciated!