Press Pause

 

Life is so full and somedays you may feel like you just can’t keep up. When you have a baby or toddler at home, you’re so sleep deprived you often don’t know which way is up. Many days you may feel like you’re just surviving.

Then the kids start preschool and elementary. Homework, friends, and sports begin to rule the day. Maybe you feel more like a taxi driver than a parent?

At this point, life doesn’t slow down, does it?! Middle school and high school sneak up fast. Tougher classes, more homework, demanding sports schedules, peer pressure, hormones gone wild, learning to drive, graduation requirements, college tours, and scholarship applications.

Oh, man.

Where’s the easy button like in the commercials?!

I’ve been thinking about all this a lot. Life can be busy and overwhelming, but I don’t want to miss the moments. I don’t want to just survive. I want more for my kids, my family, and the families I serve. After all, at the end of the day, – busy is not an honor badge.

So instead of pressing an easy button, maybe I need to press pause.

Pause
What if I create space in the middle of the busy, in the middle of the fullness of life, to intentionally connect with my kids. In doing so, what if that is teaching them a much-needed skill: that it’s okay to pause in life. To breath. To slow down. To think. To recognize and reconnect with each other and our creator.

And as we remind ourselves and teach our own families to pause, maybe we’re setting an example for those around us.

Press Pause.
Eat together. Play together. Pray together. Savor the moments.

Do you need some help doing this? Some guidance on how to press pause? Join me at the NW Ministry Conference on March 24 & 25. I’ll be leading a workshop on Friday where we’ll discuss why a rhythm of pause is vital for families. Together, we’ll explore ways to model this in our own families as well as for those we serve.

Life is full and it’s not always easy.

But when we pause we can find rest and renewal.

Together, let’s pursue the pause.

 

 

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Listening to the Whisper

I love sharing The Big God Story with children.  I relish the opportunity when I get to help children learn of God’s love and His plan that He is continuing to work out.  I love helping children understand something they’ve maybe always known, but now see it in a new way.  Or take a concept and explore it deeper with them.

Kids kind of get that “a-ha” moment, just a slight shift in focus when things become clearer.  Then sometimes, as I’m preparing a lesson, the Holy Spirit is teaching me something in a fresh new way.

Recently I was getting ready to share about the prophet Elijah.  I honestly don’t remember learning of him as a child.  I think the church I grew up in was Old Testament poor.  I have since learned about Elijah and have often been with preschoolers when share about him.  We usually focus on the offering the prophets of Baal placed out.  They danced and chanted and prayed, but no god showed up.

Then Elijah offered up a sacrifice, first drenching all of it in water to prove a point.  After praying to the one true God “The fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38)  Boom.  That fast.  God sure can act quick.

This lesson didn’t stop there though.  It continued on with Elijah having to escape for his life.  After killing the prophets of Baal, well, Baal wanted Elijah dead.  So he ran and hid on Mt Horeb.  This is the part I love.  This is what I needed to hear that day when I was with the kids.  Granted, I had read the lesson through several times and made all of my preparations.  But it’s so different being on our little stage in front of kids and presenting it to them.  It affected me differently.  God affected me differently.

You see, when Elijah was hiding on Mt Horeb, he was tired and lonely.  He had done all that God asked of him, yet here he was in a dark cave all alone. God showed himself in a great wind, in splitting rocks of an earthquake, and fire that came around the mountain in a huge display.  Lots of chaos was around Elijah.

But God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire; He was in a still, small whisper that gently blew across Elijah.

This is where I’ve found myself lately.  I feel like I’m in the dark on Mt Horeb, crying out, “God, I’m lonely and feel lost.  I’m trying to do what you’ve called me to do, yet here I am”.  There’s so much around me, but God isn’t in the activities and the stuff consuming my day and kaleidoscoping around me.  He’s there in the whisper.  The soft still voice.

“Nancy, I AM.  I AM here, I AM with you, I AM working all of this out according to my perfect plan, I AM holding you in this, I AM who I AM and you are going to be fine.  So be still, hear my whisper, hear my voice, and know that I AM God.”

A-ha.  You’ve got me again.   I’m sitting still and listening to the whisper.

mountain-whispers


Originally posted on Truministry

Parenting is STUPID HARD!

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Sometimes I feel like I understand why wild animals eat their young.

“Ugh. Parenting is STUPID HARD sometimes!”

That was the beginning of a Facebook post recently. I hit another bump in the road of this parenting journey. I know we’ll get through this, but sometimes it’s such a huge struggle. It’s enough of a struggle to get the everyday demands of our lives taken care of, keep everybody moving forward in a positive direction, and try to do it with a smile on my face. Especially when all I want to do right now is SCREAM and STOMP MY FEET WILDLY!!!!

We’ve been in a similar situation before, so it makes this go ‘round even more frustrating. In addition, some lies and deception were uncovered. Oh, I asked the right questions. At the right time. For months. I was aware there could be a problem. That’s why I asked the questions. I trusted the answers and extended grace.

As we parent and grow our children I believe the boundaries we have in place get wider. When our kids are young, they have narrow boundaries. Right from wrong is taught, boundaries are enforced more frequently, there is a lot more oversight, and children learn how to navigate within the boundaries. When they cross them, there is swift correction.

As children get older, the boundaries begin to widen like the top of a funnel. They are given more trust and more freedom. More of a chance to practice staying in the boundaries before they’re out on their own. As parents, we’re still there to point them back to the center when they get too far off course.

This situation was off course. My instant reaction was anger. “HOW COULD YOU!” I wanted to take away every ounce of freedom and every convenience this child has been given. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS?!” “HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE?” “HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?!” “I ASKED! WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP!” “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I HAVE GIVEN SO THAT YOU COULD DO WHAT?!!”

So!! Angry!!!

Some of those words may have come out.

I had to breathe. And breathe again. And take a little space. And breathe some more. And say more than a few prayers to know how to proceed.

While there are natural and imposed consequences to this situation, I want so much more for my child than consequences. I want them to clearly understand a boundary was crossed, but I don’t want them to simply learn to dance close to the boundary or to hide the evidence when the line is crossed. I don’t want them to get used to going so far off course they feel there is no way back or no help available. I don’t want them to get lost. I want them to know I always love them, always want what’s best for them, and will always fight for them.

So, some course correction is in order.

This isn’t to simply get out of a difficult situation nor is it to just barely get back in the “acceptable” boundaries. No, the goal is restoration. The goal is to make different choices in this life journey so that they may live a full life as the person they have been created to be. And I want to deal with the root issues of lying, deception, and hiding. Those are not descriptors I want for my children.

We had some hard conversations. My child was in so deep the reality of the situation could not be seen clearly. It was hard to point that out and see my child feel broken. But reality and crossed boundaries need to be understood. The potential ramifications in the future needed to be clearly considered as well. There were lots of tears.

There are still hard days ahead. We’ve written a contract with clear expectations and clear consequences. We’ve included daily steps and longer term steps so we see the progress as we move forward. I’m trying to show that little actions, every day, lead us forward on the journey. We can’t expect to leap forward to where we want to be without the hard work now. Nor can we ignore those little choices that are leading the wrong direction and expect them to somehow get better with time. No, personal action, in the right direction, is required.

I’m also working hard to create a safe place of clear communication so that we can rebuild trust. I want my children to come to me in the joys and struggles of life. I don’t want them to ever feel they are too far gone to receive my help and love.

This week I’m also incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of parenting solidarity, concern, hugs, laughter, and encouragement from friends. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people and that is such a huge blessing as I walk this parenting journey solo. I may be solo, but all of you make me realize I’m not alone. My sincerest gratitude and thank you to each of you.

Correcting a wrong course is hard and painful, but it can be done. I trust that my children and I will grow stronger in our relationship because we’re navigating this hard part of the path together, with His help.