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Posts tagged ‘Family’

The Secret to a Lasting Marriage: Embrace Imperfection

SOURCE:  Deb Graham

When I was a little girl, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.

On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his toast, smile at my mom, and ask me how my day was at school.

I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that toast and eat every bite! When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the toast. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Baby, I love burned toast.”

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his toast burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Debbie, your momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And besides-a little burnt toast never hurt anyone!”

In bed that night, I thought about that scene at dinner and the kindness my daddy showed my mom. To this day, it’s a cherished memory from my childhood that I’ll never forget. And it’s one that came to mind just recently when Jack and I sat down to eat dinner.

I had arrived home, late as usual, and decided we would have breakfast food for dinner. Some things never change, I suppose!

To my amazement, I found the ingredients I needed, and quickly began to cook eggs, turkey sausage, and buttered toast. Thinking I had things under control, I glanced through the mail for the day. It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that I had forgotten to take the toast out of the oven!

Now, had it been any other day — and had we had more than two pieces of bread in the entire house — I would have started all over. But it had been one of those days and I had just used up the last two pieces of bread. So burnt toast it was!

As I set the plate down in front of Jack, I waited for a comment about the toast. But all I got was a “Thank you!” I watched as he ate bite by bite, all the time waiting for some comment about the toast. But instead, all Jack said was, “Babe, this is great. Thanks for cooking tonight. I know you had a hard day.”

As I took a bite of my charred toast that night, I thought about my mom and dad, how burnt toast hadn’t been a deal-breaker for them. And I quietly thanked God for giving me a marriage where burnt toast wasn’t a deal-breaker either!

You know, life is full of imperfect things-and imperfect people. I’m not the best housekeeper or cook. And you might be surprised to find out that Jack isn’t the perfect husband! He likes to play his music too loud, he will always find a way to avoid yard work, and he watches far too many sports. Believe it or not, watching “Golf Academy” is not my idea of a great night at home!

But somehow in the past 37 years Jack and I have learned to accept the imperfections in each other. Over time, we have stopped trying to make each other in our own mold and have learned to celebrate our differences. You might say that we’ve learned to love each other for who we really are!

For example, I like to take my time, I’m a perfectionist, and I’m even-tempered. I tend to work too much and sleep too little. Jack, on the other hand, is disciplined, studious, an early riser, and is a marketer’s dream consumer. I count pennies and Jack could care less! Where he is strong, I am weak, and vice versa.

And while you might say that Jack and I are opposites, we’re also very much alike. I can look at him and tell you what he’s thinking. I can predict his actions before he finalizes his plans. On the other hand, he knows whether I’m troubled or not the moment I enter a room.

We share the same goals. We love the same things. And we are still best friends. We’ve traveled through many valleys and enjoyed many mountaintops. And yet, at the same time, Jack and I must work every minute of every day to make this thing called “marriage” work!

What I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is the one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting marriage relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your married life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a marriage where burnt toast isn’t a deal-breaker!

Impossible Marriage Situation

(Question/Answer re “Impossible Marriage” Situation by Michelle Wiener-Davis, Author of Divorce Busting.)

I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING, BUT NOTHING WORKS !!!

QUESTION —
Dear Michele:
“I’m working on my marriage, but it still isn’t working.” Michele, after reading your books (Divorce Remedy, Divorce Busting and Getting Through to the Man You Love), I have one question: The underlying assumption of all three books is that you DO love your spouse. I am in a situation in which I don’t really love my spouse, and actually often don’t like or respect him. Yet he is a good father, and our children are incredibly devoted to our little family. I definitely believe that a divorce would be the best thing for ME (and probably for him), but the worst thing for my children. It’s been hard for me to try to divorce bust because I can’t seem to get over the hump of feeling I’m knocking myself out to work on something I don’t really want, namely, staying married to my husband. Does this mean mine is just one of the marriages that can’t be saved? Most of the posts I read on the boards seem to be from people who WANT their spouses. Any comments would be appreciated, and I’m sure would be enlightening to many on the board, because I’ve heard from many about to be Walkaway Wife’s who feel the same way I do — little, if any, love or respect for our spouses, and little, if any, desire to be married to them. Thank you. Jenny

ANSWER —
Dear Jenny,
You ask an interesting question and I hope my response will be helpful.

First, I want you to know that your assumption that my books presuppose love for one’s spouse is completely incorrect. My books presuppose a commitment to working on one’s marriage. It is absolutely true that when you love your spouse, it makes going through the hard times more palatable and sharing the good times more enjoyable. No question about it. But I don’t assume people reading the books love their spouses.

I know you won’t like what I’m about to say, but I can tell from your post that you have never really committed to working on your marriage. Yes, I know you’ve had a telephone consultation and some counseling. But that doth not commitment make. Too many people say they’re working on their marriages when they drag their bodies to therapy or talk to some sort of expert. That’s not even scratching the surface. Working on your marriage means making the decision to be there in spirit, not necessarily to be head over heels in love when you start, but to invest yourself fully.

Working on your marriage means giving of yourself completely, putting your spouse’s needs before your own- and vise versa. It means quitting the game of keeping score. It means forgiving and letting go. Working on your marriage means focusing on people’s strengths and downplaying their shortcomings. It means not expecting to have all or even the majority of your needs satisfied by one person. It means vowing to have a full and satisfying life of your own so that you don’t blame your spouse unfairly about your unhappiness. It means appreciating the little things and overlooking life’s annoyances. It means recognizing that no one, not even you or me, is perfect.

I’m not sure why I think this, but I have a distinct feeling that you are holding on to resentments from the past. (I don’t even know you but the feeling is there nonetheless). It seems to me, that your current willingness to stay is built on guilt and self-sacrifice rather than any pleasure derived from the gift you would be giving your children and “your little family” and as a result, yourself. As long as you look at staying through the eyes of resentment, you will not be able to fully immerse yourself in what you need to do to make your family truly work.

Unfortunately, no one, not your parents, friends, family, therapist, clergy or me, can make the decision to have a good, healthy family for you. Only you can make that choice. You have been sitting on the fence- staying but holding back. (Maybe that’s why you chose Paradox as your username.) This won’t get you where you need to go. I can promise you that. Make a decision. Own your decision. Stop fooling yourself into thinking you’re working on things when you’re not. If you feel you can’t forgive and start fresh, take ownership of that. Go. However, you know my first choice. But in the end, that doesn’t really matter. Yours is the choice that matters. If you choose marriage, the rest is relatively easy. You decide. Love is a decision.
Michele

It’s Not Your Job to Entertain Your Children

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry/Jenae Jacobson

There’s more to mothering than keeping your kids amused.

I fear that we are headed down a slippery slope when it comes to one aspect of parenting.  And we at least need to start talking about it.

For some reason we have this strange belief that it is our job to entertain our kids all. the. time.

In case you aren’t convinced … feel free to browse Pinterest for a few minutes or visit one of the amazing blogs with activities for children. I, too, am guilty of spinning my wheels day after day, trying my hardest to provide fun experiences for my children … all in the name of being a good mom.

Yes, we want our kids to have a happy childhood with a variety of experiences. But this certainly doesn’t mean that the mark of a good mother is spending all her time creating and engaging her kids in those activities.

My goal as a parent is to raise my children to know, love, and emulate Jesus.  Entertaining them is not what should take up the majority of my focus. My focus should be on others, just as Jesus’ was. After all, the two greatest commandments are loving God and loving others.

So, what is a mother to do?

Meet their needs of feeding, changing, and bathing? Yes.

Teach our children? Yes.

Engage with our children in play? Yes.

Enjoy our children? Yes.

Play with our children? Yes, although not every minute of the day.

Encourage our children to think of others before themselves? YES!

Laugh with, tickle, and kiss our sweet babies? OF COURSE!

Entertain our children every minute of the day? No.

The fact is, when we make it our mission in life to make sure that our children are entertained and having fun, we are teaching them that life is all about them! It also can prohibit children from using their imagination and creativity to come up with something fun to do on their own.  This is a problem with my firstborn—I continually entertained him from birth to 2 years of age, when his little brother was born, and now he has a hard time playing on his own.

Rather than going out of our way to find ways to entertain our kids, let’s go out of our way thinking of opportunities that we can serve and love others together.

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This article originally appeared as a post on MomLife Today®, FamilyLife’s blog for moms.

Surprisingly Simple Ways to Help Children Develop Empathy

SOURCE:  Kim Blackham

The following exercises are not only fun, but also effective in helping children become more empathic.

I Wonder

Go to a public location where you can sit and watch other people coming and going –  i.e. airport, mall, park, fair, sporting event, etc.

Find a place to sit that is in an area of moderately heavy traffic.  You want it to be busy but not crowded.  Then start asking questions.

  • What do you notice about these people?
  • Where do you think they are going?
  • Can you pick out a particular person?  Tell me about them?  Who are they with?  Why are they here?

At this point, you might get a little push back with the child saying, “I don’t know.”  That’s okay.  Encourage them to imagine who the person they see might be.  Acknowledge that of course they don’t know for sure, but based on what they see, what story can they imagine. 

  • Look at their faces.
  • What do you see?
  • Do they look happy or sad?
  • What kind of food do you think they like?
  • Do you think that little boy plays any sports?  What sport do you think he likes best?

Continue reading at this site:  http://www.kimblackham.com/surprisingly-simple-ways-to-help-children-develop-empathy/

 

4 Easy Reminders to be a Great Parent

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

The title says these are “easy”…and they are in some ways. None of these are hard to remember. None of these are hard to implement…with personal discipline. But, living them daily, in addition to the normal stresses of life…can seem very difficult at times.

But, great parents are continually working at them.

Here are 4 principles to be a great parent:

(Or the best parent you can be…)

Be present. Be there for your kids. Stay committed to them throughout their life. Be willing, especially in the formative years, to sacrifice your time for them. They’ll know whether or not you really want to be with them. And, something positive happens when they have your full attention. They model. (So also live a life worth modeling.)

Be intentional. Make a plan for each individual child based on their needs and work the plan. Introduce them to Christ. Involve them in church regularly. Help them with their school work. Teach them Biblical principles. Do what’s best for them…even when it isn’t popular with them.

Be relational. Let love reign. Keep grace flowing. Provide healthy discipline…because you love them and they need it at times. Be patient, recognizing they are learning….even when it seems some days they are not. Don’t ever let them think they have to earn your love. You may not always approve of their actions, but be sure they have no doubts that you approve of them. Spend time with them doing what they enjoy doing. Sacrifice your time to play with them…even at the end of a long, hard day. It will be worth it.

Be consistent. Keep doing the right thing…always…continually. Over and over again. That’s what the great parents do.

Even if you do everything you know to do, children are unique individuals…with wills of their own. They will make choices in life…and mistakes…just as you do.

Parenting IS hard, but you’ve got this. And, the reward of seeing adult children thrive…worth every sacrifice.

Family: Imperfect – BUT – Important

SOURCE:  Family Life/Dennis Rainey

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

I believe there is nothing more powerful on Earth than family. It is the single most influential force for good (or for evil) in all human existence.

From birth, it marks you. Your family crafts your conscience and shapes your soul. At home you learn life’s lessons and begin the art of practicing them. At home you learn to love and to do what’s right. More than merely giving you a street address, your home and family imprint you with a spiritual and sexual identity shaped by the two people who gave you life.

Truly, nothing compares to the strength of being tightly wrapped in the protective fiber of family.

It’s who you are. It’s where you belong.

And if all goes well–as it should–it is your family that surrounds you when you start life’s journey, when you face life’s hardest trials, when you go through the valleys and when you die. More than anyone else, the members of your family are the ones who are there for you, caring for you and mourning the loss of you when you’re gone.

This should come as no surprise, because God created the family. At the very dawn of time, “God created man in His own image, . . . male and female He created them.” Of all the ways He could have chosen to inaugurate His creation, He chose to start with family. In fact, the Bible begins with a marriage in Genesis and ends with a marriage in Revelation.

Marriage and family have always been central to what God is doing on planet Earth.

I believe family is still of utmost importance to our heavenly Father. It holds the key to our health, our success as a society, and our future. And I believe it is worth whatever effort is required to nurture, encourage and support it.

Thank God for the gift of your family, regardless of its inadequacies and failures.

What Kids Need From A Mom

SOURCE:  Life, Love and Family Daily Fact Sheet/Dr. Tim Clinton

“Mothers”

  • 3 Ingredients for Good Parenting (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009):
    • Love—children need hugs, physical contact, words of encouragement and affirmation, and quality time—all of these communicate love. Love also helps break down barriers and walls that we can’t see with our eyes. As a mom, you are to love your children even when it is undeserved. This does not mean that you accept everything that they do. It does mean that you remind them that you love them even when you disagree with or are heartbroken by their actions.
    • Discipline—discipline, unlike punishment, always envisions a better future for the child. As a mom, you must discipline and train your children.
    • Guidance—as a parent, it is your job to teach your children about life, guiding them in all areas, especially in God’s Word (Deut. 6:4-9). Guiding your children may also mean allowing them to make mistakes.
  • Special Time: Helping Your Child Feel Loved and Cared for (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006):
    • Before more structured behavioral techniques are used to help a child, the parent-child relationship must first improve.
    • If a child is angry or feels unloved or uncared for, no parenting technique can make him behave.
    • Special Time is playtime that parents intentionally invest in their child, and it is totally command free.
    • During Special Time, parents are not allowed to give their child any commands or suggestions.
    • Special Time should last for twenty to thirty minutes at a time and parents should allow their child to pick the activity they’d like to do together.
    • Connection begins by starting with something your child actually likes. Avoid agenda-centered conversations. Enter your child’sworld. Be present and available to him or her without any other obligations competing for your time.
  • Quotes:
    • “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”—Abraham Lincoln
    • “A mother is the one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.”—Emily Dickinson
    • “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”—George Washington
    • “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.”—John Steinbeck
    • “Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother.”—Billy Graham
    • “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”—Agatha Christie
    • “A mother understands what a child does not say.”—Jewish Proverb
    • “You are not making memories with your children; you are the memory!”—Josh McDowell
  • Key Thoughts (Morgan & Kuykendall, 2001)
    • Mothers face the challenge of investing their time and energy in the lives of their children. The culture, however, confronts them with two messages: “Mothering is not a job,” and “Mothering is not a skill.”
    • It can be difficult for women to value their major investment in life—mothering—when their culture judges that investment as having no value.
    • Similarly, mothering skills, where time and energy are invested in the lives of those who can’t do for themselves, are undervalued.
    • Mothers need to understand the value of their mothering from God’s perspective.
    • Mothering is highly esteemed in God’s Word. Children are declared to be precious gifts from God (Ps. 127:3). Proverbs 31, the chapter describing the “virtuous woman,” pictures a mother who diligently cares for her household.
    • Mothering cannot be defined by a paycheck or a promotion, but in the peace of mind that comes from being there for children.
  • Verses:
    • “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”—Proverbs 31:26-27
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”—Exodus 20:12
    • “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”—Psalm 127:3
    • “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying, ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”—Proverbs 31:28-30
    • “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6
    • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4

Endnotes

Clinton, T. & Hawkins, R. (2009). The quick-reference guide for biblical counseling. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Clinton, T. & Sibcy, G. (2006). Why you do the things you do: The secret to healthy relationships. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Morgan, E. & Kuykendall, C. (2001). “Does mothering matter?” The Bible for Hope. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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