Entries in encouragement (24)
I admit it. I love celebrating my birthday. In fact, I love it so much I am guilty of celebrating it months after it has passed. Something about birthdays makes me happy. First of all, I am glad I was born. Secondly, I believe the world is a better place because I am in it.
One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. The main character, George, is given an amazing gift. He is able to see what his corner of the world would have been like if he had never graced this earth. And he was surprised to see that he had made a difference. He never traveled from his home town; he was not the President of his country or even the mayor of his city. However, the influence he had because he cared for others was monumental.
How about you? What do you do when your birthday rolls around? This year, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on all the positive ways you have touched the lives of others. Think back on what people have said to you concerning your influence on them. Also, make this a year where you intentionally give back to your family, your community, your world.
It feels good to be celebrated! The key is to let the celebration of self-begin with you!
As I write this I am looking out of my hotel window at the Puget Sound. Seattle isn't exactly a destination city for Christmas but it is for Renee and me this year. Our son, Chris, and his wife Ali live here with their two daughters, Zoë and Charlotte. We've just spent two exhilarating and somewhat exhausting hours with them, and I am marveling at how they've grown and matured. And adding to the fun, it's Christmas.
There is always something fresh and invigorating when I watch my grandchildren enjoy Christmas. It's like the first blast of cold air on your face when you walk outside all bundled up in freezing temperatures. You expected the cold but it always seems new, like no two snowflakes are alike. Excitement is in the air. Anticipation fills the room like the smell of rich coffee you're brewing first thing in the morning. The Christmas story is 2,000 years old, but I am still excited to celebrate the fact that God became a child... that He came to earth to eventually fill it with His supernatural presence. Emmanuel, God with us... it's exhilarating!
It is a constant struggle to muster up the energy to parent. Boundaries need to be stated, reinforced, restated, re-reinforced, and on and on it goes until you think you may keel over or have a stroke. Like I said, parenting is not for the faint of heart. It may be possible that some preemptive planning and work could make all of the difference for some children. We all have heard of time-outs and restrictions, but there is some work we could do to anticipate some behavior.
There seems to me to be a missing piece to disciplining and parenting that I have realized from sheer necessity. Both of my daughters are highly sensitive to their surroundings (Confession: Even a loud TV can send me over the edge, so I can’t blame their father on this one).
Maybe you have experienced the same thing. Children pick up stress, anxiety, tension, over-scheduling, a dirty house, noise, etc., and they are more prone to ACT OUT. For instance, when my husband and I are overly busy, they are more inclined to be grumpy and impatient. When the house is messy, they seem more easily distracted and lazy. I know these things are true for me, but as we mature, we find ways to cope with imperfect surroundings. But our children need our help to do their best!
So, here are a few suggestions. If your child has difficulty being in certain situations (loud concerts, crowded places, jam-packed days going from one place to another, cluttered room, etc.), assess if there is anything you can do to reduce the problem. Plan ahead and do errands during your lunch hour when they are at school so that you can give them more of your attention in the evenings. Or, do an experiment! If your kitchen is usually dirty when they do their homework, try keeping it de-cluttered and clean for 1 week and see if they take less time to complete their work. Have a conversation about it at the end of the week. Seek and find your child or teenager’s unique needs.
In situations that cannot be avoided, it is important to plan ahead. Just having conversations about stressors can relieve some anxiety for children. In the process, you are teaching them to be more aware internally and more proactive and assertive for things they need.
In this line of work I read and recommend a lot of different books covering a variety of different issues. There is one book that I have found myself referring to a lot lately by Brene Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Quite frankly, it is pretty great. In a clear and easy to read way, Brene asks us to own our story, to stop beating up on ourselves, and waiting to love who when are “when”. You are familiar with the burdensome “WHEN”. It goes like this, “I’ll be happy WHEN...” “I’ll love myself WHEN...” “I’ll relax WHEN...” and then the list follows. The problem is that this burdensome list is neverending. For example, 10 pounds turns to 15, always follwoed by another task. We will always fail at something.
The trick is to learn, somehow, to embrace yourself NOW. Face yourself and all your imperfections and accept it all while expecting others to do the same. Then you are no longer striving to be accepted and loved, you are simply striving to be the best version of you. The difference is astonishing. Striving to be loved has a panic feeling attached to it, hurry up or they may not love you anymore. Don’t mess up or it's all over. Striving to be the best version of you allows for mistakes and failures along the way. It has a pace that is do-able and even fun. Sure its easier said than done, but starting the journey towards acceptance is far better than staying in the cycle of “when’s”.
My youngest daughter is notorious for having a difficult time following instructions. As a younger child, she had a difficult time remembering and staying focused on the instructions given. Now it is more that she is overwhelmed with the mess around her. Perhaps sometimes I expected more from her than was possible. However, I would find myself frustrated that she could not carry out one simple task, such as “Please take your shoes to your room” without repeated reminders. As she has gotten older, the problem remains. Cleaning her room is an exercise in torture for everyone involved! I would prefer to say, “Go clean your room, please,” and have it done in 30 minutes without one more word or whine.
She is a precious, loving, and sensitive soul and loves to please us, but carrying out instructions is a challenge…with one exception. She wants us to be with her! If we go with her to her room, she is a happy little worker. She smiles, puts away her toys, hangs up her clothes, and all is well in the Demetrician household. She simply needs our presence. Hmmm.
I for one am glad that I have a God who both SENDS ME OUT and GOES WITH ME. Left to my own devices, I can’t “clean the room of my soul” very well without the great Helper’s Presence. I simply can’t carry out the Father’s desires without His sustaining joy, hope, strength, and insight. I would be like my sweet daughter, hopelessly defeated and overwhelmed by an extremely messy room. I am sure I would sit on the floor and cry surrounded by sin, pain, shame, and bitterness knowing I had to do it all on my own. Our loving Father knows our limited capacity, and HE ACTUALLY WANTS TO HELP US. He enjoys being with us. It isn’t annoying to Him, and He doesn’t get tired. He is not like me, mostly helping my daughter just so it will get done.
There are messes that need to be cleaned up and places He is sending you, but rest assured, you are not alone.