Archives for February 2013

Parenting Teenagers

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Jon and I just got back from a trip to Mexico.  This is a yearly trip that we take, one that I look forward to for months.  It always has a time of needed relaxation, marriage connection, and learning– in my bag I have my required reading of  a “fun book” and an “educational read.”  This year, however, was a little tougher for me to disconnect and settle into vacation mode.  This possibly happened for a couple of reasons, one of them being I just missed the kids, a lot.  They are getting older now, and although one would think it would get easier to leave them, it seems harder for me.

Our relationships with our children have moved from meeting their basic survival needs (goldfish crackers, stuffed animals, bedtime stories, clean diapers) to trying to build solid, loving, trust-filled relationships with them–in the midst of great swells of emotion–elation (a boy likes me!), sadness (I’m being picked on) disappointment (I didn’t do well on a test), jealousy (my friends got invited but I didn’t).  Then there is the challenge of  the testing of bigger boundaries, reactions to our “no,” and knowing how much independence allowed to them is just enough.

As a parent I’m always asking, “What is working?  What isn’t?”  My two older children bring the burdens of the day home, and then in the whirlwind of carpools and dinner and homework somewhere a word or sentence is thrown out in an unattractive tone returned by a sharp response from us.  It sometimes spirals into conflict and tears, sometimes we’re able to keep it from escalating.  Other times, they are just sad.  Their feelings have been hurt at school, or they are upset at themselves for handling things badly.  I want to fix it but I can’t.  I can just hug–which is sometimes wanted and sometimes not.  I heard a phrase recently that just spoke truth to me, “Moms are only as happy as their saddest child.”  Gosh, that just resonates with me sometimes.

As the plane took off, heading to another country, I sat and thought, gazing out at the miles separating me from my children, like a ball of string unraveling.  I felt like I wanted to fly back to them and hug them all, even if they wouldn’t hug back.

Instead, I stayed in my seat (really didn’t have a choice about that) and flew to our destination, where Jon and I soaked up some warmth. I spent the next 5 days reading The Five Languages of Love for your Teenager, by Gary Chapman.

9780802473134It was excellent.  I learned so much about why parenting teenagers can be so emotionally draining.  The author explained my children to me, and taught me how to respond to the feelings my kids are having at this stage of their lives.  Gary states that our kids have five languages (as do you and I) that speak “love” to us:

Words Of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Physical Touch

If we are not speaking our kids’ primary love languages, then their cup is not filled, meaning they may be feeling “unloved” or lonely, even though we think we are showering them with love!  It is important for us to learn to speak our child’s love language.  There is a quiz in the back of the book for your child to take, and it gives us a great insight into what their love language may be.

Jon and I spent a good amount of time taking about what this book was teaching us, and how we could do a better job with our kids.
As we flew home, each mile bringing us closer to reuniting as a family, I was so thankful for the time away to reflect, process and read about how I can be a better mom.  I feel a little more prepared for each day, and hope to be loving my children the way they need.

Even though it was hard to leave my kids, it was probably the best thing I could do to gain some perspective and return with a little more understanding of who they are and my role in their lives,

and sporting a little tan too :).

Blessings,

Amy

 

 

How Much Time?

Loved this~wanted to pass it on.  Amy

Just Give It Time

by Joyce Meyer – posted January 14, 2013

Show me now Your way, that I  may know You [progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with  You]. —Exodus 33:13

When you spend time with God, it  becomes evident. You become calmer, you’re easier to get along with, you are  more joyful, and you remain stable in every situation. Spending quality time  with God is an investment that yields rich benefits. You begin to understand  what He likes and what offends Him. As with any friend, the more time you spend  with God, the more like Him you become.

Spending time with God causes you to become more sensitive to the love He wants to demonstrate to you and to  others. Your conscience alerts you when you’re talking to someone in a way that  does not please Him. Your heart grieves when He grieves, and you quickly pray,  “Oh, God, I’m sorry.” You soon want to apologize to the person you have  offended and discover that saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you,”  isn’t so difficult after all.

When God told Moses he had found  favor in His eyes (see Exodus 33:12), Moses understood that God was telling him  he could ask for anything his heart desired.

Moses responded by saying that he  simply wanted to become more intimately acquainted with God. Moses had seen God  perform history’s most magnificent miracles, yet what he wanted most of all was  to know God intimately.

I pray that knowing God is the  desire of your heart. You can know Him and hear His voice as clearly and as  intimately as you want to. All it takes is spending time with Him.

God’s word for you today: God does not have favorites, but He does have confidantes.

Valentine’s Gift

Last year I posted this idea from Better Homes and Gardens, and then tried it at home.  Here’s how to do it:

~ Buy the extra large chocolate bars

~ Wrap them in colorful Valentine’s scrapbooking paper.  Garnish with stickers and ribbon.

~ Give to loved ones and friends (I gave some to a few of my girlfriends!)

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This is what I decorated our Valentines dinner table with:

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Order of Things

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I was visiting with a friend who shared a nugget of wisdom I don’t want to forget.  We were discussing teaching our kids about God, and how, instead of focusing on obedience (rules, what pleases God, how we show him love), we should first focus on the character of God and his outpouring of love toward us.

He loves us, he cares for us. and he initiates a relationship with us. And it is from this understanding of God’s kindness toward us that we want to obey him with our decisions.  When those two get reversed, it becomes legalism. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of teaching scripture to my children that points to what they can do for Him–serve, love, share, tell the truth, which are all great acts, but can’t be forced upon a growing heart for God (well they can, but the act will be not be a true expression of love back to God).  Sincere acts of obedience come from a heart that truly wants to give back to God because the heart understands how loved it is.

The nugget in this for me is how I will shift the order in teaching my children about God from obedience and character to character and obedience.  This way of thinking also applies to myself and my obedience to God, and to everyone I share God with.

Here is an excerpt from a lesson I found today that expresses God’s character towards us.  It is from a Focus On The Family email publication of “Thriving Family” (link below)

By Kurt Bruner

God is love: It is true that God does loving things. But the more important truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8). God can’t help loving because it is an essential part of His character.

God cares: We can cast our anxiety on God because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Like a spouse’s hug when we’re stressed or a parent’s hug when we’re worried, God’s love comforts and reassures us because we know that He cares about each troubling detail of our lives. God gives himself: Jesus said that the greatest love is when someone lays down his life for another (John 15:13). That is precisely what God did when He became man to rescue us from death.

God initiates: Our Father God takes the initiative in loving us rather than waiting for us to show love to Him. The Bible describes this love: “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10), and “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

What wonderful things for our hearts to grasp, and for us to pass on to others.  (Especially around Valentine’s Day)

Go to www.thrivingfamily.com for great resources on marriage, parenting, finances, and much more.

Blessings,

Amy

Goodbye Jen!

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As you probably read a couple of posts ago, Jen is going to gracefully bow out of GraceFULLhome.   As she eloquently expressed, she is in a season of change–things have shifted for her in her time and activities. Also,  sometimes God begins to change our hearts toward things we have been doing.

How tuned into God’s direction are we?  Can we sense when it’s time to end something we are involved in and be ready for another door to open in our lives?  It’s easy and comfortable to continue to do the same thing we have always done, especially if changing that means we might hurt someone’s feelings, or upset those around us.  Change is difficult, and we don’t often know when we walk away from something  what the next “thing” is.  But, we need to be brave and  true to our hearts, and more importantly true to what God’s plans for our lives are.  He has great plans for those who seek Him.

I think we can all take a lesson from Jen and her ability to tune into what she is feeling about her life, what God is telling her, and her openness to a new purpose He may be working out in her life.  I am excited to see how He uses her for his Kingdom.

Jen’s decision to move on from the blog naturally caused me to evaluate my investment in this endeavor.  I took some time to pray and listen to what God wanted to speak into my life about this.  After doing so, I feel with conviction that I am to continue to share my heart with you through GraceFULLhome. God has not led me away at this point, and so my original purpose in starting to blog will continue:  to share what God is teaching me in my life, and to pass on pieces of writing or speaking that inspire me in my walk with God, with humble hopes that it too may help you grow closer to God and in understanding his character as you walk life with Him.

I want to thank Jen for all she has contributed to this blog.  She is wise beyond her years, and full of love for Jesus which shined through her writing.  I have been challenged and moved by her teaching and sharing, and will be grateful forever for that.  Our partnership in GraceFULLhome was a special gift for the season it lived, and I will miss that camaraderie, but I trust her fully in her decision to forge a new path.

Thank you as always for your emails, and comments when I run into you in the grocery store–it is so encouraging, and I will pass on your goodbyes to Jen as you have asked.

Blessings!

Amy

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