Tag Archives: Food For Thought

Why I No Longer Pray for Patience in Parenting

5 Dec

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I don’t learn my life-lessons that quickly.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just read some instructions in a book, the close the cover, walk away and say to myself “got it, I will never make that mistake again.”  I usually have to walk the road–the long way–for any lessons to truly internalize.  This is a story about one of these long journeys.

Over the years I’ve been searching incessantly for patience in my mothering.  I have poured over parenting books and scripture, and I have prayed the same prayers over and over.

“Lord give me patience.”

“Lord, please let me respond in patience.”

“Lord supply me with the patience I need to answer them properly.”

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When it comes to bad kid-behavior, I am so predictable in my response patterns.  There are three levels: normal voice with a calm tone, outside voice with a serious tone, nuclear explosion.  
Normal. 
Serious…
Nuclear.

 Sometimes I can stay on serious-mode for three or four iterations, until I remember that I haven’t used my nuclear setting, and then they get a double portion of nuclear, which is followed by a brief period of time when I about black out.  Figuratively.  And to top it off, there is that back-blast of guilt and grief that always knocks me over. Anger in parenting is such a nasty cycle.

 

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There’s probably more than one reason my clever three-level correction plan hasn’t been working.  For one thing, I have allowed very irritating behavior to proliferate without giving it actual correction beyond verbal chastisement.  (Although, we recently completed a “manners boot camp” that truly changed things around here, and I think it will have lasting results…)  But aside from that, I’ve usually hovered over the old “give me patience” refrain in hopes that it will be the magic solution to fielding all the drama going down around me.

I’ve been living with constant waves of disappointment in them and myself.  It’s pretty difficult to enjoy my children in this craziness.  A couple of days ago, I asked the Lord why I don’t have any patience after all my begging for it.  And I got an answer so strong in my spirit that I knew it could only be His voice.  It said:

Stop asking for patience all the time. 
You should be asking for eyes to see the good.

For me that was a mic-drop.

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This whole time, I’ve been begging for patience to help me bear the horrible childish behavior in my home.  I’ve been waiting for a bunch of stand-alone good moments to add up and outscore the seemingly zillions of irritating moments…and the tally remains askew day after day after day.  It would be irresponsible of me to just “have patience” with the sin.  It would be damaging to overlook it–I do have to hold them accountable.  But since I have had this shift in my prayer/thought life, there is a peace that settles over these exasperating situations.  

  • To see the good, I have to look for it intertwined with all the sin. 
  • Good things are alive amidst the turmoil. 
  • In order to see the greatest amount of good around me, I gotta remember that it will be happening at the same time as the chaos is going down.

I have been missing it.  No longer.

He is bringing the good things before my eyes in droves.  I won’t spell them out for you, because they are personal to my experience.  But rest assured, in the heat of the bad moments, the morsels of good rise to the top and neutralize what would become an otherwise nuclear situation.  

And I think He has given me a mini-glimpse into how He sees.
Beauty is everywhere and it is enmeshed with all the ugliness that exists here on the Earth.   

But let’s not simplify it.  He redeemed the bad.  My personal life is a mire, so only through the lense of the Cross can He see the good that is here.  May I never forget that the restored relationship was so crushingly costly to Him.  I am enjoying a lifetime of approval that I SO did not earn.

So while I must still sort through all the nasty habits in my home (which include my own!) it’s coming from a much less irritated place.  My hair-trigger nuke dropper is under far better control. 

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In an effort to journal my development of eyes that see the good, I have been listing my children’s good deeds in my journal/iPhone notes app.  When I look purposefully, it’s much easier to see their kindnesses in action.  (They don’t jump out at me…because good acts are far quieter than the crazy-chaos-naughty acts.)  When I see it, I jot it.  After a couple of days, I have a lengthy list of their good moments in front of me, and this warms me to them.  Love can keep a record of rights, can’t it?  

One time, I even did a little ceremony at dinner by openly recognizing each child’s list during the week.  They didn’t know I was watching.  They were so proud of themselves and each other, and I could tell it was satisfying that their kindnesses did not go unnoticed.

It hurts my heart that I have not been congratulating them very often for the unseen/unheard good acts.  

Also, I am going to use my Instagram from time to time, using the hashtag #eyespursuinggood.  You’ll know that when I have posted an #eyespursuinggood pic, it’s because it was a moment of testing.  I am NOT here to brag on social media about my beautiful life. On the contrary — it will be because I am currently eyeing something good in order to diminish something bad that’s just gone down.

Will you join me?  If you are already my Insta follower, then this is what the tag is about.  If not, let’s add each other and get our eyes set on seeing good things.

I am humbled to have made progress in this area of my motherhood journey…I had to take the long road on this one, but it was worth it.

Leigh

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I have a beautiful walking path beside my home. #eyespursuinggood

Getting my body back vs. Getting enough gym-time

8 Nov

I love me some pregnancy and newborns.

But the three year game of pregnancy redlight-greenlight has trashed my fitness and body image.  Since the miscarriage of 2013, I  have had two more children.  I avoided super-high intensity training while pregnant, opting to keep it simple: walking, a few body weight movements and trying to eat sensibly.  But truthfully, my fitness is at zero, maybe even below zero.  I don’t really ever remember a time I’ve been at zero…I have never gone this long without devoting myself to physical activity and regular gym-time.

Here I am now.  Five kids.  Homeschooling.  Hubby working hours that nearly break us both.  House to manage, dinner to make.  Gym-time is pretty much at the bottom of my list of daily priorities.  Why?  Because even though the real me

(Pause.  The “REAL ME” is now a completely notional figure because I will never be the “real me” again…age is getting its way with me, kids are steadily increasing in needs, speed of life is red-lining.  Sounds like its time to renovate who the “REAL ME” is.)  

As I was saying.  The real-me would rather be having gym-time two hours a day, five days a week.  Actual-me is needed by kids and friends and husband (<–not in that order!).  My people.  They need me.  These relationships will suffer if I put gym-time above them.  

Missing out on the hallowed time in the gym/box/garage, causes a nagging grudge to form and grow.  It’s my favorite way to cash in my me-time.  I keep slipping into false thinking that hours of gym-time is the only way to “get my body back.”  

My internal dialogue keeps screaming YOU WILL NEVER REGAIN YOUR FITNESS!!  (Why does our internal dialogue lie so much?  I was born with a voice in my head that absolutely hates me.)  

Anyway, I have to answer it back with two things.
1.  Getting lean takes nothing more than an intuitive diet.
2.  Having zero gym-time doesn’t mean I can’t exercise.  

Every iteration of exercise (even as short as 4 minutes!)  is a deposit in my strength account.  Diet is what controls body comp.  Gym-time is not part of this formula.  What a mindsaver.  Diet and exercise have two different objectives and let’s not get them mixed up.
Diet is for leaning me out.
Exercise is for the 10 foundations of fitness.

I will eat for energy.
I will lift to be strong enough to help people move stuff.

I will eat to enjoy the experience of food. 
I will run so that I can play anything with my kids and grandchildren.

I will eat responsibly so that I look my best in formal dresses.  (Dang it anyway that I have to wear these dresses so often!!)
I will WOD with my man, because it’s our favorite way to spend our free time together.

I will eat if my stomach growls.
I will exercise because the endorphins are such a welcome respite.

I will not eat if I am not hungry.
I will do push-ups and pull-ups because it is the fastest way to tone my arms.  

I will eat to keep my mood in check. (NO HANGER!)
I will do sit-ups because my abs would like to permanently hang out at the 5-months pregnant position.

I will eat without hang ups about timing, amounts, or macros
I will jump rope to rehab my pelvic floor.  (Sorry dudes, this is what happens when your uterus is basically a clown car.)

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So even though gym-time is at an all-time low, my stress about it is also pretty much gone.  I train when I can, and I am getting incrementally physically stronger.  Eating mindfully will bring about the body comp changes I need to see.

I am mentally weary from chasing empty obsessions…and assigning impossible expectations on things that are circumstance-dependent, like getting enough gym-time.  Food is fuel.  Exercise is physical strength.  Period.

Faith and healthy relationships empower.  Faith and relationships award us with heart satiety.

Am I the only one who has been stuck in the wrong mindset in this area?  It only took me until I was 36 and 11 years into motherhood to be at peace about it.  

Thanks for reading,
Leigh

 

The Waiting

2 Feb

“40” from U2’s War album has been on repeat in my head for the past few days.

How long to sing this song?
How long…how long…how long…

I am in a time of waiting.  Waiting for things that I presume shall fulfill my immediate longings and bring clarity and order to my life.  Some of these things have been in the queue for months, and others for years.  These desires can’t simply be forgotten.  They are woven into my personal journey.

Waiting.  Waiting.  Day after day after month after month after year.  How long will I wait?  At this point, I am emotionally folding my arms, stomping my feet, and pouting like a 5-year-old in a corner!!  I recognize this in myself, and it’s finally driven me to the question: How can I wait well with grace, poise, and dignity? 

How to Wait Well

Compare the words of Isaiah 40:30-31 alongside those of David in Psalm 40, (which just so happens to be the “40” Bono is singing). Isaiah says that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, etc.  Pssshaw!  This all has not sat well with me.  In my time of waiting, I haven’t felt exhilarated.  I don’t feel strong, and I certainly don’t feel renewed.  Waiting’s exhausting.

There’ s one keyword in these passages I’ve been glossing over: I’m weary because I am not waiting on the LORD….I’m waiting on the THING!! 

So back to my question: how do I go about waiting well?

For one thing, the object of my desire simply cannot be a condition that defines my success.  Consider the differences between a goal and a desire. Goals are achievable with hard work.  Desires are different…think: aspirations, wishes, longings.  They are arrows aimed at targets.  We can do everything to set up perfect conditions for the arrow to hit that bullseye, and then we have to keep our fingers crossed that a rogue gust of wind doesn’t knock it off course.

I want some things really badly, but in reality, I have no control over whether they come to me.  How much power am I giving those desires in my life?  I don’t know.  But it helps to identify what’s in my power to accomplish, versus what I can only cross my fingers for.

Secondly, I have recently noticed a few steps outlined in Psalm 40.  I have to share, because it provides a little more clarity on how to wait, with excellence.  

1.  Choose patience in word and action.  Though the waiting is at times a desperate feeling, our actions don’t have to be desparate.  Feelings often catch up.

2.  Believe He hears, upholds us and is our firm place to stand.  No matter how long.  He will deliver us from this, through this, or to something else.  Belief is very empowering, and can carry us through times of uncertainty.

3.  Get a new song in your mouth.  (Sounds better than the 5-year-old whining I default to).  The scripture says He puts it there!  It doesn’t come from willpower!  This new song is a hymn of praise for God and the beauty in creation that surrounds us.  Honestly, it’s much more beautiful to everyone’s ears.

4.  From a place of speaking, believing, seeing beauty…we are able to openly share the story of His goodness.  What a place from which to encourage others!

Waiting, with his grace…
Leigh

 

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