Tag Archives: thriving in motherhood

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

Thriving in Motherhood (and other demanding seasons of life).

25 Feb

THRIVING in motherhood.

Moms, did this title grab you?! Surely by now, they have come up with just two or three steps that I can adopt, which will help me pull it all together, so that I can proudly say “I got this.” And THEN, I’ll sit down, put my feet up and read my book with my coffee in peace, while things around here are off and running effectively. Perpetually.

My heart claws for something, ANYTHING to make this motherhood journey more graceful, clear, predictable, and if possible, that I remain largely undisrupted. Regrettably, there is always more. More laundry, more groceries, more dishes, more clutter. More spit-spray on that bathroom mirror. All this endless hassle-work when our souls are screaming for rest, solace, order. (When you think about it, everything under the sun constantly moves toward disorder, and we can only do so much to subdue the process.) Not only does it feel as though I am simply biding my time, but I am starting to develop this rather awful martyr mentality.

I want to enjoy THIS, to thrive IN it, to draw strength FROM it, rather than just bear it. I want to do this well.

Sorry, I don’t have that many answers, but I have found one thing.

This is as life-altering as discovering clean eating in that epic Urban Gets Diesel post back in July ’09.

About a year ago I read a beautiful book: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where you Are by Ann Voskamp. I am now doing the corresponding devotional that accompanies it.

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Life’s pain, disappointments, inconveniences come at us like a fire hose. Voskamp artfully conveys there is really only one response that makes any difference: Gratitude. Meticulously and purposefully taking stock of everything that blesses you, in the MIDST of the chaos. The dare: to pen 1,000 gifts, WAKE UP to God’s everyday blessings, and “embark on a transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling gifts.”

So I took her up on her dare. Listing gifts…not gifts I want, but gifts I already have. A few excerpts from my personal journal:

  • Squeals of joy over a bubble bath.
  • Pounding feet on the stairs when I call “breakfast time!!”
  • The smell of that first cup of coffee greeting me in the dark hours of the morning.
  • Peaceful warblings of our parakeets.
  • How much they love those parakeets.
  • Baby kisses.
  • Her one golden curl that always flies away in the same spot.
  • Broad shoulders in his Army uniform.
  • Reddish glow on the backyard as the sun rises over the mountains.
  • Snow ice cream.
  • Happy songs coming through the baby monitor.
  • Little fingers playing the piano.
  • Freshly laundered pullover, still fragrant and warm from the dryer.
  • Five-year-old boy hands.
  • Steam rising from 5 piping hot dinner plates.
  • His returning motorcycle’s thunderous growl
  • Really crunchy red apples.
  • French linen chairs.

Can I tell you what has happened to my outlook ever since I began this discipline? A complete paradigm shift. Chaos waned. The mundane and tedious is seasoned with surprises and blessings that make every day fresh, and far more fulfilling. As the list grows, these “little” things begin to take on big significance. This is living. This is enjoying. This is grace.

It’s a constant stream of gifts from the Lord just for me. I have become obsessed with looking for them. It’s seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). And, it’s the only way I have been able to successfully apply 1 Thessalonians 5:18– give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Laundry will never be done, the dishes will always pour in. Legos, broken crayons, birdseed and matchbox cars scatter everywhere, and fingerprints smear all the way up and down the walls of the stairwell. But, LIFE is happening all around me. And it is beautiful.

This discipline of gratitude is crucial to counter life’s brokenness, disappointments, frustrations, disorder. We are surrounded by innumerable graces and glories. Actively noticing is how we enjoy it, or else we are at risk of becoming very bitter, worn out, and jaded.

Just like we are striving to eat clean, we must think clean. Grab a notepad, or get the app! Tune in to the amazing beauty and grace around you, and start really living. Every season can be the prime of your life!

Marvel in your journey,
Leigh (with plenty of discussion with my dear friend Wendy)

I live here, and I am blessed to see this view on a daily basis.

I live here, and I am blessed to see this view on a daily basis. The graces captured in this image are countless.

Some things are so beautifully pure.  Find them, and let them bless your whole day

Some things are so beautifully pure. Find them, and let them bless your whole day

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