Tag Archives: Family

Connecting with people: lessons from the photoshoot

Photographer
Image via Wikipedia

I joined my friend Jessica Beebe from Remembrancer Photography for a photo shoot today.  We’re getting some photos ready for a new blog I’m developing.  (I’ll keep you in the loop as launch day arrives.)

I posed and pretended to be America’s Next Top Model.  We laughed and strutted down the hallway of our beautiful church building.  As she shot moment after moment, I learned some things about connecting with people.

1.  Lean in :

     It physically shows your interest.  You become engaging and open to the conversation or event before you. 

2.  Lean back:

     It physically shows a lack of interest, an aloofness, even a superiority.

This caused me to wonder if the same holds true in one-on-one conversations.  Sometimes, I sit back to listen to someone because I’m more comfortable.  Do I seem aloof or uninterested?  That’s not my wish.

With my children, I occasionally stand over them and dictate the days events.  Granted, as a parent a certain amount of superiority helps move things along, but if I want them to know I’m really interested in what they say and what they think, will the simple act of leaning in convey my inner thoughts?

This will require investigation. 

Have you noticed other types of body language cues that help you connect better with others?

My choice today:

Lean in to the conversations which really matter.

 

 

Last day of summer break: things to do

An orange check mark.
Image via Wikipedia

1.  Sleep in one last time, check.

2. Watch a favorite T.V. show together, check.

3. Take that bike ride you talked about for the past few months, check.

4. Organize backpacks and supplies, check.

5. Return books and videos to the library (otherwise I’ll forget and build up fees), check.

6. Look in their eyes long and hard, check.

7. Talk about the summer and all we did, check.

8. Sort through at all those pictures, check.

9. Plan the clothes and food for tomorrow, check.

10.  Give solid and squishy hugs off and on all day, check……

 

No regrets, no take backs or do overs.  This summer’s a wrap.

My choice today:

Wrap up this summer with God’s blessing, and pray for the teachers and this next school year. 

5 steps to better bonding with your kids

by freedigitalphotos.net

We adore them, those worming, squirming, strong-minded kiddos of ours.  But that doesn’t mean we get them.  Closeness to them matters more than job security and a good credit line, combined.  Yet, try as we might our ownership manual never arrived in the mail.

We must push their buttons and coax their minds in the hope that we will parentally succeed where others have failed.  What can we do?

5 steps to better bonding with the most complex gadgets we have, our children:

1.  Ask questions. 

Not inquisition style, but inquisitive style.  We ask because we care.  Their thoughts are way more fascinating than TMZ.  Even silly questions build foundations.

I enjoy ones like, “If you could bring any toy with you on a long plane ride, what would it be?”  Remember, when they answer, they share their opinion.  Opinions aren’t wrong.

2.  Think ahead and make the questions complex. 

Remember the good ‘ol days, when your family asked you questions, and you responded with the standard one-word response? Conversation didn’t get very far.

Solid questions require thought.  If you were answering, could you respond quickly in one word or with detail.  Kid convos which include details grow the conversation, lack of details kill it, and not in a good way.

3.  Answer questions.

If our children know they can approach us on any topic, and they won’t be chastised or criticized, the likelihood they’ll return for more questions increases.  I knew a teacher who had a poster in her class which stated, “The only stupid question is the one you never ask.”  If we stick to that attitude, our kids know it and welcome our involvement in their lives.

We will have to let them know we’re open to their questions, though….especially if we have older children.  A simple statement like, “Do you have any questions for me?” opens the conversational door to our lives.  We will have to repeat the phrase often before we hear strong content questions, but silly ones still help them trust us.

4.  Make eye contact.

Ever have someone talk with you who doesn’t look at you?  It’s disconcerting.  This happens to children constantly.  We often need to stoop down to make eye contact, and this small workout pays off more than regular trips to the gym.  It shows how valuable we feel they are.

5.  Plan play times.

Not play-dates with friends, but family play time.  Make sure it suits your family’s personality.  Play could involve word games or rhyming.  It includes video games or Twister.  Play can be as detailed as a full-fledged family baseball game or as simple as a round of Angry Birds in the doctor’s office waiting room.

As parents ,we often tell our kids what to do and not to do, but play enables us to simply enjoy being together, because we like one another.  You could sign up for every movement activity in town and join team after team, but if your family doesn’t enjoy time together, you’ll miss valuable connections which last a lifetime.

My choice today:

Make the effort to build bonds with my kids.

 

In comments, share ways you strive to build better bonds with your kids.

How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily? (part one)

Day lily
Image via Wikipedia

Certain Bible verses stump me.  They pose a thought or idea my mind cannot fully grasp.  Over time some of them have become clearer with practice, persistence and patience.  These are some of those verses:

“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”  Matthew 6:28-30

The first time I read those words, I pursed my eyebrows together and thought, “What on earth is this talking about?  How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily?”

I didn’t get it.

I couldn’t fathom how God would cloth a person as easily as he decorates a flower, it’s so much more complicated than photosynthesis, right?  I mean there are styles to consider and fit.

I could easily spend an hour in any given store trying on item after item and wind up not buying a thing.  How would God carry out such a feat?

I’ve spoken with many people about how they assume I shouldn’t take scripture literally.  They’d tell me it’s an example of God’s strength and capacity, not His fabrication methods.

But in other parts of scripture, He’s darn literal.  I mean Jesus didn’t figuratively die on a cross, He really sacrificed Himself.  Peter didn’t figuratively deny knowing Him, he outlined it in detail.  So, what if God truly desires to cloth us?

I never imagined I’d be testing this, but God does invite testing in one arena.  Our money.

In other stuff, He repeated points out, not to test the Him, but monetarily He says, “Go ahead.”  Actually, He put it this way:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be  food in My house, and test Me now in this,‘ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not  open for you the windows of heaven and  pour out for you a blessing until  it overflows.” Malachi 3:10

Now that’s a lofty promise onto which we often attach our own expectations.  We think He might give us more money, and He might.  We imagine He could grant us a better job, and He might.  But often, we get so concerned with our own capacity to make a buck and pay off our own debts, we fail to put Him to the test.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about this test, but for today:

My choice today:

Trust God enough to take a risk for Him.

Stay at home? Am I dumb or something?

Moms and kids
Image by andrewmalone via Flickr

The stay-at-home stereotype

No one wants to say it out loud, but those of us at home feel it and hear it.

Like the bubbly blond in “Singing in the rain“, we want to say, “What do you think I am, dumb or something?”

A blogging friend of mine, Amy Storms, wrote an article about how she felt when someone responded vocally to her choice as a stay-at-home-mom.  She wanted to punch that person. I’ve felt it too.

In various T.V. shows or articles, the mention of stay-at-home accompanies the expression, “it’s the toughest job on the planet”, but the tone always indicates a follow-up comment, “and I’d never do it.” 

I’ll be honest, I never thought I would stay-at-home, until my kiddos were born.  I’m not knocking my mom’s parenting style, just giving background to my story.

The latch-key-kid

In my early years, my parents found a babysitter for me and my brother.  We’d go to school and at the end of the school day, we’d walk the block to our babysitters until mom or dad picked us up at night.

By the age of eight, my parents felt I had matured enough to stay home by myself, while my younger brother walked to the babysitter.  At the time, society called me a latch-key-kid.

I had a key to our house.  I walked myself home and remained until my parents came at night. I watched T.V., nibbled on any food in the house, and sang while looking in the mirror, imagining myself as a music star.   I also felt very lonely.

Many of my early lessons about people came from fictional T.V. shows. I developed a fear of others, because as a young child I became aware of my limitations.  Locking the door and hiding from the world will do that to you.  While I had a strong mind and got good grades, I lacked adult connections and guidance.

By the time my mother was able to stay at home with me, during my teen years, I had already developed certain patterns for how I dealt with life.  I didn’t consult her opinions.  She was there, but I hadn’t learned how seek her help.

Parenthood choices.

Leaping ahead, my husband and I married in my late twenties.  I already had a career for which I had earned a Master’s degree.  We happily used our two incomes and enjoyed our couple time.  Then came kiddo number one.

My work enabled me to bring her along, and she rolled around on my office floor. As she began to walk and get into things, I hired a homeschooled teenager to watch her nearby.  But, she felt lonely because the teen watched and didn’t play.  My daughter begged me to put her into preschool.  Begged me.  She said, “Please mom, I want to play with the other children!”

I had never heard of such a thing before that moment.

Then came child number two.  The energetic one.  The one who cried every time my office phone rang.  She required more personal attention.  She deserved personal attention.  In the math of our household, my income brought in less than my husband, so I made the sacrifice.

The sacrifice. 

That’s how I see it.  I made a sacrifice for my kids.  I liked the pluses and instant gratification I received in the work place.  Working project to project, we see success or failure instantly.  Getting a pay raise because of strong productivity might as well be our personal trophy for work done well.  We hear kudos from our fellow employees.  We gain confidence each time things work correctly.

Did I mention I was a pastor at the time?  A youth pastor.

I adore telling people about Jesus and helping make an eternal difference.  But a friend of mine gave me valuable perspective when my first child was born.  He called me up and said, “Congratulations on your new ministry.”

That’s how I view my kids.  They are my ministry. 

In simple terms, they are the only ministry I alone can do.  In work, employees come and go.  One accountant quits, another is found.  Even in ministry, one pastor leaves, another comes in.  No one is irreplaceable.  No one but parents.

My children trust me as their mom and no one else. I know this because I lost my father in a car accident and many men wanted to aid our family.  Many took me and my brother under their wing.  But none could replace my dad.

As a parent, I’m irreplaceable, and I answer to God for my choices.

“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (I know it says fathers, but moms we aren’t off the hook.  At the time, women didn’t read.)

So, here I sit at my computer seeking ways to strengthen and use the brain I’ve been given while hearing my girls play in our living room.  I’m here.  I’ll stop typing when they need me.  I play with them.  We talk about all aspects of life.

It is a hard job, but like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s the hard that makes it great.  If it was easy everyone would do it.”

Why is it hard?

1.  I get no pay raise, even though I see success.

2.  It requires me to use skills, which don’t come naturally:  cleaning, cooking, peace making, society building (aka friend connector for my kids).

3.  Rarely is the expression “Thank you” used honestly. (except on Mother’s Day or my birthday)

4.  I often feel unheard and undervalued.

Why do it?

1.  It matters, on the micro and macro level.

2.  It shapes them.

3.  They need me.

4.  It reveals the depth of my love through my actions. 

If you can’t or aren’t staying at home, I pass no judgement.  This is my story, for better or worse.  In spite of my presence, things can still go wrong, and  I wonder what will get thrown back at me when they become adults.  But I can’t go there now, I have to be here.

I believe love isn’t just a word or a feeling, it’s an action we live.  While I know many parents express their love in multiple ways, this is how I live my love.

My choice today:

Actively love my family.

How about you?  How do you live your love?

 

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