Thoughts on a 20-Year High School Reunion (unedited)

LauraAll Posts1 Comment

It feels like I haven’t written a post in ages. I’ve been using every spare moment to plan my high school 20-Year Reunion. Now that the reunion is behind me, and I have a few minutes to return to this space, my mind keeps freezing when I think about writing. I’m out of shape. (It happens so quickly. Like physical exercise, the ability to write dissolves after 3 days of disuse. Did you know it takes 3 weeks to get into shape, but only a matter of days to fall out of shape? Oh, humanity.) At any rate, if I don’t start typing and simply click “publish” at the end of it, I may never write again. So.

We held the reunion last week in the town where I grew up, right down the street from my Alma Mater. My husband and I hadn’t used Exit 31 off the Turnpike in several years. Driving back into Lansdale was kind of like driving into Disney World – my face was glued to the window as we drove by a lifetime of familiar images that had lived in my memory but were now 3-dimensional and real again. Not to mention, I ooo-ed and ah-ed over the new and impressive townhouses and businesses that had gone up since we last visited the area. Lansdale looked great: it was the same, yet mature, yet beautifully with-the-times. I could tell that someone has been taking good care of it.

For weeks before the reunion, I had been praying that the atmosphere of the event would be warm and welcoming; I wanted all 120 people who were attending the party to feel that they belonged, that they were special human beings made by God. I knew I couldn’t sit them all down and read them a touching picture-book about their inherent worth, nor could I personally connect with each person or serve them tea, so I was relying on God to create this atmosphere and experience.

Because I was planning the event from 3 hours away, I didn’t know what the ballroom would look like until I arrived a few hours before the reunion began. Ryan and I expectantly walked into the lobby, into the ballroom, and realized that it was…only “fine”. Certainly not what I had been imagining: the metal-framed chairs looked square and stiff, the air smelled like stale cigarettes. There were no chandeliers, no draping fabrics, no twinkle lights. The room simply contained a cash bar, a small dance floor, and 12 round tables with chairs. This wasn’t the “warm and welcoming” atmosphere I had imagined.

Though we had planned to decorate later in the afternoon, I felt the impulse to do something immediately – to fluff up, to rearrange, or add something pretty to this otherwise bland atmosphere. I only had a few bags of decorations, but I got to work right away, placing wooden discs, ball jars, and periwinkle Hydrangea on each table. I added a few objects from various high school subjects – stubby oil pastels on the “Art” table, cracked crystal geodes on the “Geology” table. It wasn’t a miraculous transformation, but it did something to the space, moving it from a blank canvas to a space with a fingerprint. When I was finished, I felt a similar satisfaction to when I brush my daughter’s hair, or wipe my toddler’s runny nose, or zipper up a child’s jacket. After all, it’s often a few simple touches that transform us from “only fine” to “dearly loved”.

My favorite part was later that evening when my classmates started appearing in the hotel lobby. I sat at the Registration Table and greeted those familiar faces that glowed with a magnetizing combination of youthfulness and maturity. (I’m not exaggerating or waxing poetical… each person really seemed to glow.) Though my brain couldn’t access everyone’s name right away, their faces were of course! It’s you! My greatest joy was that every single person was more beautiful than ever, as if each one had been adorned with more confidence, strength, and big-heartedness over the years.

This was the surprise I hadn’t anticipated.  And I’ll never forget.

For an hour, I said it over and over again as I hugged familiar faces, shoulders, and necks from across the Registration Table, “This feels like Heaven! It’s so good to see you here.”

The reunion was 5 hours of mingling, music, food, some dancing (for the bravest amongst us), and remembering. Almost everyone stayed until the very end.

At the end of the evening, I stood back and took a deep breath, enjoying the realization that God Himself had granted my request. It had been a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It had been joyful and good. I don’t know if each person felt special but I, for one, saw them that way. My classmates are special, dearly loved people. Someone has been taking good care of them, and I feel delighted.

 

Kids Laugh A Lot (Rewrite)

LauraAll Posts

(Does this title look familiar? That’s because I rewrote a post about enjoying laughter in our homes for the True Woman blog at ReviveOurHearts.com. Enjoy!)

Kids laugh a lot.

A child’s laughter is glorious. Why, just today, my kids were giggling uncontrollably at someone’s antics, and I wished I could bottle their contagious, delightful laughter. I’d treasure that precious bottle forever.

Have you ever taken inventory of what makes children laugh?

They laugh about a vast array of noises: screams, beeps, blurps, dings, and whistles.

They laugh about a vast array of bodily functions, especially the accidental ones.

They laugh about peculiar birds, curious monkeys, outspoken puppets, buckets of slime, knock-knock jokes, and plays on words.

They crack up when characters trip, slip, fumble, and bumble.

They hoot when they are pleasantly and suddenly surprised. They chuckle when the same thing happens over and over again.

(Read the rest at ReviveOurHearts.com…)

Kids Cry A Lot

LauraAll Posts

Our kids cry a lot.

That’s what came to my mind yesterday after the third episode of tears in a matter of minutes. I often tell myself, “I can’t stand all of this crying!”

But children do cry . . . a lot.

Especially the little ones. In fact, the littler a person, the more he or she cries. All of the books say that newborns cry for three hours a day. (Three hours a day!) I think the books should mention that this doesn’t suddenly go away when baby digs into his first birthday cake. Toddlers rival that three-hour statistic with vigor! Quite honestly, daily crying doesn’t really stop until . . . until . . .

(Read the rest at ReviveOurHearts.com…)

Dear Fathers and Mothers: You’re Hired.

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood

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In these uncertain economic times, you may wonder if your employer will retain you, if you are valuable enough to stay on the payroll. Today, focus on this: you’re hired to do one of civilization’s most important tasks and you are irreplaceable.

As a father or mother, your job of loving and teaching your children is vital to their well-being and our culture’s endurance.  That single child in your home, or that little group of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 15 children are our heart and soul. We’re all relying on you to love, educate, and equip them.

You’re hired to teach them the importance of honesty by speaking truthfully to them.

You’re hired to teach them the necessity of kindness by being kind to them, and to all people.

Teach them the dignity of human worth, of all colors, classes, and countries by reaching your arms out to others.

Teach them how to resist cruelty, rudeness, and abuse. Teach them how to speak up for the destitute. Teach them how to be brave, to do the right thing, and to keep their word.

Make time to go to your public library and check out books about our country’s history and dignity. Make sure you’ve read the Declaration of Independence aloud. As a family, read through the Constitution, bit by bit, with mugs of hot chocolate and minds toward understanding. Tell them – show them – how important it is to understand and participate in our noble government.

Check out books about historical heroes and imagined heroes – the kind who fight for what is right and have teachable hearts. Snuggle up on the couch and read about people from other countries and cultures. Read about truth, beauty, and goodness.

Join your children in serving your neighbors and benefiting your local community. Let them know that their hard work and sacrifice is an important part of building an entire country, and blessing the entire world.

Teach them the irreplaceable value of understanding our human frailty. Teach them the greatness of God, who made us – each one of us – with infinite value, dignity, and worth.

Read aloud from the Bible, seeking to understand the story that is greater than all of us, but includes each of us.  Teach them how to forgive and how to ask for forgiveness. Teach them how to love in word and deed.

You’re hired to do a job that requires time, energy, heart and soul. We need you now more than ever, and you cannot be replaced.

 

Motherhood is Good for Women

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood

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I want to share some thoughts about one of motherhood’s most mysterious blessings. It’s this: as a mother seeks to build a home that is good for her children – one that inspires their happiness and holiness – she simultaneously builds a home that is good for her.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been working hard to understand child development: my desire is to bring lifestyles and experiences into our home that will help our children to thrive. I’ve discovered that my studies and hard work are actually helping me to understand human development in general, including my own.

I’ve noticed something: motherhood is good for women because that which is good for children is good for women.

Every time a mother leads her child to fresh air, she gets to throw her head back and breathe in deeply, too.

Children and mothers (Ryan chimes in, “Fathers, too!”), we all thrive in the same atmosphere. Our souls breathe the same air and our minds are nurtured on the same sustenance. Maybe that’s why I’ve discovered that it is literally good for me to be around my children, to be living like they live, every day.

At the risk of sounding too dreamy, I believe that motherhood can enrich, strengthen, and stimulate women every day. This is a gift from God.

I’m just one woman sharing how this is true in my life, hoping that it inspires you to look for ways that motherhood is good for you, too.

What’s good for my children, is good for me…

In the morning, I lead our children in prayer to our Heavenly Father as the sun highlights the sky above the pond. Then we listen to His Word as we eat a hot breakfast together, slowly, regularly. We talk about Jesus, ask questions about Jesus, and offer answers about Jesus, sharing one-by-one as final spoonfuls are savored and dishes are washed.

I keep this morning ritual for their sweet hearts, but I find my own awaking.

When I push back the curtains and push open the windows to bring fresh air into their growing lungs, I am bringing fresh air into my own lungs. I hustle them out the door with shoes on feet and hats pulled over their little heads. We step outside and I look for the horizon, my eyes take in the beauty of the earth and the glories of the skies. I think about our Creator. I get the kids walking to stretch their legs, maybe we sing a favorite song as we go.

Fifteen minutes later, we return home and I feel my own blood pumping.

I gather the children around the piano because I want to fill their hearts with beautiful songs. One of the kids usually plays a drum, another may play the violin, and, oh, what to do about the harmonica player… 🙂 What’s left of our little choir sings:

“My worth is not in what I own,

not in the strength of flesh and bone,

but in the costly wounds of love,

at the Cross.”

As we sing, I hold little Audrey on my lap, her hair tickling my cheek, and I remember and “rejoice in my Redeemer, greatest treasure, well-spring of my heart”.

F0r 10 minutes we work on memorizing poetry and Scripture, to build their minds; I find that I am building my own mind. During this daily habit, I am developing a stronger memory than I’ve ever had in my life, not to mention building a store of beneficial material to rehearse throughout the day.

Sometimes we look at beautiful artwork or nature together. Sometimes we make art together. I pull down my own sketch book from the shelf and become better at sketching than ever before in my life. Other times I gather some props and teach a life-lesson – about kindness or courage or sharing – and I listen to myself as I teach the children. I’m forever thinking, “Oh how I needed this lesson today.”

Throughout the day, I read aloud enriching literature to help the children understand history, science, and humanity – and I become more well-read than ever before in my life. My Master’s Degree in English Literature doesn’t compare to my education over the past 11 years of homeschooling. I’ve read widely and deeply across the disciplines.

I understand and appreciate literature, science, and history infinitely better than ever before.

I work hard to provide life-giving food for the children – blueberries, cantaloupe, oatmeal, almonds, eggs – and find that I feel healthier when I eat well, too. We sit down together when we eat (most of the time), we talk together, and build our relationships.

This is good for me, through and through.

In the afternoons, we enjoy a quiet hour so the children can read — each one in his or her special spot with a book in hand. I brew some tea and invest that hour in writing and reading, two of my loves.

My work during that hour is deeply satisfying. The peace and quiet restores each of us.

We serve others and pursue people in need. I want my children to love other people well and to learn that the secret of life is imitating our humble Lord. As we serve, my own heart is softened and matured. My guard goes down.

I find my dependence on God’s grace.

I plan playdates for the kids’ enjoyment, wanting them to build good friendships and to have fun.  But, I find that greeting the other children and enjoying fellowship with other mothers builds me up just as much. While the kids play, get to chat, to listen, to laugh, and to share.

It’s a delight to my soul.

I look for little adventures that will broaden our children’s horizons and capture their imaginations, beckoning them to be discovers, wonderers, leaders, heroes, and God-worshipers. Wherever we go and whatever we see, thrills and inspires me.

I am stretched and I become more courageous.

What a blessing it is to be a mother!

When we work hard to bring light, air, beauty, truth, goodness, exercise, music, literature, adventure, traditions, celebration, service, fun and friendship into our children’s lives, we bring them into our own lives.

So, jump right in! Walk along beside! And snuggle into a world of wonderful things that psychologists and experts will always say are good for the human being.

Motherhood is a gift from God – a gift to children, and a gift to women. (“And to men!” Ryan adds.)

 

While I Have a Minute… The Agony of Infertility

LauraMotherhood

Ryan and I asked God to give us our first baby for over 2 years.

Somehow “making a baby” wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be.

As months of negative pregnancy tests piled up, “please pray that God would give us a baby” became our only prayer request at every gathering. Sometimes I feared that we were tiring our friends with our one-song, our one-hurt, our one-want, our one-need. But we couldn’t stop the longing. We asked, we begged, we pleaded. We met with doctors. We tried special diets.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day… month after month… the ache grew deeper.

I keenly remember one day in our teeny-tiny house when we got a new CD – Waterdeep’s “The Purest Place.”  We popped it into the CD player and heard the track, “Proem”.

Everything good and beautiful seemed to swirl around us in those 20 seconds. Something about this child’s prayer disarmed us… it was the whisper of vulnerability… it was the ache of hope.

We fell into each other’s arms and wept.

I happened to have heard “Proem” again today, over 12 years later. It still touches a deep place in my heart. Mostly, it reminds me about the agony of infertility.

Those days of waiting hurt like nothing else.

If you are waiting for a baby, I just want you to know that I am thinking of you this week.

 

This Month’s Bibliography: Fortresses, Hip Circles, and Hot Cocoa

Laura"This Month's Bibliography", All Posts, Homeschooling, Morning Time, Motherhood

Just as a bibliography lists the works that developed a piece of writing, this post will list some of the things that are enriching and informing my life this month.

I hope you discover something in this collection that is helpful to you and becomes a part of your bibliography, too.

After you’ve read this post, would you share a bit of your own “bibliography” in the comments? I’d love that!

What I’m Reading and Loving:

I’ve been savoring every line in Heather Holleman’s recently released Guarded By Christ.

Heather was our neighbor during our short stint in town and I loved her right away. She loves Jesus with all of her heart; the wisdom and helpfulness of her book are fruit of her fellowship with Christ. I can’t wait to finish my first read-through and share a complete review with you. (P.S. If you haven’t yet read her first book, Seated with Christ, please do! It is mind-shaping and life-changing.

How I’m Keeping Up With the News:

A few months ago, I subscribed to The Skimm, a funky news digest. Every day, I receive a short and sweet (and often sarcastic) summary of the day’s headlines. It keeps me in-the-know about the basics and gives me topics to discuss with Ryan in the evening.

Though its writers seem overly-enthusiastic about alcohol, and it is a far cry from the Washington Post’s literary formality, the Skimm is my speed these days and I like it. Check it out for yourself!

What Moves Me: 

Literally, Dr. Bri from “FemFushionFitness.com” gets me moving!

In my former postpartum days, I’d cue up our hardcore T25 DVD’s or jump right into a running program. This time around though, my body is begging me, “oh please don’t!” So, I went on a search for something that would be challenging and nurturing at the same time.

Enter Dr. Bri, whose goal is to make women smile. I know that sounds corny, but she is an encouraging advocate of women’s health, knowing that a healthy woman tends to be a happy woman. She is as bright as sunshine and extremely knowledgeable. (A wonderful combination!) She’s a big fan of hip circles, which – who knew? – make me feel awesome. (Have you tried a few hip circles lately? I bet you’ll love them!)

Dr. Bri’s work-outs are fashioned for the female body’s strengths and potential weaknesses, making special consideration for a woman’s many life-callings and changes, including motherhood.

I especially enjoy her quiet and quick Workout for Naptime. In 15 minutes, I get my blood pumping while taking care of my recovering postpartum body.

What I’m Reading with the Kiddos:

We just love Eleanor Estes’ books and are currently enjoying Ginger Pye – an almost-mystery about 2 endearing children who love, lose, and (spoiler alert) find their beloved Ginger Pye dog.

I have to switch voices and rhythm to tackle Harold Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. Though it is written in a more formal prose, all of the children love it. Pyle writes in such a way that the reader can feel the earth move beneath her feet when the horses and their knights are stampeding onto the battlefield.

What We’re Memorizing: 

The children and I work on memorization every day during Morning Time. We just finished memorizing Psalm 91, which is the perfect dovetail for our Medieval History unit as well as to my personal reading of Guarded With Christ. Now, we’re about 4 verses into memorizing 1 Corinthians 13.

We just finished memorizing “The Jabberwocky” by Louis Carol and “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” by Ogden Nash. I wanted to start the school year off with 2 fun, theatrical poems that appeal to our son as well as our daughters. Boy, do they appeal! The children LOVED learning these two poems and have a hoot acting them out.

We’ve just begun memorizing the introduction to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. To me, this selection is important for our children to know because it reminds us that, at any point in time, there will be wonderful celebrations and terrible tragedies. God is sovereign over all, and we need not be afraid of, surprised by, or consumed by only half of life’s story.

What I’m Drinking: 

‘Tis the Season for hot chocolate! For the next 6 months! Vivienne made a batch of Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa mix. We put it in a half-gallon Ball jar and have been enjoying the rich, creamy treat in our favorite mugs. With marshmallows, of course.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me, tell me… what is something special that’s a part of your life this month?? I’d love to know.

 

When 5 Loaves and 2 Fish Are Not Multiplied

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood, Teaching

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We count on God to multiply our work. We recount the story of the loaves and fishes, saying “I’m giving God what little I have, and He will multiply it!”

But what about the times when He does not?

What about the times when the 5 loaves and the 2 fish don’t end up feeding hundreds? What about the times when they only feed 2 people, just like we feared they would?

I love to teach; it fills me with so much joy. I’ve been blessed by the opportunities to teach 4th and 5th grade Sunday School students, Penn State students, Grace Prep high school students, and women’s Bible studies. I’ve taught nursery school children, dolls, and babies. I’ve taught from podiums in large ballrooms, from chalkboards in average classrooms, and from tables in the library as I’ve tutored students one-on-one. I’ve loved every minute of it.

Like Eric Liddell who felt God’s pleasure when he ran, I feel God’s pleasure when I teach.

When I am in the midst of a season of teaching – say, a women’s Bible study – I feel so close to the Lord. I ask Him for guidance during my research and preparation. I ask for His blessing on my students. I ask for His presence during my teaching. And I offer the gift back to Him. I pray,

“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. As I teach, take the glory! Make the most of my small offering.  I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”

I offer my time, energy, and best abilities to God because I want Him to use it for His glory! I want Him to make the most of it and to multiply it. When He does – and when I see those baskets-full of miraculous surplus – I feel like I’m really serving Him. I feel like He’s really pleased by my offering. And He may be.

But…

But… what about the times when there is no multiplication? No miracle?

What about the times when my time, energy, and best abilities remain as humble and unimpressive as they actually are?

What about the times when the 5 loaves and 2 fish are just… well… 5 loaves and 2 fish?

What about the times when God isn’t using my gift to feed the masses?

What about the times when God is not using your gift?

Sometimes, when I have a quiet moment or two, I acquaint myself with my longing for the rigors of teaching in a formal setting. I long for a classroom of eager students, for research and preparation, for the satisfaction of improving, enlarging, and inspiring people as a teacher.

Sometimes I feel like my “teaching gift” is dormant; that God isn’t using it right now. I tell myself that maybe He will use it again – maybe – in the future.

I pray,

“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. You are not using it in a big spectacular way at this moment, but I will still offer it to You. I will still lay it in your hands. I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”

As it turns out, He is asking me to teach. Not from a podium, nor a chalkboard, nor a library table. Not even in a Sunday School classroom. But, He’s using it at the kitchen table, on the couch, from the driver’s seat, at the baseball diamond.

Right now, I teach our five precious children at home. Over the years, I’ve struggled to count this as real “teaching” even though every day, I teach my five little students everything good, noble, and praiseworthy that I can think of. I teach them as many practical and helpful life skills that I can. I give 100% of myself to their well-being and their development. I go to bed the way a human should – entirely grateful and entirely exhausted. And I sleep like a champ.

During this season of life, teaching for me is small and humble. I’m not on a hillside with hundreds or thousands of students.

And yet, for every loaf of bread I have – there is a hungry mouth to feed. 

I’ve discovered that sometimes the crowds don’t need my gifts to be multiplied, but instead one person needs the whole meal.

In any circumstances and in all sorts of company, may I offer everything I have to Jesus, trusting Him to use them as He sees best.

 

We Changed the Way We Talk About Sex with Our Kids

LauraAll Posts, Healthy Living, Learning at Home, Motherhood

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When it comes to sex ed, I’m from the last generation of kids that will remember the blush and shock of “the talk”. Back then, the trend was that we heard the word “sex” from our parents during a special one-time conversation with a special one-time book during our early tweens (which didn’t technically exist back then). We didn’t hear the word again for at least five more years when it became more of a reality for our maturing hormonal bodies. Before junior high school, we didn’t tend hear or see the word “sex” anywhere except next to an “M” and an “F” on standardized tests.

These days, the word “sex” is a comfortable part of our every day speech. Even our pastors use the word freely in their prayers and sermons without issuing a warning a week in advance like they did in the olden days. I’ve changed with the times and find it easy to talk about sex with my husband and friends, but I’ve struggled to find my groove when it comes to talking about sex with our children. I know that they will hear and see the word everywhere – from the grocery store to the church pew – but I haven’t known how to use it well in our home, considering their young ages and varied developmental stages.

Two years ago, I stepped into uncharted territory by introducing our 9 year old daughter to the concept of sex very slowly using two fantastic resources that I hope to take off the shelf soon for our next daughter. First, we read a chapter from The Care and Keeping of You each week. Then, we read slowly through Dannah Gresh’s It’s Great to Be a Girl!: A Guide to Your Changing Body, concluding the year with a sweet talk on the front porch about the basics of sex. I’m so grateful to God that this experience was everything I could’ve wanted: it was just the right amount of information at just the right time.

In the 2 short years since we transitioned our oldest daughter from childhood naïveté toward an ongoing understanding of God’s plan for sex, our circumstances have changed dramatically. For starters, all of our younger children are now two years older: they are two years more observant and two years more curious with questions that are two years more difficult. In addition, our surrounding culture has become increasingly more saturated with sex than every before… in just two short years!

If my husband and I don’t talk to our children about sex before they are 5, we could be Person #427 and Person #428 to expose them to the word.

That’s not how we want things to go.

We believe it’s a privilege and responsibility to introduce our children to God’s gift of sex.

We have the opportunity to establish a foundation around the word “sex” that is full of goodness, truth, beauty, strength, dignity, and gratitude long before the world has the opportunity to offer its cheap, degrading, and unstable perversion of it. I want to make the most of our opportunity as parents, but I haven’t quite known how to do it.

Thankfully, I came across the 2-part Revive our Hearts interview with Josh McDowell entitled “Raising Children with a Heart for Purity“. The timing of this helpful interview was so perfect: I listened to it a few times and took copious notes. I jotted down the “7 A’s”, which are building blocks of healthy relationships with our children. I copied down the encouraging words that McDowell spoke to his own children: “You are created in the image of God with infinite value, dignity, and worth!”

I also read Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex, the book that McDowell wrote with his wife, Dottie.

We’ve immediately applied two significant and helpful lessons from these resources:

1. To build a wonderful, trusting, and honest relationship with our children day by day, and

2. To talk about sex openly and honestly from the time our children are very young, addressing their questions in frequent 1 – 2 minute conversations. “Talk about sex early and often” were McDowell’s words of advice.

McDowell says that we have opportunities to talk with our kids about sex every day: TV commercials, magazines, and social media provide countless relevant topics for conversations.  As the world inundates our children with sexual images and messages, we can make the most of each opportunity by transforming those messages into the building blocks of a healthy and holy understanding of sex.

I discovered that I could apply McDowell’s advice immediately. Every few days, I’ve discovered a simple opportunity to speak openly, honestly, and biblically about sex with my kids – and it has been great.

 

Here’s one example of a recent conversation: Last month, we listened to the first few chapters of the book of Matthew. One of the kids asked what it meant that “Joseph did not know Mary until after Jesus was born?” I decided to go for it and casually said, “It means that they did not have sex until after Jesus was born so there would be no confusion or doubt that Jesus truly is the son of God.”

This was the first time I used the word “sex” in front of all of the kids, down to the very youngest one. I acted calm-and-collected, but I actually had butterflies in my stomach!

Of course one of them asked, “Sext? What’s that?”

I used McDowell’s simple two-sentence explanation about what “sex” actually is (read the book!), and made sure they heard me say that sex is a good gift from God for a husband and a wife to enjoy together. 

The kids just nodded their heads and moved on to hypothesize what Jesus must have looked like with 100% of Mary’s genes. “Maybe he had the Holy Spirit’s nose?” Meanwhile, I caught my breath! 🙂

Our novice conversations certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re a start. I can’t guarantee that my words will prevent poor decisions or ensure a particular attitude, belief, or behavior from my children, but I feel very good about creating an honest environment in our home regarding such an important part of life. Hopefully, this ongoing conversation will strengthen them to think well about God, sex, and culture.

 

A Boy’s Thought Life: It’s Like a Race Car Track

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood, Motherhood Hacks

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When it comes to teaching our children how to manage their emotions, I’ve always appreciated Rachel Jankovic’s helpful comparison: emotions are like a horse. I think it’s in her helpful book Loving the Little Years that Jankovic writes about teaching her daughters that their emotions are like a horse they’ve been given to ride along a mountain ridge. They must control and guide their emotions just as they would control and guide a horse. One moment of carelessness and they may be slipping down a steep precipice at top speed, but with proper care, they will enjoy the beautiful view and adventure of life. I’ve used this metaphor to help our children understand God’s gift of emotions as well as His gift of self-control.

Recently, I realized that I need a metaphor to teach our children that they can control and choose their thought lives, too.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

The word-picture came to me one night when our son was struggling with some fearful thoughts from a nightmare that just wouldn’t go away.

Though he is only 5 years old, I want to help him understand that God has given him the responsibility and privilege of controlling his thoughts.

I wanted to show him that God has given him a special power over fearful thoughts.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

When children struggle with nightmares and fears, we can take these opportunities to teach them a life-long spiritual skill: how to choose their own thought life.

If our children can understand and practice this habit regarding childhood nightmares, they’ll be strengthened to face temptation, discouragement, bitterness, lust, jealousy, discontentment, and anger in the future.

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When our son comes to me with a quivering lip and shares his fear about a giant lion, or a crumbling building, or whatever may be keeping him awake at night, I tell him that his thoughts are like a race car track.

“It’s like there’s a race track in your brain and you can only drive one “thought car” at a time,” I explain.

As long as he is driving the “giant lion” car around the race track, he’s going to feel afraid. If he knows that the “giant lion” car is not good for him because it’s keeping him awake, he can stop driving that car and choose another one.

I tell him, “There are hundreds of amazing cars you can choose from”: you can drive the baseball car, the friends car, the LEGOS car, the poetry car, the book car, or the song car! Choose any of those fun things to think about and it’ll be like you’re driving an awesome car around the track.  Of course,the best and greatest car to drive at any time – and especially when you are afraid – is the Scripture car. We just memorized Psalm 91, right? Well, I suggest you drive the second verse around your track: “I will say to the Lord, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust“.  Drive that car around and around by saying it over and over again until you fall asleep.”

In essence, I’m aiming to teach our children Phillipians 4:8 in real time.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Sometimes when I work with our children through their fearful thoughts, I see amazing growth. I love when I ask, “How’s it going?” And they smile real big and say, “Great! It’s working!” Other times, it seems like we have the same conversation several weeks in a row before we see a breakthrough.

But I’m convinced that as children learn how to choose their thoughts, they’ll experience the joy and peace that comes with it. And, no doubt, they’ll want to maintain the habit down the road.