What Makes You a Better Mom?

My post from: The Better Mom Blog

From 123RF Stock Photos

 

We are always striving to be better. Better having more patience. Better structuring time management. Better managing our health. Better in our roles as mom.

At day’s end, when I flop into bed, rather than letting myself drift off to sleep, I will often stare up at the ceiling and contemplate what I could have done different that day as wife and mom–and what I could have done better. How could I have responded better when the situation required self-control? What would have been a better approach during a teaching moment with my child?  How could I have been a better support to my husband after he came home from work? I even wonder how I could have prepared a better meal for dinner. (Easy: ordered take-out!)

Each one of us can look at our day and cross-examine our behavior but we have to be careful not to berate ourselves in the process. Having a humble, submissive heart before God and asking Him to help transform us is a powerful prayer when wanting to improve and do a better job. For King David tells us: “Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path.” (Psalm 27:11)

For me, I know I need to submit and surrender to God those habits and tendencies that prevent me from not just being better in my role as mom but from being more Christlike. For if I can reflect God’s image, then I can be “better,” but by His standards, not my own, and certainly not by the world’s. And it’s such a process, isn’t it?!

As moms, we have the opportunity to look to God for refinement, and to take advantage of the situations that come up where we can practice becoming the person He wants us to be.  “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalm 26:2-3)

As much as we want to teach values and insure that certain characteristics are being developed in our children, is as much as God wants to do the same in us. There is a refining process going on that the Lord is doing in me and I need to remember that He continues to mold my character even while I am in the process of raising my children. I just wish I could be molded before they grow up so I can give them my very best, but I know that won’t happen!

So what is it that makes you a better mom? Choosing to play a board game with your child instead of doing the household tasks that can wait? Taking time to replenish yourself by doing what is meaningful to you? Is it when you are enjoying quiet time with the Lord, escaping to a can’t-put-it-down book or perhaps being able to connect with other moms and friends on a regular basis? Maybe it’s in the moments when you take your child to the park when you’re lacking energy to gear up and head out the door, or that moment you decide to stay on their bed when they want to talk at 9:00 p.m. and you still have a kitchen to clean up and lunches to make.

I have read so many parenting books and have stacks on my nightstand, and the floor, with sticky notes bookmarked at the pages I want to re-read. There are chunks of paragraphs with underlines, highlights and stars at that places that I need to re-read and remember to put into practice.   Are they helping me be a better mom? In some ways, hopefully, or at least helping me understand my children and myself  in the process which hopefully makes me a little better! Watching and talking with my friends and other moms helps as well, as I believe we learn from one another.  I do believe God provides us with resources in the ways He knows will help us (a book, a class, a conversation, He knows what you need and how you need it!)

Ultimately, the question for me really isn’t what makes me a better mom but who makes me a better mom.  The answer is the Lord.  And with Him at our side, we’re even better already.

LESSONS IN OVERCOMING HARDSHIPS FROM PETE THE CAT, PART 2

I know I posted this on Friday from  The Nerdy Book Club , but I have received several responses from parents on how this book encouraged their kids….wow! Who knew?  Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Have a favorite book that you really connect with? Please share!

LESSONS IN OVERCOMING HARDSHIP FROM PETE THE CAT

My daughter brought home a book entitled Pete, the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, by Eric Litwin. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable with most of the picture books out there, but this one I had missed and am grateful that my daughter didn’t.

The story begins with the main character Pete, a four-legged feline, who, when out walking, experiences a few misfortunes that alter the appearance of his white sneakers. Depending on one’s outlook, this could be considered a huge disappointment or a minor inconvenience. After each mishap, the author lets us know that Pete chooses “to keep walking along and singing his song. “

I don’t know about you, but I have to work hard at not getting rattled when events occur that I hadn’t anticipated. Through whatever means each of us resorts to when they do, be it prayer, positive thinking, a trip to the therapist’s office, yoga class or maybe an encouraging pep talk from a supportive friend, it’s probably fair to say that we do our best to stay focused and not allow setbacks to derail us from moving ahead. (It is after all, one of the bitter-sweet themes we witnessed in these Summer Games from some of the Olympic athletes in their moments of defeat.) Perseverance, ambition and dedication are traits that, those of us who are parents, most likely have topping the “characteristics-we-want-our-children-to-have” list.

Not only does the theme of moving forward take its place in Pete’s response but so does the meaning of remaining faithful to one’s character.  After each event that alters Pete’s white shoes, Pete not only keeps walking along but keeps singing his song. Another wonderful lesson: despite the challenge, stay true to who you are.

So thank you, Mr. Litwin, for illustrating such important principles through this beloved fury friend. We all hear and know these truths, but sometimes we encounter seasons in our lives where our spirits are low and motivation tanks are running on empty. We question whether to push forward when stopping to have a tantrum is what feels most natural. Sometimes, we just need a Pete to remind us that in the face of interruptions, obstacles or disappointments, we need to keep walking along and singing our song. Maybe even at the top of our lungs.

 

 

Lessons on Overcoming Hardship from Pete the Cat: Today’s Nerdy Book Club Post

If you like children’s picture books, this one has a great message about staying true to who you are no matter the circumstances…and staying the course. A great message for our kids and the kid in all of us!

Click here for my post from today’s Nerdy Book Club

 

 

 

Beginnings, Middles and Ends: New Starts Do Get Easier

I always tell my girls that starting something new is often like starting a book: you need time to explore it before you get comfortable. You need time to hold the book, look at the cover repeatedly, get to know the the characters, the story line and comb through the various scenes so you know exactly what is happening.   Once you get through the beginning, you reach the middle where familiarity and comfort sets in.  You know the characters involved and may grow to care for them (while others you could do without). You’ve got a grasp of the setting, plot and action. Soon, you become hooked and can’t put the book down.  Then you close in on those final chapters, the falling action and resolution. It’s time to say goodbye to the story but you don’t want to let go.

It’s hard to leave something that you have invested in, that has grabbed your heart, been exciting, joyful, bitter-sweet, made you cry or made you feel that you traveled through an adventure. And parting ways with characters whom you feel you have gotten to know as if they were real people can feel as sad as saying goodbye to a living and breathing old friend whom you rarely see.  Sometimes letting go of a good read is so hard, that some transition time is needed before starting a new one.

New experiences are no different.

One of you children may have started Kindergarten this month, elementary school or is switching schools.  You may have a son or daughter who left for college, is starting a new job or living in a new city. Your child could be participating in a particular activity or sport for the first time and you are trying to encourage him/her to step out of their comfort zone and give this new thing a try. Maybe YOU are going through a new season yourself….starting in a new job, pursuing a secondary degree and having to go back to school. Maybe you are taking up a new hobby or pursuit like preparing for a marathon or starting a new business from home or career.  Maybe it is a season of having to get use to not having someone special in your life. Beginnings can be exciting and keep us on the edge of our seats while we await the outcome of living out the details. Some people thrive on the process of fresh starts while others find them nerve-racking. Beginnings can be just plain old uncomfortable and some of us would do anything to get around them and hurdle over to the middle.

So what do we do during those beginnings?  We know the tried and true feel-good affirmations: “Face your fears,” You can do it,” “Just put it ‘out there’ and everything will all work out,” “Think positive,” “Picture it happening and it will.”

The one I’d like to add to the list may not be so conventional nor tossed around like veggies in a salad nearly as often:  “My times are in your hands.” This sentiment was voiced by King David to God when he was on the run from King Saul  and being betrayed by friends.  While fleeing from his enemies, David asks God to deliver him from those who are pursuing him. It would be easy for him to feel that his circumstances are in the hands of those who are out to get him.  If you read Psalm 40, you see that David doesn’t give his enemies control over his life even though he is on the run to save it (hopefully, this is not a challenge any of you are facing but there are times when we feel overpowered by people or circumstances outside our control.) David appeals to God for control because he knows God is ultimately the One  in charge of his life…not others.

While David waits, God is at work. Doing, preparing and developing so He can move David (and us!) to a place where He wants us to be or shaping characteristics He wants us to have. Where do you turn  in those new situations that may seem daunting? Do you take matters into your own hands and feed them with fear, doubt, worry, what ifs, and the voices of the world?  Who is really in charge of your beginning, middle and end and how can you be encouraged to rest with comfort when you are in any one of those places?  We can turn to God to give us what we need in each place by remembering that He:

Upholds us (“I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10)

Helps us (“I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13)

Has compassion on us (“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” Isaiah 30:18)

Gives us strength (“He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29)

Rescues us:  (“You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” Psalm 40:17)

Answers us: (“In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”) Psalm 5:3

Whatever new situation you may find yourself in or your child, remember that living out the beginning moments takes time, faith and patience before reaching that fabulous, comfortable middle.  Enjoy the process, for beginnings and middles become ends all too soon.