Archive for Parenting

Five Minute Friday: Roots

“There are two lasting gifts we can give to our children: one is roots, the other, wings.”

It’s a famous quote. My mother cross- stitched it way back when and hung it in my room. I installed it last year on the wall for a friend who is wonderful at giving roots to her children and her grandchildren as her family grows and grows.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, though I might not have used those words.

We live a fairly good “American Christian” life, I’d say. Church every Sunday, lots of family friends who share our values, careful choices about media and technology and activities to protect our children and family time, occasional project-y service and giving efforts and lessons thrown in.

But what do I really want to root my children in? Comfort? What do I want them to fly toward? Worldly success? If I take an honest look at our life, I’m pretty sure that’s what we are teaching. Good job, comfortable home, nice vacations, new clothes every season, college funds…and we take it all for granted.

Yet the answer I really want: rooted in Jesus. His love for them, and nothing else. Flying to Jesus, and nothing else.

It’s creating a lot of tension in my heart and mind, and I’ll be wrestling with it for a while.


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With just 5 minutes

If you know me at all, you know that housekeeping is um, not my strength. As I just said to someone recently, you know it’s bad when I’d rather exercise than clean!

Sadly, this is one attitude I’ve been able to pass on to my children with great success. With any reference to picking up or cleaning, lots of moaning and procrastinating ensues.

So lately, I’ve been trying a new tactic. With no notice, I’ll issue this decree: Let’s spend 5 minutes and see how we can make this house look better. Or, what can you do while I finish dinner to clean this up?

Its actually met with some success! Especially the short chunks of time, because then they know they can move on to something else. They won’t be trapped in their disaster areas rooms all day.

It hit me this morning that I should be posing the same sort of questions to myself throughout the day. Some issues in the world seem so overwhelming. I can’t possibly make a difference, and so it’s easier to just look away.

So instead, what if just asked this question more often: what can I do to make this world a better place right now? How can I be Jesus’s hands and feet in the next 5 minutes? How can I take quick action to move more toward restoration? What can I do with this 5 minutes that might be more redemptive than checking Facebook. Again.

It might be a quick phone call to encourage a friend. It might be educating myself just a bit on an issue. It might be a quiet moment with God, or it might be quickly filling a big of old children’s books for the local shelter.

The heart to use each moment well is at least as important as the what I actually do. Time is one of the most precious gifts He has given us, but it’s limited. What can I do to not just throw it away? There’s no such thing as “just” 5 minutes.

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Sweet sibling sounds.

Another 24 hours from the couch.  It’s getting kind of old!  As the kids finished up dinner last night, I laid back down.  And I crashed.  Hard.  I know the nap was at least an hour – probably longer.  And as I woke up but laid still, my children were beautifully playing board games on the family room floor.  They were giggling, encouraging one another, and just generally having fun.  They were also playing “name that artist” on Pandora.  This is their latest game – yes, we do listen to a lot of Christian contemporary music – and they love to guess who is singing the song.

I can’t tell you how this one thing overwhelms any other thoughts of gratitude I could have for the last day.  The last several months have been marked by squabbling.  Oh so much arguing, “she’s being mean,” name-calling, excluding one another, teasing, etc.  After 7 years of sibling bliss – they have always been good friends and enjoyed one another – they have been making up for lost time in the argument department.

I’ve been a bit at a loss, and we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how our home and family are placed where we get encouraged and built up so that we can deal with it when the world tries to tear us down.  We’ve memorized James 1:19 together : “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” We’re working on Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, so that it may benefit those who listen.”

I haven’t seen much progress.

So on an evening where dad had to work late and mom just had to take a nap, what a sweet blessing it was to find my children playing peacefully, enjoying one another, and singing along to some great praise songs to God.

Call that #90.

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Fall beauty


I’m just thankful for the beauty of this day.  We took a drive to get some apples out at Skiles Farm Market.  The trees along 26 were gorgeous!

I needed the beauty of the day, because it turned into a bit of a challenge in the parenting department.  And yet with the visible reminder (above) to find something to be thankful for – I looked for the good.  And I’m easily reminded that I’m not alone in raising my kids.  Not sure what I’d do without my heavenly Father to guide me.  Or to bring grace when I screw it up.



I’m thankful for…

21. The incredible beauty of an Indian summer day.

22. Farmers.  Their endless hard work enables us to enjoy such bounty!

23. Particularly Farmer Nate.  Each week I love seeing the face of the man who works so hard to provide us with fabulous vegetables all summer long!  I appreciate the chance to show my kids a bit about how food shows up on their table, too.

24. Soccer coaches who show up every week and work to educate  and lead our kids, even when they’re frustrated.

25. That I’m not in this parenting thing alone, even when I’m alone for the weekend.

26.  I thank God that He knows my children way better than I do, and that He’s willing to listen and to provide guidance – if I remember to ask.

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A Perfect Example

Sports is a big part of our lives these days.  I’d venture that the majority of us have at least one child practicing and playing at least one sport throughout the year.

I’ve been around soccer for many years with Andrew, my 14-year-old stepson.  He started “travel” soccer at age 7.  We’ve seen lots of games.  And year by year, as he’s grown older, we’ve seen it become more competitive.

How can I tell it’s more competitive?  Sure, by the talent we see on the field.  But mostly – from the tempers that flash from the players and the parents on the sidelines.  I have to give credit to the coaches; most of them keep themselves together.  But for parents who are instinctively protective, it’s no-holds-barred when it comes to yelling at the opposite team or a ref when they see something they don’t like.

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, I’m guessing you’ll hear today about the Detroit Tigers pitches who was denied a perfect game.  Quite frankly, the 1st-base umpire just blew a call.  You can see it on YouTube – there’s no question that at the final out of the game, the batter hits a ground ball and is thrown out at first base.  And the ump calls him safe.

The way that Armando Galarraga responds is beautiful.  He smiles.  He doesn’t throw a tantrum; he just acknowledges that no one is perfect.  He gives that umpire wonderful grace, and celebrates in his heart that he knows he just pitched a perfect game.  He did his job, and that’s enough for him.

As I send my kids out onto the playing field, he’s the perfect example for my kids for his depth of character, his graciousness.  It’s a spirit that I would love to see pervade youth sports.

For a similar perspective, and a link to the video, see here:

Teel time –

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An Inconvenient Truth

So Wednesday was the last day of kids’ choir at our church.  To end the year, the wonderful choir directors plan  party to just let the kids have fun with music and with each other.

For this year, I’ve had a great carpool partner, and for the last few months, she has been taking my daughter to choir after school.  This is very convenient, because our church is across town.  I know that it’s not really THAT far, but at 3:30 when you’re contemplating dinner, homework, and swimming still to come that evening, it seems far.

So, the schedule last week was slightly different, and it caused an hour gap between school and choir.  My carpool partner – very understandably – decided to just have her kids skip the party and come home after school.  She called me and told me she would just bring my daughter home.  I said that was fine – and thought I’d convince her that she didn’t really need to go to her party.

When she got home, she was already a bit upset when she walked in the door.  When I started to mention not going, I immediately had tears.  I was annoyed.  I was in the middle of something “more important.”  (Who knows what it was?)  I didn’t want to drive across town.  I didn’t want to occupy myself on the west side for an hour while she was there, and it’s too far to come back home and go back.  So I went from annoyance to all-too-visible frustration.

And then, I knew.  I was the one who had encouraged her to sing in the choir as a way to worship God.  But more importantly – this was something that was very clearly important to her, even if I didn’t understand exactly why it was such a big deal.  And I love my daughter.  And isn’t that one of the ways we demonstrate love to one another – by making a priority of things that are important to those we dearly love?

So, I stopped my attitude in its tracks, and we jumped in the car.

As we were driving up 231, I felt the check in my spirit from the Father.  “You say you love me.  Do you make a priority of the things that are important to me?”

Over the last couple of months, a recurring theme I’ve been thinking of is that I just don’t serve others very well.  I serve in a “corporate” way at church, but to actually serve a single person…I’m just not very good at that.  To go into a nursing home, or face a homeless person, etc – well, not something I’m eager to do.  I have a thousand excuses – mostly around too many other things to do – and how it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable.  Mostly serving and reaching out to others is something that stays in the “good intentions” area of my life.  I think and talk about doing it – but it never hits the top of the priority list.

Yet, I am called to do it, and it’s greatly important to the Father.  He left us on earth to be His hands and feet to the least of these around us.

Serving Him and those He loves isn’t about what’s convenient – it’s about doing it simply because it’s important to Him.  If we will allow His great love for us to truly fill us, and feel the power of that, we won’t be able to help but make it a priority.

Something I’ve still really got to work on.

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