One plan for dealing with misbehavior {aka “the time I forgot about consequences”}

When I had Knox, the older boys were just finishing up the second half of Spring semester. A month after he was born, I attended parent-teacher conferences. During one conference a teacher asked me, “When ____(insert name)___ does something he’s not supposed to do, what is his consequence?”

Crickets.

Oh shoot! Consequences? I had completely forgotten about consequences.

What I wanted to tell her, but wisely didn’t, was when the boys got too wild or broke a rule, their “consequence” was an angry mommy… or the command, “STOP IT!!!!” or choice words yelled across the house.

Feeding a newborn every couple hours made it challenging to remember the importance of an effective discipline system. Meeting the needs of a baby was all-consuming. Providing for physical needs of 3 other boys, then possibly meeting some emotional needs AND executing thoughtful discipline on top of it all? Forget about it.

But her question, “What is the consequence…” stuck in my head for several days. She reminded me how off-base my discipline had tilted. Maybe it had just fallen off the wagon all-together.

For me, discipline swings on a pendulum swinging between too-strict and too-permissive. When things get too permissive, it gets too chaotic in our home and it robs the joy.

James Dobson gives a memorable analogy (this is my summary…) Suppose you are going 90 mph on the highway and pass a police officer. What if the officer could only stand next to the highway and yell as loud as he could, “Slow down!!” & blow his whistle…would you stop speeding?

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But imagine driving with your kids, jamming to your Seeds Family Worship and you see the lights of a police car in your rearview mirror (not that this has happened to me…merely an example). 😉 Your heart beats rapidly as you roll down the window to hand over your license & registration. You wait anxiously for the officer to return to the side of your car and determine whether you will be handed the dreaded ticket requiring you to pay a large sum of money.

For the next month…or year…when you get to the specific road you were pulled over, you make sure to go well below the speed limit. And it worked…behavior changed by a consequence.

For a long time I’ve been the police officer just yelling from the side of the road. My kids called my bluff & there was no change in behavior.

Then I was flipping through the book “Good & Angry” by Turansky & Miller and was reminded of a simple way to deal with misbehavior at home. It gave me a plan to implement in those moments I want to just shout “no!”.

Here is my version of their plan for handling misbehavior:

  1. Unacceptable behavior occurs
  2. Ask the offender to sit on our bottom step
  3. Tell him to come find me when he is ready to talk about his behavior
  4. When he finds me we talk through the following questions:
  • What did you do that was wrong?
  • Why was it wrong?
  • What are you going to do next time?

**End with “Now go try again!” (my favorite part…they leave encouraged instead of discouraged).

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I’ve found the boys typically know what they did wrong. But they rarely can express “why” it was wrong (a child development issue…most kids struggle with the “why”). Talking through the why helps form their moral code. For example, “Why was it wrong to hit your brother? Because God commands us to love one another. Hitting someone is not loving or kind.”

Then talking about options and ways to respond next time has also proved helpful in reducing bad behavior choices. For example, “If he takes one of your toys and it makes you upset, you could tell him, ‘I was playing with that car. You can have it when I’m finished.'”

I’m not going to lie & tell you life is grand & my boys never fight or disobey. No ma’am. But I have a plan now. When the baby needs to be fed & someone makes a bad choice I have a tool I can pull out instead of yelling.

What consequence system have you found to be useful? I can use all the help I can get!! 

Seeking God’s Plan for my Boys

Only God knows what kind of men my boys will become. And so I seek Him and ask Him to give me wisdom. Wisdom to know His plans. Eyes to see their uniqueness. And then words to direct their hearts towards His calling.

Today I’m writing over at the MOB Society about casting a Godly vision for your boys (also true for girls…but the site is for mothers of boys afterall…). Click here to read the article.

To go along with the theme of my post I wanted to share a video of my two oldest boys we made last week. The only prompt I gave was: “Do y’all want to help me tell others about HelloMornings? Lots of ladies will see it and maybe want to join me in waking up early. You have one minute to talk about why you like when mommy wakes up early.”

This is the result:


So I speak this vision over my eldest son…”God has gifted you with the ability to craft words. You perform well in front of others…with passion. You have a wonderful sense of truth and share it well. I can’t wait to see how God uses these talents for His glory.”

What gifts do you see in your children? Have you sought God for wisdom in how He could use those gifts for His glory?

Such a high calling to take the raw material God has placed in my hands and shape it for His purposes. 

What We’re Reading {Roxaboxen}

This monday a major event began at my son’s school…the Reading Rally. What’s “reading rally”, you ask?

Think of a jog-a-thon…but instead of getting sponsored to run laps around a track, students are sponsored to read books (1-2 cents/minute). Each student sets a reading goal for the month. There are medals to be earned. Big stuff people.

Of course, for Quade there was no other option but go for gold. Which means we will be reading at least 3,000 minutes this month. Whew.

He’ll read aloud and I’ll read aloud and Bruce will read aloud. It’s gonna be epic.

I figured since we would be spending so much time reading it’s the perfect time to start a new series…

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Being a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I know the importance of reading to your children. But it wasn’t until Quade started attending a Classical Christian school that I understood the difference between quality literature & “twaddle”.

As an SLP my requirements for a “good book” were: simple sentences, theme-based vocabulary, and interesting illustrations. I looked for books with few words per page, ones which allowed me to ask good “Wh-” questions, facilitated further conversation and helped teach story prediction skills.

Now I have new requirements for books we read. I want books which instill values, demonstrate desirable character qualities, encourage creative play, and affirm importance of nature, animals & older generations. The richer the characters, the imagery, the story line…the better.

“What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us.  The greatest university of all is a collection of books.” -Thomas Carlyle

Thankfully his school provided a wonderful list of books which fall in this category of quality literature.

For the “What We’re Reading” series I will share a book a week, give a quick synopsis and share why we like it. (maybe someday it will become a link-up?)

Our first book is one we love to read while eating lunch on our back porch or at the park.

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Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (for ages 3 to 8 years old)

Synopsis:

Across the street on a rocky hill children found old wooden boxes, rocks, cactus, and thorny ocotillo (you’ll learn what those are in the book). Adding imagination to these simple materials they create a wonderful world, called Roxaboxen, with homes, ice cream shops, and a city hall. Rocks became currency. Twigs became a steering wheel for a car. A stick and string transform into a horse. Those ocotillo’s become weapons in the great war of boys versus girls. Best of all, no matter the season or the passing years, “Roxaboxen was always there.”

Why we like it:

Having grown up with several acres of woods behind my house, I love the idea of creating a world with natural elements. I remember my best friend and I found trees full of vines and imagined an entire carnival and town in those trees.

This book reminds me of simpler times. All a child needs is a stick and his imagination and unplanned hours of play. Fun to give my boys a vision of what they can create when they play outside.

What are you reading? (have you ever read “Roxaboxen”?)

Do You Trust Me? {lesson from the Horse Whisperer}

When Knox arrived a year ago, my other three little guys experienced chaos and upheaval. For a solid 6 months (2 months before the birth, at least 4 months after) stood a tired and highly emotional mom.

Our relationships suffered. My boys just didn’t trust me. Eyes questioned my harsh tone. Bodies leaned away from my reach. They didn’t believe I had their best interest in mind.

Fortunately I’ve spent the last year rebuilding that trust. But it’s taken a focused effort. More patience and understanding on my part.

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This process of rebuilding trust all made more sense when I recently read, “Horse Sense for People” by the Horse Whisperer (Monty Roberts). This man trains horses in an unconventional way. He does not use harsh methods. Instead he develops a trusting relationship with the horse and establishes he is not a threat to the horse. Then he proceeds with training.

He learned horses are fight or flight animals. “To saddle a horse, for example, is to provoke the sense that he is being attacked by a predator and this leads him to act in self-defense.” Traditional trainers keep the horse chained up and then whip him when he attacks or tries to get away. They work from the principle, “You do what I tell you, or I’ll hurt you.”

The Horse Whisperer realized he had to communicate to the horses they could trust him, and he had to earn that trust. He found he could help the horse to discover the joys of working together, all without coercion and pain.

Even though my boys aren’t animals (a fact hard to believe sometimes), there is something to be learned from the Horse Whisperer’s insight. By establishing trust, my boys learn the joy of partnership and working together. They are more willing to accept discipline because they know I have their best interest in mind (not just for my comfort & convenience).

Isn’t that the approach God takes with us? Our entire relationship with God begins with faith (or trust). A faith He does not force upon us. We are given the free will to believe in the existence of God, to believe He loves us, to believe He sent His son to die for us.

He does not force us into obedience. He provides rules (laws) for our own benefit, safety and blessing. He desires a relationship with us. Not only a relationship, but a healthy, loving, growing relationship.

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Jesus approached the disciples the same way. He did not force them to follow him but proved himself loving and trustworthy. Once they viewed him as a Rabbi/leader/teacher, he trained and corrected them. Take the calling of Simon Peter:

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

(Luke 5:4,5,10,11)

Do you feel like your kids trust you? How do you help foster a trusting relationship in your home? 

*As I was processing this concept of trust, my son brought home the book “Lass” by Roland Gebauer. This story is about a man who gains the trust of a wild sheepdog, trains him how to herd sheep, and the dog ends up saving a single lost sheep. A great story to read with your kids about God’s redemptive work in our lives. IMG_4819

Tozer and a Face Wax

The only redeeming value to the story I’m about to share with you was knowing I got to share this story with you. And thus begins the story of the worst grooming decision I’ve made to date.

All I wanted was a pedicure. Yes it’s “winter” and technically no one sees my narsty toes. But I see them and it makes my mommy heart happy to see pretty colored toenails. So when Bruce offered to stay with the boys so I could get out of the house for a couple hours, I slipped on my flip-flops and ran to the nearest nail salon.

The experience was going just as I hoped. With ear buds in place I listened to lofty music letting the massaging chair knead away any “baby on my left hip” knots. The girl next to me flipped through the latest InStyle magazine, while I cracked open “Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer. (I’m weird.)

Halfway through my pedicurist, “Lydia”, asked if I wanted the paraffin leg wax. Wisely I asked how much it would cost… five dollars extra. I told her “no, thank you.” She persisted and so in my typical people pleasing ways, I explained why…”no, that’s okay. It’s winter and no one really sees my legs.”

Appeased with my reasoning on the seasonal use of paraffin wax, she continued with the pedicure while I tweeted the following:

“The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems.”             -A.W. Tozer

As I sat getting my feet massaged the world all made sense with His words. He captured the essence of being God-centered. In order to not be swayed away by the mundane in life, one only needs to focus on the right belief of God.  Oh Tozer, you are one smart guy.

Then with the skill of a surgeon the pedicurist slid flip-flops back on my feet. I looked up as she gestured towards her eyebrows and asked, “Would you like to get your (pointing to eyebrows) wax?”

Self-consciously I brushed my own eyebrows, considering what was being implied. Apparently I had walked around with caterpillars for eyebrows and never been told.

I mean, I had glanced in the mirror while hastily putting on my makeup and noticed a stray hair in need of a pluck. I do own tweezers, but there usually isn’t time for such frivolity.

Given my uni-brow status and the money I’d saved not getting the $5 paraffin wax, I made my first mistake by saying, “Okay let’s do it.”

Immediately she led me back to a little room. A bright floral patterned sheet covered a bed of some sort to which she gestured for me to lie down. After examining my horrific hair situation through a giant magnifying glass, she gestured to my upper lip and asked in broken English if I wanted to get it waxed as well.

Seriously? Have I been walking around like a Neanderthal and no one has mentioned it?

Here I made my second major mistake.

So I nodded “yes” let’s do the lip while we’re here and you’ve got the wax. And I thought, “How nice for her to consider my facial needs and offer to wax my lip for free?” (Public Service Announcement: “nothing in life is free”).

Well, everything went downhill from there. After the upper lip waxing she continued and waxed. my. chin.  Before I knew what was happening, she tilted my head to the right and slathered hot wax on the left side of my face… quickly placed the strip of cloth on top of my cheek and RIPPPP! Searing pain.

I would have walked out right then, but how could I with only half a face wax?

So more ripping and burning. My entire face was on fire.

I was bamboozled. 

Finally she released me to greet a room full of women with my bright red clown face. To add insult to injury when I checked out I discovered my little torture session cost  $30!!!

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My face hurt. My pride hurt. My wallet hurt.

Now I got to face my husband and admit to handling our money poorly…not that he would make me feel bad mind you (When I told him the story he responded with, “Well, I have been calling you Zach Gallifinakis behind your back.”…thanks honey.).

As I dealt with a bad rash on my face and relived my teenage pimply angst, I couldn’t help but think about that Tozer quote…temporal problems removed with the right belief of God. 

You can’t get more temporal and shallow than a botched face wax.

What did this problem reveal? My continued struggle with worrying about what people think.

Yes, God loves me no matter how much hair is on my face or how blotchy it is after attempting to remove my apparent beard. Do I really believe He loves me no matter what? 

Nope. All I cared about was covering up the bumps with layers and layers of makeup. Searching for the perfect lotion to heal my face as quickly as possible…

So I’m putting this puzzle back in your hands.

How we handle these little “bumps” in life, if our reaction reveals our deepest beliefs about God? How do you stay God-centered when you get bamboozled into a full face wax?

(Pst…and also feel free to share any moments you have made similar unwise grooming decisions.)

Whether it’s 70 years or just one…

This past week I’ve found myself pouring over the book of Jeremiah. I know it’s an odd book from the Bible to “pour over”. I’ll explain.

Have you ever written out this verse in a graduation card or given it to a friend going through a hard time:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Did you ever consider who God was talking to when Jeremiah wrote these words?

(I’m going to tell you no matter how you answered that questions…).

Way back in 605 B.C. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar (remember him from the book of Daniel?) to attack Jerusalem and take many Jews (including Daniel & his friends) to the foreign land of Babylon.

Even though I had a rough 2012, it greatly pales in comparison to what was going on back in 605 B.C. First of all, I stayed in my house. No one forced me to move to Mexico. Even though I felt captive by motherhood, there were glimpses of freedom. I have the hope of children growing and eventually become independent adults (bittersweet truth).

But the Jews lived in a strange place for eight years before they received these words from God via Jeremiah in chapter 29. What was God’s message?

  • “Build houses”
  • “Settle down”
  • “Plant gardens”
  • “Marry”
  • “Have sons & daughters”
  • “Find wives for your sons” (vs 5& 6).

Basically, make a new life in this place. He encouraged them to “seek the peace and prosperity fo the city to which I have carried you into exile.

Then the kicker…

“When the SEVENTY YEARS are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” (vs 10).

(And THEN follows the famous “for I know the plans I have for you…” verse)

Did you catch how long they would be held captive?

70 years.

This may have come as quite a blow. In those eight years they may have held the hope that “Any day we may get to go back to Jerusalem”. Then they hear the news that captivity is going to last a wee bit longer.

Imagine you are one of the older Jews taken to Babylon. Your age + 70 years in captivity = never seeing the promised land again.

BUT God did promise restoration.

Even if they had to wait 70 years rescue was going to happen. God would make things right again. 

Many years later, Jeremiah while imprisoned in Jerusalem wrote more words of encouragement from God:

“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it (Jerusalem); I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.  I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.” (Jer 33:6-7)

No matter how long they had to wait, God was going to bring healing. He would rebuild Jerusalem. They just needed to stay connected to Him in the time of waiting.

“‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’, declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back from captivity.'” (Jer 29:13-14a)

I don’t know if you feel like you are in a season of captivity. Maybe life isn’t going the way you had hoped. Perhaps your husband is out of work. Or you are living in an unfamiliar town. Or maybe a loved one was just diagnosed with a sickness.

You are living in unfamiliar “land”. You long for the comforts of home. 

In my case, last year, I waited to feel like myself again. My mind was trapped in negative thoughts. Held captive.

But just like He promised the Jews, He has brought me out of that place. I am amazed out His provision to deliver me.

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The other day at lunch with the boys I turned on my favorite “Les Miserables” Pandora station. I just couldn’t sit and listen. So I began to show off my middle school ballet moves. Then, the boys fought over who would get to dance with me next (best kind of fight). As each song came on they listened with intense attention as I shared the amazing story of redemption of Jean Valjean. It was glorious.

“Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 33:10b-11).

Hold on dear friend. He promised to restore the Jews. If you seek Him, you will find Him. Seek Him with all your heart. He will bring the sounds of joy back in your home. He will bring thankfulness back to your voice. You will one day dance in the streets of the promised land.

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The one-sided lunch date {an update on the boys & the book}

Wouldn’t it be fun if we planned to meet for a 3-hour lunch date? We could sip iced tea, eat some warm baked potato soup and share what God’s been doing in our lives.

Okay…maybe we will have to settle for a one-sided date. A monologue of sorts…me blabbing on and on about myself (and my boys).

Maybe you can email me or comment below your latest happenings so I don’t feel so guilty for the self-indulgence today. Deal?

The Boys: 

Quade is blowing us away with how much he can learn in a very short period of time. The other day I was trying to help him with a four digit subtraction problem (note: he couldn’t even do simple addition 5 months ago) and my head hurt with all the carrying of numbers.

He’s reading amazing literature. Books I’ve never heard of before but I’m loving. This week we’ve been listening to him read “Paddle-to-the-Sea” about a hand-crafted little wooden canoe a boy releases from Canada. You follow with the toy on its adventures until it reaches the sea (we are right in the middle of the story…so I can’t tell give away the ending).

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My favorite Quade moments are listening to him describe his latest inventions. Like a growing stuffed animal and an everlasting cookie. The future looks bright my friends.

Price, my previously challenging child, is such a precious, precious spirit. (sidenote: If you have a challenging child right now can I encourage you to just hold on. I know that may not help in the moments you want to pull your hair out…but hold on. Pour on love and one day you will reap awesome.)

We picked him up from church last Sunday and his teacher went on and on about how genuinely sweet and nurturing his heart is. How he helped a new child in their class feel included. And for Bruce and I who love to meet new people and invite them into community, the praise for loving “the new kid” resonated with our souls.

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Price is a people person. On the days its just Knox, him and I, Price will literally talk the entire time. I’m soaking him in. Over our lunch of hotdogs & Pringles he asked why I had “crying eyes”… I said, “It’s because I’m thankful to have this special time with you. Did you know with three other brothers these moments are rare? I’m so very thankful.”

Oh and this happened last Thursday (3 stitches above his eye). A word of advice: when you are riding a scooter in the house please keep a look out for the stair banister (there was already a goose egg on his forehead from when he was flying a kite and tripped over the scooter he didn’t see).

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I’m going to write more about his injury next month over at the MOB Society…stay tuned!

Watts. Oh Watts. So cuddly soft and yet so stubbornly hard. So completely three and a half. When we went to pick him up from Sunday School the teacher said, “I don’t think he knows his name. Does he go by another name?” I burst out laughing!! I mean, even Knox (the 11 month old) responds to his name.

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So, yes, sweet church volunteer, he does know his name. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really care what you have to say. Thank you for loving him well. Let’s just all pray he asks Jesus into his heart…soon. We need some Holy Spirit up in here.

40 minutes after putting him to bed he came downstairs and asked if we would buy him this pet someday.

40 minutes after putting him to bed he came downstairs and asked if we would buy him this pet someday. He liked it’s hair.

Knox is the boy I find myself stealing away to spend one-on-one time when the other boys are loud & wild. He is a bundle of sweet, smiley preciousness.

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He’s learned the “trick” of raising his arms above his head, for “soooo big”.  He’s learned it gets a big response so he does it whenever there is an audience. The other day we were listening to Pandora and “Single Ladies” came on. We came up with our own version, “All my single babies, All my single babies, put your hands up!”. 😉

Another fun new trick. uh...not really.

Another fun new trick. uh…not really.

The Book:

Back in November I woke up early and wrote. I stole away on Saturday afternoons and wrote. Instead of watching late night T.V., I wrote. Soon I had three chapters. Then I asked several friends to read them and give feedback. On the whole these friends were very kind and encouraging, but I got a sense the chapters weren’t quite right yet. But I didn’t exactly know how to fix them. So I sent them on to my agent…despite their imperfections.

While I waited for his response I got nervous.

But God “said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I decided even if he gets on the phone and tells me my chapters stink, it would be okay. I would boast all the more gladly. Because then it would be even more amazing if a book is ever written…it would have been God’s strength in me.

But you know what? We talked. And Bill liked them! He really did. Not that I need “man’s approval”, but this man has read lots of books and helped lots and lots of authors.

You know why he liked them? Because he saw God.

Yes, I have some pretty funny and self-deprecating stories in these chapters, but they all go back to God’s work in my heart. In removing myself from the throne and acknowledging God’s rightful place. 

Bill encouraged me to keep God center in my writing. Which is exactly the way I want it to be as well. All praise to God!!

Okay I’ve blabbed on long enough…tell me at least one exciting/new/challenging thing that’s been going on with you? I’m serious. 

The Time Her Deafness Taught Me to Listen

There are so many stories to share with you from what’s been going on in the Mac home ; funny stories, injurious ones, happy-news ones… But first I want to share this particularly story from my past (my pre-kids, pre-Dallas days).

Susan stood out among my graduate school speech-language pathology clients. Each semester we were assigned 3-4 clients. By graduation we were required to have seen a variety of cases; adults, children, speech, language (yes there is a difference between speech & language…).

I had never treated a case like Susan’s.

Her speech-language disorder started at birth. Born without the ability to hear sound and given the official diagnostic label: “deaf” (or less preferred, “hearing impaired”).

As an adult, against research and doctors’ advice, Susan underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant. A modern miracle, this technology gave her the sense of hearing. No sound–>sound. In a moment.

But let me explain, just because sound came in her brain didn’t mean she understood what she heard. There were no “files” in her brain for sound. A therapist taught her associate meaning to sound. And to hear the difference between a knock on the door and the doorbell.

My job was to help her use her voice correctly; to adjust her intonation to match the intended meaning. To learn the importance of a pause. For instance, without a pause these sentences take on completely different meanings. “It’s time to eat, Grandma.” (pause with the comma) and “It’s time to eat Grandma.” (no pause)…a life or death difference (excuse the dark humor). In speaking and reading, pausing is important.

She taught me pausing was important in living, too.

Working with Susan I felt I never really used all five of my senses. She opened my eyes (and ears) to experiences I rushed passed.

Her fifth sense laid dormant for decades, only to be flipped on like a switch. Now even the smallest noises seemed important.  The sounds my brain filters out so I can focus on the intended target, were loud and meaningful to Susan.

The Walk

A time which sticks out in my memory is when she entered the therapy room smiling from ear-to-ear. She couldn’t wait to tell me what happened that morning.

Day after day she walked along the same sidewalk with her dog. At a specific spot on their familiar walk she would hear a sound. Looking around she could never pinpoint its source. Until, on this particularly morning, she looked up. Above her head peeking out from a nest, she saw the tiny tweeting beak.

She couldn’t hide the joy from hearing a new sound, a song unheard for the four decades of her life, a simple bird’s song.

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photo credit

Susan’s story reminds me to stop and notice God’s presence around me…throughout the day. The noise of the world will drown out His voice if I don’t stop to listen. If my brain is trained to filter out His voice, so I can focus on what I think is most important, then I miss His whispers.

Yes, I hear Him when I am sitting in my leather chair during quiet moments before the boys’ feet hit the floor. This is my anchor point. Or like in the case of Susan, this is when the sound of His voice is given meaning. In the quiet, without distractions, I can tune in and know truth through the Holy Spirit and reading His Word.

Then when the boys descend the stairs and the crazy waves start rolling in, I can stay centered in His presence. I can hear Him in the chaos because I know His voice. I can dwell on His message because I took the time to hear it.

Interestingly God refers to himself in the present tense when He tells Moses His name, “I AM”. He is present and this is where I want to be. Present in His presence, experiencing indescribable joy…despite circumstances.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

Today take a moment to stop and listen. Perhaps your kids are yelling your name. Listen farther, past the sound of electronic toys. Do you hear the buzz of the refrigerator? The sound of cars driving past your house? A bird’s song in a nearby tree? Can you hear God whispering your name? Do you know His voice?

May we lean in to listen. To love Him, believe Him, hear Him, even though we do not see Him, God is here. He is working. He wants us to join Him and experience the joy of His presence. 

Curious about hearing God’s voice? I did a great study once by Priscilla Shirer called “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God”. She has another study called “Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking.”

The habit I couldn’t establish with willpower alone

Two years ago I signed up for my first Hello Mornings challenge. I started off slowly, waking up only 5 minutes earlier than my boys. Then a few weeks later I moved my wake-up time a little earlier…15 minutes before the boys woke up.  I only lost a few minutes of sleep, but I gained a whole new direction to my day.

Then on Valentines Day 2011, I “celebrated” by going to bed at 7:30 p.m. with a fever, chills and aches. For the next week I was bed-ridden with the flu…awful. (my heart goes out to all the mommas who have been hit by the flu virus this year).

Only a month into the Hello Mornings challenge, the flu bug knocked me off my new routine and I stopped checking in on Twitter.

You know who noticed? My accountability captain, Kat Lee, that’s who. 

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photo credit goes to Kat…since I couldn’t find a pic of us on my computer

Kat, a.k.a. my mom coach**, sent me a sweet direct message checking to see if I was okay and if there was anything she could pray for me. Seriously.

Having the author of “Maximize your Mornings” and creator of www.inspiredtoaction.com contact you personally to see if you needed anything because she noticed you hadn’t been up lately…yeah that will get your bottom back in gear.  

If you’ve ever considered waking up a little before your kids, but haven’t signed up for the challenge because you figured you’d be disciplined enough on your own. Let me tell you, if I had done it on my own I would not have established the habit I have now.

Accountability. Positive peer pressure. Community.

Whatever you want to call it, we need people. We need godly people in our lives to spur us on in this walk. God never intended us to pursue Him alone. He created the world with His Son and the Spirit. From before time began, there was community in the Trinity.

(In case this story scares you from joining HelloMornings…don’t be scared. The challenge is set-up to be self-directed with as much support as you desire. If you stop checking in after two weeks and decide you can’t finish the challenge, no one will force you to continue. But if you desire women to come alongside you and encourage you to keep trying even when you didn’t wake early one morning…than this group is for you.)

God is working all around me. He is not waiting on me to get His work done. I have to decide if I am going to join Him in His work. In order to hear His personal calling on my life, I must meet with Him.

I’d love if you joined me this Winter/Spring in meeting with God. Registration started yesterday and the challenge starts January 28th. May we experience the joy of His presence together! (one of the primary goals I have for us here at God Centered Mom this year!).

**A coach is defined as “a private tutor; one who instructs or trains; instructs players in the fundamentals and directs team strategy.” That’s Kat. You feel like it’s a private tutoring session when you read her posts. She gives you a new strategy to approach motherhood. She encourages moms to stretch themselves to pursue greatness. Because our kids already think we are great, we just need to believe it!  

Kat inspired me to wake up for my children. She encouraged me to spend one-on-one time with my boys. She gave me the idea to have my boys do push-ups when they need some discipline. She introduced to my new favorite meal planning program. Let’s just say she’s pretty much the best mom coach ever!! 

Who do you have in your life to keep you accountable? Have you ever shared a new goal with a friend so she would “hold you” to it? 

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Pst, one more thing…wrote more about my Hello Mornings story over at the MOB Society this week. Talking about how to stay one step ahead of our boys (also applicable to girls). 😉

onestepahead

 

How a Change in Tense Changes Choices

Y’all there are so many thoughts spinning in my head and I’m having the hardest time getting them to come out “perfectly”. So I’m throwing off perfection and gonna do the next right thing…which is tell you what God is telling me.

Last New Years when bloggers wrote about their “one word” for 2012 I scoffed and sarcastically claimed “survival” as my word. At a time when everyone made fun plans for the year and talked about their trips and projects and God-dreams, I knew my year held one major life-altering event…a baby.

Given my wuh-wuh, Debbie-downer state of being last New Year’s Eve, I decided to celebrate for reals this year. There would be laughter and smiles and excitement. Since my parents were in Dallas for the holidays (thank you Lord) Bruce & I headed out of the house for a fun night on the town…downtown, in fact.

NewyearseveDuring uninterrupted dinner conversation I shared my excitement about saying “adios” to 2012 and welcoming a new year. My optimistic husband’s glass is not only half-full, it’s overflowing. So he responded with, “What was wrong with 2012? I thought we had a wonderful year. We had Knox & made so many great memories.”

There wasn’t much of a pause before I made sure to burst his happy bubble. “Are you kidding me? This year landed me in therapy? Our house was broken into. I spent 2 weeks on crutches with a newborn. My grandmother died. It was NOT my favorite year…”

Crickets.

Remembering this was my night of laughter and smiles and excitement, I attempted to recover from my rant with, “But I’m really excited for 2013. Some people even pick a word for their year, instead of making lots of resolutions they won’t keep. In fact, a book just released called, “My One Word”. I went to their website, read the info, and decided on a word. What word would you pick?

I don’t know why I ask these questions of my husband. He needs time to process the answers to questions like, “What kind of adults do you want our sons to become?” and “If you could live in any country where would you live?” Yet I still ask him and get the same answer, “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.”

It may seem silly to think a word can change the coarse of a year. But in the two weeks since I’ve picked my word, the word has come to my mind at least 10x a day. My focus on it actually affected making time to write this post.

So, what’s my word? (drumroll please…)

“Present”.

Not the noun, but the verb. As in ,”to be present”.

But also like the tense, not living in the past or over-planning for the future…but focusing on the present time.

ChrispicNewyears

Here are some of the scenarios which prompted me to pick this word:

  • When Watts wants my attention and says “Mommy” four times before I look up from my phone. Then when I do respond, it’s with an annoyed, “What?”.
  • When I’ve been given the opportunity to write for 3 hours and I’ve spent about 30 minutes writing and 2 1/2 hours on social media.
  • When my brain is thinking about all the things I want to write about and I don’t hear Price telling me about his newest invention idea.
  • When I take the effort to wake up early to spend time with God but end up spending more time thinking about what Scripture I could tweet.

I desire for this to be a year in which I attempt to be fully present.  With my family. With my friends. With God…

“Breaks in the day used to be small windows of replenishment for body & soul-like driving in a car, going for a walk, having lunch with a friend-are now filled with noise, interruption and multitasking…No wonder we feel disconnected from God; we are rarely able to give him our full attention in solitude and silence.

-Ruth Haley Barton

Monks left the “world” to pursue His presence. My goal is to be in the world but not of it. To make space in this place to see Him. To choose His ways over mine. To stop checking what everyone else is doing and pay attention to what He is doing in my moments.

I love to check Twitter and Facebook and to escape the crazy waves of my life. But I was made for my life. I want to live it. So I’m going to make the hard choices to be present in my life.

My prayer,

O God, give me moments when I am fully present to you and to others in love.  Moments when I am connected with what is purest and most authentic within me and able to respond to your presence in that place.” (Ruth Haley Barton)

Did you pick a word for the year? I’d love to hear what you chose (if you are reading from your email, click here to share).