Mommy Lesson #3

YELLING DOESN’T WORK

Yelling does not improve your child’s learning or character development.

This is obvious, right? But many a mom will test her vocal chord’s volume levels in order to try and get her point across.

Mom screaming at kids using megaphone

Have you ever blown a fuse over a child’s incessant, unruly behavior only to find that you were more at fault than your child for not immediately dealing with the problem?

I’ve done this. It’s totally foolish. This tactic only makes matters worse. Plus, it’s disrespectful. We are to treat our children with respect – even when we correct them.

My temperament lies on the calmer, more laid-back side of the personality spectrum but that doesn’t mean that I never get worked up into a frenzy of intense emotions. In fact, I have had overcome a fair bit of anger issues (Only by the process of continually submitting myself to the powerful work of the Holy Spirit!). I’m a strong “feeler” which means that I tend to process situations through an emotional filter before my logic filter kicks in. This is a formula for disaster without God’s help!

I used to think that my long-winded lectures were necessary. This is just a parent’s duty, right? NO. I was wrong.

Proverbs 10:19 gives it to us straight, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

Hold my tongue? Oh, okay…

And then I start to say things like,

You are not listening to me! You sit down and pay attention to what I have to say! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

Think about Jesus. He had strong emotions but He was concise with correction and rebukes. He said what needed to be said and that was that.

Briefly and respectfully say what you need to say and then give your child some time to reflect.

Let them (respectfully) share their point of view. And when they do, be sure to really lean in to listen. Validate their feelings by saying something like, “I see that this is upsetting to you.” Or “I know you don’t like what is happening.”

And let’s remember the wisdom from James 1:19,20, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

The bottom line is this: Yelling doesn’t work.

Planning my reaction works much better.

So I made a plan… And it works!

I wrote down my kids’ common offenses and added a specific disciplinary consequence to each one. This was powerful. It takes all negative emotion out of the moment of crisis and empowers me to logically, lovingly, and prayerfully provide correction.

I don’t want to intimidate my children into obedience; I want to patiently teach and train them in the way they should go.

I want to humbly lead them to the goodness and grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

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Mommy Lessons #2

Mom, do you ever feel like you are in a parenting rut?

I sure can find myself here too often!

This mommy-rut can nag at your soul. It can keep you awake at night… because you know change is needed. Something is not working. Maybe it’s the eternally messy house, fighting siblings, disobedience, or the couch-potato-itis that has yet to be conquered. I believe that the nagging in our souls comes from our realities not lining up with our value systems. Values like obedience, respect, love, and diligence are foundational virtues we all long to instill in our kids.

So, like me, you’ve likely tried a multitude of parenting tactics to bring success in certain trouble areas. Maybe you’re in a season where any hope of change seems, well, unlikely.

I want to encourage you. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t be an all-or-nothing parent. Don’t give up. Positive change is very possible!

Mommy Lesson #2

CONTINUAL TWEAKING IS A MUST

I’ve learned that tweaking my parenting methods is vital! Although I’ll never “arrive” as the perfect parent or with a perfect child, I strive for gradual improvements. I call them “tweaks.” These adjustments may be needed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually – you get the idea.

For me, tweaking begins by asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and then quizzing myself with constructive questions.

Questions to periodically ask yourself:

  • Am I about my Heavenly Father’s family business or my own?
  • How can I better connect with my child?
  • What can I change to better align with our values or goals?
  • What about our routine is not working well?
  • Do I need to learn more and be stretched as a mom? If so, what will be the source for this growth?

Let me just pause here for a little rabbit chase. Why is it that we rarely partake in training for parenting beyond the infant or early childhood years of a child? We will read all we can about pregnancy and baby’s first year, but as they grow older the studying often comes to a stop.

I urge you, mom, keep learning and growing! Get your PHD (figuratively speaking) in family matters, because family matters!

My recent tweaking just started last week after meeting with my mentor over lunch and discussing the prominent issue of entitlement.

After processing our discussion, I decided that my kids were not doing enough work around the house. They needed more chores. So I assigned new jobs with the days and times for them to be completed. Besides a little initial whining, this was an easy fix.

I also saw that they needed additional boundaries with their electronic devices. They now have set times of the day to place all devices into a basket that will be in their dad and mom’s possession. Can you believe we would actually remove these beloved items from their precious hands?! (Insert eye-roll here). No, this is not abuse. This is a healthy boundary for them in hopes that they will value people over “Apps.”

Now, honestly, if I don’t consistently hold them to the new standards there will come a day when these “tweaks” break down. Now is when you don’t want to give up. Give yourself grace! Shake it off! This is the beauty of tweaking. If you mess it up on your end, own it, tweak it, and start again! 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28

Happy Tweaking!

To be continued: Mommy Lesson #3: Yelling Doesn’t Help

Mommy Lessons

What I Have Been Learning Along The Way…

NOT TO JUDGE OTHER MOMS’ METHODS (If I don’t like it, I just won’t adopt it. 🙂 ) 

If you’re like me, you’ve taken your role as a mother pretty seriously and have strived to choose the very best methods in all things maternal. I want my kids to have the most enriching environments possible. So I’ve sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance and done the best I can to provide this.

Now, I know you would never look around and compare like I have, but I have noticed that some moms seem to have kids that are better behaved than mine. Some of their four-year olds seem smarter than me. Some seem to be always well groomed with a matching outfit. While my goal is to make sure all my kids have shoes on when they jump in the car.

And then there’s those moms who can make me feel quite superior. “I would never feed my child such a meal.” “I would never allow my child to watch that show.” “I would never allow my child to behave in such a way.”

Oh… my, my, my. Do you see the problem?

First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a principle and a method. A principle is a moral or fundamental standard. Methods are our systems or practices.

Proper nurturing, nutrition, education, and discipline are vital principles. Please do not neglect your child’s basic needs of love, food, clothing, shelter, correction, training, and teaching. And it’s great to search for the best methods to assist your child’s various needs. However, moms must beware of thinking of her methods as superior, more spiritual, or inferior than that of another mom. This only leads to self-righteousness, envy, strife and the like.

Stop comparing and just do your thing, mom! But watch yourself carefully. Don’t become overly zealous for your particular method(s) so that you offend or discourage your friend. Allow the love and grace of Jesus Christ to mature you as you avoid such foolishness.

Remain humble and unified with your sisters’ in Christ regarding your differing methods of parenting.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

To be continued… Next post: “Make Improvements by Tweaks”

 

Hey, Mom! How’s it going?

When our first child, Catelin Elizabeth, was born I was scared to death. It finally hit me, “What a great responsibility this is – raising a person! I have to teach her everything!”

Of course I wanted to be the perfect mom – a Super Mom. Ha! (Insert the rolling eyes here.) Puh-leeze

But who knew the cost of motherhood would be so great? The loss of sleep, sanity, and self is real!

Thankfully, the rewards of motherhood are infinite in wonder, joy, and amazing love! My children are true gifts from God, and I love them more than words can express.

In fact, let me introduce you to my amazing crew of Groeschel people.

catie bw

CATIE: 20 years, typical first born here, responsible, thoughtful, encouraging

LOVES: rules & order, cats (shh…), books, ministry & worship

 

 

mandy bw

MANDY: 19 years, tenderhearted, intuitive & witty

We thought she was our last! (God’s sense of humor is sweet!)

LOVES: techy stuff, dance, words, & church ministry

 

anna bw

ANNA: 16 years, artistic, outgoing, compassionate, encourager

LOVES: people, music, dance & church ministry

 

 

sam bw

SAM: 13 years, disciplined, self-controlled, focused

LOVES: family, friends, church, history & soccer

 

 

stephen bw

STEPHEN: 11 years, funny, competitive, fearless

LOVES: math, soccer, church, video games & reading

 

 

joy bw

JOY: 10 years, joyful, friendly, go-getter, leader, nurturer

LOVES: people, dance, Jesus, stuffed animals & penguins

 

 

Don’t they seem like great kids? They really are! But hey, they aren’t perfect. Nope. Just like their parents, they are each a work in progress by our Father.

Speaking of being a “work in progress”, I sometimes find myself filled with significant discouragement and even fear. But disheartened or not, I really want to do the best job I can as a mom. So to gain a better perspective, I’ll occasionally take an inventory of sorts and list where I may have had parenting successes, as well as failures.

I’d like to share some of my personal parenting observations with you.

Successes

  • My children love Jesus! They observe Craig and I loving and knowing Jesus. They see Jesus in us, and I am seeing Christ in them. And there is no greater joy than this!
  • We have been authentic and repentant before them.
  • They are learning and growing in wisdom and knowledge as I teach them God’s word.
  • My commitment – years of faithful dedication to all God’s called me to be as their mom and home educator.
  • They maintain a high standard of purity.
  • They have a growing faith.
  • Close family relationships – they love us and each other!
  • They are secure in who they are.

Well, that sure made me feel good! But the inventory doesn’t stop there. It’s important to look at our failures. My mentor once said, “The way we live our day, is the way we live our lives.” So here we go:

Failures

  • I’ve been too controlling – I should’ve allowed more choices.
  • I’ve been a poor example – “Do what I say, not what I do.”
  • I’ve been distracted and not fully engaged in listening well.
  • I’ve been inconsistent with rules and discipline.
  • I’ve been too much Martha & not enough Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
  • I’ve changed the standards –Younger ones are getting away with more.
  • And too many more to list!

I, I, I, I… Now, I didn’t list these failures to deflate myself (God gives us more GRACE!). I listed them to gain an honest look at where improvement is needed because only I am responsible for what I do or don’t do.

But please hear this: We can NOT take all the credit or blame for their outcomes. No. But we can pray. We can war for them. They are ALL in a spiritual battle. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Some of you know this battle full well.

Momma, you may want to do as I’ve done and sit and take inventory of your parenting successes and failures. I pray it will encourage and sharpen you.

Go to God in humble prayer and ask Him to lead you. And as you do, allow Him to cover you with His amazing grace.

To be continued… 🙂

Developing the Habit of Patience

Patience isn’t something that comes naturally for me, especially as a mother. I expect prompt attention when I’ve clearly communicated (which is always 🙂 ) and complete follow-through with my directives. NO arguing, ignoring, or disobedience, please! My patience wanes when my children make the same poor choices again and again… and again.

Patience is not needed when everything and everyone is peachy. No. It is when we’re challenged with the unruly, the interruption, the weariness from a relentless daily grind, or a constant drip of tension in the soul that patience becomes a desired and much needed virtue.

So, what’s a momma to do?!

Practice a New Habit

1 Timothy 4:7b exhorts us, “train yourself to be godly.”

It’s time to train ourselves in the righteous act of patience! I believe that it’s our poor habits that hold back our growth.

Beth Moore teaches that biblical patience is acquired from our delaying judgment. I really like this. Think about it. We can gain ground in patience when we are slow to judge – when we take a moment to seek God’s wisdom, to listen closely, and stop allowing our feelings and preferences to rule us!

This makes me think of James 1:19.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Again, it’s not easy or natural for me to walk in this! I’ve got two ears and one mouth like most people, but my mouth typically gets much more use!

With God’s strength, I’ve decided to do the hard work of replacing my quick-to-judge responses with God’s best: a habit of patience. Will you join me? 

 Let’s look at some amazing scriptures on patience to motivate us.

WOW! THERE’S POWER HERE!

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Proverbs 25:15

OH, YEAH! HUMILITY IS KEY!

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8

WEAR PATIENCE LIKE CLOTHES!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

GIRL, THIS TAKES INTENTIONAL TIME!

…be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

AND LET’S NOT FORGET THE MOST AMAZING GRACIOUS GIFT OF PATIENCE THAT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO US!

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4

 

LOVE!

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I’ve Tried Everything!

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“I’ve tried everything! Nothing’s working. Now what?”

Momma, you are not alone! I’ve been here many times before! What do we do when all else fails? Scream into your pillow? Yes. No… Well, sometimes.

Although at times it seems as if I have depleted all parenting wisdom and resources, I’ve found it’s often the simple, tried and true basics of Christian parenting that works true wonders.

I’d like to share with you my simple “list” of

 Five Daily Momma Deeds to Always Do

1. Hug – I don’t care if your child is 1 or 21, they need your hugs! Hug them when they are happy, sad, moody, and even angry. Hug your child everyday! Hug before and after a long day. Hug when you feel like it and when you don’t. So much healing can come from a simple hug. I’ve found the teen years to be a time a child desperately needs these gracious embraces.

2. Pray – Not only be praying for your child each day, but pray with them! Regularly ask them how you can be praying for them. Be ready to stop and pray in the middle of a stressful battle, a disagreement, or any problem that arises. This can be so powerful as you humble yourself, join hands with your child and ask for God’s help. As I write this, I’m reminded of how dramatically this has made all the difference in my home.

Say a prayer as you drop them off at school. Pray together for someone in need. Pray for your church and for The Church. I love praying for the weekend church services with my kids as we drive to our local church!

3. Listen – Take it from me who has learned from many dumb mistakes. You may have amazing words of wisdom to share with your child but they will not have the mind or heart to truly hear you if they don’t feel heard first. LISTEN. Try not to be too quick to judge what they say. They may be sorting out the wrong before you hear them say the good and right. BE PATIENT. DON’T INTERRUPT. BREATHE. Affirm that you’ve heard them by saying something like, “I can understand why you feel this way.” “This must be hard for you.” or “I get what you are saying.” Listening in this way can create beautiful, strong relational bridges for your future together.

4. Train – Yep. Train up that child in the way they should go! I’m talking about teachable moments – be ready because they are ever present! You are your child’s main teacher. Teach them God’s Word daily! Are they 4 or 14? It doesn’t matter! Teach them about His Creation. Train them in Who God is. Teach them about the traps of this World. Train them by your humble example.

Train with consistent discipline. This is hard work but don’t grow weary! Create clear boundaries with established consequences. This will take out the emotional guesswork. Keep to KINDNESS and rely on the Holy Spirit. Even still, you’ll mess up so be ready to seek their forgiveness!

5. Smile – Smile at your child. Smile around your child. Laugh too, if you can! Just a simple smile can bring sunshine to brighten a burdened soul. Your emotional mood can lift up or weigh down your child’s tender heart. Smile whether you feel like it or not. Studies have shown that we feel happier when we smile. Give God thanks for your child and His grace and just smile.

I’d like to encourage you to write down these 5 Daily Momma Deeds to Always Do and ask God where you need to grow.

How can I pray for or encourage you?

Don’t Worry! Be Set Free!

ocean

Anxious and worried? The fact is, we all worry sometimes. And sometimes a situation is valid, so fretting seems the responsible thing to do. This pain won’t go away. What if something is terribly wrong? I better get to the doctor.

Often it’s a problem with a family member or close friend that causes our anxiety. I’m very stressed right now. My spouse just lost his job. I don’t know what’s going to happen if he can’t find another one.

Real problems definitely warrant some wisdom, action and prayer.

But here’s what I want you to know, to believe: You can weather life’s storms without being enslaved by an anxious heart that’s full of worry and fear.

I believe this because I’m living proof.

My Freedom Story

Some of you know that I had a severe battle with anxiety around 14 years ago. It began when my health seemed to be deteriorating. I was a young mother of three small girls and had never dealt with chronic health issues (not even seasonal allergies).

One day, a sudden tension headache began on the top of my head. It felt really strange and was very scary. After about a week of these headaches, I went to the doctor and he assured me it was due to stress. Weeks later, I started experiencing numbness that gradually ended up on the total left side of my body. That called for a trip to the ER. Tests were run, follow-up appointments were made, and I was sent home with no answers and a lot of questions.

A year passed, and while the list of odd physical symptoms (debilitating fatigue, blurred vision, chest pain, etc.) increased and the doctor visits ended with no diagnosis, I became convinced that I was dying. The lab tests are just missing it, I thought.

You might imagine the fear that gripped me. It was awful. Worry, even death, dominated my thoughts, choking the very life I desperately wanted right out of me – every day, every hour. After about two years of struggling, depression started to set in, and being a strong introvert didn’t help. It was a l – o – n – g  time before I allowed my husband, Craig, to know how dark my thoughts were.

Throughout this whole ordeal my prayers were frequent and desperate. I begged God to reveal the answers I sought. I looked to His Word to find verses of healing to cling to. What was I doing wrong?

My journey to freedom began when I heard a message by author, Linda Dillow on worry. The Holy Spirit pierced my heart with the truth in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Busted! Being dominated by negative, worrisome, and anxious thoughts proved that I was not living by faith! I may have had the right actions and Christian lingo but my mind and heart weren’t convinced.

My problem was I was too focused on symptoms and not the Source of all life. And that made a world of difference!

Fear, not faith, was the result.

The root of worry is fear and a spirit of fear is not from God.

Freedom from fear is a spiritual battle. This war with fear must be won in the mind.

The strong conviction of God about my lack of faith brought me to repentance (a turning to His ways). He led me to renew my mind daily by catching every negative thought and replacing it with a scripture. The Truth! And the Truth literally began to set me free.

But don’t be misled. This was a process. It took focused determination to break my old pattern. It was a BATTLE. But one that brought victory after victory until the war was won.

Since then, there have been countless opportunities to worry and be anxious over this or that. But when worry’s grip begins to take hold, I automatically confront it head on, resist its lies (the “What ifs”), and renew my mind. This has actually turned into a sweet time of dependence on my Loving Father.

By the way, my health slowly improved over time! My mind now at peace, God also led me to exercise more and eat wisely. (I know you haven’t heard those health tips before!)

Here are a few truths that I continually meditate on to this day:

  • God is enough! Nothing can separate me from the love of God! Romans 8 (This truth had the biggest impact. God and His love became enough, became everything.)
  • I will be Spirit-led and not fear-led.
  • I will trust the Lord in all things.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

  • I will rejoice, pray, and think on things that are good, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  From Philippians 4:6-8

I’d love to pray for you in this area! Send your requests via “comments.”

Nurturing Them

KidsHer children rise up and call her blessed. Proverbs 31:28

I believe nurturing is the primary way a mother demonstrates love to her child.

 To nurture means to care of and encourage the growth or development of

To look after, support, foster, or cultivate,

To encourage, promote, stimulate, contribute to, assist, help, strengthen, fuel.

As I approached the new year, “nurture” is the one word for my role as a mother that the Lord continually placed on my heart and mind.

I’ve been a mother now for almost 19 years. Craig and I were blessed with 6 children in the span of 10 ½ years. I always laugh about this, because we thought we’d have 2 kids (I’m sure God is laughing with me)! As you would rightly guess, our little ones were totally dependent on us for all their physical and emotional needs. It’s when they become more physically independent that we can sit back and relax a bit, right?

Or… maybe this is just the beginning of a new kind (or new phase) of nurturing. Our children (now ages 19,17,14,12,9, & 8) still need my nurturing. Time and maturity doesn’t’ change this truth. You see, the long days have turned into very short years and as with all things, normalcy can breed complacency and complacency can often turn to neglect. I won’t allow this to be my story! I have a choice. If you are a mom, so do you.

They still need my attentiveness and support. It just looks a bit different now.

Two Nurturing Necessities

1. Attentiveness – Staying alert to the various needs of my child.

They may or may not show signs of wanting your attention, but your child wants your attention. They need it. The trouble is that I’m easily distracted! Can you relate? Well, I’ve decided to commit to fully engage as a listener – to be “all there.” And my one-sided “wise” lectures don’t count as listening. My child wants my heart to connect as I listen to their ideas, life-stories, and struggles.

2. Support – Supplying what they need to help them succeed.

We all need this kind of support. Our children never outgrow this need.

They need our sincere encouragement, loving hugs, practical help, spiritual guidance, etc., etc. (without manipulating and judging)—now that’s a big task! I’ve found that I constantly need God’s wisdom to discern what kind of support they need. Enabling my child will weaken their character and development. I want to equip not enable! Or maybe my child is hurting and they are resisting the support they desperately need. In this case, I’m tempted to feel rejected but I’ve learned not to withdraw. Instead, I seek God’s strength to show them His unfailing love.

Embrace Your Calling

A few months after the birth of my fourth child, Sam, I was outraged by the apparent lies from well-meaning people who had promised me that going from 3 to 4 kids was a cinch. “It was moving from 2 to 3 kids that was the real challenge,” they had insisted.  A mentoring friend of mine phoned me in the midst of my despair. God used her words to calm me and set my mind straight. “Amy (long pause), this is your life.” It was this simple yet profound statement that cleared my fog.  “Yes,” I said. “You’re, right.” From that point on I stopped resisting the pressure and stress of mothering. I began to embrace it as the calling that it truly is.

My children are not a hobby that I can enjoy when I feel like it and then set aside. Mothering is my permanent calling, and nurturing is how I will show them love as I look to God to nurture me!