Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Every building has a foundation. The building would crumble without it.
Jesus talks about the two foundations, sand and rock in Matthew 7:24-27. “Everyone who listens to these words of min and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock…it did not collapse…it had been set solidly on rock.” He goes on to describe what happens to a house built on sand, “…it was completely ruined.”
Matthew 7 isn’t only place Jesus talks of foundation.
We hear in Matthew 21:42 Jesus quoting Psalm 118:22, telling the people, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Jesus makes it clear that foundation is everything.
So how do we pass this on to our children?
Faith and Love.
Jesus is Love. He demonstrated that throughout his time on earth and especially his sacrifice on the cross. When we share Jesus’ love, we are building foundation.
Jesus also left us the keys to true faith in the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes and the Sacraments. These basic tenets also grow a foundation.
If we live out love and faith, we are being examples for our children. If we gently encourage them to take on these attitudes, we will be passing on the stepping stones for creating a groundwork built upon rock.
Our pastor asked a question once that still strikes me today. He asked the congregation, “What is the foundation of your existence?”
Every time I look into the eyes of my children, I am reminded of that question. And I am reminded that my most important task is to pass that foundation on to them with the same passion to which I adhere.
There is no doubt that this task can seem insurmountable some days, especially when our kids argue, they misbehave or they are just grumpy. We begin to despair that we will never get through to them. But that is the lie of the enemy.
There is a lovely little book called, The Invisible Woman: When Only God Sees. The author Nicole Johnson describes something that I remember when tending to my children’s foundation. She notes that many of the European cathedrals took over a hundred years to finish. She also comments that the builders, “devoted their whole lives to a work they would never see finished.” (pg 38, The Invisible Woman).
It is the same with our children. We will not see with our human eyes the completion of the work with regard to our children. Year after year we will toil and we will help them build their foundations. And just like the builders of the great cathedrals, we may only see a few pillars or stone floors being laid down in our children. We may not be destined to see the piercing rays of the sun burst through their stained glass windows. But that’s okay.
It is our fate to only see so much. We must toil on, so that someday when someone asks them, “What is the foundation of your existence?” they will be able to answer without hesitation…God.
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 1:55 PM
Saturday, October 23, 2010
E is for eat.
There are many days when as mothers we have to be the disciplinarians, the go-to lady, and the “no” parent. We’re tough on homework, chores and making good choices. It’s our job. We teach our kids the everyday skills of personal hygiene (which is not always easy as they grow and don’t know they stink!), how to boil water, do the laundry and clean their toilet. And we hope that someday they’ll be ready for college.
But our biggest job is one we don’t speak enough about…getting our children to heaven.
In today’s society that is not an easy task. There are too many distractions, too many drugs, and not enough role models. So what is a mother to do?
I believe it is paramount to find everyday people in our lives that exhibit the types of behaviors we want our children to emulate and hold them up for our children. We need to encourage our kids to think for themselves and reward them when they make tough but good choices. But there’s something even more critical to this whole equation. We need to be good examples ourselves.
Sure, that includes refraining from the occasional cuss word when a driver cuts us off. But it also includes lazy or potentially harmful behaviors including watching too much TV, talking too much on the phone or even gossiping around other friends.
I believe that kids know the score. They will pick up whatever we do and incorporate it into their own lives. Have you ever heard your child repeat something you previously said?
Help yourself by surrounding yourself with friends who are good examples and ask them to hold you to a higher standard too. You might be surprised to find out that others feel the same way you do.
So what does this have to do with “eat” or our letter for this post?
I once heard a little boy ask his mom if there was birthday cake in Heaven. She replied, “Of course! They eat it every day!”
“Sweet!” was his only reply.
And then I thought about it. Why shouldn’t there be cake in heaven?
Now my new mantra includes fighting for my children’s souls and a frivolous statement taken from Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake,” because in the end I want my children to be able to eat cake every day!
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 11:04 AM
Friday, October 1, 2010
They sit patiently waiting for us. They wag their tails and beg for attention. They eat without complaining and cover our laps in quiet solitude just looking for the simple affection we can offer.
Why would dogs be important to mothering?
I think many times as mothers we should take more queues from these family friends. Their example is quiet companionship. As our children grow, we need to remember that we are a part of their lives and we can direct them to make good choices, but they are the ones who have to make the choices…for better or for worse.
On those days when the 2 year old is constantly in time out, that is their choice and no amount of “barking” is going to change that. They are exploring their world and finding the limits. Even as adults we search for the boundaries as well. It is no different for them.
When that fourth grader decides to put off their homework, how do we react? Do we stamp our feet and demand they sit at the kitchen table until they finish or do we recognize they are tired and need a break? As adults we know the time constraints and that procrastination will only lead to panic or a poor grade later. But if we don’t let them fail, they will never learn.
Then there’s the obstinate teen determined to get their way and cry out “unfair!” when they don’t get it. Seems like no amount of logic seeps through their resolute minds!
So maybe we need to take an example of our doggie friends and just “hang.” Maybe we should just smile and put the exploring two year old in time out and sing a song while we’re doing it. Possibly that song is exactly what that little one needs…and to feel us holding them.
And maybe that fourth grader needs us to sit next to them with a little chocolate milk and talk about their day as a furry friend would sit in their lap…just being there. There will be other grades and who knows, maybe in fifteen minutes they’ll feel up to finishing that homework.
What about the teen? Well, maybe we should sit and listen to a favorite song of theirs and connect in a way that we haven’t done in 20 years. Sit and listen to their reasoning of what they want and ask questions. Maybe they’ll change their mind OR maybe we’ll have to move outside our comfort zone and let them feel their wings. We can sit at the door like our patient canine friends and wait for their return.
I do believe that no matter what the circumstances, mothers can find a great deal of wisdom in the example of those furry friends we call man’s best friend.
Less barking, more tail wagging is the answer.
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 6:48 PM
Saturday, September 18, 2010
C is for Commitment
Commitment is a word that strikes fear in the hearts of many men, but it’s what we mothers are all about, isn’t it?
We are committed to wiping that nose, changing that diaper, singing that lullaby, kissing the boo-boo, and feeding those chubby cheeks. We make the cupcakes for school treats, we hug the hurts away, and we counsel the choices. We become “Mama Bear” when need be, and stand on the side line and cheer them on. We become super mom when the moment demands it and our children look to us as their super-heroes.
I remember when I overheard my son fighting with another boy about whose mom was the best.
“My mom can run faster than your mom.”
“Well, my mom could beat your mom up.”
“My mom can lift up a car up all by herself. Can your mom do that?”
Now my son was referring to the time I helped another mom change a flat tire. How he missed seeing me use the jack to raise the car, I’ll never know.
C is for Complacent
A couple of summers ago I was so tired from being sick that I had no energy for my kids. I remember thinking it’s okay if they watch one more TV show, I can barely move. At least I know where they are and they are safe.
That extra TV show turned into an extra two then three. When I started to feel better, I became complacent with them watching TV. They weren’t getting into trouble when some show kept their interest and I could get some work done, whether it was cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry.
What I didn’t realize was that my actions showed them that I valued the TV more than interacting with them. They didn’t seem to mind. Everyone watched together. My complacency spread to other things too. It became regular policy that if a couple kids were watching TV, the other one was on the computer. We started watching more and more and getting less and less.
When life gets busy, we tend to become complacent with our kids. We let them do and say things just because we don’t have the time or energy to step in.
C is for Conviction
Conviction comes when we again realize how important our job as mothers really is.
Break out of the TV habit or whatever complacency mode you are in right now. That first step isn’t as hard as you might think. Take five minutes and play a game of hide-and-seek or sing a song with your child. Stand outside at night before bedtime and count the stars together with your children. Remember to show them the awesomeness of God’s creation during the day.
Tell them you love them with all your heart. It is in those little moments that the greatest love happens. And in that love, you are showing them how much God loves them. In the end, that Love is far more important than clean dishes or folded clothes.
I would love to hear your stories about when love happened in the little moments of the day. Please share them!
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 4:07 AM
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
B is for Baby! Of course!
B is also for bottle. Bottles and breast feeding represent comfort for babies, the time when they feel safest and most loved. We cuddle them close and our warmth surrounds them.
As they grow, our babies are weaned, either by our making or theirs. It is time for them to stretch their toes out in a sense of independence. And though they begin to drink from cups, they still cling tightly to us for that sense of encouragement, love and understanding.
B is for back breaking.
If our babies stayed little it would be no problem to continue to carry them. But also as part of God’s plan, they grow and learn to walk and run. But even a two year old still needs to be held. They long for that comfort and assurance that they are still loved. And so even though we feel those muscles in our shoulders and back feel weary, we lift them up and give them that reassurance that they are loved.
Truly, as children grow, the need for love and encouragement continues. Age brings reason, but their hearts still need a sense of belonging and to know they are loved. We now shift our hugs to more verbal and action based love. We cheer them on during sporting events, we sit cheerfully during the Christmas pageants and school plays, and we listen when someone has hurt their hearts.
But how do we let them know that as they mature, they don’t outgrow God? They see our love and commitment, but how do we make sure they see God’s? It’s not always present in our daily comings and goings…or is it?
How often do we read to them and share with them God’s Word? How do we let them know of God’s spiritual hugs?
My mother talked to us about grace. Whenever we performed some act of kindness—no matter how small—my mother reminded us that we received grace from those actions. And that grace, that intense feeling of love was an embrace from God.
What are some of the ways that you’ve shared with your children about the gift of God’s love? There are so many! Please encourage us!
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 7:46 AM
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
And so it begins!
A new venture for me! I’m on a “Mom” journey and I’ve started this blog because I know I’m not the only one in this stage of life. This blog is about being a mother…a blog about the joys, the hopes and the fears of being a mother.
What better way than using the ABC’s to start the process! Every week, once a week, I will post a little tidbit for thought, something that has proven useful…or not so useful in my journey. I hope you will join me. If you have ideas, or comments, please post them! We can all learn from our successes and failures AND we can all encourage each other to keep going!
A is for angel. Our children are all angels, little gifts from God.
A is also for the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, our God.
What do these two “A’s” have in common? God has given these children to us. He’s lent them to us to help Him grow them into incredible human beings.
Sometimes it’s intimidating, isn’t it? When my oldest was born, my cousin said, “Isn’t it scary to think we’re responsible for their immortal souls?” At that moment, I thought, “What have I done! What have you done, God!”
When the panic passed, I realized that I had not only the responsibility but the promise in what God had given me. I prayed for the courage and the wisdom to nurture my child in the way He wanted.
Time passed and I kept praying. One day I picked up a magazine and read an article that suggested repeating an action with a small child helps them incorporate it into their lives. If it works with action, why not words? So I looked at my small daughter and said, “God loves you and so do I.”
Now I repeat that every day to all my children. I hope that somewhere in their hearts they've incorporated Jesus as someone who loves them.
There are days when it’s so hard I cry. There are days when I laugh. I now understand the phrase, “Live, Love, Laugh!”
But sometimes it’s hard to remember that motto. I struggle with the daily grind of preparing meals, running errands, helping with homework, driving kids to activities and dealing with the occasional emergency. I sometimes get lost in the tasks, and let my children slide. Then I remember my true calling and recommit myself to nurturing the tender young hearts in my care.
We all have our little tricks that make “mothering” easier for us and a good experience for our children. I would love to hear yours. If you have an "A" to add, please share!
Parenting is a journey, and I don’t think it was meant to be done alone.
All of us are afraid, but what we do with that fear is what defines us.
I choose courage and communication. I hope that you join me.
Posted by Loretta Oakes at 10:18 PM