Be the Change

Ok, so this saying has gotten to be a bit cliche, no, very cliche. But things usually become cliche because they really are true, and why reinvent the wheel when there is a perfectly good phrase out there that describes your point.

Another good cliche for today would be, Monkey see, monkey do.

Kids will mimic what you do more than what you tell them to do. Oh, I so wish that weren’t true sometimes! I see certain behaviors in my teens that I really wished they didn’t have, but know that they learned those bad habits from my poor example, despite my words encouraging them to be otherwise.

Several weeks ago I was crying out to God, asking him what I could do to help help my kids through some typical teenage challenges. His immediate word, “Be the example.”

Be the example of peace, joy and perseverance in trials, rather than the example of fussing and fuming and depression.

Ok, so I was convicted. Here’s to being a better example!

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

Titus 2:7a

I pray that we can all be the change we want to see in the world – not so much in the big things, but in the little things, that make up the big things.

Blessings on your day, week and year!

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Teach them Diligently

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

The number one thing I would encourage all of us parents to do is to teach our kids to love, trust and obey God. That is the only thing that will get them through anything in this life, and into the next.

Someday I won’t be around to help them. Someone might do something terrible to them that no one could have stopped. They might fail in some way. But God will never fail.

Teach them all you know, and even those things that you haven’t yet totally come to grips with yourself, but know that the Bible says are true – teach them those things, too. And teach them how to stop and talk to God for themselves. Teach them how to recall Bible verses for the tough situations they encounter – and for the good situations too.

Never stop teaching.

Push them, and hug them

Now that my son with autism is 16 years old, and is doing pretty well, not only for a kid with autism, but for any 16-year-old boy, I feel like I can finally add a few more parenting tips. So here’s tip #1:

Push your kids to be their very best. They will throw huge fits, there will be many tears and you will be up some nights wondering if you pushed them too far. There will be times when you will have to say sorry. But most of all, let them know that you are pushing them because you love them, because you want life to be easier for them down the road if they can just learn that one more skill.

There will be days, make that years, when you feel like what you are doing isn’t making a difference. You will want to give up because the gain just doesn’t seem to outweigh the pain.

There will be days when you cave and let them watch too much TV or play too many computer games (or whatever their obsession is). You will then have to pay the price of reigning them back in. But I am telling you, all of this struggle, as tiring and fruitless as it may sometimes seem, is worth it.

Don’t let their stubborn clinging to unhealthy habits daunt you.

As long as you also make it very clear that you love them, through whatever means works for them – maybe a hug, maybe a little extra computer time, or a visit to an amusement park, all of your pushing will pay off.

Will they be perfect? Are you or I perfect? But they will be stronger, better people, more able to function in the world around them.

Proverbs 22:6  Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path.

Ouch!

I can handle anything, God, just not a child with mental challenges. A child with no legs, no problem. A deaf child, ok, so that would be harder. But a child who is developmentally delayed, I just don’t think I could handle that.

Strangely enough,one of my favorite elementary school memories is tied to one of my “slower” classmates. As a star student myself, I was assigned to help him with his work after I had finished mine. Once the last addition problem was completed, we would scramble under his desk, giggling as we scoured the floor for tiny pencils, most likely tossed aside for a brand new one.

In high school I made it a point to spend every other lunch day with the kids everyone else considered too weird, and not a cool weird. I did it because that’s what Jesus would do. But looking back, those are the lunches I remember the best, with the biggest smile. They were so uproariously fun, so real – those kids really knew how to just let their joy shine or their sorrow flow. When they saw me in the lunch line, arms would go flailing and voices would beckon me to please join them. If they weren’t happy with me, they flat out told me I was being a jerk. There was no hiding behind a wall of, “I’m cool.”

But when my oldest child was diagnosed with autism, it was still a huge, heart-breaking shock. The world stopped, my dreams of visiting grandkids, of ever having an empty nest, there was nothing but endless parenting for the rest of my life. The future became like a blackboard smeared of its grand plans, not wiped clean, just a swirling sadness.

I still have no idea what the future actually holds. There will be more parenting than I really want, but the joy of seeing my autistic child finally learn how to brush his teeth by himself is so much more intense. My normal kid cooks a pizza, and I feel like, great, but of course you can do that. An entire angel choir breaks out when my autistic son cooks supper for the entire family.

Do I like the pain? No, I really don’t. But is it worth the gain? You better believe your bippy!

Am I shiny and perfect, no. I have huge flaws. But I am prettier than I used to be.

StrengthsFinder 2.0

Here is a third installment of something that really helped our marriage.

My husband’s workplace required all of its employees to take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test and read the book. He then insisted that I take it, too. I am not exactly sure why – I think that he felt that it would help me learn more about myself (he was under the impression that I didn’t understand myself – but that wasn’t at all true, sometimes I just told him I didn’t know why I was feeling a certain way because I knew that if I told him the real reason it would frustrate him/freak him out/make him upset, etc.).

Anyway, I obliged, begrudgingly. It didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know about myself, but it ended up being very helpful in our marriage. My strongest strength, I guess you would call it, is Achieving. To feel good about life, I need to feel like I am accomplishing something. My husband’s is Input. He loves to get a lot of information, but he doesn’t care if he actually accomplishes anything.

Finding this out helped him realize that when I say, I need to get out and do something – it really is a need of mine, not just a want. It also helped me realize that when he is sitting listening to podcasts of random information that isn’t necessarily useful for anything, that is something that he needs to do – he isn’t just being lazy. So I have learned to give him space to just be – while I go get something done. And he has learned to be less stressed by my constant need to be doing.

Also, I have learned a bit how to enjoy doing nothing (for short periods of time, anyway). And he has learned to accomplish a few things that I find important before he goes into pure input mode on a Saturday.

So, while you probably won’t be surprised by what your strengths are, if you are as old as we were when we took it, seeing in black and white the strengths of your partner are very helpful in understanding what makes them tick. It helps to better follow the Bible’s admonition to love, cherish and respect each other.