By Christy Mactavish
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Yesterday, my boys attended a really cool program at the Back Bay Refuge called Biology Adventures. My husband and I were both so excited to see that all three of them were able to go together with their neighborhood friends, even though there was a wide range of ages. We were also thrilled that they were going to experience some cool hands-on science and learn about our area’s natural habitat!
And to be REALLY honest, we were ecstatic that we would have the opportunity to go on a little “day date” while the boys were away! That’s not so wrong, now, is it? 😉
About an hour into our morning, as I was trying to decide what sundress I would wear to lunch with my handsome prince, the “Noir” ringtone on my cell phone loudly echoed throughout the room, indicating I had a text. It was a message from my oldest son. He was informing me that my youngest son was not feeling well, and I needed to pick him up.
My first reaction was like Swiper on Dora the Explorer, OH MAN! Of course I wanted my youngest to be okay, but I was also pouting a bit because I really wanted this day date with my husband! I then proceeded to call his cell and ask him what was going on. But in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think about how odd this was…Before cell phones, they would have looked to the adults in charge of them at the camp for help! And then, if it were really an emergency, the counselors would have called me directly.
My oldest repeated that youngest was not feeling well–stomach ache. I asked to speak to my youngest. Then over the phone, I heard the voices of the counselors asking him if he was okay. I heard them instantly take action to get him some water and fresh air. And I’m sure you can guess the rest? THEY TOOK CARE OF HIM! No surprise! That’s what they are supposed to do. And he ended up having a fantastic time!
But then, throughout the entire morning, and into our lunch date, the “Noir” kept chiming as my oldest sent little useless updates about their day, even a count down to when they were coming home (like I didn’t already know when he was coming home?) It was definitely frustrating.
Of course, I’m thankful that if there were a real emergency, my children could contact me with the cell phone. HOWEVER! This is an excellent example of how instant contact through cell phones can break down the “chain of command,” if you will, and create more chaos than good. It’s the ultimate irony. This cell phone, a COMMUNICATION device, broke down communication! All my sons needed to do was go to the counselor and share that he wasn’t feeling well.
I can’t help but be reminded of many articles I’ve written about helicopter parenting, and the child who called mom in the middle of college English class to tell her the bad grade the mean old professor gave! (Yes–true story–You can read more about it here.) Instead of the child/adult learning to communicate and ask questions of the professor, they automatically resorted to mommy doing it for them. This same concept played out with my children at camp.
I’m sorry if I sound like some harsh cold mom who doesn’t care about her children’s fun at camp. I DO! But I have a visceral reaction to the thought of my son thinking he has to tell me every single move he’s making when he’s not with me. That does not foster independence in any way, shape, or form. And I really don’t want him to think doing this is the norm!
Cell phones definitely add a whole other dimension to parenting! Given the clear addictive nature of cell phones, we are challenged with teaching our children to discern what’s important and what’s not; what’s an emergency and what’s not; how to speak to speak to adults; how to stand up for themselves. Oddly, it really sounds no different than the task prior generations had; however, I believe our generation is faced with so many more challenges as we teach the basics of real communication.
What are your thoughts on this topic? How are you helping your children understand the importance of real face-to-face communication? What challenges are you facing with your children and their cell phones? What strategies could you share to help other parents?
We ask for your wisdom as we embark on teaching our children the importance of communicating. We praise you for all that you will teach us.
Click here for the first of five articles on helicopter parenting.
By Mary Mays
Contributor at Cross Moms
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John3:1
Valentines Day 2011 was one of the best days I can remember. I’m a sucker for romantic gestures but I’ve probably watched one too many chic flicks, so my expectations aren’t always the most realistic. My husband, bless his heart, tries, but typical romance is not exactly his strong suit. He’s great at loving me though, and he knows that romance is one way I receive love, so he works at it.
Anyhow, on Valentines Day 2011, he outdid himself. When we discussed our plans, he asked what I wanted to do. I told him I’d love a home cooked meal – that I didn’t feel much like going out. When I got home from work – I was surprised and amazed. I walked in the door, and was greeted by a red balloon with a note that read, “Pop me”. I popped the balloon and inside was a note that said, “Continue popping the balloons up the stairs for a list of a few things I love about you.” I popped each one, and read, with tears, something my husband loves and appreciated about me. Then, in our room was the last balloon, which was a message that sent me on a scavenger hunt throughout the house, looking for a variety of sweet gifts. I giggled, like a school girl, as I ran throughout the house, finding my surprises. I also realized, the house was spotlessly cleaned (a vast improvement from it’s state when I had left for work that morning). My wonderful, sweet, loving husband had taken the day off, cleaned the house, and then planned and executed this incredibly romantic idea. I was amazed.
This past weekend, we moved out of our house, and into my parents for the summer. My husband packed until midnight on Friday, while I slept, exhausted from a week of packing, entertaining, teaching and being a mother. Saturday, he worked tirelessly, doing the manual labor of moving, loading and unloading boxes and furniture. Sunday, he helped clean our old house, as I tended to our sick child. Then, Monday, on his day off, he changed the oil in both our cars, and helped change my sister’s brake pads. My husband has worked diligently the past few months – preparing the house to go on the market, fixing things as dictated by the home inspection, preparing for our move – all while working full time and being a wonderful husband and daddy. And he did it so I can stay home with our son next year.
There were no red balloons, no sweet notes, and no presents this weekend, but my husband’s acts of service were more romantic, and demonstrated more love to me than anything else could have. His sacrifices on behalf of our family were tremendous, and I am so grateful. I fell asleep this past Saturday night thinking about how I haven’t felt a lack of “romance” lately, even though, tangibly, there haven’t been any great gestures. That “typical” romance wasn’t needed. I went to sleep with a deep, satisfying comfort – an assurance of and security in my husband’s love for me.
Then I thought about how it’s the same with God. Sometimes, he demonstrates his love with big, romantic gestures – those moments, like my Valentine’s Day, where he communicates with red balloons and love letters to us. Other times, it looks different. He shows us his love through the help of a friend, the beauty in nature, or even, sometimes, in his discipline. I’m learning to love and appreciate all of the ways my husband communicates love to me – and am trying to do the same with God. What ways does God show you love that you struggle to recognize? Look for signs of his love toward you this week – it’s all around!
Thank you for my wonderful husband, and how you use him to teach me about your love for me. Thank you that he loves me the way that Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her. You are so good, and you love me so perfectly. Please open my eyes to see your love, regardless of how it is demonstrated towards me.
I am so thrilled that Kristin Moore is our Monday’s Mom
today. I had the pleasure of teaching with Kristin for a few years, and I know first-hand what a beautiful Godly spirit she exudes! She now has her own photography business called Kristin Moore Photo
, and with just one click, you will be captured by her amazing pictures. First, though, read below as she shares honestly how God is working in her life.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes. Romans 8:28
The most important lesson that I learn and re-learn is that God is in control and has a good and perfect plan for our family. He loves our kids more than we do and the best way for us to love them is to love Him.
I have recently been given the painful privilege of getting to see my desperate need for God. When things are going well, it is easy for me lose my sense of need for him and to offer up half-hearted thanks for the things that I take for granted, like a roof over our heads, food on our table, and clothes on our backs.
We are currently preparing to move from Virginia to North Carolina. As a part of this process, we have been looking to buy a house and recently found a home that we thought was a perfect fit! It was in a beautiful location, had a great backyard, the whole thing — and it was in our price range. We entered into negotiations with the seller, but right as we were about to go under contract another offer came in and we lost the house. It might sound silly, but this was incredibly difficult for me. I began to question God, wondering why he allowed this to happen given that we are moving in two months, and there is nothing else on the market and basically no other prospects.
The Lord has graciously used this time of uncertainty to speak to me, drawing out my fears and giving me the opportunity to walk in faith, to trust that He is working all things together for my good. Underneath the fears and anxieties stemming from the question on the surface–Where are we going to live next year?–lies the deeper soul question–Will God be faithful?
The answer, of course, is overwhelmingly YES! He has gently and kindly reminded me of all the times He has provided, of all the ways He has been faithful, even when it was hard and I didn’t understand what He was doing. This time has been less about finding a house and more about learning to really believe in His faithfulness. To remember that He has always been faithful and will be faithful again. And that doesn’t mean that He is going to give us a house that is my version of ‘perfect’, but rather that He is going to provide a home that is the best for us, because He knows best. I have felt so close to the Lord during this season of unknowing; even though the future is uncertain, I am continually learning to be sure of what I hope for and certain of that which I do not see, because God has always been faithful to me.
I have been reflecting lately on how my actions do or do not reflect Christ to my children. Based on the responses to my recent article called Humbling the Grumbling, I am thankful to find that I am not alone in this quest. That’s why I feel compelled to share this amazing poem by Edgar A. Guest called “Sermons We See.” It really hits home the idea of our actions speaking louder than our words.
Sermons We See
by Edgar A. Guest
I’d rather see a sermon
than hear one any day,
I’d rather one would walk with me
than merely tell the way;
The eye’s a better pupil
and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing,
but examples always clear;
I soon can learn to do it,
if you’ll let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in action,
your tongue too fast may run;
The lectures you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons
by observing what you do;
I may not understand
the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding
how you act and how you live.
Thank you so much for these reminders along the way. We want to seek your example for what our actions should look like.
Yesterday’s Five Minute Friday topic was the word–real. I wrote an entry about how frustrated I am with how little real time I’m able spend with my children. I basically had a little fit right here with my computer. It was a heartfelt expression of how quickly they are growing and how fast the time is going by, and not only is the quantity of time we spend together decreasing, but the quality of time is, too. I ranted about how I don’t want this to be the case. I want real connections with my children, and yet I’m finding myself at a loss for being able to do that.
Well, about thirty minutes after I posted it, I deleted the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong–I was happy with the writing, and the topic is one to which many others can relate; however, as I reread it, I realized there were two extremely important things that went awry with this piece.
1) I had not turned to my Heavenly Father first. Instead, I turned to my computer to find others who might commiserate with my plight. As I am working to “write the Psalms on my heart,” I am seeing over and over how David calls out to God. Psalm 2:12 says, Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 3:4 says, To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Psalm 7 says, Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God. Psalm 5:2 says, Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. And my new favorite, Psalm 5:3 says, In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. He wants us to call out to HIM, not everyone else.
2) I did not include any scripture. Instead, I ranted like I was griping to one of my dear girlfriends. Now, I know it has become the norm in our society to basically blurt out whatever is on our hearts to any who will listen, but I’m learning that when we do that, we immediately take the reins ourselves and deny the power of the Holy Spirit. We must not forget that when we speak God’s word (or in this case, write it), the power of the Holy Spirit is released, and His strength, grace, and mercy, washes over all that is in our hearts. He can help us see what we can’t see on our own. I don’t ever want to deny that power again.
I have been wrestling with Satan’s attempts to place distance between my children and me. I was doing it all on my own, though. But do you know what? God was right there with me the whole time, and when I came to the “end of myself” (a phrase I always use), He showed Himself to me in the most stunning way.
Last night, in the darkness, a shockingly intense lightning storm hovered over our neighborhood. Blinding light flashed continuously for almost two hours. In that time, two of my children scrambled into our room and climbed into our arms. At one point, we all moved downstairs for safety, and while there, my youngest fell asleep in my arms. His scared, tense body slowly started to relax as I rubbed his head. His gasps of fear softened, until all I could feel was the gentle rhythmic breathing of a child who found refuge.
Tears flowed from my eyes, and as I gazed at my son sleeping peacefully, I poured my heart out to the One who really needed to hear it. You see, we are no different than a young child who tries to wrestle the fears of a thunderstorm on his own. When it finally becomes too scary, we, too, can scramble to our Daddy and find refuge.
And we can wake to a new day…washed clean with new mercies…and embrace it.
Lord, I just praise you and thank you. Amen.
By Christy M.
Okay, I admit it. There are times when I want to just shout from the rooftops, “HELLO! Don’t you people (aka my children) see how hard I’m working here! Can’t you show a little respect? Can’t you just take a few extra seconds to pick up after yourselves, so our house is not a wreck every time I turn around?” Unfortunately, this is exactly what I did yesterday after two days of letting it fester inside. In hind-sight, though, I’m the one who needed to show a little respect.
One of the really cool blessings that came from my mom getting remarried this past weekend was that I inherited some great new pieces of furniture. We also acquired several items you don’t really think to buy for yourself but could really use, like wheel barrows, two story ladders, etc….When we arrived home late Monday, the whole family worked together to unload the furniture from the U-Haul truck, and we staged it all downstairs until we could arrange it properly. Tuesday morning, the boys took off for school, and my husband had to get back to work. Taking five days off set him back a bit, and he really needed to buckle down. That left me. In my house. With all this great furniture. And all these great ideas as to where I wanted each one to go.
Now, what I have come to understand about myself over the last several years is that if I really want to do something, I can do it. And I won’t stop or take a break until it’s all done EXACTLY how I want it.
All day Tuesday and all day Wednesday, I moved every piece of furniture by myself. I traded out old pieces for new. I rolled up large rugs and schlepped them to the basement and then rolled out new ones, and THEN lifted every piece of furniture in the room back onto the new rugs! I removed old book shelves and replaced them with a beautiful little dresser, and I dragged new mattresses up a flight of stairs by myself. (With those, I grunted and shouted like I was dragging a huge truck in a Strong Man Contest! No lie. Thankfully, I was the only one home and my windows were closed at the time.) On top of all that, I then mowed the lawn, weed-whacked the front, and trimmed some of the hedges outside! Impressive, huh?
Well, maybe in theory it seems impressive, but in practice I looked more like a mad woman trying to prove something that didn’t need to be proven. I looked like an impatient woman angrily grabbing control because I didn’t think anyone else could (or would) do it. Oh, and the internal dialogue! I’m ashamed to say that it sounded like a bitter, jaded woman who thought the whole world was against her.
Do you remember the little teapot nursery rhyme that describes “When I get all steamed up, then I shout! Just tip me over and pour me out!” Well, I was the teapot yesterday afternoon, and I definitely got all steamed up; and all of my pent up frustrations came pouring out–all over my family–unfairly. “Don’t you see how much work I’ve done around here? I am moving furniture like I’m a young college guy and you won’t even pick up a few things off your floor! You need to respect all the things I do for you!”
Long, heavy pause…
You see, in the midst of charging ahead with my mommy-the-martyr agenda, I had dismissed that my youngest son asked if he could help arrange the “new” furniture with me after school. I assumed it would take too long, and he probably couldn’t lift much of the furniture anyway, so I would just do it. I also dismissed how excited my oldest son was to finally be able to mow the lawn and use the weed-whacker. I assumed I may have to go back behind him anyway and fix some of what he might miss. So I just did it. I just assumed my husband wouldn’t help me because he had too much work to do, and I just assumed my children would do what most children tend do when asked to help around the house–gripe, complain, and gripe some more.
You know what I am learning about assumptions? If you make them long enough, you’ll eventually be proven correct. Another way to put it is, “A man reaps what he sows.” If I keep sowing seeds of a martyr and just do it all myself, well then, it’s only natural that I will reap being a martyr, and I will reap the bitter, angry, negative attitude that comes with it. That’s not what my Father wants for me, or for you! Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” That means it’s Christ-like to not only carry others, but to also allow others to carry ours! I want to fulfill the law of Christ! Don’t you? But to do that, I’m learning we must be willing to loosen our clenched fists, tear up our agendas, be willing to let others grow in the process of helping, and receive the help that is right there in front of us.
Oh, Lord, I’m learning that I still have a lot to learn; but I’m so thankful that you are a merciful, loving, and gentle teacher. Please help my own gentleness to grow. Amen.
Trying to seeking Him always,