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.
Today’s Monday’s Mom is Becky Lynch! I’ve had the pleasure of working with Becky before, and the best way I can describe this wonderful lady is she truly is a firecracker! She and her husband Steven will have been married for 14 years this October, and they have been blessed with two amazing daughters. They have an excellent specialty food company called Montebello Kitchens. Their whole family is involved with the business! Please enjoy her wonderful post below, and then join us on Cross Moms Facebook page throughout the day today. You will not be disappointed! Love and God Bless!
When I think of how God has worked in my life through the years, the words to describe it would be… awe-inspiring, joyous and scary. Yes, even scary.
First, God has blessed me with an amazing family! I really realized how blessed last year. You see, I had surgery to remove a tumor back in 1993 and was told at the time that I would probably never be able to get pregnant. Steven and I were then married in 1998, and then thankfully, our two beautiful daughters followed. Anything is possible with God, right! Now, fast-forward to 2010. I went to a specialist who happened to be the father of one of my daughter’s classmates. He could not believe that I had the original surgery before the girls were born. He showed me how I had carried two different pregnancies in half the space needed for a healthy baby to grow. He told me what a miracle it was that I had gotten pregnant in the first place! AND he gave me the great news that there was NO cancer, but that I would need to have surgery anyway. I was okay with that! This doctor had shown me God’s awe-inspiring hands at work. No other explanation. Only God.
Second, God’s greatest blessing on my life has been joy. I experience true joy everyday in small things and big things. I love to laugh and have fun. I have a family and friends who like to do the same. God makes it possible for me to be happy no matter where I am. Believe me, there are times when I would rather be doing something else, but then I can always laugh about it later or find something interesting in what I was doing. Even in the midst of something sad I know that we will find something happy or loving to look back on. I realized this a couple of years ago when I was talking to someone and telling them what a great childhood I had. If someone else were to look at it they would see loss (death of my father), sadness (finding my beloved granddaddy dead when I was 7), and plenty of dysfunction. I don’t see it that way – I grew up with a loving and close family and experienced some incredible adventures. God provided me with amazing opportunities – did I always make the right choice? No, but the Lord opened another window, led me to a different path – always patient, always forgiving. Always pointing towards joy.
Finally, the scary….I have a REALLY difficult time turning things over to God. I mean truly turning it over to Him. I will pray on something and then begin to explain to God why it should happen a certain way. I negotiate, debate and argue (yes, argue) a point. God already knows His plan. The times that I have totally handed everything over, God worked everything out! I know – seems so obvious and simple, right? But when you are in the middle of it all and emotions are involved, it is not always that easy. I read a great book a couple of years ago with my Women’s Bible Study called Traveling Light by Max Lucado. Everyone worries, everyone gets mad, and everyone gets scared. Thankfully, this book and the wonderful women in the group really helped (all of us!) to learn how to lean on God and trust in Him. I’m getting better at trusting, but that is probably the biggest lesson that the Lord is working on with me at this point in my life.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19
Last night I had the joy of sitting with my three boys and watching video footage of them from when they were babies. There were so many incredible blessings I was able to see again, and some for the very first time.
I saw my husband holding his boys in his arms and dancing and playing with them.
I saw the birth of our second son, who took three days and finally a C-section to deliver! (I had never watched the footage before.)
I saw my two oldest, one was three and the other was about nine months, playing in the bathtub, laughing and giggling with those from-the-gut, belly laughs.
I saw numerous Christmas mornings where my sweet babies’s eyes transformed from sleepy to brilliant and sparkling with excitement.
I was even blessed with footage of my father that I had never seen before.
And while these are incredibly precious blessings I was able to see on the TV, they paled in comparison to watching my boys, who are so much older now, watch themselves.
My oldest, whom I have written about many times because he’s now entering those teenage years, leaned on my shoulder and softly shared, “I wish I could go back to those times again. They were so free.” Wow.
My middle one saw his first Christmas when Santa brought him his panda bear, and his face lit up! He then quickly dashed to his bedroom to find Panda, whom he had dismissed to his pile of stuffed animals a couple of years ago. When I tucked him in for the night, guess who he was snuggled up with? Panda.
My youngest sat quietly as we watched footage of my dad, and then he asked, “Did Grandpa love me, too?” (He passed away when my youngest was about 6 months old) “Oh, yes!” I responded through tears, “He loved you, dearly!”
I saw our family. I was reminded of beautiful memories that have been stored in my heart for years; memories that bond us together forever; memories that bring us closer; memories that strengthen us as we all grow.
Thank you, Lord, for letting me see your work in our lives through these home movies!
What do I say to a mom who held her baby close in her arms,
praying her son would know he was fearfully and wonderfully made?
To a mom who watched her toddler sleeping peacefully,
after a day at the beach, he played.
What do I say to a mom whose heart smiled with joy
watching her little boy ride his bike for the very first time?
To a mom who worried night after night,
wondering what her young man was doing now that he could drive?
What do I say to a mom whose deepest desire
was that he would know God had a purpose for his life?
Who from the moment her son was born,
hoped to protect him from any strife?
What do I say to a mom whose heart fluttered with pride and fear
when the man who stood before her declared his choice was clear?
What do I say to a mom whose son answered the call….
and now must endure the heartbreak after he gave his all?
Thank you will never be enough,
But I hope that you will know,
Because of your son’s sacrifice,
I’m blessed with the freedom to…
Hold my baby close in my arms so I can also pray
he, too, will know that he is fearfully and wonderfully made….
By Christy Mactavish
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me he can do nothing. John 15:5
For a while now, my heart and mind have been marinating in the phrase “Draw near to Him.” If you’ll notice, the phrase begins with a verb, which is an action or state of being. Oh, there are so many actions I associate with this phrase! (The teacher in me feels compelled to make a list)
Lean into Him,
Talk to Him,
Cry out to Him;
Sit quietly in the midst of His beautiful creation,
Revel in Him;
Open up the Bible,
Study His Word;
and Listen to Him.
These actions seem simple enough, don’t they? And the immeasurable peace and joy that comes from doing these actions is truly breath-taking and can be life-changing.
Recently though, God is helping me see that while all of these verbs are so incredibly important in my relationship with Him, and yes, without a doubt, they draw me closer to Him, there is a verb I have a tendency to forget (sometimes quite often). It is a verb that can stop me in my tracks and instantly place me at a crossroads in my walk with my Heavenly Father.
That verb is obey.
You know, this may sound silly, but I’ve never liked how that word sounds when it is spoken, and in all honesty, it’s not even part of my vernacular. Just looking at it and whispering it to myself makes me giggle because it sounds so strange. However, Luke 6:45 ends with “…For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” So, I have to wonder, if my mouth is not willing to speak it, then is it not flowing from my heart either? Hmm…is this just a trivial connection, or is there more to it?
Why do I draw near to my Heavenly Father in the first place? Of course, because He loves me and I love Him, and the hope and joy and peace He brings fulfills my life. But also, so I may seek wisdom and discernment; so He can “instruct and teach me in the way I should go, and counsel me with His loving eye.” (adapted from Psalm 32:8) I express over and over and over that I want to do His will. Well, DOING His will means obeying when He tells me what to do.
I am beginning to see that obeying God is an action that doesn’t just draw me near to Him, but it KEEPs me near Him; it is how I can remain in Him and Him in me, so I can bear much fruit! Yet, I am acutely aware that it’s not always easy, and at times great courage is needed. This is why I think my heart now needs to “marinate” in the concept of obeying–long enough for it to overflow not just into my words, but my actions, too.
There are so many examples of when we find ourselves at crossroads in our walk with you, whether it’s with our spouses, our children, our finances, our jobs…the list goes on and on; and it’s because we are either afraid or unwilling to obey. Thank you that we can draw near to you and climb up in your lap to learn your ways. Please help us remain in you by giving us the courage to follow through and obey.
So it has been one week since my grumbling has been humbled. (Refer to Humbling the Grumbling)
And here is what I am learning about my responsibilities as a SAHM, my attitude, and how they are both so intricately woven together when dealing with my children:
1) God can show us exactly where our own “hang ups” originate. When I was teaching, I always expressed how much I learned from my students and their parents. Some of the parents shed beautiful light on wonderful parenting strategies, and I still refer to some of them today as examples I like to follow. Others, though, in all honesty, ingrained in me a deep determination to make certain I parent my children the exact opposite way. I share very openly in a series of articles my experiences and thoughts on helicopter parents in schools; and I now see clearly that this is where a huge part of my own attitude has been shaped. An internal tug-of-war is always going on in my mind: If I constantly do everything for my children, (ie. pick up after them or do their laundry even though they’re old enough to help) they will be too dependent and not know the importance of hard work, perseverance, and accountability. In many ways, though, my parenting focus has been directed towards just these strict concepts that I want my children to adhere to…
Hmmm…It sounds quite similar to the Pharisees in the Old Testament…
2) Thankfully, God reminds us that His thoughts and ways are greater than ours. That’s why He has gently brought me to a place where I am asking, “But where is the love?” 1 Corinthians 13 1-3 says, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Do you see what is repeated in these scriptures three different times? I can teach my children all of those things mentioned above–hard work, responsibility, and accountability–but if we have not love…..then we gain nothing…
Wow…The powerful message of Jesus in the New Testament…
3) Our hearts and minds can be renewed and there can and should be a balance. Every time one of my children has asked me to help do something for them this week, God has given me a keen awareness of my own internal dialogue. I will admit, I have caught myself more than once wanting to resort to my old, dogmatic response that sounds a bit like, “You don’t need me to get that for you; you’re perfectly capable of doing that yourself.” However, because of my beautiful, loving Savior, my eyes have been opened and my heart has been softened to see that in order to teach our children the importance of sharing and helping each other with a joyful heart, then it is imperative to model those exact traits. And with each seized opportunity to do just that, layers of our own heavy armor can be peeled off, and our own hearts can be filled with a joy and a freedom that only comes from serving such a powerful, loving God.
Oh Lord, I am so thankful for all the mini-lessons you are teaching me. I think my new motto is going to be: I still have so much to learn!