Wow! Over the past few days, I’ve been readjusting my blog theme and prior posts. One thing has become very clear to me…three years ago, I had a plethora of words just waiting to find the page–a cathartic exercise, if you will, after some very trying years. As I have looked at the length of some of the posts, all I can think of now is, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
What I do have time for, though, is to bluntly write down my inner conversations with God about our world, my community, and my home. You may agree with some of my thoughts and you may occasionally think I’m a nut job, but you’ll never have to doubt my sincerity.
By Christy Mactavish
You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. Exodus 20:4 (NLT)
These last few days I have been conducting a very interesting experiment that I believe affects many families and relationships. The teacher in me feels inclined to use the Scientific Method to explain:
Ask a Question
1) Why do I feel compelled to check my “smart” phone every few minutes throughout the day?
2) Are there any true benefits found in constantly checking it?
3) If not, what effects does it have on my day, my family, my relationship with God, etc…?
All of my blog stats are available on my phone. So is Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as every app under the sun! It takes just seconds to look and check the progress of any of these via this phone. If I receive a comment on the blog, I can respond promptly. If someone “Likes” the Facebook page, I can be sure to lift them up in prayer and give thanks to God ASAP. Yet, as I constantly check, I am distracted from what’s before me, whether that’s dinner, my children asking me a question, conversations with them, etc…
Construct a Hypothesis
Smart phones can become an idol that detracts from our relationship with God, and instead can reinforce only our own efforts. It can also take us away from engaging in real relationships with others.
1) For three straight days, just use your phone as a PHONE, not a computer.
2) Track how many times you feel compelled to just take a “quick” glance at it, and reflect on why you think you need to check it. Is it to just fill time? Is it to do real work? Is it because you think you’ll be able to actually will things to happen if you just look at it?
3) Notice what is going on around you when you feel compelled to check it. Is there family in the room? Are your children needing you? Do you need to complete a simple, yet important task like making dinner?
Analyze Test Results
The first day I did this, I was SHOCKED by how often I moved toward my phone. In fact, I came to see that the phone had become an extension of my hand, and when it wasn’t there, I felt like I was missing something. All the reasons for wanting to check it were quite basic–looking at Facebook updates, checking Cross Moms stats, perusing Pinterest photos, etc…
As I became more aware of how often I was attached to the phone, I caught the number of times my children were right there in the room with me, sometimes asking a question I didn’t fully hear, or the laughing they shared with something I completely missed. I came to hear my youngest’s little voice say, “Mommy, are you almost done on that thing?” Then I noticed how my oldest has started following my lead and reaches for his phone first for his mode of “entertainment.” (And he doesn’t even have a smart phone with all the bells and whistles. His is just a regular flip phone, but it does have a few games, etc.)
Regarding Cross Moms, my phone checking compulsion was doing nothing to advance the ministry. Instead, it pulled me away from the very things I pray our readers will be blessed with–the clear understanding that God is in control, not us, and drawing near to Him through His Word is the most fulfilling thing there is! In some ways, “watching” via my phone to see if the there was progress on the blog was really quite the same as trying to watch water boil. No matter how hard we watch it, it’s still not going to boil until its proper time! I realized I had this false impression that the success of Cross Moms lay solely in my efforts to do all I can to push the cause…when really what I should be doing is seeking Him first, not my cell phone!
Flipping through a “smart” phone all the time is actually quite the opposite–dumb! It can rob us of those moments that God has put before us to nurture and build real relationships with our loved ones and with HIM!
I know I’m not the only one who has done this. Look around you. So many people are on their phones all the time! Are you one of them? Is God laying it on your heart to do a similar experiment?
I will shout this from the rooftops: THANK YOU for this struggle! Because without it, I would not have become aware of what you are continually teaching me–Trust in YOU with all my heart. Lean not on my own understanding (or my cell phone!) In all ways, acknowledge YOU. And you WILL direct my path!
Sharing at NOBH, The Better Mom, and Titus 2sdays
By Mary Mays
New mom and wonderful contributor
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have always struggled a bit with legalism, guilt and pride. I feel the need to do everything perfectly and when I don’t, I deal with guilt. On the other hand, when I think that I’ve accomplished a goal, I sometimes swell with arrogance from a job well done. This happens with spiritual things, for example evangelism. I feel extremely guilty when I don’t share Jesus with others, and pat my self on the back when I feel like someone has been receptive to the gospel. This shouldn’t be! I do the same thing with smaller things – I stress out about how my house looks and whether I’ve prepared a perfect meal – as if the people who enter my home are rating me on some sort of a scale.
Since having my son, I’ve realized that women, and specifically moms, are in desperate need of grace. I know that’s not something revolutionary, but I’ve learned it in fresh, new ways.
Yesterday, I went to a friend’s house. She is a mom of two who are under two – so clearly she has her hands full. She just got back from a ministry conference, out of state, and was getting ready to head out of town again for a friend’s wedding, followed by a beach vacation with her in-laws. I marvel at how she’s able to do all these things and mother her two children so well.
Anyhow, when I came into her home, she was holding her six week old boy, and her almost two year old was eating. We talked for only a few minutes before she offered an explanation for the chicken nuggets and pizza rolls on her toddler’s plate: “She doesn’t normally eat this, I just didn’t have anything fresh because we just got back from a trip and are going out of town again – so I didn’t want to get things that would go bad. Plus, it’s hard to get to the store with both of the kids, and I haven’t had a chance this week.” I nodded in agreement – I frequently do the same before a trip, and certainly can’t imagine a grocery store with two such small kiddos yet…. I’m still a rookie mom for sure.
We chatted and visited for a few hours, and didn’t speak anymore about the food items on her daughter’s plate. However, as I was leaving, I thought a bit more about her explanation. I wondered why she felt the need to explain it to me – did she think I was judging her choices? Then, I thought about how many times I’ve explained myself – wanting those around me to know that I am a “good mom” who is trying to make the best decisions possible for my son. I also thought about how many other moms have done the same thing. I’ve heard exhausted mothers explain that they don’t normally let their child watch TV or play video games, but it had been too rough a week. I’ve visited friends who apologized for the state of their homes, saying they hadn’t had a chance to clean. I’ve had multiple friends explain that what their child was eating wasn’t something he/she usually has. And, for the first time, I wondered, why? Are people really judging other moms as much as we think they are? And if so, why?
I’ve thought about the so called “mommy wars” – the battles mothers have over which methods are best and who is getting it right. And then I realized, that instead of judging other moms, defending our ways of parenting, or trying to convert someone else to do the same things we do, we need to practice extending grace – to ourselves and to each other. We need to stop pretending we have it all together, get real with one another, and come alongside each other to do this thing called motherhood together.
When our homes don’t look like could be showcased in a magazine, and our kids aren’t eating local organic food, we don’t need to hide it or make excuses. Similarly, when we see other moms making what seem like less than perfect choices, we need to offer them grace and prayer – who knows what they are going through. It’s hard to know the back story behind the decisions a mom has made, but we should pray that God would keep us from swelling with pride or arrogance, and ask him to remind us that we are all so desperately needy. We need His love and His grace for when we mess up. And, praise Him, He is always ready to extend it. Oh, that He would transform us into His image and make us more like Him.
Thank you for the grace you so readily extend to those who desperately need it. Help us, as moms, to do the same. Help us to come alongside each other and encourage one another in this journey of motherhood. Prevent us from swelling with pride over our parenting choices or judging others, and make us constantly aware of our desperate need for Your guidance and direction. Amen.
Sharing at Titus 2sday and NOBH.
As my heart is filled with sorrow for so many people around me who are hurting, from children’s illnesses, lost loved ones, shattered marriages, and addiction, all I can do is pray. So here is my plea to the One who unconditionally provides what is so desperately needed…healing, grace, forgiveness, and strength to persevere. (Thank you to MercyMe for their song, Hold Fast, from Coming Up To Breath.)
To everyone who’s hurting
To those who’ve had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope
So many hearts are hurting for so many different reasons. They are worn out from groaning; all night they flood their beds with weeping and tears. (Psalm 6:7) For some their pain cannot be hidden, while others suffer in silence wondering, ‘Where are you Lord?’ Answer when we call to you, O our righteous God. Give relief from distress; be merciful and hear our prayer. (Psalm 4:1)
Help is on the way
He’s come to save the day
What I’ve learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
IS HIS GRASP
So hold fast
May all loosen their clenched fists, let go of the hurting, struggle, or shame, and climb up into your lap knowing that your loving, tender embrace awaits them. May we take refuge in you and be glad; may we sing for joy. Spread your protection over us, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (Psalm 5:11)
Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there’s hope
You have commanded us to be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for you, our God will be with us wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9) Let all hold fast to this Truth. Let all who seek you lie down and wake again because you are sustaining them. (Psalm 3:5)
You may think you’re all alone
And there’s no way that anyone could know
What you’re going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we’re soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
HERE HE COMES!
Prince of Peace,
Your Word tells us, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3) When we are poor in spirit, we finally turn to you and discover the Truth that you have already gone before us! You took our pain, our fears, our sorrow, our sin, to the Cross! You took our place, and now we are blessed with your grace!
Oh how we praise you! You will lift us up in due time. We can cast our anxiety on you for you care for us. (1 Peter 5:6, 7)
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.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
We all have days, weeks, sometimes seasons when we are overwhelmed with life, going ninety miles per hour, but not necessarily getting anywhere. Sometimes that’s from our own doing and other times it’s just the way it is.
For five years, I was the guinea pig running on the little exercise wheel, wearing myself out with life’s demands. I was attached to my phone or computer all the time. I was enveloped with my job. I was absorbed with forging ahead in all that I thought only I could do. Then, in 2011, my Heavenly Father brought me completely out of that season and blessed me with a time of rest. It is in that rest I have discovered powerful opportunities, both big and small, to just stop, breathe, let go, and let God. It is here that I’ve realized all the things that make me go Hhhmmmmmm!
Now, I’m not referring to the song that was so popular years ago–no. I’m referring to those things that calm my spirit, fill me with His peace, and wrap me up in His love. It’s all those things that were obscured in the midst of the rat race I was running.
Sitting on the beach gazing at the clouds.
Listening to the plethora of birds singing on an early morning.
Watching the sun sparkle and glisten upon the ocean.
Seeking out His Creation–Oh how that draws me so near to Him!
Walking alongside dolphins during their morning playtime.
Feeling my whole body relax as I embrace my child and feel the rhythm of his breathing next to mine.
Opening up my Bible and feeling the thin pages between my fingers.
Truly absorbing the Living Word. Not just reading it because it’s part of the routine, but reading it to connect with my Father and hear Him speak to me!
Understanding fully that God’s plan is greater than mine, and asking–no–telling Him that all I want is what He wants. (Boy is that taking a different tack!)
But here is what makes me go Hhhmmmmm the most–my need to control has been tempered, and there is now a sense of comfort and excitement as I wait for God to reveal what is next. That has NEVER happened before! And I don’t think that would have ever happened if I had not been brought to a place where I finally had to stop, rest in Him, and earnestly seek His loving care.
What are the things that make you go Hhhmmmmm? Or is God calling you to stop spinning so quickly on your guinea pig wheel so you can actually realize those things again?
It is so natural for all of us to charge ahead full force trying to make our way in this world. Thank you for new eyes to see that this is not what you desire for us. Thank you for the peace you bring to my soul. I lift up all who are in need of your rest.
Sharing at The Better Mom, Titus 2sday, NOBH, and Friendship Fridays
Let the one who is wise heed these things, and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. Psalm 107:43
I have recently felt like God has presented clear opportunities for me to practice the lessons He’s taught me in the past. Through it all, I feel His presence and I know He is with me, yet I also feel the pull of wanting to resort to my own strength. It’s an interesting quandary that creates the following tug of war:
Standing on the other side,
the view is so very different;
He broke me free from the depths of me
And His grace became sufficient.
Now, each day I wake with a chance
to forge my path or remember,
His will for my life is
than anything I could render.
Yet emotions filled with uncertainty
Try to shake the Truths I know.
Impatience charging forward
Wants to know the way to go.
In these shifting sands lie an important choice:
Will I trust in Him completely?
Or will the world get the best of me
And steal my joy discreetly?
Just surrender and trust Him
With my whole entire being,
And believe that the Holy Spirit
Will empower me with His seeing.
And the strength that is needed
Will be there for the taking
As I follow the path that He is making!
Standing on the other side
I am wiser for the know
Because my Heavenly Father
Has been right beside me
Guiding my steps
As I grow.
Thank you for those opportunities to strengthen our faith in you.
Now I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
This morning, I along with the other moms at the bus stop were cheering and whistling as our children stepped onto the bus. After it drove away, we all looked at each other with perplexed looks in our eyes and laughed! Why were we cheering? Isn’t that something we should have saved for the first day of school? Now our kids were going to be home ALL DAY–EVERY DAY. Doesn’t that now increase the mom demands exponentially? Won’t we now need more food on hand, and won’t the house be even dirtier? Won’t the noise factor now triple? Won’t the sibling squabbles increase, too?
Ugh! I could get really depressed if I think of how my quiet lunch times out on the screened in porch will be no more….
But then….I think of all the quality time just waiting there for me to embrace with my boys. (Isn’t that what I was missing so much while they were in school?) I think of the lazy mornings when we will enjoy cartoons together and the beautiful days that await us at the beach. I think of the opportunities to talk, laugh, and wonder with them. Yes, of course, I will be refereeing them to some degree, too, but even those can be learning moments where God can reveal Himself to all of us. There will be the sunrise walks on the shore with my middle son; surf club with my oldest; and indoor soccer with my youngest. There will be bike rides and skateboarding, popsicles and excursions to the market! And who knows what else…….the possibilities are endless!
Yeah! Whooo! Hoooo! Now I know why I was really cheering this morning!
What will you do this summer with your children?
Thank you for more time with my children. Let us make memories that will last a lifetime with you in the center of them all.