How would you complete this sentence: The greatest problem single moms face is ______________________________. I’ll be writing an article on the greatest hurdle(s) single mothers face and want to know what you think.
Sometimes our desire to protect our children and to give them a better life than we had has negative consequences. Coddling, over-protecting and not holding kids responsible can be damaging in the long run. I’ve been guilty of wanting to shield my child from life’s harshness. But I also realize that some of my greatest character lessons have come from the situations where I had to persevere through rough times. That’s what Harriet Tubman had to do and I can definitely learn some lessons on parenting from her.
Harriet Tubman was a petite yet bull-headed woman admired for her physical strength and perseverance. She led 300 slaves to freedom in the North by way of The Underground Railroad (the secret route to the free North). This elusive trail to freedom is emblazoned with her invisible footprints.
Harriet’s decision to escape came within hours of learning that she and her siblings were to be sold. Her brothers and her husband feared being caught and beaten (or hung) and refused to escape with her. Maybe you and I would have chickened out too.
Even though it meant traveling alone, she was determined to be free or die trying. Cold nights on foot, hunger, loneliness, and uncertainty about whom to trust, did not dissuade her. These were obstacles she was determined to overcome.
How often do our kids want to quit? “The coach is too hard”, “the teacher is too easy”, “I can’t join the choir because I’m afraid people will look at me”, we’ve heard it all, I’m sure.
Our kids are capable of much more than we think. And we sometimes give in to their objections much too easily. What we can teach our children from Harriet’s life is things often look impossible in the beginning—too hard, too long, too…whatever. Nevertheless, if something is worth wanting, it’s worth the hurdles that need jumping and the mountain that needs climbing. It’s always hard but worth it. That’s what Harriet’s life was all about.
If you could live your life backward, you wouldn’t worry, at least not about the future, because you’d already know what was going to happen. You’d know that throughout your entire life, God worked out everything that you worried about regarding you and your children. So rest assured my dear one. Your life really is in his hands.
Scripture: He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7
Prayer: Lord, I know that when I keep my mind on You and remember Your promise to care for me and my children, my heart is at rest. Please help me today to keep my mind stayed on You.
It’s been a while since I’ve connected with you. I apologize for my absence. For the past year, I’ve been pursuing some professional goals: working as a magazine editor, publishing a book; Genuinely Georgetown (http://www.genuinelygeorgetown.com/), both requiring speaking engagements and book signings. And finally, I saw a child off to college.
But all the while, I’ve been thinking of you and my calling to encourage you. I’m glad to be back with a post for the first day of 2014. I’d like to start by encouraging you to try new things.
5 Ways To Do It Differently
Sometimes as moms, we get stuck in a rut; doing the same dishes, driving the same route to work, getting up and going to bed at the same time. Variety keeps life interesting. Here’s a few ideas to break the monotony:
Spread out a blanket and have dinner outdoors.
Get up before the kids and have coffee or a walk with a friend before the busy day begins.
Ask your kids to memorize the way to school and have them be your GPS as you drive.
Have a no-cook night. Invite your friends with children over for potluck dinner. You provide the dinnerware and a movie, they provide the food.
Read a magazine you’ve never read before: try outdoors and fishing or crochet and paper crafts—something you wouldn’t normally read. You may find new subjects to pique your interest.
Think of other ways you can climb out of the pit and add spark to your life!
As a new mother, I wanted to know how to raise a happy, healthy child. I read that spending quality time with your children was important. The latest books on child rearing also said that words of affirmation build a good sense of self-esteem. Teaching children to be polite, thankful and compassionate also helped to build character, the books said. I tried to do all of these things as I followed the wisdom of the day.
But now that my child is an adult and I have an opportunity to look back, I see that one of the greatest things a mom can do is to walk humbly with God, follow his ways and do right in his eyes. But how does that help our children?
As I read 1 and 2 Kings in the Bible, I learn about David and how God considered him faithful and a man after God’s own heart. Although David was flawed and committed sin, he trusted God for all of his needs above anyone or anything else. As a result, God promised David that one of his heirs would always sit on the throne as long as they walked in the ways of the Lord.
When our children see us trusting God for all of our needs, placing nothing or no one above Him, and walking in his ways, we bless them by laying out an example for their lives. More important, we bless God and God blesses us, our children and their children—long after we’re gone.
Yes, spending time quality time with and affirming our children are good measures. However, I’m convinced the best, most enduring gift we can give to our children is our relationship with God, placing him above anything else and walking in his ways as we trust him with our and our children’s lives.
What does it look like for a mom to walk in the ways of the Lord? Chime in as you’re led!
One of my favorite places to shop is the local thrift store. I find great bargains and my purchases help support those in need. One day in the boutique section of the store where they sell higher end items, I found a brand new, brightly colored sheet and pillowcase. The striped fabric was dyed in vibrant shades of fuchsia, gold, orange and purple. The set was very pretty but I didn’t really need it nor did it match anything in my house. However, the price tag caught my eye. They had marked it as $12 but the original purchase price said MSR 499.00. What a deal! Even though I didn’t need it, how could I pass up such a valuable purchase?
When I got the linen home, I looked at the tag again. I saw the letters “Rs.” in front of the amount. I hadn’t noticed those letters in the store because my eyes were stuck on 499.00. I looked up “Rs.” on the internet and found that it stood for Indian Rupees. The US equivalent: eight dollars! I had paid more for the sheet set than it cost when it was new.
I bought the linen because I thought it had great value based upon the price tag. It had face value. As a mom in search of parenting wisdom, I have also been enticed by parenting philosophies because they were popular or were espoused by someone who had a row of initials behind their name. They had face value. Sometimes this “wisdom” comes in packages whose contents we don’t really need and aren’t as valuable as they appeared on the surface.
Perhaps you too are looking for wisdom to be the best mom you can be. While wisdom can come from many sources, true and unchanging wisdom comes from God through His word. And it doesn’t cost anything but time and a teachable spirit.
What is some of the most useful parenting advice you’ve been given, whether it was from the Bible, your mother or anyone else?
My daughter was gripped with fear when she was learning to swim. Even though the lesson was only a half hour, I spent half of that time trying to pry her four-year-old fingers from the guardrail. Every week, it was the same thing: un-prying, coaxing, crying, sweating. . And no matter what bribe I offered, she refused to get into the pool. All the other kids were in the pool splashing and having fun. I was so embarrassed in front of the other mothers. They glared at me as my child whipped me in a game of wills every week. I felt defeated.
I think every mom feels defeated at some point in her life. Have you felt that way—as if your repeated attempts to teach your child are met with crying, clenching and sweat? Take heart. My daughter is now in high school and is an adept swimmer. Yes, it took many tries, but finally, she waded into the pool on her own and can now teach others to swim.
How has perseverance paid off in your role as a mother?
Scripture: Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
In what ways can we challenge our children to think about the gifts and talents God has planted within them?
My wise friend Veta recently said that, “As parents, we need to teach our children to search for their own sense of worth through the eyes of Jesus. The more they know who Jesus is, the more they will understand their value.”
You mean my child’s sense of self-worth isn’t totally my responsibility?
We want our kids to feel secure so we provide the normal things such as love, comfort and as much as we can, a sense of normalcy. We even applaud them for their accomplishments. But what else can we do to empower them to find their real sense of worth in God?
So here’s the challenge: The next time your child asks if they are special, how will you steer them to learn their value in Christ?
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . Psalm 139:13-14