Welcome to Mellie's mind...

Where thoughts can be funny, can race at all hours of the day and night and can sometimes not make any sense!

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Love Dare for Parents~Day 3

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.  ~Ephesians 4:32

One of the greatest expression of genuine love is showing kindness to your children.  Kindness is the sweet aroma they should notice whenever your love enters the room.  It inspires us to care for them.  If flavors how we treat them.  Whereas patience is love minimizing the negative, kindness is love initiating the positive.  Patience helps us avoid problems, while kindness helps us be a blessing.

Love will make you kind, and kindness will make you liable.  When you are kind to your children, they will enjoy being around you.  In fact, it give you favor in all your relationships and opens doors for your children.

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you," the Bible says.  "Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good repute in sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4).

Kindness in love in action.  It rejects passivity and reaches out.  It takes time to listen, then take steps to help.  It never requires the easiest path or simplest method to engage in the lives of others.

Specifically, kindness least to service--seeing a need and moving to meet it -- honoring others by putting their interests ahead of your own, even in the little things.  At home with your children, you can model kindness by serving them without complaining, as well as quickly pointing out and celebrating moments when they show kindness in themselves.

Scripture describes the kindness of God by how He freely extends grace to His children, giving them exactly what they need (Ephesians 2:6-9).  And He commands us to follow His lead by consistently being kind to others (Ephesians 4:32).  This should begin with those in our families.

Kindness also brings willingness.  It makes us cooperative, more ready to say "yes" then "no" to a request.  It helps us become more agreeable and seek unity rather than coming up with another reason to dig in our heels.  It reaches us to release and give rather than resist and hold back.

Kindness likewise seasons all our interactions with gentleness.  It makes us more sensitive and tenderhearted.  It stamps "Handle with Care" on the hearts of those with whom we come into contact and avoids being unnecessarily harsh or insensitive in our tone of voice or choice of words.  Consider this thought:  Just about everything we say or do could probably be greatly enhances with the addition of a little more kindness.

Why is this important?  Because if we are not careful as parents, we too can become very unkind to the little ones we love.  It is so easy to think that because we are the parent, because we are so much more mature and sacrificed so much for our kids, we can act however we want around them.  Didn't we change their diapers?  Haven't we spent untold dollars on them and put up with years of their runny noses and misbehavior?  Yes.  But love reminds us that our sacrifices never give us license to be uncaring or harsh.

Fathers should display more kindness than the men their children are around.  This is what their kids are longing to experience (Proverbs 19:22) Mothers should have words of kindness flowing from their lips(Proverbs 31:26)

Be honest:  Do your children see you as someone who is consistently kind to them and others?  Do you model kindness in how you speak about people behind their backs?  Do you give, share, and reach out to those in need?  Do you regularly take the initiative to show kindness?

Your kids are more sensitive to you than almost anyone on earth.  When you resist or ignore them, they will struggle inside and likely not respond to you well.  But when you create an environment of tender love and kindness, they become more open to sharing their heart with you and listening to the words you say and the lessons you share.

Love leads you to look for opportunities to show kindness to your kids.  This doesn't mean doing everything for them.  Rather, it's the fine balance between loving them well and teaching them to love others.  Part of their becoming an effective parent or leader as an adult is in developing the heart of a servant as a youth -- the heart they should see in you.

So teach them to proactive kindness around you and their siblings as well.  Give them opportunities to serve at meals and take care of one another's needs at home.  When they're ready, take them to places where serving others will build an appetite and heart for ministry.  Visit a home for the elderly or a struggling neighbor who would be thrilled to receive a home cooked male for no other reason than kindness.  Help them mow a lawn for a widow or reach out to children who have no father at home.  These experiences remind you kids how precious and important other people are in the eyes of God, and that our kindness honors Him and reflects His character.

As you show and encourage kindness in your children, you are investing in the type of heart God calls us to nurture.  It's the Golden Rule: treating others they way you want to be treated, freely giving the very thing we long to receive from those with whom we live every day.  It's the blessing of kindness.  And that's the beauty of how love takes action.

Surprise your children today by doing some unexpected act of kindness.  As they take note of your gesture, ask them to do something kind for someone else that is also unexpected.

-The Love Dare for Parents by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

Having a larger family than most the biggest struggle in our house is time.  Time for everything that needs to get done to meet the needs of each person.  Because of this struggle sometimes small acts can be overlooked and pushed onto the back burner of life in hopes to one day achieve the goal.  Kindness is not one of those in this house.

I have parented at two different times in my life.  Our boys came early in my 20's and then our three little kids came in my 30's.  Having a 10 year gap and then starting over allowed me to have two totally different parental experiences.  Our boys will often joke with me that when they were younger something the current kids "get away with" would have never been allowed when they were younger.  But one thing remains consistent through each season of my life.... kindness to our children.

I am not one to brag or boast about my kids.  I do not think they are little geniuses, I do not think they are going to be the next President of the United States and I do not hold them up on a pedestal and think everyone just adores them.  But what I think and know is that they are good kids full of love for each other, love for others in their community and love for themselves.  

Because time is a struggle in our home we have not done the best job in having the little kids go outside of the home to show kindness to others but we always take any opportunity  to teach them that they are VERY fortunate and live a good life that others do not live.  

Recently at their school there was a canned food drive.  Rather than just grabbing a couple cans out of the pantry and taking them into school we took the kids to a store and had them pick out the canned foods that they thought the families in need would like to receive.  We talked about how others can not shop at the stores we shop at and a treat for a struggling family is not the same as a treat our kids get.  Simply having enough food for a healthy meal isn't always an option.  The store we choose to take them to was not the store we normally shop at.  We wanted the kids to understand that not everyone can go to Whole Foods and pick up whatever they feel like having that day.  So the store that the kids purchased the items at was in a neighborhood that was lower income and had more struggling families in it.  So not only would our kids see the difference in the food but the people around them too.  This turned out to be a very rewarding and educating moment for them and has stuck with each of them to this day.

Another act of kindness that our kids do is give to others.  We recently had a friend in need for clothes for her kids.  Our three little kids went through their clothes and toys and picked out items THEY thought the little kids in this other family would like.  They did this without any thought of themselves or what they may be missing by giving away their items.  They were happy to be able to help this family in need and found joy in knowing these kids would not only have nice clothes but toys to play with too.

We have another friend who is struggling and living check to check trying to do the very best for her kids.  We have opened our home to her and allowed her to stay with us when things are too tight or she just needs comfort.  One of our older boys changed rooms to give her a room of privacy and comfort and he did this with no thought to himself.

Seeing our children ages 20 through 5 have such kindness for others as well as for each others shows me that my hubby and I are doing a good job in this area.  We show them firm but fair parenting and we not only demonstrate kindness to them we empower them to demonstrate it as well.

It is my hope that as our three younger kids get older and time becomes less pressing that we will be able to get them out into the community even more to minister and continue to build on their kindness in other ways.

I think acts of kindness in this house are almost weekly and have very lasting impressions on all the kids.   There is always room to improve and we should never be content in just staying the same, but the foundation in this home is strong and sturdy.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Love Dare for Parents~Day 2

Father's, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  ~Ephesians 6:4

When you truly love someone, two key attributes will show up on a regular basis:  patience and kindness.  In fact, many other characteristics of love are based upon these two attributes.  Patience is how love diffuses something negative; kindness is how love initiates something positive.  One takes in a deep breath, the other breathes out life.  As you know, raising a child requires an unlimited supply of both.  But today, we will focus on the first of these two essentials... patience.

Patience is when love chooses to "suffer long" for the greater good of another.  It is like an experienced farmer who knows that fruitful field only come if he is willing to endure the heat of the sun.  Patience is alike a wise builder who spend long hours slaving over blueprints, negotiating contracts, and overseeing supplies so his desired vision can become a reality.  Both the farmer and the builder must persist when they want to resist.  They must daily keep investing time and hard effort until they can celebrate the great harvest of the open house.

Likewise, being a loving parent requires a long supply of his amazing attribute.  You are cultivating and building up your children, and all your work and sacrifice will ultimately pay off.  But today requires your enduring patience.  It is something we all need but rarely delight in demonstrating.  Yet love invites us to exercise it frequently as parents.  And when we do, it brings maturity both to us and our children, as well as needed grace and peace in the midst of our problems.

Children have an amazing ability to test the level of their parents' patience by their tone, disobedience, irresponsibility, or any lack of respect.  Sometimes parents can feel so angry, they say or do things in the heat of the emotion that damage young hearts and minds.  The impact can leave a deep and lasting emotional scar for many years to come.

This is why we find God's patience so exemplary.  When Moses was on the mountaintop, he discovered why God kept putting up with His rebellious, complaining children:  God was "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness" (Exodus 34:6).  He let His overflowing love control His anger.  Whenever He did choose to be angry and firm, it was only after multiple, extended demonstrations of His compassion and patience. 

Today, God is still gracious and patient with us as His children.  So when we are unlovable and selfish, distracted and disobedient, we need to remember His enduring love for us and let His example of love overflow onto us and our children.

We must refuse to spring off the handle in front of our offspring.  When they see us controlling our anger, it teaches them to control theirs.  The Scripture says, "Be angry, and yet do not sin."  (Ephesians 4:26)  Sometimes anger is appropriate, but we should never let it get out of bounds.  Discipline and correction must be wisely rationed, but only after we've first demonstrated loving patience. 

Do your children see you as an angry, frustrated parent?  Or would they describe you as compassionate and patient instead?  Love chooses restraint.  It controls your emotions rather than letting them control you.  It challenges you to develop a long fuse instead of igniting a short temper.  If you unnecessarily blow your top, it reminds you to humble yourself and quickly apologize, know much is at stake.

Wrath, on the hand, is cruel.  (Proverbs 27:4) It divides and isolates.  It weakens us and wounds others.  It causes us to behave in foolish, regrettable ways.  It almost never makes things better and usually generates additional problems.

If you struggle with anger, ask yourself why.  Are you expectations realistic?  Are you angry with someone else and taking it out on your kids?  You may harbor painful memories of a parent's harsh anger toward you when you were young.  But the pain doesn't need to be passed on to your children.

Sometimes anger is rooted in our own sin and hypocrisy.  We often get the most angry with our kids in the same areas where we ourselves are weak.  But overrating to wrongful actions and attitudes that are familiar to us doesn't do anything to "fix" us, and it only frustrates them.  That's where a humble confession may yield more effective instruction than the firm anger of your correction.  When they know you love them and can admit your own humanity, your counsel and training carry much more meaning.

Patience is always welcome.  It gives people more time to work through their issues.  It beautifully diffuses conflict before trouble has a chance to escalate.  It whispers peace into situations brewing toward eruption.  It's not a blanket form of tolerance that lets everything go, but rather a wise surveyor of the situation, allowing proper steps to be taken.

Parenting does call for action against carelessness and defiance.  But we must differentiate between true rebellion and what might be childish ignorance.  Our kids don't think like us; why do we expect them to act like us?  We must factor in the circumstances, their age, and their level of maturity.

So instead of rising up and tearing down, let love calm you down.  Then you can build them up.  The more patient you today, the more victories you can celebrate tomorrow.

 Write the words "Love is Patient" on a piece of paper and temporarily tape it to your mirror and refrigerator.  When you see it over the next few weeks, purpose to display patience throughout the day as a further demonstration of your love to your children."

-The Love Dare for Parents by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

When I was growing up and resided with my mother our home was filled with anger.  My mother use to call it her "red headed temper" I, on the other hand, had other names for it even as a small child.  My mother was quick to get angry, quick to yell, and quick to throw things in the house.  When the three of us kids, or anyone else for that matter, made her angry it would last for days, sometimes into weeks.  She was the Queen of giving us the cold shoulder.  I recall at a very young age when she use to say to us after getting mad, "I don't care what you do, do what you want."  

I remember hearing that statement from my mother more times than I could count growing up.  I recall it use to make me feel resentment towards her because I felt as if I then was put into a position to win her love back.  Somehow if I changed MY behavior towards her then she would care what I did again.  This pattern of not feeling loved has been carried with me throughout my entire life and in all my relationships, even to this day in one form or the other.

Growing up I use to say to myself and everyone else, "I was NOT going to be like my mother!"  I was not going to raise my kids the way she raised myself and my brothers, I was not going to talk to my kids the way she would and still does speak to us.  I was going to break that chain and give my kids more.  Being a mother now, going on 21 years, I would like to think I have done just that.  That I have accomplished all the things I set out NOT to do with my kids.  But the reality is when you live in a certain atmosphere, things just become a part of you no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

I am quick to anger, especially when I feel threatened in my life.  I am quick to show my frustration with my kids when they are not taking advantage of the chances they have in life, especially the chances I never had.  I am quick to allow my emotions, especially with my older boys and my hubby, to control me and run away with me.  I am not quilt free of any circumstances my own mother displayed to me as a child, but I can say that I have never taken them to the extreme she did.

The book asks you to ask yourself "Do your children see you as an angry, frustrated parent?  Or would they describe you as compassionate and patient instead?"   I truly think that my kids do see me as compassionate but know that when I am pushed to the end of my ledge about something that I am passionate about then the emotions can come out and they WILL be raw.  I have never in their lives, all 5 of them, ever told them I never cared about them or cared about what they did in life.  I have never washed my hands of my kids or their feelings.  

But I can see after reading this chapter that there are some areas that I need to improve in.  I need to do a better job at hearing my kids, especially the older ones, and taking in what they have to say.  I do not want my children to ever look back on their childhood and recall that their mother was a tyrant, and honestly I do not think they would.  But there are times when I am so tired, or so stressed that I might take my frustration of others out on them and this of course is NOT what I want for any of them.

"Love is Patient" is the best lesson for me and came today as a much needed reminder.  I must be more patient in all areas of my life and I must demonstrate this to my children so that they understand this too.  So many times in this face paced life we are all about instant gratification when really we should just be sitting back and finding the beauty in the moment.  So many times I have rushed decisions because I want the pain or anxiety it is causing me to be over, when really I should just be sitting quietly and waiting for the answers to come to me.  And of course I have to learn, after 41 years of life, how NOT to let my emotions run away with me and carry me into a darkness of the abyss.

I must allow love to calm me down so that I WILL have more victories to celebrate tomorrow.