Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Parenting Through Stressful Situations










I feel like I could write a chapter book on parenting through stress.

I've parented through some pretty intense situations, 

When I had my firstborn, I was not a natural mom at all!
I was a young, inexperienced mother who wasn't too sure of anything...

I remember changing those first diapers and trying to get
the groove of showering again plus coordinate with a
fussy baby and his feeding schedule. It seemed an insurmountable
uphill battle, that finally eased up over time.

As baby number two came along, there were the sleepless nights again, 
and this time trying to put together a decent work schedule (albeit part-time), 
and then return to university to finish my degree
PLUS care for two demanding little ones...

Then after number three and four came...there were the stresses of a new life
in marriage and new neighborhood. Positive changes yes, but I still recall
all the getting to know you years all while dealing with pregnancy sickness
and babies, tots... and children in school.

We thought we'd have only ONE more...
however, we gained three more children of the "deal"!

So, number FIVE, SIXand SEVEN came fairly close together. 
Each one is 17 months apart from the one next to them. 
Three babies within three years!

and I'm battling to keep my eyes open ;
(but trust me, writing is cathartic so I continue)

All throughout these seasons we've also dealt with the "normal" stresses
 that often come with young families: unexpected financial burdens,
 pressures at work, difficult seasons of parenting
 (like the toddler stage or the transition to becoming a teen).

And for us, there's been a few unexpected additions in our journey: 
chronic sickness, fighting depression during most of my pregnancies 
(and post-partum after the last one), dealing with unique educational needs 
and testing, and loss of some of our support systems that we had had in preceding years.

I realize that our journeys are not necessarily going to be the same. 

Nonetheless, one thing I can tell you though is this, 
when you are parenting through stressful situations 
there are many steps we can take that will help keep us 
balanced and on track.


________________



For a long time, I have not liked that scripture!!!

My husband has used it in rough times to quote to me, and basically said, 
"Buckle down Rachael, whether you like it or not you can't give up now."

I know it's true, and I know it's a great scripture, 
but in that moment of such intense pressure, I often feel like I can barely take any more...

The babies are crying, the phone is ringing, the supper is still not made,
 I'm in my PJs, the teens are discontented and being disrespectful, 
the kids are bickering, and it always seems that it's in those 
moments that the worst bombshell will drop...

The bombshell has come in many forms, but regardless of how it comes, 
you know in that moment you have two choices:

1) have a big fit (whether on the outside or the inside)

...maybe even feel like running away from it all...anyone else ever been there??

OR

2) Breathe deeply and pray for wisdom. It's the stop and pause response. 

Talk to yourself and say, yes this does look hard 
(maybe even downright impossible depending on the situation), 
but step-by-step I/we can get through this crisis with Christ's help.

Sometimes, I admit, I do a combo of 1 & 2.

However, I'm learning more often than not, that stressful situations come, and
then they go...


No More Perfect Moms  -     By: Jill Savage
_________________________


Learning to Surrender:

This for me has been the most difficult life lesson that I still battle.

How do you surrender control under the pressure??
How do you go beyond saying "I can do all things through Christ.."
 or "Trust in Me with all your heart..." to really living like you mean it?

I'm not always sure of the answer, but a few things I have learned along the way...

a) you are never going to know all the answers no matter how much you try

b) it is never going to make total sense no matter how much you attempt to "figure" it out

c) free will is both a gift and a "curse"

By curse, I mean that others have the same free will 
to choose good or bad as you do.
And sometimes those choices will cause you
to experience great amounts of pain...

And sometimes, even our choices will cause others pain (even if unintentionally), 
so we better learn how to forgive and show grace...
cuz we're gonna need it too!


 Although He will not always give us all the answers,
 if we surrender our hearts to Him, 
He will give us the strength we need for the journey.

_________________



There is probably nothing greater than having wisdom in a stressful situation.

Whether it be:

Wisdom from His Word.

Wisdom from prayer time (He may drop a thought you hadn't previously thought of)

Wisdom from others who have gone before you.

(i.e. talk to those who will give sound advice, not just say what you want to hear).


No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are    -     By: Jill Savage, Kathy Koch

___________________


Let go of what YOU think others expect from you.

Let go of what you expect from yourself (when it is unreasonable).

Let go of trying to keep up a certain image.

Let go of unhealthy relationships.

That may include limiting the time you spend with people
who don't support you where you're at, and add to the pressure.

_______________________


Allow yourself permission, to be honest, and ask for help when prompted.

This has probably been the toughest change I've made.
Whenever someone used to offer help, 
I'd always say thanks, but no thanks, we've got this...

One day while lamenting in a marriage counseling session
about how difficult things were going for us with the new baby, 
the counselor challenged us to take help whenever it was offered. 

He asked us why we thought they were offering in the first place.
Of course, they were most likely wanting to help!

I admitted that I thought they were only being polite. 
Same thinking that my spouse had.

He challenged us to take people at their word, 
and if they back out after you give them a few examples
 of help you need, then that will be on their own conscience 
(well, of course, they may not actually be able to help OR 
they may have indeed just said that to be polite, 
but that's not on us to "pre-decide")

So, we both ventured out and started to do that...

It was humiliating at first.

A few people did flat out take back their offers when they saw
we were truly receptive to their good wishes...
but many said they really would be honored to help us in any small way they could. 
So, I learned to keep a few suggestions in mind 
(a meal, or take a child or two for a playdate, or 
if they could genuinely keep us in prayer for something specific).

Interestingly, I also started to change the way I offered help to others (it's a two-way street, right?!).

Instead of just saying a general, "How can I help?" when I see someone else 'drowning' in their present life circumstances, I have learned to offer specifics of what
I can do in this season to help them, and give 2 or 3 options for them to think on.

___________________________

So, let's do a quick recap:

The bottom line is that when you are parenting through a stressful situation
it is imperative that you don't get freaked out. 

That you take a moment in those intensely pressurized situations 
to relax, breathe, pray and tell yourself it will be okay.

 Then you need to seek out the right wisdom and
learn to let go of any unrealistic expectations. 
Be gentle with yourself, and with others.

Lastly, that you learn to take help when it's offered, 
and offer it genuinely when you see someone else in need.

Don't forget that difficult seasons don't last forever!
Better days are ahead.

___________________


If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know how much I enjoy
& appreciate author, Jill Savage...

Well, she's released a new book!! 

"No More Perfect Marriages"  looks like an absolutely fantastic companion
to her two previous amazing reads: "No More Perfect Kids" & "More Perfect Moms"

Get yours today by clicking on the picture below!

No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together  -     By: Jill Savage, Mark Savage


______________________



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Friday, February 3, 2017

Learning To Let Go!











I heard him wake before all the rest of us.

Having a mother heart that knows her son,
I knew that this was his way of dealing with the
"raw nerves" of a first day at a new school...

A new high school that is.




School work is definitely NOT his passion.
His infactuation has always been with music instead.

In his former school, our son was finding
it increasingly difficult to keep up academically.
That particular learning style was not his forte.

Eventually, after much prayer & discussion
of the pros/cons, we conceded to his new school choice.

He is full of anticipation, and hopeful that
he will finally be able to catch up.

I am learning more & more to be okay with this 
huge deviation from my original "plan" for his life.

And joining in his excitement that positive
changes will come in this new season.

________________________________


The phone call came late one evening, and 
startled this often less-than-calm Mama's heart...

He did what at the trampoline park??!

Over to the Emergency Dept. we raced.

The wait was long, but
the nurses were kind.

It was broken!

Majorly..not a clean break either..
Surgery was completed a few days later.

Screws, plates, and who knows what else has been placed
inside his once strong & VERY active ankle...




To be honest, we've been grieving...

The loss of activity.

The loss of many dreams (he wanted to be in the military).

The stress of having to find new ways to 
keep this young & busy lad productive
while keeping his leg up...so very challenging!

But NEW & bigger dreams have been brewing in this 
young man's heart, and this Mama is learning
to dream alongside him.

_________________________


She ran inside from a shopping venture with a
family friend.

New clothes and accessories in hand.
She excitedly tried them all on & danced around
the living room...

She most closely resembled a runway model.
Seriously.

My heart leapt up into my throat...

When did my little one develop into a blossoming beautiful preteen?!




The other eve, hubby & I had a heart to heart.

He mentioned his "shock" at how grown up she's been
looking these days...

The kind of grown up that makes you want
to purchase a huge roll of bubble wrap.

It's hard when your "baby" girl starts to come of age...

________________________


I've come to the realization that
ALL of our children are fast growing up.

It's even harder for me to believe that we now have seven
children that span in age from 16 years-old all the way down to newborn...











________________________

Each one of them came into the world as wee
tiny babes that I held tenderly in my arms.

I, filled with high hopes, and much ambition
to be the very very best mommy EVER, 
stared into their precious eyes filled
with grand illusions of:

-perfect parenting whimsical moments

-Mary Poppins type memories to be made 

-beautiful smiles of gratitude never leaving their faces

-lovely hand-in-hand strolls down Gingerbread lane
(complete with limitless minding their p's & q's)

___________


I've come to a much more practical realism
in my parenting expectations. 

Now, I'm filled with faith that God 
will give me the wisdom I need.

 As well, I've surrounded myself with a
 healthy community of "encouragers"
linked arm-in-arm around me, as 
we walk this "parenting" adventure out.

I am seeking
to daily fulfill the difficult goal
 of "letting go" of my
children...

Letting go of them to the future.

To their future.

______________________________


It isn't easy, folks.
It isn't even always pretty.

This tug of war between my fears
and my faith.

On many days, I'm a "hot-mess" Mama, who's exasperated,
needs therapy, her fav joggers, and
a piece of chocolate for good measure ;)

Seriously, who's kidding?
I'll take the whole entire bar!

On other days (better ones!), I'm reminded
that HE holds the future, and I don't need to worry,
but instead I can pray.

I can have hope.

I can invest.

And I can know...

That I'm not perfect, and neither are ANY of my
children, but we don't need to be..

We can take this journey one small (teeny tiny) step at a
time, looking forward to a bright future, rooted in Him.

_______________________________


A Prayer For Your Child


I continue to pray for my child,
that You Lord will give them complete
knowledge of Your perfect will 
for their lives.

In every area Lord, please direct them.
Give us wisdom as we make decisions
pertaining to their future (James 1:5).

Please give them Your understanding
& allow Your spiritual wisdom to guide them
in all things Lord.

Let their lives honour & please You, Lord
in everything they do.

Let them continue to know You better,
and produce good fruit.

As they grow up in You, I know
they will stumble Lord.

Help them to walk in repentance,
and to ask You forgiveness whenever
they need to.

And to forgive those who hurt them, Lord.
And to forgive themselves Lord, when needed.

Let them have Your endurance,
and strength to persevere,
especially in the difficult seasons of life.

May they have Your patience in all seasons,
as well as Your joy in good times & bad.

Let them have thankful hearts.

Let them accept Your Son's sacrifice for them
as a free gift Lord, and walk in that inheritance
as a child of God.

Let them have an ever deepening 
relationship with You Lord.

Let them know their future is in Your hands.
 It's eternal. Let them live with an 
eternal focus.

Let them live in pure freedom, self-control
and delivered from all forms of darkness.

Lead us & guide us Lord as
we parent these precious children
that You have blessed us with.

______________


Suggestions of areas to cover in prayer:
(particularly as they "grow up")

-schooling

-Christ-like friendships

-job opportunities

-the right mentors

-their youth group/children's ministry

-family life

-sibling relationships

-hedge of protection over them

-healing & health

-peace in their minds

-inner healing (emotional health)

-letting go of the past

-forgiving those who have hurt them

-freedom from destructive habits

-financial provision

-learning to serve

-hard work ethic

-future spouse

-future ministry(ies)

-knowing they are loved & valuable

__________________


I also find it particularly valuable to
pray for myself as well.

As a mother of seven, my plate is full
all. the. time.

Each & every single day.

The days I humble myself and
ask for His grace to parent, are the 
days I can (often) tangibly 
sense His grace & presence throughout
the day.

His grace is there even when I don't pray
or deserve it...but there is a difference
when I come to Him and ask.













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