Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smartphone Invasion!

Moms, A friend of mine forwarded this to me in the spirit of this week's devotion, "Resolved To Be Resolute."  So scary but the scenes ring true, right?  We're not idiots, Einstein, but we do recognize the folly of it all.  I can't help but fast forward to the day my kids get cell phones and how I am going to navigate this.  The challenge will be how to not only limit their usage, but monitor what is going on when they're being used.  Thoughts?  Thank you for sharing the forward, Amy S. in New Castle, IN.

Note:  If you would like to read my devotion mentioned above, click here:

The day that Albert Einstein feared has finally arrived!

Having coffee with friends.

A day at the beach.

Cheering on your team.

Having dinner out with your friends.

Out on an intimate date.

Having a conversation with your BFF

A visit to the museum

Enjoying the sights

That day has arrived …

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Resolved To Be Resolute

The head pastor of our church started out his first sermon of the New Year with the famous quote, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."  I had to laugh.  It is true that we don't know what the future will bring.  After all, there have been three "once in a hundred year storms" in New Jersey in the past 18 months. 

There are some things about the future that we cannot control, like the weather.  There are some things that we can, however, and hence the power of New Year's resolutions.  They give us an opportunity at the beginning of the year to take inventory, set new goals, and take steps toward greater fulfillment.  For some that fulfillment can be garnered through outward public service; for some it is garnered through changes inside our own walls.

I have remarked to my husband that one of my New Year's resolutions should be to cut down on smartphone and computer usage throughout the day.  I have noticed that my smartphone creeps to the table when my older son is lagging in finishing his meals.  It is so enticing to sneak a quick text before wiping a nose or fixing the next meal.  And I am admittedly addicted to checking email when given the chance.

(Photo: Gary Houlder, Taxi Photo)
This technology does add something to our lives.  Being a stay at home mom can be isolating.  The advent of communication allows us to share resources, check in, FaceTime chat with far away relatives, and change the play date spot last minute if it gets too muddy.  But to the extent that it is distracting us from giving quality attention to our children, it is time to rethink it.

Technology can distract us, and it can also ironically be isolating.  Social interactions that are abbreviated or rushed often end with an unintended effect.  There are some who dislike the written word because of the lack of control one has over its reception; you can email or text one thing, and a different message can be interpreted by the receiver.  Thus, something that was meant to bring people together can be misread leaving the recipient questioning and frustrated.

So it's not just quality time that is at stake with our children; it is also quality time that is at stake with each other as moms.  No technology can replace the face to face chat.  It is a good idea to assess technology's function in our lives going into the New Year.  We can be resolute in limiting it's usage to the extent that it's not enriching our lives and dear relationships. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the ability to connect with friends and family.  Help me to put my technology at your feet, so that I am controlling it instead of it dictating the terms.  Drive me toward fulfilling interactions with those I love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

"My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck" (Proverbs 3:21-22, NRSV).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

1, 2, 3 Vacuums?

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9, NIV).

For Christmas our younger son got a toy vacuum.  Boy, was he excited to take it for a spin around the carpet.  Miraculously, it does have some suction power despite being a toy.  He would open the lint trap, examine the contents, and then dump them back on the floor.  But I am not complaining - we get this routine refined, and I have a good helper on my hands! 

It did not take long for his older brother to get jealous.  Despite all of the toys that had accumulated for Christmas, this one had somehow risen to the top as the "hot" one, and both kids pined to be the only one playing with it.  It was hard to insist that our younger one share; it was not only his new toy and his excitement was palpable, but he is still young to have mastered the art of sharing.

My mother in law suggested that we buy a second vacuum.  Our boys did have some Christmas money yet to spend.  She said that sometimes she had to buy two of certain toys when she was raising her children.  That sounded like a good idea.  So I went shopping online and picked out a second vacuum.  I thought a little variety would be good, so it had a different design.

The anticipated day came recently when it arrived in the mail.  This vacuum had a detachable wand from the base with real suction unlike the first one.  Instead of both kids now having their own special vacuums to play with, they both pined to be the only one playing with the new one.  The day ended with our older son trying to keep the younger one away while wanding his hair with the attachment...

If only fighting was this picturesque...
I share this story because it got me thinking about the dynamics we face as mothers of more than one child.  I was not about to buy a third vacuum.  I learned that if I ever buy two of one toy, then they have to be the exact same. Lesson learned.  But this vignette is reflective of the fact that there can be a great deal of competition among siblings, whether it be for things like toys, opportunities, or even our attention.

It is important to me to do what I can to foster a healthy and respectful relationship between my boys.  I know that this will take some intentionally, and I certainly cannot profess to have all of the answers.  I see the blessing they give each other in companionship and play, but like any relationship, there are also pitfalls to navigate and strengths to harness.

God gave me these boys, who are amazing in their individuality, but also equal in need for my love.  I pray that my love has intentionality, that God gives me the wisdom to love them equally yet differently appropriate to their needs.  And I pray that God helps me to create a framework for them that short-circuits any preventable pitfalls in an effort to provide them with fertile soil to grow.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the gift of siblings.  Thank you for the companionship that they bring each other.  Help me examine in the coming week the dynamics at work in my family; give me wisdom to create a framework that allows each of my children to flourish.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Runny Noses and Providential Care

Recently both kids were sick.  The doctor said that it was viral, so all I could do was address the symptoms and wait for them to get better.  Inevitably, they would both be crying for something at the same time.  Both looked so helpless with fevers and runny noses.  I wanted to scoop them into my arms all of the time.  But the reality is that I was constantly prioritizing.  I had to rate who had the most pressing need, help that child first, and then go to the other.  I found myself explaining to each what I had to do for the other while they were waiting.  I am not sure how much my littler one understood my explanations, but I noticed that he did calm to the sound of my voice.

I couldn't help but wonder about the resonances of this experience in our own faith lives.  How often do we come to God with pressing needs, waiting for God to answer them.  Sometimes we do not get what we want right away; sometimes we have to wait.  We can listen to God's words in scripture to know his promises, and the sound of God's voice through the Spirit may calm us a while.  But we really have no idea what God is juggling.  I had my hands full with two children.  God holds all of creation in his hands as he seeks to tend and nurture it.  And you can bet that God desires to wipe every tear from our eyes too.

I have a new appreciation for God's love.  And an awe, really, for we know that all things work for good for those who love God.  The fact that every single believer can rest upon that promise, that God can juggle all of our lives for our good, is incredible.  I have heard God's providential care explained like this:  God's power is not so much defined by the ability to arrange every event, as it is to provide for every contingency in bringing about God's purpose.  God is not the author of human sin, for instance, but God is able to order even human sin for good.  My understanding of God's providence has grown, which allows me to *sigh* a little bit and rest in the loving arms of God myself.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for your providential care.  Help me to know it in my life better each day, and to show your unconditional love to my children.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, NRSV).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Batteries: Friend or Foe?

In the wake of Christmas, I thought this devotion would be timely.  I noticed that many websites are currently having a sale on storage bins.  What a convenience after accruing new holiday gifts!  It does beg the question about the value of a toy that just ends up at the bottom of a bin though.

My current conundrum is the battery operated toy.  If you are like me, you have them coming out of every nook and cranny of the house.  I think I could get a full-time job just ordering, stocking, and replacing batteries.  And you know you need special screw drivers for different toys.  And then your toddler wants to "help" change the batteries, and you are worried that this fun "learning" experience will become an eye-gouging one.

This is too funny, but relatable, right?
I have to wonder how much time these toys, which are meant to encourage my children's development, actually function as distractions.  I want to see beyond the nifty rift and flashing lights and have more quality time with my children.  We as adults often have this struggle in our own lives too.  It is hard to tune out the many conveniences that were meant to enhance our lives but somehow contribute to their chaoticness.  As I look at my children, I want to help foster a different kind of world in my house.  Bring on the old fashioned puppets.

Prayer:  Dear God, Remind me in the coming week to seek out moments of quality time with my family.  The temptation for distraction is alluring, but often ends in emptiness and frustration.  Jesus applauded Mary who was willing to simply sit at his feet.  Direct my efforts toward the pursuit of simplification so that quality attention can communicate love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

"But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her'"  (Luke 10:41-42, NRSV).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Inspiring Quote: This Blog's Beginning

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3, NIV).

I wanted to begin this blog with a quote that expresses the magnitude of what we are embarking upon as mothers.  Of course, this is not to shortchange the importance of fathers, relatives, and other caregivers.  But there is a unique gift in the ability to birth a child and shape the growth of that life in the world.  We are creators, and in the humility of that great gift and task, we can seek guidance from and attempt to glorify our Creator.

If you are a stay at mother, which I am, you may not always feel affirmed in your choice in the world's eyes.  In the working world I found my days rich with feedback, stimulating conversation and gratification for a job well done.  One first time mom told me that she was so busy but felt she had nothing to show for it, so she started to catalogue the number of diaper changes and bottle washings she did in a day to try to garner that same sense of accomplishment.

But the choice to give to our children, especially in staying at home, is valuable.  In his book What is Wrong With The World, G.K Chesterton asks, “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute...”

Our task is ripe with meaning - and possibility.  Approaching motherhood as a vocation means that you recognize the gravity of your blessing and responsibility as a mom.  I want to leave no stone uncovered.  Socrates once said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."  I want to theologically examine my role in search of truth, in search of hope, and in search of fulfillment as I wade in the beauty and ambiguity of these sacred waters.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for making me a mother.  Thank you for the gift of children and the opportunity to care for them and shape them.  Please accept my efforts as an offering to you, and grow me in your wisdom.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

For more reading, I found this blog entry to be interesting:

TODAY Video Clip